MORE THAN A FEELING: WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM PACKAGE BUYERS
BY GLENN ANDREWS
I worked for many years with print buyers from the entertainment industry. These are the hip and trendy people who bridge the space between the glamorous world of Hollywood and the grubby trenches of the commercial pressroom. Entertainment media buyers were always on press OKs, calling out color changes right through the run, trying to get the perfect “look” that captured the feeling of the movie and somehow, mysteriously, transmitted that feeling throughout the print campaign.
Standards were absent, not talked about and not even thought about. Press operators did whatever it took to get the “look,” regardless of how long it took. The goal of the movie ad campaign was to transmit some elusive emotional connection that, in the eyes of the print coordinator, defied measurement.
How different from the print buyers that I work with in packaging! Demanding, matter-of-fact, and with no illusions of stardom, packaging buyers seem to have come from another planet, so I wondered, where DO packaging print buyers come from?
Well, in many cases, they come from manufacturing. Some of the best packaging print buyers I know started off doing quality control (QC) for the products that went into the package in the first place. When you are QCing a product, you look for conformance to specifications. It is different for every product, of course, but in almost all cases, the evaluation is done objectively by measurement.
Is this food portion the correct weight? Does this component have the correct electrical properties? Does this fabric have the specified tear resistance? In every case, the question is answered the same way: Measure it and find out.
A LOGICAL APPROACH
For manufacturers who make a product to specifications, measurement is a given, and when they specify a package for their product to go into, it makes perfect sense to use the same approach.
Packaging print buyers know that emotion and feeling are unreliable guides when it comes to maintaining a brand color throughout a print process that may take place at multiple locations over an extended period of time. For these buyers, using the same tried and true methods of measuring for quality that they used for doing QC on the product itself comes naturally.
Printers who understand their buyers and use measurement to produce a consistent print product are on the same wavelength as their customers. They’ll find it easy to build a harmonious relationship.
Glenn Andrews is a certified G7 expert with decades of color management experience. His scanning, retouching, offset printing, digital prepress, dye sublimation and grand format experience contributed to his comprehensive approach to color production issues.