The Importance of Color Quality for Brand Owners

We invited Sonja Dearden, Print Production Manager at Lindt Chocolate, to a discussion on color quality for brand owners and developed this Question & Answer Guide to provide valuable insights on the importance of print standardization when managing color around the globe.

QUESTION: Why do we need print standardization?
ANSWER: An international company can have many different designers, pre-press agencies and print vendors around the globe working on their brand. If they all start from the same target, there is a better chance the brands’ visual integrity is upheld and that the printer avoids costly press checks and reprints.

QUESTION: Why is color consistency difficult to achieve?
ANSWER: With multiple substrates, printing processes, suppliers and locations, achieving color consistency can be very challenging. There can be a wide range of materials including paper, plastic, and corrugated cardboard (including different grades of board).

QUESTION: Is there a methodology to employ to improve color consistency?
ANSWER: One of the first steps to improving color consistency is the implementation of G7. Within the G7 implementation, it is important to communicate print goals and expectations to printers through comprehensive documentation, as well as to have printers match to verified proofs instead of trying to match to a variety of packaging printed at vendors around the globe. It is also vital that press trials are conducted to ensure the capability of matching to proof while maintaining G7 standards.

QUESTION: What do you think is a key component of a successful print production workflow?
ANSWER: Communication is key. When brands can communicate intended outcomes at the onset of the design process, the results are more consistent, less time is wasted, and there is less frustration. Global print standards should be sent to vendors prior to working with them and designers and pre-press agencies should be educated on color management. Additionally, PMS color tolerances should be communicated to vendors. It is also important that communication includes the hue angle of the colors. A final tip is for the drawdowns to be be sent using the same substrate with the same coatings that will be used in final production.

QUESTION: How can brand owners ensure a smooth process with print vendors?
ANSWER: There are a number of factors in ensuring a smooth process with print vendors including: supplying the ICC profiles for the print vendors, establish a good working relationship to ensure full support of the G7 methodology, use proofs for color accuracy, and lastly…while proofs can get you 90% to the finish line…drawdowns are still important. They allow you to see the substrate and the coatings and these factors will affect the final color output.

QUESTION: What about the internal design team and external prepress team?
ANSWER: Educating both the internal design team as well as the external prepress team is an important step in the process of print standardization. The information exchange includes: embedding ICC profiles into documents, setting up and correctly using colorbars, using an in-house proofer makes the process quite a bit easier.

QUESTION: What about color measurement devices?
ANSWER: The SpectroDens Handheld Densitometer and Spectrophotometer, is an important tool in the process. It removes the guesswork! Also, the creative team are all educated on using a handheld device to scan proofs and drawdowns. And, marketing understands that even if they think a color might not be visually in spec – it may still fall within a stated tolerance and is acceptable and this benefits the printer too.