Color is King in Direct Mail

Meet the writer: Karen Pieper

Hi, I'm Karen! I've been in the industry for 21 years and can't wait to share my perspective on all things direct mail. I'm currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Letter Jacket Envelopes and deal with tasks from managing the website, facilitating conversations with customers, and much more!

As you strategize your direct mail campaign, it’s vital to create a powerful visual impression on your envelope that will immediately catch the eye of your potential clients, and encourage them to look at the contents. The proper use of color on your custom envelope can trigger memory, build brand recognition, and generally improve the efficacy of your overall marketing campaign.

Direct Mail Associations and Meaning

Color triggers certain areas of perception that deliver natural and cultural associations in the mind of the reader. When people see certain colors, they tend to think of similar concepts. For example, we associate green with grass, blue with the sky, yellow with the sun.

In the United States, certain color combinations are associated with times of the year. Orange and brown are harvest colors, and are often associated with Halloween. Red and green together elicit thoughts of Christmas and the feelings that go along with that holiday. These are cultural associations, since they are specific to cultures that celebrate those holidays.

Choosing the Right Colors

When thinking about the right color scheme for your custom envelope, consider the somewhat universal meanings that colors carry in Western culture, and target your design towards that message. Here are some tips about color use in the West.

  • Black has multiple associations in the West. In many situations it is often associated with death, or negative emotions. However, it can also be very classy, especially when combined with white, and can evoke imagery of formal occasions.
  • White is a pure color, but one that is also very sterile. It evokes imagery of snow, which is both serene and cold.
  • Red is often associated with anger, but can also be the color of love, particularly around Valentine’s day. It tends to be a strong, eye-catching color and using it on your envelope will likely draw the eye of a potential client.
  • Blue tends to evoke feelings of calm and serenity and is a very popular color among businesses. For this reason, if you’re trying to make your envelope stand out, blue may not be the best color to use.
  • Green is a color that is associated with nature and the environment, as well as representing wealth and prosperity.
  • Yellow, due to its brightness, is a great attention-grabber, but it can also hurt the eye.

Remember, think about the message you want to deliver and design your envelope to not only be bold and eye-catching, but to speak to that message. Stick to one or two colors—going with too many can be a strain on the eye and evoke a negative emotional response, or at the very least, unprofessional. Try to make sure you’ve got a good contrast between text and logos, and the background color.

Putting some thought into the color scheme on your custom envelope can add a lot of punch and “pop” to your campaign, and can greatly increase the number of reads you get from your direct mail marketing. If you need some advice about color schemes or designs for your custom envelopes, give us a call. We’re glad to be of help!

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