Guest Columnist

Column: Reinforce your brand with color

Guest columnistAugust 12, 2013 

Because I do makeovers, I get questions from small-business owners about how they can use personal style in the professional world.

Color is a no-cost item open to anyone.

You can reinforce your brand by wearing colors that invoke certain feelings. That’s nonverbal communication at its best.

Red is the color of action, energy power and excitement.

“This strong color increases appetite, heart rate, breathing and the attention of others,” psychologist Jennifer Baumgartner wrote in “You Are What You Wear,” her book about what our clothes say about us.

“Red often connotes strength, femininity and sexuality.”

Orange is warm, vigorous, happy and open, like Thanksgiving and fall. Yellow is sunny, eye-catching and original.

Many uniforms are blue, the color of respectability, loyalty, serene and calm; it’s reflected all around us in nature. Green signals growth, wealth and healing. The deeper the color, the more conservative it is.

Here are some color combinations that small-business owners can use to send messages about their brands and companies.

•  If you want to come off as refined and sophisticated, combine navy or black, beige and deep green.

•  Wear navy or black, off white and bright red to be viewed as competitive and gregarious.

•  Navy, pale yellow or gold and bright red signal that you’re energetic.

•  If you want to be viewed as casual or natural, wear brown, camel, tan or taupe and bright or light blue.

Navy, light blue and deep red show that you’re trustworthy and credible.

•  Let people know you’re efficient and intelligent with the colors gray, navy and yellow.

“All colors have a specific mood-inducing effect,” said Baumgartner, who also writes “The Psychology of Dress” column for Psychology Today. “You can use what you wear to decide what’s going on inside you and to alter the responses of others.”

Imagine someone who wears purple head to toe.

Purple is a color of creativity, mystery and royalty, but an overdose of it can come off as aloof and formal. As this person is seeking new business, the outfits are saying they’re dramatic and stuck in their old ways. That might hurt with prospects.

Color analysis training opened my eyes to the importance of hue, value and chroma in creating a cohesive style for the workplace.

Carole Jackson goes even farther in her book, “Color for Men.”

“Color is the secret to a good image,” she writes. “Wearing the right color enhances your face,” she says. “You look younger, healthier, handsomer, more vital and more confident. Facial lines and shadows are smoothed away, your skin glows, your eyes sparkle. You project a positive image to both men and women.”

In other words, knowing which colors to wear can be your secret sauce.

Sheon Wilson is a writer, editor and personal stylist in Durham. Find her on Twitter @SheonWilson.

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