Selecting Color Schemes for Direct Mail • Colorkarma

Selecting Color Schemes for Direct Mail

Adobe Illustrator’s Color Themes can help marketers and graphic designers choose the right color scheme for direct mail and transactional printing.

Author: Mary Schilling

Color schemes and graphics make a design stand out. Each color carries a message or an emotion and will provoke a response. Warm colors such as reds and yellows are comforting. Cool colors can be relaxing or evoke sadness. Bright colors can be energizing and fun.

Designers often create color schemes for brand logos and product packaging and can sometimes overlook creating a color scheme for direct mail or transactional pieces.  For these items, color can be just as important as the words/message or designing for ease of navigation.

Adobe Illustrator Screen with the Adobe Color Themes Window
Adobe Illustrator's Color Themes can help build colors and with saturation values.

Choosing the colors to support the intended tone of the mailing is important – particularly when some news (like an overdue bill or cancellation of service) can come as a shock and when there is a call to action that needs emphasis.

Most transactional and direct mail pieces are produced on Inkjet for its speed and cost benefits. This has created a faster-paced schedule requiring quick turn times for creative work and file preparation.  As you work on transactional designs, don’t forget to consider your color scheme.  Here are a few tips and tools that can help you select the right colors for your transactional piece.

 

Getting Colors to Work Together

When selecting colors for a project running in an aqueous inkjet environment, consider not just the hue of the scheme, but the saturation of the colors. The use of large areas of heavily saturated colors will create more bleed through when using thin papers. This can result in a show-through of text and graphics on the backside. Though designers have to work with their customers’ brand colors, there is often wiggle room in selecting surrounding complementary colors. Balancing coverage and saturation using a scheme helps the colors work together with the ink and paper.

Adobe Illustrator Screen with the Adobe Color Themes Window - It shows the color wheel
Adobe Illustrator Colors can be edited using the color wheel.

Finding a color scheme right for your project may require some trial and error. Adobe Illustrator has a great tool, called Color Themes, which I find is rarely used. Color Themes is a feature within Illustrator which helps with choosing the right colors when starting a new direct mail or transactional statement design

Designers can start any design by choosing the number of colors required for the scheme. Starting with a choice for a base color, schemes can be created as monochromatic, triad, complementary, compound, by shade, or with completely custom color choices.

You can create your own scheme or choose from 100’s popular combinations. Each scheme is customizable and ready to save as your own library. Every color is represented by sliders that show CMYK, RGB, LAB, HSB, and HEX values ready for any print or digital application.

Based on the color wheel, Color Themes can help with building colors and their saturation values. Selecting colors with lower saturation values can reduce issues such as ink show through and paper curl and cockle.

Adobe Illustrator Screen with the Adobe Color Themes Window - It shows the CMYK Color Slides
Edit each color individually or as a group using the saturation slider bar.

To find this hidden gem, launch Adobe Illustrator and go to Window > Color Themes.

You can create your own scheme or choose from 100’s popular combinations. Each scheme is customizable and ready to save as your own library. Every color is represented by sliders that show CMYK, RGB, LAB, HSB, and HEX values ready for any print or digital application.

Final color values are supplied for any application.

This tool helps you find color combinations that work well for print – but it also shows how the theme will be represented across your print, web, or color displays. In my next post, I will dig into some cool tools for working with color schemes across delivery channels.

Remember color is a different recipe for each communication channel which should be shared for color consistency.

This article was originally published on July 28, 2020 on https://inkjetinsight.com/knowledge-base/cool-tools-selecting-color-schemes-for-print/

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