Color printing is the new black and white

September 5, 20174 Minute Read

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People like color. It may seem obvious, but when you stop to think about it, everyone responds to color, whether you’re a toddler or a 92-year-old. Color captures our attention and triggers unique memories and emotions. Yet, businesses have operated for years on the premise that it’s better to print in black and white to save money.

What if that approach is all wrong? What if the decision to print in color versus black and white isn’t, well, a black-and-white one? It’s a colorful world out there, and there’s no reason why documents shouldn’t reflect that.

Recent color research conducted by HP shows an overwhelmingly positive user perception of color.1 HP surveyed hundreds of small and midsize businesses (SMBs), gathering insight from people who work with documents rather than people who make business printer decisions. The results were striking: Color improves brand perception, information interest and retention, and much more.

Print the rainbow

A splash of color can make any document look more attractive. In fact, up to four times as many businesspeople claim a document printed in color is more attractive than the same document printed in monochrome, and about half feel that the mono versions are outright unattractive.

When’s the last time you saw a completely black-and-white document? At work, it may not have been too long ago, but you probably can’t put your finger on when exactly you saw one. Color captures attention more than mono-only documents, and attention increases with a greater proportion of color. Six in 10 respondents strongly agreed that, “My customers and prospects would be more likely to notice a received mail piece that is printed in full color than one which has little or no color.” On top of that, three quarters of businesspeople—and 84 percent of those with marketing influence—print documents in color to attract attention to the document.

HP’s color research also found that color compels readership. Three times as many respondents said they “strongly agree” the appearance of the color version of a document makes them want to read it more. The difference in desire to read increases with more color on the page. Documents are also read in detail by up to three times as many businesspeople if printed in color rather than monochrome. Half may postpone reading or ignore the document altogether if it’s mono—especially if it’s text heavy.

Color also builds brands and promotes products. More than half of businesspeople agree that printing in color enhances their company’s image; 44 percent feel strongly that the use of color in marketing materials improves the reputation of the brand; and nearly half believe that including a color image of a product makes it “much more likely” that consumers would at least consider buying the product. In short, color looks more professional, put together, and complete. It’s a powerful tool.

Innovations that work for you

Given all these benefits, why have businesses shied away from color printing? Cost is a big factor, especially for SMBs that need to allocate their resources wisely. It becomes a gray area when spending less can also lead to lower engagement and sales. But print innovations allow SMBs to have their cake and eat it, too. In terms of cost and sustainability, it’s time to offset the stigma that printing in color is wasteful and emphasize how color can benefit the business.

For instance, consider HP PageWide business printers, which provide 40 percent lower color cost per page compared with color laser printers.2 These machines also deliver ultra-fast printing, with a speed of up to 75 pages per minute—providing high performance without compromise.3 The secret is in the print bar that prints across the page in a single pass. With 42,240 tiny nozzles on a fixed printhead ejecting ink in precisely the right location on a moving sheet of paper, the printer can easily and quickly produce ink drops with uniform drop weight, speed, and trajectory. The result is high print quality and maximum speed—all from a printer that’s quiet and dependable.

With innovative printer solutions, like HP PageWide technology, business printing is undergoing a reinvention in terms of affordability and performance. Businesses can supercharge their brand’s reputation, attract customers, increase engagement, and generally boost performance by creating personalities that are literally and metaphorically colorful. So, for any business concerned about cost, wastefulness, and efficiency, the need to choose between the “responsible” option and the exciting one is over.

With savings on maintenance, replaceable parts, and energy consumption—as well as innovation around how color printers work—every business can embrace color with open arms. Ironically, the new black is any color but black.


  1. HP, “Color Effectiveness/Business Impact Research,” March 2017.
  2. Comparison of HP PageWide Pro and Enterprise class devices, not sold under contract, with the majority of in-class color laser MFPs < $3000 USD, and color laser printers < $1249 USD as of November 2016; market share as reported by IDC as of Q2 2016. Cost per page (CPP) reported by gap Intelligence Pricing & Promotions report Oct 2016, comparisons for all supplies are based on published specifications of the manufacturers’ highest-capacity cartridges and page yield. Average yield based on ISO/IEC 24711 and continuous printing. Actual yield varies based on content of printed pages and other factors. For details, see
  3. For speed comparisons, see
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