Smart use of color in customer-facing documents will help you get paid faster, improve your brand recognition, and move more people from browser to buyer.
Color has a huge impact in printed communications.
Color shapes emotion and draws attention to words and phrases in a way to get your message across. Color can also draw attention to the action areas on documents – spotlighting the due by and payment due details on an invoice, for example.
But wait, haven't you advised to print in black and white rather than color because it's cheaper?
You should use print rules (download a free copy of print rules and habits here) and common sense when printing in color – roughly half of all printed documents aren't even used after all. However, SMART use of color is, well, smart.
Here are five reasons to use color in your business documents.
Find Information Faster With Color
Color can reduce data entry errors by as much as 80%. When customers complete forms incorrectly, that slows down your data entry AND can lead to poor customer service. If you use color to highlight the important information and instructions for your customers, they'll be more likely to fill out the forms correctly.
Did you know that information in color can be located 70% faster? Use color to place the spotlight on the key information in otherwise black and white documents. Less time looking, more time finding and acting on important data.
Color also helps people understand new concepts more quickly – important when introducing potential customers to your product or service which they are unfamiliar with.
Color can improve brand recognition by up to 80%. The more easily recognized your brand is, the better your sales will be. Strategically use color to cut through the hum-drum mass of local and national ads and make your brand stand out.
Color Captures Attention
Color increases a reader's attention span and recall by 82%. Crucial technical information, warnings, and security or safety notices will be remembered better if you use color. Use color to call attention to important information to help decrease errors that cost money and/or time in your company.
If you send direct mail and are competing for attention in someone's mailbox, people are 55% more likely to pick up a full-color piece of mail first. Use color on the envelope, capture their attention, and get your customers and potential customers to open up your mailings.
Grabbing attention is just the start – a survey performed for Okidata showed that the willingness to read a document improved 80% with color.
Which looks more professional – a black and white newsletter or a full-color brochure? Whether a pamphlet or direct mail piece, a reader (that is, your potential customer) will make a decision to read or toss in 2.5 seconds. Color keeps your materials on the desk and out of the recycle bin. Color means business; so use color to convey a sense of professionalism.
Get Paid Faster
Highlighting the amount owed and the due date in color on invoices can increase payment response up to 30%.
A Harris Interactive survey revealed that 43% of people were more likely to pay on time when the due was in color and 31% said they would pay the full amount if presented in color.
Less mailing and faster payment in full? Yes, please! Color helps you reduce repeated or extra invoicing while improving your cash flow.
What Different Colors Mean – in Theory
- Yellow – grabs attention, optimistic, logical, clarity, warmth
- Red – passion, emotion, stimulation, excitement, youthful, bold
- Blue – peaceful, calm, tranquil, trust, dependable, strength
- Green – calm, professional, nature, peaceful, growth, health
- Purple – luxury, wealth, sophistication, creative, imaginative, wise
- Orange – stimulating, vibrant, flamboyant, friendly, cheerful, confident
Be smart in how you use color. Printing color documents for convenience is almost always a waste of money. Use color strategically and grab the attention you want.
About the Statistics
I've used stats from Xerox and Okidata. You're right in that they – and we, for that matter – have an incentive for you to print in color since we all make more money when you do.
Don't take our word for it. Search on variations of “color impact” in your favorite search engine. You'll find research going back at least a century explaining the positive and negative uses of color.
If a century of research doesn't convince you of the power of color, keep scrimping on customer-facing communications and stick with black and white. Your competition will thank you for it.
Color – Not as Hard as It Used to Be
Once upon a time, it was hard to get color right. The software was difficult to calibrate and not user friendly. The equipment available to businesses wasn't up to production-quality print (there's a huge difference in printing in color for inter-office documents and producing marketing and other customer-facing materials).
Digital production printers offer in-house capabilities that equal what you can achieve by outsourcing – while maintaining greater control over your materials. New color calibration tools that work in conjunction with the Canon imagePress C800 and Varioprint DP production printers allow you to achieve true production-print quality without the need to outsource. Xerox's Versant family of production printers also deliver superior quality and ease-of-use.
For tips on printing color jobs in-house, read In-House Printing and the Many Hats You Will Wear (But Will Save You Money!) for helpful ideas.
If you have production printing needs (color or black and white for that matter), contact our production print expert, Mike Andrews. Simply looking to add a pop of color to documents? Contact one of our other copier experts.
[This blog post has been updated from the original, published on September 13, 2016.]