digital printingPrinting in general is well known for delivering easy-to-read, high impact messaging and advertising. However, no matter how big or small the marketing campaign, color is always involved. Yet the science of printing and color is far more than just picking a shade that gets people’s attention. While red is an obvious choice just to catch people’s eye, there is now an entire science between the colors chosen for a print job and how effective it will be in catch readers and possibly converting them into sales leads or action.





The Use of Press Proofs

Those who have worked in advertising, print and marketing long enough know what a press proof is. It provides the last chance for a visual display of what a print job will look like before it goes to mass production and to the public. The press proof not only gives the viewer a visual of what the job will look like, it also shows how the colors will turn out with the dye and printing tools available through a given printer’s production system. It’s in the examination of the press proof that the science of picking the right colors for a job come into play.

Color Science

Colors provide far more than just a good mix of imagery and shades. They trigger primal reactions in viewers to do something more than just view and walk away ( Colors draw people into an image or repel them, making them walk away in reaction. Colors can evoke a feeling of warmth and trigger good memories, or they can make a viewer feel cold and alone. The power of these elements in print can then be intentionally planned to trigger a desired reaction, steering viewers to another desired result. While it won’t work for everyone, the marketing approach is successful in a large majority of viewers, depending on the print image and what is being marketed.

Colors Apply Differently to Different People

A recent study of color reaction by KISSmetrics found further interesting analysis with regard to how people react to print color ( First off, more than 9 out 10 people will judge an image they view in the first few seconds almost entirely on the colors used in the print. The remainder put priority on texture or smell, but since print usually has neither, these smaller groups are outliers for the most part. Second, more than 8 out of 10 people admit that color convinces them to buy a product over another one, even if it may be a better alternative.

Now, add in another layer: gender. Different colors appeal to different genders more or less. The obvious two, blue and pink, are colors most people are culturally raised to associate with boys and girls, respectively. However, the rest of the color rainbow can be statistically found to fall into favor with one gender more than the other as well ( For example, a deep fire engine red is definitely a favorite among men, but the deep blue of periwinkle falls clearly in the women’s favorites. In fact, any blues with a hint of purple in them surprisingly are favored more by women while only traditional blue gets favor from men. Another noticeable trend comes in primary colors. Men clearly dominate statistics in favoring primary colors that are unmixed with anything else. Women, on the other hand, predominantly favor colors that include mixes of different primary colors, steering away from the simplicity of primary shades.

Given Preferences, How to Utilize

The above science of color and reaction provide a key tool professional printers can use to help their clients with print design and production. While clients frequently know what their message needs to be how to advertise it, they frequently don’t have a good starting idea on how it should be packaged and presented visually. Digital printers can easily step in to fill this game, using the science above and the targeting goals a client wants for a print job.

For example, if a client wants to market a poster campaign in high traffic areas for a new truck model, with a consumer target group of professional men who wants a vehicle that functions like a truck but rides like a luxury car, a printer can design a palate of colors that appeal to the male gender, making the poster images pop out in the subway hallways or airport walking areas, making targeted consumers effectively stop and look. The results tend to be far better than just slapping up a stock photo with summary verbiage and expecting an interest conversion from facts alone.

Designing Labels

Where people want labels to help identify their association, standing, position, affiliation and more, colors can also work wonders. When confronted with someone at a convention or meeting they don’t know, the first thing people look for is a name label or brand name on the person for identification. A well-designed color label not only catches a person’s eye, it helps translate valuable information quickly via a brand logo, a person’s name, and their function. Play the colors right, and it can even attract a viewer’s attention simply because the label is attractive and appealing due to the design mix. All of the elements are desirable in high traffic areas such as conventions, vendor floor displays, public traffic areas and more.

In Summary

When in doubt, definitely utilize colors to enhance a client’s package for print, advertising and marketing. By opening up the world of color science and human reaction, a printer can easily find an opportunity to up-sell services and add-on features to a client’s print job beyond just the basic layout and production service. Consider color the third leg to the professional packaging of print products. It can serve your bottom line well doing so.