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Typography. Layout. Photography. These are all pretty straightforward elements of the designs we create. One that’s crucial to any design, and can be the most troublesome, is color. It’s an essential part of the visual communication in a piece of artwork. Different colors elicit different emotional responses and cultural associations. But that’s not the half of it. What sometimes causes color to be such a difficult aspect of design is how it’s viewed — what you see is NOT what you get.

For starters, no two monitors will have exactly the same display. What are the brightness and contrast settings? What is the Gamma value? Most people don’t even calibrate their monitors.  Monitor calibration is a must for graphic designers, photographers and commercial printers, but is almost unheard of by everyone else. Which is why there can be so much confusion and disagreement between creative professionals and their clients– what WE see on our end is not what YOU see on your end.

And then there’s the difference between an inkjet printer and a professional proofing device (which we do have in our office). If what you see on your monitor actually matches what you get on your color printer, you are REALLY lucky. There are many complicated issues about device-dependent color that I won’t get into here. For further reading, please review these articles: “Color Management Essentials” and “Getting a Handle on Color Management”. These cover some of the basic issues in color mismatching.

Unfortunately, unless your devices have been color-calibrated with professional software and hardware, you can’t trust what you’re seeing on your monitor or printer. It’s a limitation of the technology and there’s no way around it. As professionals, we calibrate our equipment and concern ourselves with things like ICC profiles. We consider whether the project is for web or print. Do we use RGB, CMYK or Pantone-based color? Will it be printed offset or digitally? What kind of paper will be used? This is what we are trained and paid to do. It is our expertise.

So how can you be assured to get the RIGHT colors?

Pantone® Swatches
(Pantone® swatchbook & color chips)

Option 1:  Trust us! If you can trust our work for composition, font styles and imagery, can you also trust us on color?

Option 2: Send us a sample. If color accuracy is important for your company’s image, tell us. Send us samples to match, and we will ensure that the printed piece matches your sample.

Option 3: Check out Pantone color swatches. Just like you would look at paint swatches at the hardware store, your commercial printer can provide swatches for your print projects. Pantone refers to the specific inks used by commercial printers, and most designers will have a Pantone color guide showing what these inks look like on both coated (glossy) and uncoated paper.

Option 4: Request Matchprints. Matchprints are professional color-accurate proofs that can be prepared by a commercial printer. While they are quite expensive, often costing $100 or more, Matchprints are the best way to ensure that what you see is what you will get.

And finally, put us in touch with your print vendor so we can coordinate our output. If you don’t use a professional commercial vendor, consider one. Their job is to produce reliable, repeatable colors. Unfortunately, copy-shops or big-box stores that provide volume printing can’t guarantee color accuracy like a commercial printer can.

The creative team at Haley Marketing is diligent and thoughtful with your designs. It’s our job to make your company look good. When it comes to color, sometimes we might need your help figuring out what “good” is. Once we know what you want, you can trust us get it right!

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