By Cassandra Balentine
As marketing campaigns get more creative and utilize multiple elements to create an immersive experience, they might include everything from wall graphics to corrugated displays and floor graphics. For brand owners accurate and matching color across all elements is essential.
Color management remains a critical piece of workflow. “Access to easy color management becomes a necessity to satisfy customer and brand expectations for color matching while maintaining operational efficiency and profitability,” shares Lou Prestia, product manager, print and packaging, X-Rite, Incorporated.
“Color management is like brand management, and the ability to produce corporate colors across multiple media and surfaces is critical to maintaining the integrity of the brand image,” adds Matt Edwards, product manager, digital print media solution, General Formulations.
Above: Image from X-Rite.
Color and Floor Graphics
When it comes to color, expectations vary. So it is important to manage them from the start.
Michelle Kempf, VP, sales and marketing, Continental Grafix USA, Inc., admits that for some clients, pleasing color is acceptable, where the sky is blue and the grass is green. However, other clients demand exacting color—precise matching to Pantone or corporate colors. “Printers must be able to create custom ICC profiles across media and devices to achieve exacting outcomes.”
Floor graphics require consistent and accurate color to ensure brand identity and recognition. “When colors are not managed correctly they may appear differently across various materials and substrates, leading to a disjointed and unprofessional look. This can negatively impact a campaign as it can result in decreased brand recognition and consumer engagement,” adds Simon Landau, director, global strategic partners, PrintFactory.
Nate Goodman, technical product manager, Mactac, agrees, adding that using color management protocols to ensure proper color in floor graphics is essential for most campaigns because of the importance of branding recognition of specific colors. “It also allows for the creation of more impressive graphics that stand out and catch the eye, which brings the desired message to the forefront.”
“The brand and designers create the design for a project with expectations. Part of those expectations is vibrant, accurate color—no matter the application or media. The print service provider (PSP) needs to manage those expectations by producing correctly and explaining to the customer what color gamut can be achieved,” adds Sebastien Hanssens, VP, marketing, Caldera.
Stephen Rankin, director of product management, Techkon USA, feels that it’s never been more important for printers to embrace color management technology and use it throughout their color production workflow.
“A goal in floor graphics is to attract the attention of the viewer, bright colors as well as accurate product brand colors are important,” says Mark A. Rugen, managing director of learning and development, SA International (SAi).
Many factors play into the successful color management of floor graphics. Everything from the print method and inks to substrates, finishes, and lighting conditions matter when it comes to color accuracy.
Profiles, Substrates, and Inks
Achieving accurate color for floor graphics requires building profiles that consider substrates, ink, and print methods used.
Determining the correct profile for the media and set white point are critical to color management. “Not every media has the same white point, which is why color swatch/color proofing a material can help reduce waste in materials and time,” says Steve Yarbrough, customer experience manager, Neschen Inc.
When trying to achieve superior color output it is crucial to understand that every material behaves differently, adds Jonathan Rogers, PhD, marketing, Onyx Graphics, Inc. “Different media types need different color managed ICC profiles to ensure color accuracy.”
Color management tools like ICC profiling ensure that the colors in graphic files are optimized for the specific output/print technology and media combination. “ICC profiles and color conversions into the final print output color space provide the best chance for colors to match across the variety of print applications,” explains Rankin.
Substrates make a difference, particularly within floor graphic media, which often features finishes to ensure anti-slip and scuffing. Landau points out that substrates absorb ink differently, and this influences the final color appearance as well.
PSPs may find themselves struggling with color management across devices using different ink and over time due to maintenance cycles. “Having color management tools that are malleable to provide the same output across device, ink, and media as well as recalibrate for consistent output over time are important,” states Rogers.
The finish of a floor graphic is an important factor when it comes to color management.
“Floor graphics need to have a slip resistant surface. This is accomplished by a textured overlaminate or a print media with a textured surface. Both distort the image and colors need to be adjusted accordingly,” offers Goodman.
“Laminates can cause a slight color shift depending on the material and/or finish/texture. Make sure the customer approves a finished sample that includes the approved floor laminate,” suggests Edwards.
Kempf also stresses that the finish of floor graphic material should be considered when attempting to match color against other substrates. “Is the material gloss or matte? Smooth or textured? Will the material receive a laminate? These varied elements can cause an undesired color shift and should be considered in the color management strategy of a job.”
The location of a floor graphic also affects the color due to lighting considerations and the floor itself.
“The lighting conditions in the room can impact the perception of color, making it appear different than intended,” agrees Landau.
Harsh room lighting from florescent lights can change the visual representation of colors in an image. “The print shop must not only create designs that are color accurate, but also have a way to easily adjust color when seen in the final lighted environment. That could mean producing a brand color that is slightly darker or lighter so it appears correct in the harsh lighting,” shares Rugen.
Elie Khoury, president, and Fabrio Santoro, color management engineer, specialty printing applications specialist, Alwan Color, add that the reference illuminant—D50 for color servers and D65 for industrial applications—introduces additional color mismatching between design and print.
Yarbrough notes that the color of the actual floor may alter color depending on material show through or opacity.
Color management is critical for all applications and floor graphics are no exception. Read more about color management and floor graphics at digitaloutput.net.
May2023, Digital Output