Direct Mail Design: Color

Designing for direct mail can be broken up into three segments: layout, color/images and copy. Since these can all be real challenges, we will take on each section in depth in separate posts to give you a better understanding and some ideas, as well as tips to get you started on the path to a great direct mail piece. Now let’s look at Section 2: Color.

Designing for direct mail can be broken up into three segments: layout, color/images and copy. Since these can all be real challenges, we will take on each section in depth in separate posts to give you a better understanding and some ideas, as well as tips to get you started on the path to a great direct mail piece.

Section 2: Color
Color, imagery and texture can greatly enhance the mail piece experience. Sometimes picking colors and images can be a challenge as well. How do you know what colors to choose? How should you pick the right images?

Here are eight colors and some of the meanings behind them:

  1. Red: Commands attention, alerts us, creates sense of urgency, risk, danger and aggressiveness.
  2. Yellow: Sunshine hue, spiritual color, represents warning, happiness, warmth, bright shades can be irritable to the eye in large quantities, often used to highlight or draw attention.
  3. Green: Money, nature, environmental concerns, freedom, healing and tranquility, is calming, refreshing, easy on the eyes.
  4. Blue: Suggests fiscal responsibility, inspires confidence, darker shades are authoritative, dark and bright shades represent trust, security, dignity, paler shades imply freshness and cleanliness.
  5. Orange: Warmth, instills sense of fun and excitement, implies health, cheer, makes product seem more affordable.
  6. White: Associated with innocence, purity, peace and contentment, considered clean and sterile, cool and refreshing, can have a calming, stabilizing influence.
  7. Black: Ultimate power color, suggests strength, authority, boldness, seriousness, stability and elegance, distinguished and classic, too much can be ominous.
  8. Brown: Associated with nature and the earth, associated with warmth and coziness, suggests richness, politeness, helpfulness and effectiveness, solid, credible.

Now that you have a basic idea of what the colors can mean, sit down and decide which colors and combinations are going to add impact to your layout. We discussed the layout in section one, feel free to review that again by clicking here.

After picking your colors, you need to decide on your images. Carefully consider your message as you approach design. The images you choose should not conflict with your message or your brand. Make sure to show the images to people outside the organization to see if they make the same associations you do.

Here are five things to consider when selecting images:

  1. Do not use images of just the product. Include people and real settings for a more realistic and connected approach.
  2. Match the emotional tone of the design to the emotion conveyed in the image.
  3. Images should not conflict with your color scheme.
  4. Select images that convey your message so that you can use less text.
  5. Include your logo. You need to always reaffirm the brand by using the logo.

So by making color and image choices that complement each other you are on your way to a great mail piece. When conflicts arise between different elements in the design of direct mail it can be a confusing message for the recipient. This ultimately means you mail is going in the trash and you wasted your money. Clear and concise elements that work together to for your message are key to getting the increase in your ROI.

Author: Summer Gould

A blog about Direct Mail Marketing, tips, tricks and what not to do.Summer Gould is President of Eye/Comm Inc. Summer has spent her 27 year career helping clients achieve better marketing results. She has served as a panel speaker for the Association of Marketing Service Providers conferences. She is active in several industry organizations and she is a board member for Printing Industries Association San Diego, as well as a board member for Mailing Systems Management Association of San Diego. You can find her at Eye/Comm Inc’s website: eyecomm.org, email: summer.gould@eyecomm.org, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @sumgould.

2 thoughts on “Direct Mail Design: Color”

  1. Great tips and information, Summer! Given that direct mail is very visual, a well-designed, creative piece with the right imagery and colors can drive a unique connection between a brand and a consumer. That connection is a strong tactic to increase loyalty and possibly gain new brand ambassadors. Getting your message noticed in today’s oversaturated media world is an ongoing challenge, but when you have a creative concept and solid design that is personalized to consumers it’s easier to cut through the clutter and reach the end user. Print makes emotional connections and memorable impressions with consumers in this fast-paced, “always on” world. – Shelley Sweeney, VP/GM Service Bureau/Direct Mail Sectors, Xerox

  2. In our 30 years of testing direct mail, we also find 3 components of mail:-audience, copy/ask, and creative. Thus far, color has nothing to do with results, as the control package is simply a 2 color logo from the client. Our clients acquire new donors and generate net income simultaneously, The most successful package in direct marketing history comes from the Wall Street Journal-black ink on white paper with no color.

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