By Eric King, VP Operations, WebbMason Commercial
With apologies to quirky 80s pop queen, Cindy Lauper, the “true colors” used to support or even define a brand might not translate into various media – print, digital, billboards, three-dimensional items – the way they were intended. This is problematic. To understand the importance color plays in shaping the identity of a brand, try this quick test. Ask the next group of women you see what company’s products are packaged in “little blue boxes”, or ask just about any guy in the Plains states who makes the big green tractors. You are very likely to get the answers Tiffany and John Deere without much thought (and usually accompanied by a smile).
According to design website Color Matters (www.colormatters.com), “80 percent of visual information that we take in is related to color” and that is perhaps why the connections between emotion, color and brand are so intrinsically linked.
The availability of cheap and easy digital printing has made many digital-native marketers unaware of the basics of color management for printed items. Below are three things every marketer should understand to significantly improve the color consistency of their printed projects.
1) Color Management (What is the Pantone Matching System?)
The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is an internationally recognized system for specifying colors. By assigning a numerical value to each unique hue, marketers and printers can maintain consistency across different media, printing processes, and even geographies. Most seasoned marketers can tell you their brands’ PMS color off the top of their head as it becomes a very important element for maintaining brand integrity.
2) Spot Color vs. Process Color: What’s the Difference?
To professional printers, all colors of a printed piece are defined as either “process” or “spot.” Each is created in a different manner and each can produce different results.
- Process color uses half-screen dots of colors to create the illusion of solid colors to the human eye. Often called 4 Color (4/c) printing, Process color screens a specific percentage of each of the four color inks – cyan, magenta, yellow and black, (usually abbreviated “CMYK”) onto a surface.
- Spot Color is produced by pre-mixing ink pigments, in appropriate quantities. Think about mixing yellow and blue paint to get green in grade school. Spot color is created in a similar, although much more precise, manner. Once mixed, the finished spot colors are then applied to your project.
3) Coated, Uncoated and Matte Finishes
The texture of the media you are printing on can affect the way ink is absorbed, and subsequently, appears to the eye. By adding a suffix letter to PMS colors, you can determine how it will look on a certain media. Those letters are C (coated), U (uncoated) and M (matte).
WebbMason has helped simplify the process of maintaining brand and color consistency across all platforms with the introduction of MarketingBench 2.0, the marketing automation platform for digital and traditional channel management. You can learn more about how MarketingBench can help you produce more effective and more efficient results here.