#UKvUSA Who really cares about colour?

Two continents: US and UK. Two different buying backgrounds: procurement and agency. Two alternative ways of looking at things. I’m delighted to have teamed up with Deborah Corn from PrintMediaCentr to bring two extremely different views to some important print questions. So welcom e to Print Buying: #UKvUSA where Deborah and I share information about our experiences from both sides of the pond.

At the end of this post I have linked to Deborah’s answer to the same question. We wrote our answers (each limited to 500 words) without any idea of what the other was writing. As Deborah says: “Maybe we will agree, maybe we won’t, maybe we don’t even see the question in the same way – who knows… that’s the fun part!”

Please do leave comments, thoughts and support at the bottom of this post and on Deborah’s post.   It would be great if also posted your thoughts on Twitter, using the hashtag #UKvUSA Remember to watch out for our answers to another question next month.

UKVUSA_newsletter2#UKvUSA Who really cares about colour?

A few years ago I worked at a magazine publishing house. I still remember a visit from a rather misguided print sales person. He held a copy of one of our publications. Here were his first words:

“Matthew, I can make the colour in your magazine so much better!”

This magazine was all about serious computing. It had pictures of black and grey boxes. It had screenshots of computer code. It was printed on cheap, lightweight magazine paper that was anything but white.

I explained to the sales person that the readers of this magazine read for its content. They didn’t care if the colour was not fully compliant with all the latest standards. The sales person could talk to me as much as they wanted about ISO12647 and colour calibration. But it just wasn’t relevant to this magazine. He went away having failed to win the title.

There’s a valuable lesson for printing companies here.

Many people don’t care about colour as much as printing companies

When does colour matter?

When does colour matter?

They simply want good quality, commercial print. It doesn’t have to be carefully measured. It just has to look nice.

I remember the time when a printer pushed up all the colour levels on a brochure for me. Was it within industry tolerances? Absolutely not. Did it look better? It certainly did!

So does that mean investment in colour management systems has been wasted? It’s important to remember another rule about colour perception.

Most people don’t care about colour – unless it’s wrong

If it doesn’t look right then they’ll soon be on the phone complaining. Most people only want good quality, commercial print. However, printers need to have the right systems to achieve this. Most people don’t measure colour. But they notice straight away if the logo on their brochure and their letterhead doesn’t match.

Some people will be up in arms now

The colour scientists will say that I have made this all too simple. However, the truth is that most buyers want simplicity.

Nevertheless, there are exceptions. Here are just some of the customers that really do care about colour: people who produce fine art, auction houses, fashion houses and some agencies (although more agencies should care about colour).

These are the people who want to talk about ISO12647, graycol and fogra. These are the people who appreciate the investment in colour systems.

But there’s a big difference between them and the average print buyer.

By the way, as this is #UKvUSA, the real debate should be about whether we write about colour or color 😉

How did Deborah tackle this question? See here. Look out for the next #UKvUSA battle next month: Who really chooses paper?

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One Response to #UKvUSA Who really cares about colour?

  • I agree with Matthew. Most print buyers want their print materials to look good but do not care how you get there. They do not look at print with the same critical eye that graphic designers, “most” print sales people, and press operators do. That doesn’t mean you can be sloppy. It’s best to revisit, as needed, the difference between digital color and offset. And it doesn’t mean color match and quality isn’t important but simply that it depends on the the kind of project you are producing.

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