Believe in Better Brand Consistency and a Stronger Market Presence

Manchester, England

This blog post has been contributed by David Stewart, ColourLab Account Director, Schawk.

According to The Institute of Colour Research Chicago, 90 percent of human subconscious judgement of an item (which is made within 90 seconds!) is based on colour alone.

In packaging, we print on a wide variety of substrates — plastic, metal, glass, paper board, corrugated — and now, that colour must adapt to digital platforms, like social media and e-commerce. The demand for color consistency is at an all-time high, as seamless customer experiences across all touchpoints are a very important part of the purchase decision making process.

READ: How Your Brand Can Win on the Digital Shelf 

It’s a bit of a phenomenon! Colours influence us subconsciously and brands have been very proactive in tapping into this effect to get their message across. There are obvious examples of brands using colours to convey their ethos. For example, there has been a recent trend of more bespoke, earthy products where brands will use browns and red tones and even recycled substrates to give a handmade, healthier and craft-like impression.

Brands don’t just use this approach with specific products. They also very cleverly use carefully selected colours in their brand logos to tells us about who they are. It was no mistake that Coca Cola use a strong red to tell us they are a bold and powerful organization. Or Apple using greys and neutral colours to give us a sense of balance and calm.

But what happens when those colours are altered?

Colour errors are one of every brands biggest fears in the production process, particularly with the amount of time and effort put into the selection of these colours to get their core messages across.

When it goes wrong that message can be lost!  There is a danger of inconsistency across a range of products that will end up together on a store shelf. Studies confirm that consumers will perceive colour variation in a well-known brand as either the product being out of date or not genuine. All of this can be costly for brands, especially in the FMCG world.

WATCH: Delivering Science-Based Colour Integrity for Your Brand 

The tech we use in colour science, like other areas in the tech sector has changed significantly over the last decade. The instruments we use to measure colour are smarter and a lot more accurate. I believe the biggest development has been the digitization of colour.

We are now able to seamlessly share PDF’s with the digital colour information embedded in them. We have the ability to share digital libraries of colour upstream with our clients and partners in the creative process. So they are creating artwork that is colour accurate from the outset. This saves a lot of time and heartache further along the process.

Another impressive development has been from our colleagues in the ColorDrive team. They upload our digital colour data to online servers. These can then share real-time reporting on live jobs between brand clients and their printers in the supply chain.

The new challenge in packaging is facing brand consistency, digitally. Most of brands haven’t quite mastered it yet! We are consuming more and more information via mobile/handheld devices, so we need to see products online in the way that we were intended to see them. Mobile ready “Hero” images are a big focus to make sure we have clear and easy to understand images in a limited space.

But for brand consistency, it is equally as important that these images are colour accurate. The 'Holy Grail' for any brand is that their colour becomes synonymous with their brand. Think about PepsiCo blue or Starbuck's green, or here in the UK, Cadbury's purple. So, in a quick-paced online shopping environment, brands want their colour to be instantly recognizable.

I think it's safe to assume that the digital world will continue to grow and become increasingly important. I have seen some really good R&D work over the last few years in both accurate colour and appearance. There are technologies now being developed that will allow brands and manufacturers to render colour accurate images that also show accurate representation of texture.

I am pretty sure there will always be a need for physical hard copy colour standards and swatch books. There is no better failsafe way of comparing the colour accuracy of a physical object, such as packaging, than with a colour accurate finely tuned colour standard. I am confident there will always be room in this packaging world for both physical and digital standards.

And I think brands would agree. They have too much at stake!


Are you ready to get serious about print quality management?  

We can support you with expertise, tools, and technology as either a full complete packaging or as an individual modular service to help close the loop on your colour management.

Define. We advise and help to define the colours you want to control across your product range, substrates and region.

Create. Our lab creates brand colour standards using the same production process and substrates our clients do.

Integrate. We can share colours digitally through ColorDrive, allowing the entire supply chain full access to integrate their colour library, with QC features and reporting included.

Control. ColorDrive also delivers online cloud-based storage and reporting — ensuring you can control colour accuracy across the supply chain.

Our mission is to bring consistency and control to colour — using science and the latest technology to strengthen our client’s brand equity and brand integrity.

Contact David Stewart at to learn more.