Imagine you are at the grocery store picking up a case of a classic brand of soda pop when you notice the color of some of the cases are a little lighter or a little darker, or some are slightly orange and some are slightly magenta. They are not the bright red color you’ve come to expect from the popular brand. In fact, this brand’s red color has been so consistent for so long, it is likely you would notice even a slight variation. And if that aspect were not consistent, you may start to question whether the product inside is what you’ve come to expect too.
Well-known brands put in a lot of effort to maintain consistency in product and presentation (marketing). Both of these elements determine the success of a brand. If the product is inconsistent or has no demand, no amount of marketing will save it. Likewise, if the marketing is inconsistent, or non-existent, there will be no demand for the product. If Coca-cola® were to completely halt all marketing and present their product in various generic packaging they would eventually loose all market share. It may take a while, but it would happen. People would eventually loose awareness of the product, which drives demand, and other brands would start to squeeze the product off of store shelves, which would affect availability.
A brand’s strength relies on delivering what it promises. What a company delivers in their product and service must be in line with what their marketing promises. If the marketing message states “same great taste,” the product must deliver that same taste every time. That consistency builds trust. And that consistency is just as important on the marketing side as it is with the product itself. Presenting the product with related messages, consistent colors and fonts, and similar imagery supports a consumer’s presumption that what is on the outside represents what is on the inside. It’s true that companies change their packaging from time to time to keep up with current design trends, but typically when this happens it’s presented with a message like “new look, same great taste.” They know how strong a consumer’s perception is between package and product and how important it is to reassure a consumer that nothing has changed with the product.
A brand’s look consists of a few common elements–the logo, colors, fonts, and imagery. The details of these elements and their acceptable usage are typically specified in a brand guidelines document. A company’s brand guidelines are used by marketers and designers to help maintain consistency of a brand across multiple marketing channels and campaigns. Though it is important for each of these elements to maintain consistency for the reasons mentioned above, companies often struggle with one in particular–maintaining the same brand color given different reproduction methods.
Though a company can supply a press-ready file for print production or image for web, the method in which the color is reproduced can have inherent limitations and visual differences.
For instance, the same ink will look different on gloss paper versus uncoated paper, and that same color will look different on a fabric bag versus a computer monitor. This difference is due to several reasons. In printing, colors can be reproduced using CMYK process or Pantone® spot colors and are also effected by the substrate, whereas on a computer monitor colors are reproduced using an illuminative RGB process. Each of these methods have a different achievable color gamut (the number of different colors that can be reproduced), with RGB being the widest, Pantone® colors second, and CMYK process the smallest for full color reproduction.
Because of these limitations, it is important that a brand not only specify a Pantone® spot color (a standard industry reference) but also one that converts well to CMYK as that has the smallest color gamut. This gives vendors that are reproducing your brand color a common target that is more likely to be achievable regardless of the method they are using.
In a direct mail campaign, or across multiple campaigns, consistent design elements and print production help increase message retention and brand memorability. It is recommended that any single direct mail campaign consist of at least three pieces and should utilize consistent repetition of a logo, tagline, colors, and design style.
Specifying a spot color that converts well across multiple applications can help you maintain brand strength by visually presenting your product and marketing materials consistently. It is also critical that vendors chosen to reproduce your brand, from design to production, follow a strict process of operations for color reproduction that meet industry standards. Idealliance® issues certifications in the printing industry for grayscale and colorspace reproduction capabilities (G7). Commercial printers who are G7 certified can produce the same color given the same input and substrate because they are calibrated to a common target.
Phillips Printing is a G7 colorspace certified commercial printer and can help you maintain color consistency with your printed materials. Contact us if you have any questions regarding direct mail marketing or print production.