Colours in Printing

Colours in Printing


Retail research shows that 93% of purchasing decisions are influenced by colour.

Colour is one of the main factors which make each image eye catching and unique.

It costs you next to nothing to choose a colour, but making the wrong decision could cost your company in the long run.

Which is why colours in printing is such an important subject and a key component of our graphic design service.

Colours in Printing

Colour can play a huge role in the world of print and can often have an impact on how customers will react.

Colour aids communication and awareness.

Research has been undertaken by the likes of Xerox and Canon to show how the human brain reacts to colours in printing.

In direct mail colour can increase response rates by as much as 23% and in training notes can increase motivation and participation by 80%.

Each colour used in the printing process has a pantone reference number.

This the industry system for identifying, matching and communicating colours.

It helps to solve the problems associated with producing accurate colour matches.

Spot Colours in Printing

Spot colour is the process of matching the colour needed by mixing up the inks before printing.

This can be done through using a scanner or by eye for truly bespoke colours.

Most pantone charts show colours printed on coated and uncoated stock.

However, as print is progressing over the years, it’s now cheaper and more efficient to print full colour.

Most software packages automatically convert spot colours to their process colour equivalents.

However, attention needs to be paid to this conversion as certain colours appear darker and duller when converted.

Process Colours in Printing

Process colour or full colour, is a term related to a litho process (although digital printing is also full colour using CYMK technology).

Different amounts of each colour are added to make up other colours, totalling millions of colours.

All this is achievable using varied size ink dots.

These colours are added from separate rollers in one pass of the paper through the print machine.

This makes it fast and cheaper for larger quantity colour printing.

Process colour produces excellent colours and photographic reproduction.

However, it may not be as accurate as the spot colour process if you need something specific like a brand colour.

The Importance of Colours in Printing

Usually, company logos and brand identity would be created with the spot colour technique, to keep it consistent.

Colour in branding for your business is very important.

For example, everybody associated the Cadbury brand with the colour purple.

We have tried to print this colour on our digital press and get it as close as possible to meet Cadbury’s requirements.

Now, colours such as these can be stored in the memory and used whenever new digital printing is required.

If this colour changed to different shade of purple each time, it would make the brand look very unprofessional.

However, even Cadbury failed to try and protect the exclusivity of the brand by applying to trademark their colour mix in 2013.

Most Popular Colours in Printing

The role of colour in posters, flyers and brochures can be particularly impactful with strong vibrant colours often standing out.

When designing, it is important to understand the psychology of colour.

Blue – is one of the most popular colours in printing.

In a study of the world’s top 100 brands it was found 33% use blue in their logo.

Blue is associated with some of the biggest global brands, IBM, Facebook, Intel, Samsung, HP and Nivea – even Direct2Print!

Blue is a very calming colour that evokes a sense of trust and security.

It’s very popular in the financial and corporate industry along with the technology sector.


Redis the second most popular colour with 29% of the top brands using red.

Red evokes a passionate and visceral response.

The reason why most SALE signs are in red is because they grab attention and stand out.

Like blue – red works very well with black.


Black – is a very sophisticated colour.

It is often associated with prestige, wealth and power and is used to promote luxury products.

Black works well for sophisticated or expensive products or services.

And 28% of the leading brands use black alone in their logo!


Pink – is thought to have a calming effect and an interesting choice for colours in printing.

One of our clients is a holistic dentist and the décor of the building and uniforms are all based upon pink!

Pink has been adopted by quite a few digital brands and is not one of the most common colours in printing.


Orangeoriginally orange was thought to be a difficult colour to replicate in the new world of digital communications.

Our old franchise business – Prontaprint – was advised to switch to a red and blue branding back in 2003.

However – many successful online brands used orange – including EasyJet and Orange themselves!

As a colour it combines the brightness and cheer of yellow with the energy and boldness of red to make a colour that is full of life and excitement.


Purple – the colour purple is often associated with elegance but like blue it has soothing and calming influences.

It is a very powerful colour and one that can add real elegance to your printing needs.

It is a sophisticated colour that is often associated with royalty, mystery and spirituality.

However, as we noted with Cadbury’s  – this may be best avoided if brand consistency is needed.


Green the colour green is often seen as a fresh and healthy colour that also carries wealthy and environmental associations.

It is also a colour that is really easy for the human eye and mind to process and can be very relaxing to look at.

Green is synonymous with calm, freshness and health.

Deeper greens are associated with affluence, lighter greens with serenity.

The Pantone colour of the year for 2017 is a fresh green.


Colours in Printing to avoid

Brown is often associated with dirt and lack of cleanliness.

Although people use brown to create a natural connection, you need to be cautious when using brown.

This is one of the less popular colours in printing, and it’s best to avoid using too much of this colour.


Yellow  is one of the worst colours in printing unless combined with a dark complementary colour.

Avoid using the colour yellow with another light colours or as a stand alone colour.

It does however tend to communicate optimism and hope and stimulates creativity and energy.


For help and advice on choosing colours in printing call us for free on 0800 0346 007 during normal office hours.

Colours in Printing

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