Digital File Problems to Avoid

Digital File Problems to Avoid

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Certified Professionals

Our success at Rose City Label is due to the quality of our people.  The people that do the work in our business every day are dedicated, experienced, and committed to our customers.  Our job – as a business – is to provide them the tools, training, and motivation to be excellent at their jobs.  Part of that effort includes ongoing training and certifications.  In the last year, our prepress graphics team was Level 3 certified by FIRST – the leading authority in our type of long run, traditional press printing.  This certification was largely a review, but also had good reminders about the basic principles of printing, ink, dot gain, and other factors.  All these play into our ability to create beautiful labels for our customers.

Top Graphics Errors

  1. Fonts not included or Outlined.  The font used in a label is actually a separate file that must be delivered with the label art file.  We have many, many fonts on our system, but if you have a very specific font you need on your label, please include it.  Or, as an alternative, you can outline your text.  This basically turns the text into a graphic element so spell check won’t work and we don’t have any way to edit the file.
  2. Images missing or incorrect.  If your design includes a placed photograph or other image, please include the original image. Again, like the fonts above, this is generally a separate raster image file (not vector).  Also, make sure the resolution is sufficient for a clean, crisp printed label.  300dpi or higher resolution is preferred.
  3. Asking for Edits when No Fonts Provided. This is related to #1 above. If you send your wine label without fonts, and outline the text, then we will have no trouble printing your label this year. But, for next year when we have to update the vintage and alcohol percentage, we won’t be able to since we don’t have the required fonts.

More Advanced Errors

  1. White Ink Layer. If you are printing on clear or metallic label stock, you may want a white layer beneath some of the graphics.  This has to be a specifically named layer in the file.  If it is not clearly labeled and called out in the design, the layer can easily be missed.  Depending on the press platform, white layers can be omitted if not properly formatted.
  2. Overprint layers incorrect.  In printing, the inks can often only be laid down in one order.  This is usually lightest color to darkest, but if you are using layers or special effects of one color on top of another, please contact us to discuss.  This is especially true with foil stamping and embossing – it is always down last, so no ink can print over those effects.
  3. Legacy File Formats in Adobe Illustrator.  We are on a subscription program with Adobe so we always have the latest versions of Adobe Illustrator and other front end software.  However, the back end RIP and imposition software that does the heavy lifting is not updated as regularly as Adobe Illustrator so please save your files in Legacy format so they are backward compatible.
Artwork Matters

Your Artwork Matters

We have talked about quality design previously in this post, but by working with our team and following these tips, we can bring your beautiful creation to life.  The design, the prepress, and the printing press all have to work together to get the desired results.  Thank you for partnering with us and allowing us to print beautiful labels for your products.  We appreciate you and the faith you put in our team.

Precision Quality Printing – Watch Details

Precision Quality Printing – Watch Details

Precision Details Matter

Everything in the label business requires a very high level of attention to detail. Precision details matter.  Even the smallest defect in a product or process can cause an entire job to be rejected.  We always check and double check all the details on our work.  We also rely on our customers and designer partners to provide correct artwork and check their proofs carefully.  Sometimes, even with all these QC procedures in place, we still miss things and have to go back to the drawing board.

In this case, the ORDER of the colors was not fully contemplated in the design process.  As good as computer design software is, it still can’t simulate every situation on press.

Foil Always Down Last (mostly)

In our company, hot stamping foil and embossing are nearly always the last operation in the label production process.  It is possible to add other embellishments to a label after foil, but in general, the foil goes down last.  This means, the foil layer can’t be spread to print under the adjacent colors.  This is a part of the trapping process, which is explained in more detail here.  The important thing for us to catch internally, and for our designer partners to keep in mind, is that foil is always down last.  The image above shows an outline of the digital printing, and the foil set to underprint the digital print, which is not possible.  The result, in this case, was an unwanted part of the foil showing an ugly effect over the primary digital printing.  It took quite a bit of work to figure out the problem, but after a few hours of troubleshooting, we found it. 

brass plate rose city label

The Solution was a New Plate

In this particular situation, the answer was to buy a new printing plate.  This is a lesson learned for everyone in the process – especially us.  This is the kind of thing we work very hard to catch in prepress, but it is a small, obscure detail that is easy to miss.  After a few hours of frustration, and some hand wringing about missed schedules, we were able to come up with a solution.  This job will be back on press with a new plate in about a week, and the end result will be very satisfying for us, the designer, and the end client.  Go team!

Call Us Today – We can help

Since 1928, we have worked hard to solve complicated printing problems to create beautiful labels.  Our collective expertise, along with excellent designer partners, has allowed us produce some beautiful, award winning labels for our customers.  Our ultimate goal is to help the producers – wine, beer, food, and other consumer product companies – connect with their end users.  Beautiful labels help with that.

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.