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Package printing: why getting the colour right is so important

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Colour is one of the main distinctive elements of a brand; it enables packaging to be recognised instantly on the shelves and represents a sort of company ‘calling card’. The companies that operate in the package printing sector therefore have a considerable responsibility and must use machinery and technologies that are capable of guaranteeing the desired result.

Can you imagine getting the printing wrong on the box of a world-famous pasta brand that is chiefly identifiable by its colours and packaging? It would be a disaster, since as is the case with the majority of large B2C brands, the colour is the first and main distinctive element of the brand, with the customers’ graphic designers providing long and exceptionally detailed instructions to ensure its correct reproduction. If the pasta boxes came out in any other shade of blue besides Barilla blue, a little lighter or a little darker, it would be a disaster, comparable to getting Coco-Cola red or Ferrari red wrong. And you would of course lose the customer indefinitely.
Colour, in fact, is a serious matter that involves a whole team of experts in physiology and psychology of perception, technologies, man & machine, as well as other fields. Above all, it is the most ‘volatile’ (and subjective) visual element of all and any graphic design project: classified and distinguished in a unequivocal way by specifications, numbers and procedures, with reference to shared standards, colours, in reality, are impossible to replicate, even ‘mechanically’, so as to ensure that they are always the same. The different reproduction techniques (rotogravure, flexo, offset and digital) offer different guarantees. As the techniques differ from one to the next, various skills and equipment are required for the measurement and control activities that take place during the phases of the pre-printing and printing process.
Achieving the objective makes the difference, as was illustrated so successfully at the last edition of Print4All Conference - getting back to Barilla - by the brand’s packaging manager Laurette Defranco. A small colour nuance, studied for months with the help of experts and consultants, is charged with the task of distinguishing a new product: the organic line of Barilla pasta, which sits proudly on the shelf sporting a light blue hue. The new shade is different enough from the classic colour, yet not so different that it cannot be quickly identified as part of the Barilla brand. How you may ask? Is the organic blue really so different from the classic shade? Well, get it wrong and you would lose the customer in the blink of an eye. Make no mistake!

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