How to Educate Clients on Color

Author: Amanda Altman, A3 Design

I do a lot of branding work with clients and talking about color can be tricky. It’s important to get it right – from the brand logo to the product color to the packaging.

Photo by pressfoto on Freepik

Part of my job is to help educate clients on color and how to make better color choices for production. In my branding workshops, I begin by highlighting the importance of choosing the right color and why its import for color consistency in production.

One of my favorite studies is from a KISSmetrics survey. It found that consumers place visual appearance and color above other factors when shopping. It found that 85% of shoppers place color as a primary reason for buying a product.  Color also increases brand recognition by 80% and brand recognition links to overall consumer confidence.

Large inkjet vinyl banner - Photo by mumemories on Freepik

Part of my job is to help educate clients on color and how to make better color choices for production. In my branding workshops, I begin by highlighting the importance of choosing the right color and why its import for color consistency in production.

One of my favorite studies is from a KISSmetrics survey. It found that consumers place visual appearance and color above other factors when shopping. It found that 85% of shoppers place color as a primary reason for buying a product.  Color also increases brand recognition by 80% and brand recognition links to overall consumer confidence.

As designers, we know the importance of color in the buying process. Consider the packaged good market, color choices trickle down from the parent brand to the flavor/variety indicator to the copy callouts on a box/packaging. To maintain consumer confidence in the product, the consistency of the brand and packaging colors from run-to-run become increasingly important. This is especially true the longer a consumer brand has been in a market.

The number one word consumers associate with the packaging they like is 'recyclable' followed by 'easy' and 'colorful'
Kiss Metrics from Neil Patel
Highlighting the Value of Color in Production

Getting color consistency in production is about working with experienced printers. One way to educate a client on this is to walk them through the process of laying out and approving proofs.

For example, I worked on a simple branding project. I presented designs initially in digital format for buy-in from the client. I then printed the design using a quick print option such as FedEx or Staples. This initial printed version is used with the client only to confirm that the artwork is correct. I make sure the client knows this is not for color! It’s for size, placement and type/content.

Once confirmed, I can begin working on the digital proof with an experienced offset printer. I educate the client that the proof will be closer to the true color but not spot-on. Again, this is for proofing with the printer before the full run goes to print.

I make sure to explain to clients (especially new clients) that the finish of the digital paper plays a part in final color and appearance as well as the print process used. Then I pull a press sheet from the offset run. This is the true color.

The press sheet is what you proof on press to make sure all is right. For the press sheet approvals, I pull the Pantone color chip to show the accuracy of the color. Again, I explain that this is how the press operator checks their work to make sure they have the right color.

I also like to explain the various printing processes and how they are different. For less experienced clients, it’s important not to speak down to them or over their heads. More importantly, by walking clients through the process they can see the color differences at each stage of the approval process. This helps clients to visually see the importance of consistency in production.

It also illustrates the value that an experienced and capable printer brings to the table. Having visual proof that clients can compare helps them understand what to expect if projects are executed on the cheap. It also positions us (the designers) as experts in our field far beyond logo, branding and artwork design. As branding agencies, we can add value by ensuring the accurate execution of designs.

Finding the right press partners for your various projects can be an exhausting effort. Helping clients understand the value of a trusted printer can ensure a successful final product. Vetted networks like colorkarma are a great start to that search.

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