Precise Color Matching for Amazing Labels

Precise Color Matching for Amazing Labels

Precise Color Matching is something we are very good at.  Here is how we do it.  On our HP Indigo Premium Digital printing press, in nearly all cases, images are printed using the four primary colors – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK (known as CMYK in the print industry).  Though it is technically possible to purchase premade ‘spot’ colors, they are expensive, problematic, and not used at Rose City Label.

Photographs and complex, multicolor images are quite easy to print on this press.  There are density targets for each of the process colors (C, M, Y and K) and if those color densities are within the proper tolerance, then the image will look correct to the human eye.

Simulating and reproducing solid, spot colors is a bit more complex.  Depending on the color, sometimes just a few percentage points difference in one of the color components make the resulting color visibly different from the target.  This is where color matching comes in.

‘Spot’ Colors – We need a target to match

When we are trying to match a specific color in a large solid area, like a logo element, border, or type, we need something to match to.  The press needs to know what it is trying to print so it can keep that color within a very tight tolerance around the target.  There are two types of targets we can work with – PMS colors and Custom colors.

PMS Colors – the universal language of printed color

Precise Color MatchingPantone is the de facto standard of color communication.  According to the company website, over 10 million designers and producers around the world rely on the Pantone color system.  You can read more by clicking here.  There are hundreds of colors in the Pantone Matching System – also known as PMS colors.  New colors are added every few years as design trends and tastes change.  The beauty of this universal system is that our press knows these colors.  Because they really are a worldwide standard, these colors – and how to print them – are built into our press.  The other huge advantage of using PMS colors is that many designers already have a printed PMS book in their studio – it is a very common design tool.  With this printed color swatch book, we eliminate the time and cost of creating press proofs.

Custom Colors – when PMS isn’t enough

Sometimes despite all the choices available in the PMS library, the color just isn’t right.  In this case, we need to create custom colors.  This is an additional step, but it isn’t difficult if we have a correct, printed standard to work from.  Often to dial in these custom colors, we will provide physical printed press proofs with different variations on the same color.  The customer would review this color proof and pick the color that most closely matches their desired color.

From that chosen printed color sample, we scan that color into our custom color library, and it is retained within the press computer for future runs.  These colors are given a specific, descriptive name for future use, such as ‘Acme Company logo blue’.

Designers – Please read carefully!

The most important thing for designers to know about using ‘spot’ colors in jobs printed on the HP Indigo Premium Digital Press is that you must specifically select the proper color in your label design file.  The computer can’t guess the color you want – it must be very specific.

  •             PMS colors – you must pick the PMS color from within the graphics program (typically Adobe Illustrator).
  •             NEW Custom Colors – you must specify this as a custom color and coordinate with our graphics department to get a press proof (for an additional fee) to finalize and confirm this new color.
  •             Existing Custom Colors – you must specify the exact name of the custom color that was previously decided.  If you submit a future ‘Acme’ label design, but you call the color ‘Acme logo blue’ as opposed to the previously decided ‘Acme Company logo blue’ the computer will not link this new graphic element to the previously designated color.

How we make the colors match

Once these colors (either PMS or designated custom) are properly identified in the label artwork file, then the press magic takes over.  Because the press has a digital image of these colors as a reference, it has a standard to comparePrecise Color Matching the color to.  Throughout the run, as the job is printing, the color is scanned in real-time while the press is running.  Those scanned images on the label are compared and corrected during the run.  The color accuracy during the run is fantastic.

No Standard = No Color Match

Just to restate – none of this magic can happen without a standard to match to.  This standard must be either a PMS color selected within the graphics program, or a custom color that is properly created, named, and used in the label.

Still Not Sure? – No Problem – Call Us Today

We love to provide detailed technical information to help our customers work more efficiently with us.  Ultimately this helps us work together to create the best possible labels as quickly and cost effectively as possible.  But, if you prefer to chat directly with a live person, we are happy to accommodate that too. Our graphics team is always available by phone or email to answer your specific questions.  Together, we can collaborate and make sure your labels are beautiful.

 

Textured Varnish – Feel the Luxury!

Textured Varnish – Feel the Luxury!

Textured Label Varnish

Textured label varnish helps your product stand out. The pictures don’t really do it justice, but we can send physical samples – you will be amazed at the tactile feel of this premium textured label varnish. When it is in yoiur hand, itTextured label varnish just feels different than most labels – you know you are drinking something special.  In this case, the front label on the bottle is a deeply embossed placard that complements this label very well.  Together, they make a premium package for your product.

How do we do that?

Some customers are fascinated with the technology behind their labels, and some really just want the results.  If you like knowing how we get your labels to pop off the shelf, this is the paragraph for you.  One of the key components of high quality label printing is the delivery of ink and coating to the label stock.  The ink (or in this case, coating) is dispensed by a very expensive, finely engraved roller with microscopic ‘cups’ that carry and release coating onto the printing plate.  These rollers have various line screens – numbers of cavities per linear inch.  As the number of cells is increased, the volume of ink dispensed is reduced.  In this case, we used a very coarse, high volume roller to deliver a very thick coating of varnish to the label surface.  The textured label varnish is also enhanced with a fine grain additive – almost like putting sand into the label coating.  Together with the proper volume, pressure, and press speed, this label ends up with a very distinctive tactile feel.

What does it cost?

Now that we have developed this process through trial and error with customrs, all our customers benefit from this knowledge.  Because the textured label varnish slows down the press and uses more expensive materials, it is an upcharge from standard varnish, but it is worth it!  The cost increase is only 5-10% over a standard flat varnsih.  It isn’t for everyone, but if you like the feel in your hand, you will immediately see that it is worth the additional cost.

Call us today!

We have several different special techniques to offer.  Hot and Cold foil treatments, embossing, specialty die cutting and this textured label varnish.  We love printing, but often it is the other embellisments beyond printing that help your product stand out on the shelf.  Call us today for more information.  Now more than ever, you need your labels to stand out to the consumer, and we can make that happen for you.

High Speed Rotary Die Cutting

High Speed Rotary Die Cutting

Labels Need a Shape

Nearly all the labels we produce are die cut to a specific shape. Some are simple rectangles, but many are custom shapes. Regardless of the specific shape nearly all our labels to through the process of high speed rotary die cutting before they get to the customer.

Engraved Dies for Long Life

Many of our labels use very flexible, in expensive magnetic dies now. Our off line die cutter used for digital production uses only magnetic dies. Check out the video of this machine here. Even with this rapid growth, engraved (solid) dies are still very popular and useful on our longer run flexographic label presses.

Across and Around

Because the die image is engraved on the rotary tool, we can’t change the orientation on press. The die can only run in one direction on the roll. Once the label is removed from the backing, you can turn it any direction for hand application, but if you are machine applying your labels, then the run direction is critical. Nobody wants labels upside down on their bottle! For clarity, we always refer to the ACROSS and AROUND dimension on a roll label. This image shows the difference, so please be sure your labels are oriented the correct way.

Call Us Today – We Can Help

With 90 years in business and millions of labels printed, we have thousands of cutting dies to choose from. Sometimes (but not often) we have the same label size running in multiple directions on the roll. If the roll unwind is important to you, please clarify that up front before you design your labels to fit a particular cutting die.

Thank you! Call us at 503-777-4711 today!

We are Label Branding Experts

We are Label Branding Experts

Label Branding Experts

The Rose City Label label branding experts can help you connect with your customers.  Your brand is a promise to your customers.  It sets the expectation for their experience with your product.  After purchasing and trying your product, the quality of the product and the service that delivers the product will bring them back.  Before they purchase, it is your brand that will bring them in.

Your Authentic Brand Voice

Knowing your purpose is critical.  Before you come to visit the label branding experts, you need to know exactly the image you want – fancy, relaxed, formal, or casual?  How do you want people to feel when they eat, drink, or apply your product to their body?  Are you a good value?  Premium quality? Best supported?  What makes your product special and why should someone choose you?  Once you have this, you can begin to select the ideal label color as discussed in this previous post.

Your ideal Customer

Who you are selling to is another thing to decide before you come to the label branding experts.  Who you are talking to will radically inform the decision about your label design, material, size, and perhaps even quantity.  When in doubt, go smaller on your target market.  You only want to target and focus on the ideal customer.  If you focus on this group, you will catch some adjacent groups that buy, and that is great, but don’t dilute your branding by focusing on a wide market.  Go narrow.

What Resonates with Them?

Your look and feel – especially your packaging and labels – must be defined on the wants and needs of your ideal customers.  You have to be authentic and speak in your true voice, but if your ideal customer doesn’t resonate with the message, you have a problem!  Make sure your facility, the taste and style of your product, and especially your labels, all resonate with this idea customer.

Everything Works A Little

All the elements of your BRAND – from how you answer the phone to the quality of your physical product – all contribute to your ultimate brand experience.  Hopefully, if you use discipline and thought, all these touch points work together.  Everything must work together – the elements of your brand don’t exist in a vacuum.  Make sure everything is working together. All the elements need to reinforce each other.

It’s A Marathon Not a Sprint

Think about the lifetime value of a customer, not just the first sale.  The marketing journey is a long game.  Don’t get discouraged – make sure you have the discipline to keep the business and the marketing going over the long haul.  Branding and marketing is an ongoing, never ending process.  It is a marathon, not a sprint.

Labels Can Help

One of the key parts of this brand is your physical brand.  If you have a product in a bag, box or bottle, your labels are critical.  If they don’t align with your other branding elements, you will have a hard time growing your business.  The labels have to reinforce (rather than fight with) the other elements of your brand.  If you like the way the RCL label branding experts think about branding, please call us today.

Outstanding Branding Advice from Professionals

Outstanding Branding Advice from Professionals

Begin with the End In Mind

Remember that every part of your business that the customer sees has an impact – positive or negative – whether it is intentional or accidental.  Everything WILL have an impact, and by being proactive and thoughtful, you can shape that impact.  Think about the feelings you want people to have when they come to your store, view your packaging, or use your product.  How do they feel?  These are all good and viable feelings your product could invoke, but they are all very different.

  • Happy?
  • Confident?
  • Giddy?
  • Bad A$$?

Be sure that when you set out to create or update your brand, you begin with this end in mind.  Start with you you want them to feel when they interact with you, then work backwards to create that feeling.

Labels are Only Part of the Package

We love labels!  Labels are our life – but we know that they are only a small part of the brand.  Labels only ‘work’ to the extent that they reinforce and build on your web design, your on-premise look and feel, your menu, your actual product in the bag, box, or bottle.  The owners’ personality also plays into this – if you are an owner-operator, or otherwise serve as the ‘face’ of the business, then how you interact matters too.  Again, we don’t want to minimize the value of labels (never!) but we realize they are part of a larger branding system.  Read more about that in the great article below.

Start with your Authentic Brand

Begin with your message and your brand voice.  A presentation by our friend Clare Carver was the inspiration for this Authentic Brand blog post.  Check it out.  This is covered in more detail in the tutorial below.

Check out this Cool Tutorial from Codo

This is one of the most comprehensive, well written guides to branding that we have seen.  This is specifically targeted to Craft Beer (which is a big part of our business) but it could equally apply to any product company with a consumer product in a bag, box, or bottle.  Anyone with any business could learn from this guide. Check it by clicking here

Need Label Help?

Once you have the complete branding package complete, and you need to bring that brand vision into the world, please call us!  We can help reinforce your brand and bring it to life in the hands of your consumers.  We have great printing technology and people ready to help.  Call us today!

Best Label Color to Build Your Brand

Best Label Color to Build Your Brand

What is the best label color?

This is a complex question with conflicting research on all sides. Regardless, one thing is clear – the best label color is the one that reinforces your authentic brand.  Your brand voice must be established first before a label color can be selected to bring that voice to the market.  Check out this post about Your Authentic Brand  and Clare Carver’s rules to build your brand here

Once the brand and the brand voice are solid, you can begin to work on the best label color.

Is it important?  Yes!

According to Emerald Insight and others (full study here), people make up their minds about a product or person – including your beer, wine, soap – within 90 seconds.  And, importantly for us, 62-90% of that initial reaction is based on color.  That’s right – color!  Having the best label color is critical.

What does each color say – what makes the best label color?Rose City Label Color Branding Experts

Begin with the end in mind – what emotion are you trying to evoke?  Happy?  Angry? Fired up to Party?  Each of these desired consumer reactions will require a different best label color.  Yes – as always – it depends.  If you know your intended reaction, and your brand voice, then finding the best label color is easy.

Specific examples of Best Label Color

Real Simple magazine has a great breakdown of 10 different colors and the reactions they evoke.  Read the full article by clicking here.  Here are a few examples, but read the full article for more detailed explanations.

  • Black – the signature color of sophistication.  Where do you want your brand positioned in the mind of your target consumer?
  • Blue – everyone likes blue.  It connotes trust and dependability.  A blue logo can increase loyalty and feelings of security.  Is this the reaction you want?  Maybe this is your best label color?
  • Burgundy – rich and refined.  Think of full bodied, bold (expensive) wines.  Luxury.
  • Orange – fair and affordable are typical reactions from this color.
  • Red – This may be your best label color is you want a hot, excited consumer, but red also means ‘stop’ or caution or danger to many people.  Choose carefully.

There are five more great colors, and links to other research, in the full article link above.

Summary and Next Actions

Begin with your well defined brand image and voice.  From there, layer on the reaction you want from your target consumer.  From there, the best label color decision is much easier and logical.  With all this data, you also need to add in a touch of your own flair and gut feeling.  These are guidelines that are very helpful, but ultimately your decision is up to you.  Make sure you are being consistent with your ultimate business goals – read this post for more information about brand alignment.

Still Stuck?  Call us Today

We can help solve the best label color problem.  We do it for many customers each year and we are happy to help you, too.  With our new HP Indigo Press, printing great labels has never been easier.  Cheers!