Color is one of the most powerful elements of marketing and design because it’s directly connected to the neural pathways that evoke emotion, memory and even certain types of behavior. Research shows that 90% of consumers make snap judgments about a business, product, or brand based on color alone, according to research conducted by the University of Winnipeg. Recent research suggests that consumers may not even be personally biased toward certain colors over others. Their reactions to color may be biologically predisposed. Neuroscientist Bevil Conway believes that humans might be hardwired to favor certain hues. The color decisions you make for direct marketing campaigns might have a bigger influence on consumers than previously thought. 

Let Color Vocabulary Speak to Your Audience

Much like the language of love, colors possess a nonverbal vocabulary all their own. That’s because we associate certain colors with corresponding thoughts and emotions. We often associate blue with water, for example. Or red with anger. Blue’s association with water is called a natural association. Red with anger is a psychological association. Cultural association is the last way in which people interpret color. It’s a bit harder to pin down because culture itself is always changing. An example though is pink with breast cancer awareness or orange with Halloween. Strong brand identities use one color to strategically leverage a natural or psychological association. Over half (51%) of Fortune 500 company logos include the color blue in some form or another.

Two Colors is Better Than Three or More

If you’ve ever journeyed through the branding process, you’ll remember that choosing colors for your brand can be overwhelming simply because there are so many. You can think of colors like a recipe. Too many, and you get an odd mix of flavors that clash with one another as opposed to complement each other. So when it comes to color, less is more. More than 80% of Fortune 500 companies have two or fewer colors incorporated into their logo. This is because colors aren’t psychologically additive. In other words, just because each color evokes its own psychological response, doesn’t mean that throwing lots of colors onto a page will be beneficial. Too many colors creates confusion. Consumers are less likely to remember a direct mail piece that is distracting and loud.

Use Brand Colors in Your Direct Mail

If your goal is to increase recognition, awareness and recall, you might want to consider using your company’s brand colors in your direct mail campaigns. This where the personality of your company will come into play. If for example, your company wants to communicate credibility, boldness or excitement, you might choose to use red in the headlines or call-to-action copy of your materials. Red is a power color because of its high-impact. Red’s association with urgency creates stronger recall—will anyone ever forget Target’s red branding? For printed materials, choose one color that pops or two complementary colors in hue. Whatever you choose, be sure it’s representative of your company’s purpose and the emotions it wants to invoke.