The Professional’s Guide to Ensuring Brand Color Consistency

This comprehensive guide is designed to help professionals understand the importance of maintaining color consistency across their brand elements. It provides insightful tips and techniques to ensure that your brand’s colors remain consistent, whether they are displayed digitally or printed.

From understanding color theory to implementing color management systems, this guide is packed with useful information to help you present a cohesive and recognizable brand image. Dive in to discover how you can enhance your branding strategy through effective color management.

Maintaining strict control of your brand’s colors directly impacts its public perception and worth.

An Introduction

Ensuring General Color Consistency Across Output Devices and Materials

The Pantone Matching System (and other systems) ensures a method for matching specific spot colors, but how do we make sure that what a designer sees on their computer screen is going to match a printed brochure at the local shop?

Ensuring color consistency between digital design and print can be a complex process, but there are several steps you can take to achieve this:

  1. Calibrate Your Monitor: The first step is to ensure that your computer monitor is accurately displaying colors. You can do this using a hardware color calibrator. This device adjusts your monitor to display colors as accurately as possible according to a color reference standard such as the G7 GRACOL standard explained in further detail later in this article.
  2. Use Color Management Software: These tools help maintain color consistency across different devices. They use color profiles to translate color data between devices so that each device displays or prints the color as intended.
  3. Understand Color Spaces: RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is a color space used for digital screens, while CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key/Black) is used for print. A color might look different in these two spaces. Designers should create their designs in the appropriate color space depending on the final output.
  4. Work with Pantone Colors: If you’re working with Pantone colors, make sure you refer to a physical Pantone color guide. This way, you can see exactly how the color will appear in print.
  5. Communicate with Your Printer: Make sure you have a good line of communication with your local print shop. Provide them with as much information as you can about your color requirements, including any Pantone color codes or CMYK values. Also, request a printed proof before the full print run.

Remember that even with all these measures, there may still be slight variations in color due to differences in monitor displays, printer capabilities, paper types, environment and other factors. However, these steps will help minimize those variations and ensure your printed colors match your digital design as closely as possible.

G7 GRACoL 2013 Explained

Idealliance provides a set of color settings files (CSF) for use with Adobe Creative Cloud (CC) and Creative Suite (CS) applications. This guide will walk you through the process of installing these files, specifically focusing on the GRACoL 2013 Adobe Color Settings File.

What is GRACoL 2013?

GRACoL (General Requirements for Applications in Commercial Offset Lithography) is a specification created by Idealliance for high-quality commercial printing. The 2013 version includes updated profiles for more accurate color reproduction.

The video below explains the history of the industry’s work toward setting a standard, first with SWOP and now with GRACOL.

The video below provides some real world perspective to why G7 GRACOL is important to achieving consistent color across all of your devices so you’re final output matches from start to finish.

Downloading the Files

Firstly, you need to download the necessary files. These include the GRACoL 2013 Adobe Color Settings File, along with other CSFs for SWOP 2013 and seven G7 based datasets for different substrates and printing processes (ISO 15339/CGATS 21). You can find these on the Idealliance website.

Installing the Color Settings Files

Once you’ve downloaded the necessary files, follow these steps to install them:

  1. Unzip the downloaded file. You should see .csf files for GRACoL 2013, SWOP 2103, and the seven G7 based datasets.
  2. Open your Adobe CC/CS application. For instance, if you’re using Adobe Photoshop, go to ‘Edit’ then ‘Color Settings’.
  3. In the Color Settings dialog box, click on ‘Load’. Navigate to the location where you saved the unzipped .csf files.
  4. Choose the GRACoL 2013 .csf file and click ‘Open’. The color settings in your Adobe application will now match those in the GRACoL 2013 profile.

Remember, these color settings are software-specific, meaning you’ll need to load the .csf file in each Adobe application you use for design or printing.

Using the GRACoL 2013 Profile

After installing the GRACoL 2013 profile, you can use it to preview and print your designs. When opening a new document, select the GRACoL 2013 profile in the ‘Color Profile’ or ‘Proof Setup’ options. This will allow you to design with the correct color settings from the start.

When printing, ensure that your printer is also set to use the GRACoL 2013 profile. This will help maintain color consistency between your design and the final printed product.

In conclusion, using the GRACoL 2013 Adobe Color Settings File provided by Idealliance can greatly improve the color accuracy and consistency of your commercial offset lithography projects. Be sure to install and use these settings correctly for optimal results.

Visit IdeaAlliance for more information.


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The Joy Of Print is a blog, podcast and reference resource by Briyan Frederick, a graphic arts professional with over 35 years in the industry.

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