Brand compliance and colour management.
Ensuring colour consistency across your printed portfolio is crucial to brand compliance and a consistent brand experience.
Incorrect colours at best undermine the integrity of the brand and at worst have a real bottom-line impact on your business profitability.
As an example of how important colour management can be, we worded with a homewares company called Dibor – a company who was struggling with their colour reproduction (and cost management) which was causing real brand compliance problems across the business and across different types of print. It was also causing products in catalogues to misrepresent colours to customers.
We helped them plan their production, ensuring their projects were placed with our tier one suppliers who could ensure exact colour reproduction for the retailer, monitoring colour quality throughout the process and matching brand colours across key printed products. We also helped them plan paper purchasing throughout the term, leading to cost savings.
The end result was a 7% direct saving along with a reduced number of product returns and significantly improved brand colour reproduction across their print.
It’s therefore vital your print suppliers are able to ensure colour matching and consistency across all print types.
Ink density and colour management should be carried out by systems such as a GMI closed-loop inking systems* across all print presses. Colour density levels, per colour, can then be pre-set after technical discussions with the chosen reprographic provider.
These procedures consider the whiteness/brightness characteristics of the actual paper stock as well as press dot-gain, to minimise on-press colour differences.
You should then produce a round of test pages prior to production, to allow for the harmonisation of the Raster Image Processor or RIP* settings within the digital workflow. Colour density levels should be maintained to within +/- 8%.
Your suppliers should also operate strict internal quality control processes to reproduce colour accurately and ensure consistency across the board. Look out for ISO9001, ISO14001, ISO27001 and PAS75 to give some assurance on quality measures, and look out for awards, case studies and testimonials attesting to the same.
You should ensure your print supplier offers at least PDF proofs as standard with every job. However, it’s important to note that these are for content checking only as they do not represent true printed colours because most computer monitors display a different colour to the printed colour.
Low res digitally printed hard copy proofs are also useful to check for content but to check for accurate colour reproduction and content, high res digitally printed hard copy proofs should be used.
And wet proofs should be produced for exact proofing of high value/colour critical projects.
See here for more information on the various types of proofs.
Managing colour across materials and print suppliers
Brand colours can be printed across a variety of stocks and materials but should always be sent to you to check and give colour approval. Once approved, these form essential parts of your approved colour book which can then be sent to all suppliers who produce work for you so each commercial printer can precisely match to those colours.
A prime example of this in practice is the colour management work Webmart produces for Microsoft where we produce brand critical colours like the Xbox green, which have to be printed and accurately colour matched across many different materials and across multiple suppliers.
For particularly colour critical projects, there’s no substitute to being actually on-press when the project is being printed. Your print supplier should offer you the opportunity to press pass your projects (or offer to carry it out on your behalf) so you can view the job live on the press and check for yourself that the colour is correct throughout – before it’s printed.
More information on what to look out for before and during a press pass.
Press passing allows us to see the final product on press and ensure that the colours have been reproduced exactly in line with your brand guidelines.
When running a printing tender, always ask for details on how they manage colour consistency across substrate for brand compliance.
If you’re unsure about the ability of your print partners to accurately represent your brand colours, the team at Webmart are here to help and advise. Please fill out the form below or call 01869 321321 and we’ll be only too pleased to help.
*GMI: are the world’s leading supplier of colour management and reporting systems to facilitate accurate colour representation on press.
*RIP: Raster image processor. Sort of like a printer driver but used at a commercial printers to prepare files for the printing process.