Marketing team members put their heads together to create logos, corporate color guidelines and other elements to boost and reinforce their organization’s identity. Too often, they’re left scratching their heads when their marketing materials appear differently on various media. Without the guidance of a brand-aware print and marketing services partner, different papers, substrates and printing processes can make it difficult to achieve consistent color. Layering those substrates — for example, packaging a product using paper labels encased in shrink-wrapped film — intensifies the problem. The cost implications of inconsistent branding can be high.
Protecting and maintaining brand identity is critical to organizations of all sizes, not just huge corporations that showcase golden arches or athletic swooshes. In a recent survey conducted by the Pantone Color Institute, more than 70 percent of creative pros noted that brand color definitions, accuracy and consistency in creating products or packaging are important to their business, while 42 percent indicated that color-related challenges have a negative impact on their company.
So how can a distributor ensure that a client’s employees working in different departments and locations receive the same high-quality, properly branded materials?
Getting It Right: A Checklist for Talent
Here's what you need:
- Trained in-house prepress and color management personnel. Brand partners can eliminate "offline” branding and color issues because their production employees understand (and test) how corporate colors and other visual elements will appear on different materials. Achieving consistency of final output comes from strong knowledge of prepress best practices and the dynamics of various print processes.
- Ability to set and apply color profiles across multiple substrates and production equipment. A distributor should have the ability to coordinate color standards across multiple substrates, production equipment and even multiple plants. This is accomplished by setting what are called "ICC profiles” (ICC stands for International Color Consortium) within output files. ICC profiles, developed to provide a cross-platform method of color control, are used as inputs to software that transforms color information between input and output devices.
- Digital proofs that reliably predict print results. Provide a calibrated digital proof to help clients visualize how the piece will appear based on its specifications, press conditions and inks. These proofs can help you and your client discuss optimal equipment choices, procedures and specifications for calibration, and other helpful topics that can protect and enhance the client’s brand.
Getting It Right: A Checklist for Technology
Consistent branding requires the right processes, not just skilled people. As a distributor, your toolbox should include a range of helpful technologies.
- On-demand digital marketing management system. Empower clients with access to technology that streamlines the management, customization and delivery of print, promotional and other materials, making it easy for them to give individual team members self-service access to approved marketing items they need, when they need them, where they need them.
- Updated color management software. Brand color data, equivalent to a digital color swatch, can now be stored in a secure, cloud-based portal that lets brand owners and other approved members of the supply chain manage digital rights and facilitate color communication across all materials in the production process.
- Collaboration and workflow management system. You could offer an online workflow management tool that provides secure, 24/7 access to shared online resources, including images, fonts, native files, movie files, presentations and more. No matter where they’re located, members of the client’s team should be able to collaborate on, manage and expedite marketing projects through an integrated PDF workflow. This technology can give you a track record of accountability on projects while reducing the chance for production errors that negatively affect your brand.
Darin Painter is the editor-in-chief of PS Magazine.