Tag Archives: Design

X-Rite Pantone – Color Accuracy and Consistency: A Balancing Act

When all of final production packaging comes together on the store shelf, it’s a brand’s moment of truth. Do the stand-up pouches, overwraps, and corrugated POP displays match? How close is the color to its standard?

We know you spend so much time and money designing, proofing, sampling, printing, and shipping… so where does the color go wrong? Is it an issue with accuracy, consistency, or both?


Package designs come together on the shelf. Here you see pouches, labels, cartons, and corrugated with visual inconsistencies—these are issues that can be overcome.

Today we’ll look at some of the key underlying issues in a color workflow so you can take corrective action with suppliers and get your brand color right, the first time.

1.  Substrates, printing processes and ink types all affect color.

Unique packaging helps products stand out, but the variety of printing processes, inks, and substrates required to make it happen creates a real challenge for brand owners and graphic designers to achieve consistent color. When designing layouts and approving colors, brands need to consider all of the variables that impact final color.

Many years ago, Flint Group put together a color quiz with the question: “Which swatches are printed with the same ink?”


Even though there was no attempt to match color on these substrates, you probably see two or three swatches appear close in color. The reason? Even though they were all printed with the same ink formula, they were on different substrates. It’s amazing how much the color varies.

Plastic, metal, glass, paperboard, and corrugated cardboard are vastly different substrates. Some, like paperboard and corrugated cardboard are more porous and will absorb ink, while metal will not absorb ink at all. Depending upon the amount of absorption, the substrate color will interact with the ink and change the appearance of the color. A color that is approved on a white substrate will look quite different – and probably be unachievable – when printed on brown corrugated.



Substrate isn’t the only variant in the quest for color consistency. Different printing processes also affect the printed color. Offset, flexo, gravure, letterpress, digital, and screen all use different types of inks and colorants; some are water-based, some are petroleum-based, and the curing methods and gloss levels can result in colors that vary substantially.

The key is to consider as many of the variables as possible during the design phase, and think through how they will affect final color. It’s also important to stay in close contact with your printer or packaging converter to ensure they understand, and can achieve, your expectations.

2.  Multiple packaging components can make or break the brand.

There’s more to a brand than just the package. Even if you have all the variables under control for one packaging component, the other components – such as the flexible plastic pouch, the folding carton, the printed labels, and the shelf trays – must all match when they come together at the point of sale.


This graphic shows how Pantone 3425 C will appear when printed on both white and brown cardboard. As you can see, the difference is quite noticeable. Is it OK if the green on the white cup doesn’t exactly match the green on the brown thermal cup holder? It’s a balancing act between what’s achievable and what’s acceptable.

Today we’ll look at some of the key underlying issues in a color workflow so you can take corrective action with suppliers and get your brand color right, the first time.

3.  When you’re working across multiple sites, color is even harder to manage.

Multiple print suppliers are usually required to handle large volumes of brand packaging. But even when using the same substrates, inks, and printing processes, converters in different parts of the world simply do not produce the exact same color.

If a brand owner approves a slight variation from a printer in New York, and a slight – but different – variation from the printer in Madrid, when all of those components come together at the point of sale, those slight differences may be much more apparent.

When-Color-Goes-Wrong-_-1This type of color difference can give the impression that the off-color products are damaged, old, or fake, and they will probably end up on a discount store shelf.

The only real way to ensure accurate color across multiple sites is through digital specification and evaluation – that is, using digital values for color in conjunction with physical references.

4.  Color communication can be ambiguous. And expensive.

Historically, physical standards have been the accepted way to specify and communicate brand colors. While they still play an important role in a color workflow, they can also pose potential issues for brand owners.

First, they’re subject to deterioration through age, wear and discoloration. Even if Pantone 306 is communicated as the standard, what looks like Pantone 306 in the designer’s new Pantone Guide might look different in the printer’s 10-year old version, leaving room for misinterpretation. It’s also wise to reference standards for multiple substrates, which aren’t always available or practical as physical references.

Lighting plays a role in visual evaluation. A color difference may be more obvious when viewed beside a window in the store than under fluorescent lighting in the lab.


Comparing a sample with a standard in a light booth allows you to view and approve color under consistent, known lighting conditions.

Physical standards can change. How do you know all of your designers and suppliers are using the most recent or most consistent ones?

There’s also the cost and efficiency impact of sending physical materials back and forth for review and approval, or sending stakeholders to each print shop to visually approve color on press.

5.  The Snowball Effect

Combine all of these variables and you get the dreaded “error stack.” Although each player in the supply chain, from designers to premedia to ink supplier to printer, may meet the physical standard within a specified tolerance, adding each of these small differences together can lead to bad color, and a negative brand impression at the point of sale.

What’s a brand owner to do?

One potential key to reducing inefficiencies is digital color specification, communication, and approval. Even if the color is specified in Paris, printed to the numbers in Ohio, and approved in New York, the digital version of Pantone 360 will always be the same when you use digital specifications across the workflow.

Stay tuned. Soon we’ll talk more about real life solutions to help brand owners achieve a color-consistent packaging workflow

Don’t miss X-Rite Pantone’s webinar on solving color issues in Packaging Design, Development and Production, register here

Dr. Thomas P. Schoenknecht – Executive Director, Business Development. SHL Group

Thomas P. SchoenknechtThomas Schoenknecht has over 20 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry in various leading roles such as project management, research & development and business development. Before joining SHL in 2013, Thomas was head of global Key Account Organization at Schott Pharmaceutical Packing Division with a specific focus on new product developments addressing customer needs. Prior to Schott, Thomas worked at Amgen Inc California as Director of Drug Product and Device Development, where he oversaw and managed Amgen’s global drug delivery container projects and interfaced Amgen’s drug delivery device platforms. Finally, previous to Amgen, Thomas headed up the Research & Development activities at Gerresheimer’s Pharmaceutical Packing Division and was leading the Product Management and Business Development activities of this division for sterile drug delivery solutions.

Thomas has a Ph.D. in Biophysical Chemistry from the Max-Planck-Society and the University Goettingen, Germany and a Master’s degree in Chemistry from the University Goettingen. He is a frequent speaker, moderator and committee member at conferences regarding drug delivery and packing material science; Thomas was heading the PDA interest group for prefilled syringes and being active as member in various DIN ISO committees regarding primary packaging materials and drug delivery devices.

Thomas Schönknecht is currently an Executive Director, Business Development at SHL Group, responsible for global Business Development, Key Account Management and new Technology Evaluation within SHL’s Medical division.

  1.      Why did you decide to do a webinar with us?

Webinars offer an excellent platform for an open interactive exchange with our business partners regarding important topics driving our industry. As such, you need to find a provider who can offer an advanced platform and should be seen among the leading webinar providers with an excellent reputation to offer presentation content of interest to our targeted audience. After thorough evaluation, we are very happy to be working with Business Review Webinars, who can provide a robust platform and has been able to help us reach our targeted audience.

  1.       What will the audience gain from attending your webinar?

Devices for drug delivery are becoming a more vital factor for the success of a new drug being launched to the market or later during life cycle management. To have a successful device development program some few basic prerequisites need to be fulfilled – such as the selection of the drug container, HF studies, and final packaging. This webinar will highlight the most important ones and provide insight through real case studies on how a device development program should be planned and executed.

  1.       Who or what inspired you to get into the industry?

My interest for the pharmaceutical industry was first fostered and later induced through scientific work on my masters and later my Ph.D. thesis, where I analyzed the molecular structure of biomolecules that can become a target for new medical applications or even a new lead structure which can be converted later on into a new therapeutic. Working at the forefront, identifying new therapeutics and later establishing robust drug delivery solutions for these new drug substances gives you a good feeling, as you are working in a field where you help to make the life of people a little bit better.

  1.       What’s the most useful thing someone has ever taught you?

I had the opportunity to learn how to do research and development during my masters and Ph.D. time in the lab of Manfred Eigen, a Nobel laureate in Chemistry. The most valuable thing I gained from my scientific work and from him, was self-reflection and how to analyze given issues or challenges from different perspectives, which enables me to  identify the optimal solution for a given task based on a complete understanding of the problem at hand.

5.      Where would you recommend visiting in the world and why?

For me as a person having lived on various places and on different continents, every new place I am going to for business or vacation does reveal its own magic and beauty if you are open minded and willing to explore it without prejudice. However, if you are interested in device technology in addition, I can clearly recommend to visit Taiwan and our headquarter in Taoyuan near Taipei.

Dr. Thomas P. Schoenknecht will be presenting in SHL Group’s webinar ‘Prerequisites for a successful drug delivery device development program‘ on the 17th June at 3pm London/10am New York. You can register for the webinar here.

Dr. Allan Jowsey PhD MEng CEng MIFireE MSFPE MASCE Fire Engineering Manager, AkzoNobel

Allan JowseyDr. Jowsey obtained a PhD in Structural Fire Engineering from the University of Edinburgh in 2006.  He worked as a consultant Fire Engineer in London for several years and now leads a global team of Structural Engineers and Fire Engineers within AkzoNobel’s fire protection division.  Dr. Jowsey sits on numerous global technical committees and standards development bodies.  His work involves overseeing research and design activities while also generating practical solutions through liaisons with engineers, contractors and steelwork fabricators around the world on projects in the built environment and oil and gas markets.

1. Why did you decide to do a webinar with Business Review Webinars on fire design?

We speak to many designers and engineers across the contract chain about roles, responsibilities and possibilities when it comes to the fire resistance of structures.  We find that there is a thirst for knowledge in this area and a webinar provides a great platform to educate those in the industry to allow them to benefit and influence their individual projects.

2. What do you hope people will take away from your webinar on fire design?

Ideally people will appreciate that aspects of fire resistance and fire design warrant closer attention than merely adopting what is stated in a code or standard without fully understanding the basis of that decision.  The webinar will highlight that significant savings in weight and cost can be achieved while still adhering to the required levels of safety and robustness demanded by design.  Once designers understand the basis for a decision, it provides them with the ability and confidence to question its applicability.

3. What has been the highlight of your career?

Educating practicing engineers on fire resistance and providing them with the ability to start assessing structural performance of their buildings and assets in terms of enhanced and robust design checks in the event of a fire.

4. Where is your favorite place in the world and why?

On top of a hill or mountain anywhere in the world.  It’s a great escape that allows me to spend time with my family, to exercise and to think clearly.

Dr Allan Jowsey will be presenting alongside his colleague Robin Wade in AkzoNobel’s Webinar ‘Achieving weight savings through intelligent Fire Design’ on the 7th July at 3PM London/10AM New York. Register for the webinar here.


Achieving weight savings through intelligent fire design

When attempting to solve complex problems we often rely on generalized assumptions and generous margins for error to reach a solution we agree is not perfect, but acceptable. This is often because it would take considerable time and effort to calculate the values needed to reach the perfect solution.

Let us consider an everyday example. When boiling water to make a cup of coffee the most energy and cost efficient method would produce only the exact amount of boiling water required to fill the cup. Achieving this perfect solution would require calculating, amongst other things, the exact volume of water needed and the amount of water which would be lost through evaporation in the boiling process. To avoid this difficult and lengthy calculation we instead estimate the amount required and add a generous amount more just to be on the safe side, accepting in the process that more than enough hot water will be produced and some wastage will occur.

Whilst fairly trivial in the context of making a cup of coffee this principal can become more problematic when considering the fire protection requirements of an oil and gas structure.

In this context it is the thickness of material applied which needs to be calculated. Material thickness is a key factor in determining the duration of fire protection afforded to a steel structure. Typically the thicker the material is applied the longer the duration achieved but also the greater the level of cost involved.

Arriving at an optimum thickness is a complicated process influenced by the fire protection standard specified for the project and a range of other variables. As with the previous example, not all of the variables required to arrive at an optimum thickness are known and they can be difficult and time consuming to calculate using traditional methods.

Historically, standard industry assumptions have been employed to arrive at a best estimate solution for the quantity of fire protection required to meet a certain fire resistance standard. Whilst effective at providing a straightforward estimate for the thickness needed, the margins for error which are employed can lead to over-specification. This can provide greater durations of protection than are required to meet the fire protection standard employed.

In the previous example, boiling too much water provided only a slight inconvenience and negligible cost penalty for the individual making the cup of coffee. However in the context of fire protection, over-specification of material can not only represent an increase in cost for a project, it also adds unnecessary weight to a structure. This can potentially limit the scope of design for process modules used in the offshore oil and gas industry and onshore where modular construction techniques are used.

In an attempt to address these issues engineers are now looking to remove as many of these standard assumptions as possible, instead applying greater focus to the specific requirements of each project.

Recently introduced fire design technologies can now be used to run complex heat transfer and structural modelling assessments which remove the need for generalized assumptions in the specification process. This provides a tailored fire protection solution for each individual project ensuring safety standards are met, whilst optimizing the quantity and weight of material required.

This not only provides greater certainty that the solution provided is fit for purpose for the specific requirements of the project, but also provides the potential for cost and weight reductions.

Register to take part in the full webinar to learn more about fire design and how it can be used to provide oil and gas construction projects with an optimized fire protection package.

Colin Reed, Global Pharma Marketing Director, Amcor

Colin Reed

Colin Reed is Global Pharma Marketing Director for Amcor, responsible for leading the pharmaceutical packaging market development and product management activities.  He has been in pharmaceutical packaging for 15 years, and has held leadership roles in Europe and Asia-Pacific prior to his current position.  He holds a BEng (Hons) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering and an MBA.

1. Why did you decide to do a webinar with Business Review Webinars?

We identified the webinar as an interesting new channel to access a larger and more targeted audience.  BRW offers a well-structured approach and infrastructure, as well as an engaged and professional team to support the program.

2. What are you looking forward to explaining to the audience?

Amcor’s products and services are well known among our direct customer contacts.  We are looking forward to explaining the importance of packaging design as an integral and early part of the pharmaceutical product development, to ensure all stakeholders get the maximum value from the drug.

3. What is the ideal outcome you would like from doing the webinar?

To engage brand owners, marketeers and packaging developers, as well as healthcare professionals in an ongoing dialogue about how to improve industry and patient outcomes through pharmaceutical packaging.

4.  Where is your favorite place in the world and why?

I have been lucky to travel to many places, and I have several favourites for different reasons – London, Venice, Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, Tanzania, Rio de Janeiro, Vancouver.  If I have to choose one, then it is “home”, as coming home after a long trip is always special.

5. What motivates you?

Always striving to improve – to be better than last time, and to achieve the best that I can.  And my family is always a motivation!

You can register now for Amcor’s webinar ‘Partnering to design and manufacture the optimal pharma packaging for your patients’ taking place on the 29th October at 10am New York/2pm London.