Part 1 of a 3-part series on color management.
Brand consistency is critical; you know that.
Your brand identifies your business to your customers and clients, to competitors, to the public at large. Your brand stands for everything you do to make your business stand out.
Color management has a lot to do with brand consistency. Even if your company doesn’t have “official colors” for your brand -- and chances are you do, with specified hues expressed in numbers matched to a particular shade in a color sample book -- people can often tell one brand from another by color alone, even before they see a distinctive logo. Think Home Depot. Think UPS.
So it’s important to get those colors right, especially across all forms of print collateral -- business cards, brochures, billboards, product labels -- by which most people encounter your brand.
It’s not enough to see the colors on your desktop computer and say, “That looks right. That’s what I want.” Different computer monitors display the same color different ways, and they’re all different from what appears on paper, just because of the difference between colors made of lit-up pixels and colors made of mixed inks.
Even your own eyes might fool you, because your brain interprets the information provided by your eyes and compares it with your experience of what things “should” look like.
Those of us who remember taking photos with film cameras and getting photos back from the drugstore might remember how photos that were taken under fluorescent light looked green, when we clearly don’t remember the actual scene looking that way. (Forgetting to select the proper “white balance” on your digital camera can give you the same results.)
A printing professional, whether she uses a computer screen or a grand digital or HD flexo press, controls color not just by looking at the image and matching by eye, but by analyzing the components of the color, reducing them to numbers and using those numbers to command a press to duplicate that color exactly.
Also, the printing professional will have charts and other tools that help her keep track of what colors are possible to depict in different media, from the point its on screen to in print.
The printing professional will have specialized graphics computers with monitors that have been calibrated to display colors faithfully and matched to an objective standard.
The laptop or tablet on which you view your company’s web site, your financial spreadsheets, and your company e-mail likely doesn’t have that.
The printing professional may be working with specialized software that communicates with press equipment and enables her to more accurately reproduce defined color.
The printing professional may even be working in a room lit by special lights designed to make colors appear as they truly are – allowing for continuity in color evaluation.
What does that all mean for you, the brand owner?
- It means you get printed material that accurately and faithfully represents your brand.
- It means your unique identity is kept unique.
- It means you’re showing your true colors.