When it comes to brand-building, the science of color is a discipline unto itself. While certain colors encourage calm and tranquility, others energize or even induce hunger. They are perhaps one of the most compelling and memorable aspects of a brand and that’s why marketers rely so heavily on them to construct and communicate a brand’s essence. Imagine the famous McDonald’s arches any other shade of golden yellow; or the white Coca-Cola script on a faded red(ish) background. Even the slightest variances in color can erode trust and diminish brand loyalty—for big and small brands alike.
The Cure to Inconsistent Color
In direct mail, achieving color consistency is especially critical – and a complicated mixture of art and science. One of the most vexing problems in printing, and a source of infinite frustration for marketers, is what’s known as fifth color, or in other words, the stock color. The characteristics of the stock itself, whether it’s coated or uncoated, all affect how printed colors appear. For instance, to achieve a bright white appearance many stocks use optical brightening agents which add a blue ‘tone.’ To combat this color variation, Idealliance, a global association serving the graphic and visual communications industry, developed G7®. Named for gray plus seven colors – CMYK and RGB, G7 is used in conjunction with GRACoL, both conforming to ISO 12647-2 standards. Since its introduction, G7 has become the international methodology for calibrating and profiling printing devices to a common tonality and gray balance, to achieve accurate color reproduction across stocks and printing processes. In laymen’s terms – calibrating to G7 specifications enables printers to achieve accurate color matching regardless of ink, stock, substrate or printing technology. Within G7, qualification can be achieved at various types and compliance levels. With a commitment to providing the highest quality direct mail programs to each and every customer, SG360° has achieved G7 Master Qualification in eight areas. “We live by G7,” says Chuck Schonert, SG360°’s Color Technology Manager and a certified G7 Expert. “Having calibrated all of our proofing and printing platforms to G7 specifications enables us to seamlessly scale from low-to high-volume runs that cross print platforms and results in significant time and material savings for our customers.” “Achieving these qualifications is just the first step.” Schonert goes on to say. “The bigger challenge is maintaining the consistency of the devices that the calibrations are based on. We monitor our equipment weekly and requalify annually to ensure we maintain the standards of certification.” SG360° is one of the few U.S.-based printers to achieve and maintain this level of G7 Master qualification, placing us in the top 2-3% of all printers.
The Benefits of Working With a G7 Qualified Printer
For marketers, there are many benefits to working with a G7 qualified printer:
Peace of Mind
Not only are you assured of accurate color reproduction from proof to print but you have the confidence of color consistency across all your direct mail programs.
Shorter Production Cycles
Beyond matching proofs to brand colors as well as from proof to print which saves significant time and make-ready in standard print jobs, calibrating to G7 specifications is equally, if not more, beneficial for jobs that require printers to change printing platforms or run on multiple presses. Take for instance test programs. Often run on digital presses due to low initial volumes, they transition to sheetfed or web inline presses as their volume scales up. In the case of SG360°, having all our presses calibrated to G7 specifications means we have the flexibility to transition jobs between presses and platforms without the need for extra production time and make ready to achieve accurate color matching. This flexibility means your direct mail programs get out the door and into the hands of your target audience faster.
A byproduct of a shortened production cycle, marketers also see savings on materials since there is less make ready waste when trying to match brand colors and ensuring the final product matches the approved proof. Building a brand is hard work. You spent significant time on each attribute including carefully selecting the identity colors to which your brand would be associated. Working with a G7 qualified printer ensures your direct mail programs support your brand by reflecting your brand colors rather than detracting from it due to variances. Want to learn more about G7 or our qualified printing processes? Connect with our color experts today.
Written by Jeana Garms
Director of Marketing at SG360°. A seasoned marketer experienced in designing and executing omnichannel marketing campaigns that combine the spectrum of marketing channels to drive desired actions and achieve results.