The anatomy of consistent brand color

Brands like Amazon, Google, and Starbucks all know the importance of color. Whether it’s on a direct mail piece or retail packaging at the big box store, buyers recognize these brands based on color alone. Highly identifiable brand colors are among a company’s greatest marketing assets.

This is why, when your brand colors are reproduced, you want them to be accurate and consistent. The human eye is very sensitive, and a slight shift of a yellow into the green range, for example, or a blue that is a little more gray, may not result in the same level of recognition.

How do we, as your printer, ensure that all of your colors are accurate and consistent from run to run?

We start by printing to industry standards. In the commercial printing industry, these include GRACoL, SWOP, XCMYK, and for spot colors, Pantone. The printing process is complex, however, and your color is impacted by a variety of factors, including the settings on the press, the base color of the substrate, and the type of inks. It is also dependent on the printing process used. Offset, digital, and wide-format presses all reproduce color differently. To compensate for these differences, we adhere to rigorous standards, use sophisticated color management software, and employ best-in-class color measurement tools.

Every time your job is run, whether it’s a repeat job on the same press or a project spread across different presses, we measure how close we are to the target color. To do this, we use a measurement called delta E. The word “delta” means “change.” A delta E is the change from one color to another. If you spec a color, the difference between your proof and the final color is measured in delta Es. Although delta Es can be as small as one, the human eye has trouble distinguishing differences this small. Most customers find delta Es between two and four to be acceptable. Consistent color also requires your files to be produced properly. If there are errors in the file, it limits the ability of our systems to compensate. Great files in, equal great printing out.

Let’s talk about your brand colors. Let’s go over your expectations, what’s possible on our presses, and steps for proper file preparation. Working together, we can ensure that your color is reproduced consistently, repeatedly, and as accurately as possible.

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