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Case Study: Color Management as Sales Tool

December 11, 2012

Recently I got a note.  “If we can match the color of this sample, we can lock in a huge job from this new client…  We need your help.”

Here’s the Sales side of Color Management.  I’ve done a lot of work for this client, tuning up their offset proofing system, profiling their wide-format printers and even their CD/DVD thermal printing, but still, this particular color – a deep, rich maroon – seemed elusive.  It was particularly troublesome when printed on different systems, yet, the product had to match, and getting the client in the door (and keeping them) depended on their Color Management.

Starting with some good printer profiles we got close with a few tweaks.  Fine-tuning the rendering with some finessing in the RIP got us the rest of the way.  They nailed the color, and locked in the client for the job, and many more to come.  Total time elapsed: about 4 hours.

The first round of printer profiling for this client was also about Sales.  They needed their wide-format printer to match their offset press’s output, so a very large, and very particular client’s work would all look the same…  and good.  That was a simple case of fixing their workflow with some fresh profiles, and bringing the wide format printer in line with the GRACol standard used in the offset industry.

But here’s the cool one.

Once more, “If we can match this color…”, but the stakes were astronomical.  Again, it’s red, and other shops had tried and failed to hit the mark with the flatbed printing process required for this particular media.  If they could hit the target, it was a multi-million dollar contract, a new press, and possibly a new facility.  This one would kick them into the next level.  This one was also a huge challenge.

Of course, we started with a good profile, and tight workflow from pre-press to output.  They had several problems to start with, including the way they were building and delivering the files.  This required some fairly intensive rounds of communication to establish exactly what the client wanted, what they were supplying, and what my client could work with to get the most out of the printer.  This, on projects of this scale, is a great example of where the Color Management process starts: Communication.

We finally were able to develop a strategy of tight color, some “bumps” on the printer, along with some compensating adjustments to the files to keep all the other colors in line.  From our standpoint, it was as tight a color match as we could get, but the final word was the client.  We were all holding our collective breath.

Finally, the word came back down through Sales.  They got the job.  Total time invested, about 3 days.  Payback?  Huge.

Color Management is usually thought of in terms of QA or efficiency…  but when you include it in your arsenal of capabilities, for doing the “impossible”, then it’s an enormously powerful tool for closing sales, attracting clients and keeping them happy.  How many times have you heard your teams say “… it’s the best our printers can do, the client’s going to have to be satisfied with it.”?

You can be sure of one thing.  Whether you’re using Color Management as a Sales tool or not, your competition is.

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