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FLEXO Magazine : July 2012
DESIGN AS A PRIORITY Now that you know the depth of information contained in the FIRST Design Guide, here's how it supports the Packaging Workflow Process --- boosting design success and speed to market. Print feasibility is considered from the very beginning, while emphasizing early communications and collaborations to maximize quality. DESIGN BRIEF Before the concept creation begins, graphic designers should ask clarifying questions to ensure the client's target markets, key messages and communications goals for the packages are understood. The Design Brief serves as the North Star, illuminating the creative team's imagination, while the FIRST guidelines define the night sky. TECHNICAL BRIEF Equally important is the Technical Brief. The goal is to cap- ture as much executional information as possible to provide a more targeted design, including: • Functional Specifications • Consumer/Usage Requirements • Retail and Distribution Data • Manufacturing Mandatories • Cost Considerations • Printing and Converting Standards The printing and converting information compiled in the Technical Briefs are pivotal to the most effective production. For flexo jobs these specifications come straight from the FIRST guidelines. If a printer has additional specs or uses a different standard, the data is captured and informs the designer. To illustrate, if a job will be printed narrow web flexo on a high holdout substrate, then creative teams can rely on the FIRST guidelines to stay focused on providing printable solutions. KICK OFF MEETING Usually a phone call with designers, prepress suppliers and printers, the Kick-Off Meeting allows all partners in the packaging production process to fill in the holes in the Technical Brief. The print specs, number of colors, types of proofs and special requirements are confirmed. If a design uses existing elements, such as CT (continuous tone) images, the creative team will request the master images, which will save a step later in the process. Most important, the teams determine how to normalize the artwork, so that all the print- ers can achieve the creative vision consistently and across all consumer touch points. CREATIVE DESIGN Armed with the augmented Design Brief and Technical Brief, the creative process begins. Each design is reviewed and measured against the design objectives and technical mandatories before it's shown to the client. Designs that fall short of design or technical standards are revised or removed from the client presentation. Designs that may prove technically challenging are passed upstream for a print feasibility review. This extra step ensures the designs presented to the client are achievable on press. FILE CONSTRUCTION Once a design option is chosen, the final art files are pre- pared. Again, an extra step is taken to make adjustments to meet FIRST guidelines and the printers' specs outlined in the Technical Brief. But before sending the art files for client ap- proval, the files are reviewed once more for copy and content, file construction and compliance. During the File Construction Review, creative teams look at the critical information and annotate any revisions and improvements, such as: • Checking the color breaks for the entire job, paying special attention to the brand equity elements and how they 're built • Reviewing all line weights -- both positive and negative • Confirming the CT image supplied from prepress and flag- ging any new CTs that need to be reworked for final color Only after a complete Quality Assurance review, are the art files sent to the client for approval. PREFLIGHT & RELEASE Once the client approves a design option, all the elements used in the file are collected and released to the prepress supplier. At this time, a call is scheduled to review the items after the prepress partner receives them to make certain there are no questions and they have everything they need. POST-PRODUCTION ANALYSIS As an added measure, creative teams should follow up with the prepress supplier after the project is complete to see what worked and areas to improve. The Post-Production Analysis meeting allows all partners in the packaging workflow to create a model for continuous improvement and innovation. The collaborations result in greater accuracy and cost control, quicker approvals and execution, and an exceptional client experience. Following the FIRST Design Guide allows creative teams the freedom to design with confidence that the package will be produced predictively. Instead of limiting creativity, it's an enabler for the concept that was envisioned. To learn more, download the FIRST 4.0 Design Guide by visiting www.flexography.org. The free, 35-page document is a sneak-peak into the ultimate designer-friendly guide to producing flexo-friendly files. About the Author: Frank Grimaldi is vice president creative services, Phototype/Gravity. With more than 20 years of experi- ence in brand and design strategy management, Frank has used his business-building expertise for some of the world's leading brands. His experience and instincts have been instru- mental in guiding brands through global expansion, reposi- tioning, and finding the right go-to-market strategy. Frank and his creative team specialize in design and brand strategies that make an emotional connection with consumers, blending technical skills with intelligent design aesthetics. He can be reached at 513-699-6001 or firstname.lastname@example.org. www.flexography.org JULY 2012 FLEXO 65