Colour can deliver an instant and powerful message about your self-perceived qualities and evoke a lasting memory of your personal brand. Yet colour is often underrated in the job search.
Oscar Wilde said, “Mere colour, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.”
He had it right on two counts. Colours speak to our inner senses, and can evoke countless emotions, perceptions, and moods. In this way, colour is an ideal way to express personal brand attributes.
What message do different colours send about your personal brand?
Colours can make people feel excited, inspired, calm, and more. They can be associated with all sorts of virtues and behaviours, and have the potential to embed your personal brand in someone’s mind before you have even spoken or written a word.
Here are some of the associations we commonly make when presented with certain colours:
Red: passion, energy, power, action, desire, love, warmth, adventure, vitality, motivation, courage, danger, determination, optimism
Pink: love, passion, warmth, femininity, softness, affection
Orange: competition, energy, determination, encouragement, potency, success, force, vitality, productivity, reassurance, stability, strength
Green: optimism, growth, nature, energy, calming, balance, environment, relaxation, youth, luck, prosperity, stability, security, health, fertility
Blue: integrity, loyalty, serenity, intelligence, truth, wisdom, peace, authority, leadership, trust, security, reliability, protection, confidence
Yellow: energy, sunshine, warmth, joy, happiness, creativity, vision, warning, caution, light, intellect
Brown: security, practical, grounded, stability, orderly, reliable
Purple: royalty, spirituality, mysticism, inspiration, wealth, intuition, magic, dignity, luxury, ambition, personal power, dignity, mental clarity, creativity, joy, fertility, competition
Black: protective, strong, luxurious, retreat, drama, eccentricity
Grey: classic, responsible, elegant, professional, practical, timeless, quiet, logical, deliberate, reserved, modest, methodical, mature, conservative, detached, neutral
Gold: luxurious, rich, opulent, glowing, fame, divine, intuitive, expensive, radiant, prestigious, valuable
Silver: modern, cool, stylish, sleek
How should you select a colour for your personal brand?
When selecting a colour for your personal brand, your choice should be focused around your personal and professional attributes. The selected colour should be one you like and feel comfortable wearing and using, but given the exercise, it’s really important that your choice is aligned with the qualities you’d like to convey. If you’d like to learn more, William Arruda’s video ‘Personal Branding – What Color is Your Brand’ provides food for thought.
Selecting a brand colour that suits your look
“The best colour in the whole world is the one that looks good on you.” Coco Chanel
Although your choice of brand colour shouldn’t be driven exclusively by a favourite colour or personal preference for a certain colour palette, it’s a good idea to ensure your signature colour is one you actually like, as you’ll be keeping close company. You may naturally find that the colours you are drawn to are those that present your brand attributes, in which case, happy days!
Check that your signature colour is one you look good in and feel comfortable wearing. This makes sure that you will be confident in carrying your brand colour, be likely to wear it, and that the colour makes you appear energetically attractive rather than detracting from your personal image. Using a personal colour analysis service can help you to understand your best colours, how to combine them, and how to ensure your wardrobe works hard to help you achieve your goals. I have my own colour analysis session scheduled for this month, I’ll let you know how I get on!
There’s no doubt that deliberately wearing colours that make you look and feel good AND convey personal brand attributes is a win-win situation.
How should you use your brand colour on your CV?
Although coloured paper and wacky fonts are still a definite no-no, in 2015, colour is seeping into UK CVs. Discrete and effective use of colour can make your CV ‘pop’ and help your document to stand out in a sea of black and white.
In 2015, blue has outstripped other colours chosen by Giraffe CVs’ customers to represent their personal brand on their CVs. Signifying integrity, loyalty, intelligence, leadership, confidence, and more, it’s an effective choice for many jobseekers. What’s more, it’s a great colour to work with: classic and smart, without being overpowering. I’ve used navy blue to underline and accentuate section headings, with pale blue or 10% grey shading behind blue job titles.
If you’re feeling brave enough to mix up the monochrome, here are five ways you can draw colour into your CV:
#1 Use a coloured font for your name and/or section headings.
#2 Add a coloured border underline or paragraph shading to section headings.
#3 Add a coloured chart or graph to showcase quantified achievements.
#4 Include a subtly coloured or shaded pull-out box to share a quote or key achievement.
#5 Feature a personal brand image. You might consider this as the logo for your personal brand. Examples could include an upwards arrow or growth chart for a sales manager or a globe for someone working in the international development sector.
How much is too much?
Your CV shouldn’t channel Joseph’s Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, but a subtle splash of colour can lift your CV’s presentation and present a treat for the recruiter’s tired eyes. To avoid a multi-coloured mess, stick to a palette of two to three colours or shades, one of which would be the ubiquitous black, which should remain the staple colour of your CV.
Where else can you use your personal brand colour?
Once you have defined your personal brand colour, you should carry this confidently forward across all areas of your professional presentation. Consistent use of your signature colour across platforms and on your person can deliver a lasting, memorable, and positive impression. Your materials are instantly recognisable as yours, whilst deliberately conveying your chosen professional and personal attributes.
Ideas, in no particular order, include:
Email signature. Reflect your signature colour in your font, images, or background colour.
Business cards. Again, this is a great opportunity to use and reinforce your personal brand colour.
Clothing and accessories. Without overdoing it, it is possible to carry your brand colour with you wherever you go. Whether it’s your footwear, mobile phone case, gloves, scarf, handbag, notebook, tie, or larger item of clothing like a dress or jacket, there will be an element of your attire that you can use to reflect your personal brand.
Social media backgrounds and header images, especially for platforms you are using professionally and in the context of your job search. Your LinkedIn profile header is a perfect place to reflect your personal brand colour.
Personal website. If you have a personal site, for example https://branded.me/, consider tailoring your theme to reflect your brand colour.
Professional head shots, avatars, or logos can feature your signature colour as a background, or in your attire, for example.
Social media posts can reflect your colour as a common theme. Using visual quotes, memes, or even infographics which reflect your chosen colour can all help to build recognition. Visual platforms, such as Pinterest and Instagram are very effective mediums to convey your personal brand colour.