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FLEXO Magazine : February 2012
Coca-Cola, one of the most recognized brands in the world, has created and maintained a familiar brand through color. But, how does such a world-renowned brand make sure that the consumer is able to recognize the products immediately? What does the company do to ensure that the packaging and point of sale (POS) of brands are reproduced and printed consistently day after day? The Color of a Company Coca-Cola’s print quality department is the steward of the enterprise’s brand and flavor colors. There is a duty to protect the brand integrity of 350 brand and flavor colors. The color management system manages packaging, point of sale, vending, trans-lights, truck graphics, cups, coupons, closures, bottle caps and more. This duty includes managing ink on substrate—regardless of what type ink or what kind of substrate used. Focus on color is not limited to a single printing process; Coca-Cola Red must be replicated perfectly within a slew of entirely different industries. For example: vending machines have different parts produced by different suppliers; it doesn’t matter where the parts come from, in the end, Coke Red must match. All suppliers and all substrates are managed, audited, and authorized through the Coca-Cola Co. system. The color management system presides over 35 different substrates with each having its own characteristics. Constant diligence is required for color to be repeated on each and every sub- strate and printing process. Research has shown that people make a subconscious judgment about an environment or product within 90 seconds of initial viewing. Between 62 and 90 percent of that assess- ment is based on color alone. People react to color in different ways. For example, red is seen most in one’s peripheral vision and is the most emotional-evoking color; Deep Red appears expensive, elegant, rich, refined; Blue evokes optimism, integ- rity and dependability; Electric Blue elicits the same attention- grabbing effect as red; Green is detected by the human eye more than any other color, and is associated with nature and health; Black connotes power and empowerment; and orange is friendly, approachable and is noticed by children more often (after primary colors). In 2010, Coca-Cola incorporated point of sales (POS) into its color management program after recognizing some POS printers were not matching Coke Red. In one meeting, a print supplier said, “Look at that Coke Red we are printing, isn’t that the prettiest Coke Red you have ever seen?” While it was, indeed, a pleasant red, he was informed that, unfortunately, it was not the correct red. Coke Red is not a Pantone Matching System (PMS) color but, rather, a special match color. In other words, Coke Red is Coke Red. Consumers remember and associate companies and brands from the following criteria: colors, shapes, numbers and—finally—words. This is the reason why brand color man- agement and color consistency are so critical. The colors of trademarks are an integral element of the brand’s identity. It is critical that brand colors be reproduced with uncompromising quality and consistency. Color alone can increase brand rec- ognition by up to 80 percent. Coca-Cola, which celebrated its 125th anniversary last year, has worldwide, established brands thanks, in large part to color consistency. After 125 years of suc- cessful branding, the logo and brand colors will not change! Packaging is the final and most personal point of contact with the consumer prior to consumption. It’s also one of the more challenging arenas related to color. It is imperative to achieve consistency across different substrates and printing Coca-Cola’s billion-dollar brands, all subject to the corporate brand color management program. www.flexography.org february 2012 FLEXO 23