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Why is color important in packaging? Color brings brands to life. For brands looking to create a lively identity that truly jumps out at customers, using color in packaging is essential. Using color in packaging is easier than most brand managers realize. While worries about cost and environmental factors cause many brands to shy away from adding color to packaging, there are ways to go bold without breaking your own business rules. Take a look at the important role color should be playing in your branded packaging.

First Things First: RGB or CMYK?

This is the question that has launched thousands of very beautiful brand campaigns. Your brand may be very accustomed to creating stunning graphics for things like digital ads. However, selecting colors for printed packaging is different. When deciding between RGB and CMYK for packaging, CMYK is a clear choice. Here are the basics:

  • CMYK means Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key.
  • CMYK offers better color accuracy than RGB.
  • CMYK shines for allowing subtleties in shade and tone to come through!
  • CMYK colors start off white before layers are added to tweak the finished product to your intended shade.

CMYK is the best choice for materials that will be tangible for your customers. However, RGB still certainly has a place in your marketing plan! Just save RGB for marketing materials that you plan to deploy both on the screen and in the “real world.”

Covering Some Key Differences Between CMYK and RBG

Many brands are drawn to RGB because it offers a bigger range of color choices. While this is a draw, choosing your medium may come down to a case of choosing quality over quantity. That’s because CMYK makes colors much more vivid even though it leaves you with a smaller pool of colors to choose from. One hiccup to look out for as you try to expand branding across your marketing pipeline is that transferring an existing CMKY image to RGP will likely leave you with a different look in person than what you were viewing on screen. If you try to transfer your RGB to CMYK, expect to see a very muted color scheme that is merely a pale reflection of its previous form.

Let’s Talk About Finding the Right Ink Color

The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is used by packaging printers to help brands get a uniform, consistent final product for every single printing journey. While packaging companies employ their own designers, they are also more than capable of collaborating with your own in-house to make sure you’re getting your brand’s true vision brought to life. Here are the fast facts on the Pantone Matching System (PMS):

  • The system offers 14 base pigments to work with.
  • You can easily replicate the results of each project due to the universality of the PMS.
  • To select your shades, base pigments are altered by adding black or white.

There’s no need for a brand manager without a background in art to feel intimidated by the Pantone Matching System. Designers work with this system on a daily basis. That means that bringing your desired color choices to a packaging producer doesn’t have to be a stressful or confusing process. In-house designers specializing in producing accurate, vivid color transfers on all types of packaging materials are there to ensure that what you’re seeing on your screen will actually come to fruition when you’re holding the packaging in your hands. They will also explain to you how the stock you choose for your packaging materials will influence brightness levels!

Why Color Enhances Product Packaging: Selling Emotions

This isn’t a black-and-white world that we live in. This is especially true when it comes to shopping aisles! Colors actually send cues to all of us that tell us how to feel, think and behave. That’s why marketers are missing big opportunities when they leave color out of the equation. The reality is that you’ve used color at every moment of your marketing funnel up until this point. Why make it stop with your packaging when your packaging can be used to reinforce all of your careful branding?

The impact of color on purchasing decisions is widely known. According to an article published recently by, research shows that color is a critical factor in consumer purchasing decisions. In fact, 75 percent of snap judgments made about products are based solely on color! The reason why color is so influential in purchasing decisions is that our brains seek out colors that are easy to recognize. Color is a “shortcut language” for the intellect. Brands use color every day to get in position against competing brands. Each time your brand uses color, it reinforces the connection you’re building with your customers. Leaving color off of packaging undoes that very important work.

A Ticket to Instant Brand Recognition

Research shows that color usage increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent. In fact, most people can recognize branded items solely based on visible color themes even without seeing any printed words on logos. One study demonstrated that 78 percent of people could recall the primary color used in a brand’s logo when introduced to a “fake” brand for the first time. By contrast, just 43 percent of people in the group could recall the actual name of the company they had just been introduced to for the first time. What does that kind of recognition mean for your brand if it’s not yet a household name?

Color Influences Buyer Behaviors

Color also influences customer perception of your brand or product. Brands have been using colors to influence buying behaviors for as long as there have been brands! Here’s a look at the subconscious messages conveyed by colors that are commonly used by major brands:

  • Red: Produces urgent, high-energy feelings that lead to hunger, desire and impulsiveness.
  • Green: Conjures up natural, responsible and eco-friendly imagery.
  • Blue: Evokes feelings of security, stability and trustworthiness.
  • Orange: While orange is taken seriously, it’s slightly more energetic and playful than other colors.
  • Black: Prestige and elitism.
  • Yellow: Warmth and cheerfulness.

Brands are taking advantage of color to lock in split-second messaging. In fact, looking at how the top 100 global brands are using color can help smaller brands to get a picture of what’s effective. Here’s the breakdown of how the top 100 brands are coloring their messaging:

  • Black: 34 percent.
  • Blue: 30 percent.
  • Red: 30 percent.
  • Yellow: 9 percent.
  • Green: 7 percent.
  • Grey: 6 percent.
  • Orange: 5 percent
  • Brown: 2 percent.

Brands that use color don’t stop before they get to packaging. Think of how easy it is to spot various brands when walking down any aisle before you get close enough to read the labels. This also extends to external packaging used for shipping. The use of color in shipping packaging is an important brand reinforcement tool for many reasons. The colors of your brand can be used to create an instant positive association between your brand and the experience of having a package arrive at the door! Secondly, customers appreciate knowing exactly what has “landed” without having to tear open the box. Lastly, you’re using your colors to reinforce your brand for everyone who sees your packaging being carried around out in the world.

You Don’t Have to Be a Color Expert to Expand Your Packaging Horizons With Color

Many smaller brands forgo the use of color on packaging because they simply don’t know how to make it happen. The truth is that syncing up with the right packaging company is a shortcut to flawlessly adding color to packaging in a cost-effective, eco-friendly way. If you’re ready to explore color options, our team is here to walk you through the entire process! We’ll help you find color options that are fully compatible with the packaging materials you need to use to ship your items securely and cheaply. Our team has already helped countless brands with everything from choosing the right colors to translating existing branding color themes to print. Let’s talk color together! Reach out today to book your consultation to go over the details of bringing your packaging to life with color.