Brand Color: Close is NOT good enough
That bulls eye on the latest Tide laundry detergent label is ‘pretty close’ to the official Tide Orange color. That’s OK, right? The Hershey Brown color on the new promo pack is in the general neighborhood of the approved spec. Not a problem.
For brand managers equity colors are sacred. Design directors demand accurate, exact color reproduction—and every time! As brand stakeholders, we have an obligation to ensure consistency in our brand palette.
Variant colors are important as well. Shop-ability depends on sufficient differentiation and consistency of flavor colors. This is not an easy task. Especially when our packaging is printed with various print methods on a wide range of substrates decorated many different ways.
Here are a few key factors for maintaining consistent color in this challenging environment and managing expectations throughout the supply chain:
Establish Official Color
Old Spice Red is Old Spice Red. It has a name. It has a number. Strict digital protocol dictates the use of the official swatch in our files, built the right way, every time. There is no ambiguity when it comes to our target. The designer is confident in its use, the production artist ensures its clear communication, the separator honors its recipe, and the printer confirms its accuracy.
Ink on Substrate
The same Coke red ink offset printed on SBS board looks completely different when printed gravure on clear film backed in white ink.
Request ink draw downs pulled on the final packaging material. The printer’s ink supplier will factor in the unique print characteristics and the effect of substrate on color to formulate an ink that matches the brand color under the specific printing and decorating conditions.
X-rite’s PantoneLIVE cloud-based ecosystem touts the ‘Master’ and ‘Dependent’ relationship between the pure color target ‘Master’ and its ‘Dependent’ color versions based on the color printed by various print methods on different substrates. The future of color control very well may be sharing the scientific recipe of color under these specific conditions via digital means.
Scott Hosa started his career in the graphic arts at 14 years old as a printer’s helper at a local newspaper, and has been in printing and packaging ever since. He studied graphic design at Youngstown State University, industrial design at The Ohio State University and has worked on all aspects of global branding for clients including Bayer, GSK, Hershey Company, Kraft Foods Inc., PepsiCo., Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, SC Johnson and Unilever. Hosa is currently helping clients build agile brands that thrive in today’s dynamic, disruptive marketplace as associate director of technical graphics at Landor, a global leader in brand consulting and design.