There are two main reasons why your brand color does not match your expectations.
- You were never provided a sample of the appropriate ink on the correct substrate to review and approve.
- Color measurement instruments do not all measure exactly the same in spite of being built to exacting industry standards.
How to fix brand color verification
Problem #1 is relatively easy to fix. Start by providing the supply chain with a digital specification of your color to produce. Require that you be provided with a physical sample to approve for each unique combination of printing process and substrate prior to the job being produced. Typically these samples are referred to as ink drawdowns (YouTube video link).
This sample should be both visually inspected and measured for conformance to your color requirements. Once approved, this unique sample becomes a subset of your brand color digital asset library. From this point on, future supply chain members have a meaningful and achievable digital standard.
Some in the industry will try to convince you that providing a generic color name or number from a swatch book is enough; but it’s not. Generic swatch books are typically produced by a single printing process on one or two different substrates. If your printing needs fall within this limited print process/substrate family, then the generic color libraries may work for you. If not, it’s critical to see that generic color matched and produced with inks for the correct print process on the correct substrate.
Each substrate has physical characteristics that affect the visual appearance of color. These characteristics include white point, gloss and absorbency. Without seeing and measuring an ink formulated for the print process that will be utilized on the selected substrate, it’s difficult to predict if the color will match on the live job.
Problem #2 can be more vexing and difficult to solve. It’s not enough to provide a set of L*a*b* values and ask your supply chain to match the color. L*a*b* values have additional information that must be provided for the number to be matchable. Variables such as illuminant, observer and even the instrument should be used to achieve the match.
With the advent of our normalizer technology, there is now an option to provide a spectral reflectance curve of the target color and then let software adjust for variables like illuminant, observer and even the instrument used to take the measurements.
Wrapping it up
To successfully house digitized brand colors in the cloud, technology like our normalizer and a willingness to create ink drawdowns for each substrate and ink combination are essential or the solution will fall short of your expectations.