Not even the most convincing theory is necessarily enough to win financial-based arguments about the use of resources. In fact, accounts departments tend to make decisions based purely on numbers, with the philosophy that: “the cheaper, the better”.
However, color print presents some strong arguments against a more conservative approach.
Studies such as “Color in Newspaper Advertising”, “Impact of Color on Marketing,” or “Color Usage in International B2B Print Advertising” provide concrete examples of the real and direct benefits of color printing.
Let’s begin with the fact that color printing improves comprehension of messages by 70%, and it has shown a 78% improvement in learning and the retention of information, and a 14% improvement in the comprehension of texts compared to the use of bold fonts.
The value of color is proven to even work in emails. There are studies on the effect that color has on employees’ attitudes when responding to or interacting with messages that use color. This approach shows that emails with some elements of color are 80% more likely to get a response, and thus rule out the need for follow up messages.
In companies that process high volumes of internal documents, using color can save up to an hour and a half per day for each employee due to their inherent characteristics.
As the paper manufacturer Navigator points out, color “improves document search, reduces the number of errors made in drafting, searching and sorting documents, and even speeds up collection times”, thanks to the “sense of urgency it adds to each invoice”.
We can conclude, therefore, that color printing can have a positive impact on productivity, thus freeing up valuable time for more value-adding tasks.
The appeal of color printing is clear but why, then, is black and white still more widespread? The answer lies beyond the age-old price debate.
The most common mistake stems from thinking that the decision is permanent and absolute, and that you either print in black and white, or you print in color. The reality is, as with many business decisions, it depends. It is not the same for a business that prints large volumes of informative or urgent documents daily, as it is for a business in direct contact with their clients.
Usually, businesses that have no need to print graphics, presentations or images, tend to go for black and white for practical reasons. This, for example, may include accounting firms, law firms, consultancies, employment advisories, and public administrations. Before making the investment, it is best to analyze the type of processes and the specific needs to be fulfilled by the printers.
Monochrome printers - and their refills - are more affordable and are just as well equipped to handle large volumes of work and therefore pay for themselves faster and more sustainably. It stands to reason that a device that uses less toner and consumes less electricity (by requiring less running time), means less cost for the company.
However, the fact that black and white offers all these benefits does not necessarily mean that it should always replace color. In fact, the recurring mistake of many companies is to make the decision thinking only about costs, and end up choosing black and white, believing they are doing so because of its functional advantages.
What kind of documents will you need to print? How many users will there be? How often will they be printing? What size paper? What quality is needed? Answering all these questions will allow a reasoned and well-informed decision to be made, so that the final choice, whatever it may be, is not based solely on cost.
"Color printing improves the comprehension of messages by 70%.
Color should be the strategy to follow whenever possible. This statement would rule out the aforementioned businesses, which are more suited to black and white. After analyzing the cost difference between one option and the other, it should be understood that savings are in fact not cost-effective if quality factors are included in the equation.
If the competitive advantages of color are compared to the cost margins that will be used in other areas of the business, does it really make sense to reduce printing costs to the extent that these productivity and competitive edges are lost? In strained markets where companies rely on their projected image to maintain their position, the wise conclusion would be no.
In other cases, the final decision will depend on a simple mathematical operation. Just work out the cost of color vs. monochrome devices, calculate the difference, and compare it to the estimated loss of revenue, deals and market valuation that would result from not using color in internal and external documents.
However, it is important not to make the mistake of thinking that color printing will solve all business problems, nor that it will make it possible to achieve all goals. Choosing this option means competing against a large number of companies with more experience in color management, and with highly-streamlined procedures.
Devices with this technology do not add value by themselves; it is how they are used that can turn them into critical assets for the strength of the business. And for that it is important to assess factors like the choice of the highest resolution (image quality and size) of the files to be printed, the previous configuration of the printer and the type and weight of the paper.
Ultimately, the perception of black and white will always be associated with cost-saving, with color being perceived as a premium option. However, the role of a manager is to ignore pre-conceived ideas and to use real data to make informed business decisions.