How to improve Brand equity through Color and Print Quality Management
Part 2: Communicating PQM with print partners
A Color and Print Quality Management program has to work in partnership with the printer and clear communication of all the Brand requirements for achieving their packaging production standard is a critical step in the design to print process. As detailed in my previous article a design should always be developed in collaboration with a print technical manager that has gained a clear understanding of the printers’ capabilities through direct communication and the sourcing/analysis of the printers specification for technical artwork build and the subsequent prepress process.
When the creative intent for a design file is ready to pass into artwork production there is a crucial step in the process that has to be implemented, the pre-production meeting (PPM) which will bring the printer into the detail of the project. A PPM is the first opportunity for the printer to give feedback on the design, the print technical manager leads this meeting and uses the forum to confirm pack format, die-line, color separation, print process, varnish, common plates, common images, and substrate. This process step will confirm that all parties are aligned on file setup requirements, whilst ensuring consistency across multiple print processes. The PPM creates a clear brief that supports the printer’s requirements and is a point in the process that ensures the printer is briefed and committed to the project.
Once the print technical manager has established the Brand direction with the printer we can confirm the requirements in regards to plate making. For example, wide-web flexo bags can utilize improved color vibrancy, extended color space and a larger tonal range can be delivered through HD screening technology. Once this is set we collect the relevant profile information. The application of the printer profile will take place during the artwork production process to control the color management of CMYK. The printer will share the results of their press output (fingerprint), this could be either a physical test chart or a digital profile which allows accurate simulation of final press results and in turn, the press predicted proof that is an achievable target for the printer to match to.
A print technical manager would communicate a Brand color to the print base through spectral data (CXF) and physical targets. CXF files provide the printer with a fixed color target with embedded measurement conditions. For all Brand color approval the printer has to verify that they can match this color within a predetermined tolerance. All color approval will be recorded within the PQM database so that printers are approved to go into production.
As the artwork approval moves towards the final stage of repro the PQM program will have defined a file setup strategy that has gained buy in from the whole print base, communicated CMYK expectations to the printer through a press predicted target proof, and has measured and approved all Brand colors locking down the production variables and safeguarding the final delivery of your Brand.