In-Store Expo – The Point of Purchase Advantage

By Jim Raffel

I recently attended In-Store Expo to explore how Point of Purchase (POP) display manufacturers can leverage their product offerings to assist brand owners in controlling brand color fidelity. I started by reviewing current strategies the market is pursuing related to the fidelity of brand colors across the various mediums and substrates utilized in today's POP displays.

A large section of the show floor was dedicated to a gallery featuring many unique POP displays entered in the “Design of the Times” competition. Reviewing these displays I found one that uncovered the problems with brand color management across multiple substrates used in POP displays. The display in question was constructed of corrugated printed with the brand color. Stacked in the corrugated display were folding carton boxes also printed with the brand color. Finally, the folding carton box was die-cut so a flexo package printed with the brand color inside the carton could be seen.

With my naked eye I was able to quickly determine that the reproduction of the brand color on the three substrates was well outside the tolerance this brand owner should tolerate. Keep in mind this display had been entered in a competition. I found it interesting that within sight of this color nightmare was a POP display for paint chips like one might find in typical home improvement store. The paint chip display was essentially a graphic arts light booth converted into a paint chip holder. So, we had a paint manufacturer concerned enough with proper color evaluation to build a display containing correct lighting within sight of a packaging company that was willing to display their inability to accurately reproduce a critical brand color across three substrates.

It is not too difficult to envision a POP display made up of a free-standing corrugated unit holding die-cut folding cartons containing flexo printed bags, all with an accurately reproduced brand color. Add to this the complexity of a wide-format pop-up sign printed by yet another technology on yet another substrate. Finally, add an interactive video display that needs to accurately display the brand color. In a down retail economy POP displays will become more and more elaborate as brand owners do everything they can to simply maintain market share.

Maintaining color fidelity in a cross-media campaign can be a challenge. Fortunately, in recent years color management tools like ProfileMaker from X-Rite have become available to simplify the process. A sound color management system begins with profiling and verification of the monitors used to view color in applications like photoshop. Next, a profile needs to be established for each production output device (e.g.-printing presses, ink jet devices, etc.) unless a standard profile like SWOP or GRACoL is going to be utilized. Finally, proofing systems needs to be profiled in order to simulate each of the output devices.

There are hundreds if not thousands of color management experts who can assist in getting all the different reproduction processes calibrated to reproduce the color accurately. The trick is to then verify that each device continues to reproduce the color accurately so all the components of each display match and all the displays across the country and around the world match. This final and most critical step is known as color verification and process control. Graphic arts companies are beginning to realize the brand color fidelity advantage traditional printing has over other advertising mediums.

For example, the SCHAWK facility in Stamford, CT utilizes a combination of color management, color verification and color process control to manage a large library of brand colors for their clients. The solution begins with a color management strategy to profile production equipment in the shop. Once ICC profiles have been created for the production equipment color fidelity is maintained by utilizing a color process control system. Press fingerprints and live production product from printers also needs to be monitored and evaluated with process control tools. The complete end-to-end color solution allows this SCHAWK facility to offer brand color owner delta E values of 3 and less when required. This is all done while reducing consumable waste because of the strong color process controls put in place.