Think great color is something everyone can do? Think again. Getting accurate, high-quality color takes effort. Here is a peek behind the curtain at what it takes to give you the best color day after day, and job after job, even when projects are months apart.
- Define independent color space.
Your computer monitors operate in the RGB color space. Our presses operate in CMYK. The two spaces work very differently, and there is a delicate and complex conversion process that must take place between them. Adding to the challenge is that RGB and CMYK are device-dependent. This means that the same colors look different on different devices.
How do we get the two in sync? First we define color by metrics unrelated to the devices themselves — how color looks to the eye. Take the color of a red apple. On your computer monitor, “apple red” is defined by a set of numbers called CIE L*a*b, which is an objective, device-independent measurement what the eye sees. That CIE L*a*b value corresponds to an ICC color profile, which is an objective measurement of how that monitor “sees” and outputs color.
- Translate to “press language.”
Now that we have an ICC profile that translates color accurately from the eye to the monitor, we need to be able to reproduce that color on press. Every press is unique, so the ICC color profile for the RGB monitor is translated into an ICC profile for the CYMK press.
- Workflow steps to make it happen.
Next is to get that color onto paper. This starts with making choices at the RIP (the equipment that processes the job before it is sent to the press) to ensure that the settings match the ones in the software used by your designer. It also requires regular calibration of our presses to make sure that the color is not only accurate but repeatable.
Getting great color is not a magic trick. It requires a lot of craft, science, and hard work. That’s why you don’t want to trust your color to just anyone. We hope you continue to trust us with your most color-critical jobs.
Adapted from EFI’s webinar: “World of Fiery: 3 Key Steps to Get the Right Color the First Try.” You can view a video presentation on this topic at http://tinyurl.com/pfw76bu.
Color is a critical element of any marketing program. In fact, a new study from Go Inspire Group found that, increased design vibrancy produced an overall revenue increase of 20%.But color isn’t just for images. With a little creativity, you can find great new ways to grab attention and draw your customers’ eyes to places in your printed materials that you want them to look. Here are five places to get started.
- Eye-popping envelopes.Unless you are sending a postcard, the outside of the envelope is the first thing people see. If your envelope is a bright, vibrant color in a sea of white envelopes, it will be the first one people reach for.
- Make the offer stand out.Place text in brightly colored call-out boxes or use colored or highlighted text inside the body copy. Use color to say what it does best, “Look at me!”
- Highlight the call to action.Place your call to action (CTA) in a strategic location and use color to draw your reader’s eye. Place the CTA in a starburst or use an oversized font in a bright “can’t miss me” color.
- Add a teaser.By using teaser copy on the outside of the envelope, your message gets seen before readers even open the flap. Think “10 days to save!” or “Save 25% today!” You can add teasers to the white space around the body copy of the inside letter, too.
- Add a Postscript.Studies show that the postscript of a letter is what most people read first. Seize the opportunity by using colored text to reinforce the key elements of your message. Be sure to include the offer and the CTA. People often read postscripts when they don’t read anything else, so grab even more attention by making it in color.
Vibrant color is a powerful tool. Are you leaving opportunities on the table?
Paper is more than a substrate on which to print. It has personality. It can be warm or cool. Bright or mellow. Earthy or blingy. Let’s look at some key factors that impact the personality of your paper:
- Lighter and brighter?Brightness refers to the amount of light that is reflected from the paper. Brightness is measured on a scale of 1 to 100. The brighter the paper (or the closer the measurement to 100), the more your colors will pop. Papers with lower brightness will soften your colors, especially when the paper is uncoated.
- Warm shades or cool?Paper comes in a variety of shades. The bluer the shade, the “cooler” the feel. Paper with yellow undertones will have a warmer feel. Think blue tones for the annual report. Warm shades for the invitations to your company’s summer picnic.
- Impact of texture.Textured papers can elicit strong emotional reactions. Linen communicates elegance. Cotton conveys high quality and official communication. Recycled sheets, especially if they contain imperfections, are perfect for environmentally conscious clients. Smooth, high-gloss papers carry a corporate feel.
- Shine it up!Gloss, matte, satin, and uncoated sheets all take ink differently. Uncoated sheets allow the ink to soak in and create a more subtle look. High-gloss sheets cause colors to jump out and grab attention.
- Time to gain weight?Papers are also classified by weight. The heavier the sheet, the more gravitas the communication has. Want to communicate a premier or elite feel? Use a heavier stock. The heavier paper also conveys durability and permanence.
Your choice of substrate is like a flashy smile or a warm glance that sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. Ask us to show you samples of how different paper styles impact the conversations you are having.
Did you know that even during the Great Depression, some companies thrived? While other marketers were cutting their spending, a few businesses like Camel and Chevrolet took the opportunity to use aggressive marketing tactics to grab market share from their competitors. It’s proof that the key to long-term success in any economy is to get in front of your target audience and stay there.
Even if your budget strings are tightening, here are a few ways to keep your marketing on track.
Use fewer inks.
If you have a three-color project, consider dropping down to two colors. With the creative use of screen tints, you can often create a similar look for a lower cost. If you have been printing generic business documents like forms in two colors, consider dropping back to just black ink.
Use more inks.
This might seem counter-intuitive, but if you have a three-color project, it is often more cost-effective to bump it up to four colors. In many cases, the four-color process is less expensive than three-color spot printing because the press is already set up. Plus, you can ask about including your job in a gang run where it is on the press alongside other four-color jobs and then trimmed down to size.
Prepare your artwork and proofread carefully.
You can avoid many service charges by making sure you’ve prepared your artwork correctly and caught every last typo.
Clean up your mailing list.
It’s tedious work, but it can drop your costs dramatically. With a clean list, you can print exactly what you need and avoid extra postage costs as well.
Consider different formats.
Just because you have always done a brochure for a particular promotion doesn’t mean it’s the only option. Experiment with a postcard instead of a brochure and see whether you get a better response rate. Testing is the key to effective marketing. A little creativity can go a long way toward saving money.
Need some help applying cost-saving principles to your marketing projects? Give us a call!
What is the difference between a great personalized print campaign and a flop? Adhering to best practices.
Knowing today’s best practices can make the difference between a good campaign and a great one. Let’s look at five best practices for 1:1 (personalized) print marketing that you should be using in all of your campaigns.
1.Stay focused.Know — really know — your target audience and the goals you are trying to achieve. This allows you to focus your message and make it more relevant.
- Keep it clean. Nothing can make a personalized campaign seem more impersonalthan misspelled names or outdated data. Cleanse and update your mailing list on a regular basis.
- Know what’s behind the data. Data is just data — numbers in a spreadsheet. It’s up to you to use that information to create messaging that resonates with the recipient. All the personalization in the world won’t help if the recipients don’t see the relevance of the communication.
- Think “integration.”All direct mail campaigns need a great message and creative. If you reinforce this message across multiple channels, such as following up with a personalized email or text, this consistently increases the chances that someone will respond.
- Do what works.How do you know your efforts are working? Test different approaches, offers, and variables in the campaign. Test one element at a time against the control. Learn what works best for your audience and what doesn’t.
Success with personalized print doesn’t happen by accident. It takes planning and strategy. By putting these best practices to work, you can get the most out of your next personalized print campaign.
Pantone’s Color of the Year: Living Coral
It’s here! Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2019. It’s Living Coral, Pantone 16-1546. After considering trends in everything from fashion to décor, Pantone announced this vibrant, yet warm color as it top pick.
In a world filled with uncertainty, Pantone chose Living Coral for its warmth and optimism. After all, what better to represent hope than the beauty of the coral reef, a coastal community teaming with life?
In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life, we [as human beings] are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy. Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of Pantone 16-1546 Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity. Symbolizing our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits, Pantone 16-1546 Living Coral embodies our desire for playful expression.
How can you tap into the opportunity?
- Use Living Coral for borders, backgrounds, and even text.
- Select images that contain color(s) similar to Living Coral (or that are complementary to it) and incorporate them into your design.
- Even consider using Living Coral for envelopes. Bring your audience a sense of optimism and cheer as soon as they take the mailer out of the mailbox!
Pantone’s announcement lets you capitalize on this fun and meaningful color that we’ll be seeing a lot of this coming year. So engage your creativity. How will you use Living Coral?
Are you familiar with value engineering? It’s a fancy way of saying that you are scrutinizing every aspect of a project, whether a building renovation or a print campaign and making sure that you are maximizing the value of every dollar. Sometimes less expensive options can get the job done without sacrificing quality. Here are five ways you can value engineer your next print project.
- Bump your color down. If you have a three-color project, consider dropping down to two colors. With the creative use of screen tints, you can often create a similar look for a lower cost. If you have been printing simple documents (such as forms) in two colors, consider dropping back to black ink only.
- Bump your color up. This might seem counter-intuitive, but if you have a three-color project, it is often more cost-effective to bump to four colors because our press is already set up and running other four-color jobs. If we can include your job in a gang run, you can often save even more.
- Measure twice, cut once. This old adage applies to printing, too. Doublecheck your art files and proofread carefully. You can avoid many service charges by making sure you’ve prepared your artwork correctly and caught every typo.
- Clean up messy lists. List cleansing is not exactly exciting, but it can reduce your costs dramatically. With a clean list, you aren’t sending mailers to nonexistent addresses or people who don’t live there anymore.
- Think outside the format. Just because you have always used a brochure for a particular promotion doesn’t mean it’s the only option. Why not experiment with other formats like postcards and see whether you get the same or better response rate? Testing is the key to effective marketing…and saving money.
Looking for ways to value engineer your print projects? We have lots of ideas. Let us help!