Colour Graphic Service's managing director David Crowther ("The Colour Doctor"), says that colour management issues for FMCG products are moving upstream to the Brand Managers themselves, as sourcing of packaging, advertising and POP display comes increasingly from a variety of providers and processes.
"We are seeing mega-print runs of packaging for popular branded goods fragmenting into smaller, targeted print runs sometimes featuring a specific retailer or exclusive offer," says Crowther. "These shorter production runs are often tied in with campaigns that can include outdoor, point-of-purchase, magazines, catalogues and TV promotion. Brand appearance consistency is a major challenge across all media, and where different production sites are used, often in different countries, the problem is multiplied."
Crowther claims the solution to brand colour consistency is to be found in a suite of software and consulting tools he represents for Australia; Mellow Colour, and cites success with UK retail giant Marks & Spencer - soon to open stores in Australia - as an example.
"M&S is a huge $13 billion retail group with stores in the UK, Hong Kong and Singapore. Goods are sourced globally with all packaging and brand identification, which must comply with M&S's strict colour standards. Mellow Colour's ImpressionProof is an online verification system that eliminates press-checks by brand custodians, using online reporting instead, to make sure the printer has complied. Printers providing work to M&S are trained, checked and certified by Mellow Colour specialists such as myself, and occasionally spot checked for continued compliance," says Crowther.
He continues: "The ImpressionProof system saves brand custodians money and time, through travel expenses and accommodation, as they no longer need to physically approve the print run at the printing plant, which could be 12 hours flying time away in the case of M&S. Without leaving their office they can be assured of colour accuracy by using ImpressionProof's reports. Over 70% of M&S' print service providers now use ImpressionProof, with the remaining 30% set to follow."
Trevor Hatchett, head of GM Packaging - production, quality and sourcing at Marks & Spencer says: "We have worked with Mellow Colour for over 3 years now and have made great technological advances with our approach to global colour quality management. We feel that ImpressionProof gives us the best opportunity to manage our corporate image, not only across the UK but within our international business as well."
Crowther adds: "The whole concept of good brand image management is tied to colour consistency and repeatability. With our Mellow Colour ImpressionProof, PrintSpec analysis for the printer and advanced tuition programmes, brand managers can be confident of colour fidelity for their packaging, instore displays, outdoor advertising, catalogue and magazine advertising. Print providers in turn, can be assured that they are delivering products that the client approves of because every job has been measured, reported on and, if necessary, adjusted to be within specifications. The only things that are immeasurable are the time, wastage and costs saved by both client and printer!"