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Expert Advice, Resources

Achieving Your Brand Color

Your brand and the specific colors of your brand often become inseparable. Though words are key to communicating your message, they are just not as memorable as a well-known logo using a consistent color. For example, the vast majority of people in the U.S. associate well-known brands with their companies, such as Target’s red bullseye and UPS’s brown trucks. In fact, color is the most important decision any business or service provider can make when determining the proper and most effective brand for a company – one that conveys precisely what is intended and in the manner it is desired.

Achieving your organization’s brand color can be challenging, but well worth the effort. By taking the necessary steps to set up your colors correctly, you’ll ensure that any printed collateral, whether it’s small- or large-format printing, and on any of a wide variety of substrates, will be correct.

This is where our team of experts gets involved in the technical aspects of reproducing your colors for optimal results. It’s important to keep in mind that artwork, as it appears on a computer screen to a designer, is almost certainly inaccurate because every computer screen renders colors differently. Different programs, if left in default configurations, working on the same computer are also subject to this issue, and an on-screen proof cannot exactly match the color or density of a printed piece.

Achieving the correct colors is vital to reproducing your brand image, and as a company focused on providing the information and education one needs to produce quality results, we are here to help.  First, we recommend working on a monitor that has been calibrated to its optimal settings when doing precision color work. Second, requesting a hard proof before proceeding with an order will provide a visual example of how a selected color will appear post-print. For more information about hard proofs, visit the proofs help page.

We encourage our clients to design and use spot colors for a variety of reasons.  When choosing a spot color for your brand, our goal is to define your particular color. Defining your color is accomplished using spectral values, which are often converted to LAB (also known as L*a*b* – a technical means of assigning numeric values to colors that are device independent). These values then can be shared with us electronically, or they may also be provided by way of a hard proof for our operators to match. Using a spectrophotometer – a tool that measures colors and light reflection – Smartpress operators can determine the spectral values of a particular color, and in the process arrive at the LAB values of that color for optimal reproduction. Our color management system can translate spot color values to the specific values that each press needs to achieve those spectral values associated with your brand spot color.

Brand Color Matching

Designed by Amy Teh

Moreover, once these values are saved in our system, they can be reproduced at any point in the future when our clients place another order using the same spot color. Although custom spot colors are our preference, for consistency and quality, we also support and encourage standard Pantone® colors. As with any digital printer though, it must be understood that many Pantone colors are outside of the gamut of our presses. Another issue arises as the result of Pantone books containing slight variations from one to another due to different book versions as well as outdated books. Though these exist for the purpose of having a common color, these are not always the same for these reasons, which is another inherent limitation in the printing industry.

Custom spot colors are more easily reproduced at Smartpress because when dealing with a customer spot color example, our tools – such as the spectrophotometer – and process allows dialogue between the customer and a Smartpress customer service representative for the best results possible. This interaction allows our customer service team the opportunity to inform clients whether or not we can reproduce their selected color exactly. If inherent limitations prevent an exact match, our experts have the ability to dial in color until we achieve a color that is very close and usable for our clients. The result through this process is the agreed upon color sample.

This is why, although slightly costlier and time-consuming, building a custom spot color with our experts ultimately pays off and will put your brand in the same league as the brand giants of the world.


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