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FLEXO Magazine : November 2013
TeChNOLOGIES & TeChNIQUES brand intent: A new Perspective beck Atlanta Utilizes Technology, Enhances, beauty, Maintains Consistency; Delivers Measurable results by Mark Samworth While beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, when it comes to packaging, beauty is also big business. If a package is not powerful enough to draw the con- sumer ’s attention, or attractive enough to resonate with the customer’s feelings, it is unlikely to be successful. This is why packaging designers have a strong influence on the beauty and the success of the brand. “Beauty is what we make of it,” says Beck Atlanta Presi- dent Kent Hatterick. “As an industry, it’s our responsibility to safeguard a brand’s beauty. Beauty is not accidental. It is intended.” For more than 100 years, Beck, an FTA member, has been leveraging the power of beauty to drive business. Team mem- bers consider themselves a boutique B2B company providing graphic files for print reproduction that enables consistently beautiful imagery on-shelf, outdoors and at the point of sale. Beck customers desire to meet the highest quality color repro- duction needs to help make the brand “pop” consistently. Over the years, Beck has developed a compact, con- densed, coordinated graphic workflow that reduces steps and maintains consistency. Staff refer to it as “The Beck Advantage.” T he compression process shortens cycle times, raises quality and provides significant improvements in speed to market. With this, the firm works to create beauty through- out the entire color process and across all mediums. The team of proactive, consultative thinkers shares a deep passion for its clients’ brands as portrayed in beautiful packaging. “ We’re fanatically committed to enhancing brand images better than anyone else,” says Dennis Smith, Beck executive vice president and COO. Yet Smith is quick to point PIONEERS & INNOVATORS • Impose fewer rules • Design for the brand, rather than for flexo • Ensure maximum optimization of design intent • Articulate process from the client’s and converter’s perspectives • Manage color from concept to shelf • Leverage innovative technology to lower costs and provide repeatable, consistent results out that everyone in the industry can approach business this way—and similar processes can benefit everyone. LimiT THe ruLeS Brand owners invest a lot of money in focus groups to make sure they connect with a package. When they see how it can die through the printing process, it can be disappointing. Often they discover that they do not get the same impact due to the loss of color intensity and the intent of the reproduction process—or were just limited by the technology. “How can any of us make people more creative? That’s a difficult question,” says Gary Brown, vice president and pro- cess consultant. “But, we all know how to make people less creative. Just impose more rules. So, when we are asked how to make people more creative, we just impose fewer rules. That will free designers to focus all their attention into what they want to create for the brand.” For the most part, the flexo community has found it neces- sary to teach designers to design to flexo. Historically this has included, among other factors: • The number and specific set of colors that a designer can work with • The inability to fade vignettes to zero • The reluctance to create drop shadows • The inability to blend colors in vignettes, shades and textures Beck considers that backward. What the industry has needed to do is introduce technology to let designers design for the brand, rather than for flexo. Its approach begins with understanding what kind of end result is expected from its clients. The team tries to define and quantify what beauty is. It measures the difference between the artwork that is sent in and what is finally delivered—what the printer ultimately reproduces. Beck’s enhancement is the intent to ensure that beauty or maximum optimization of design intent is not lost. It attempts to intensify what is technically feasible to visually connect to the brand. If, with color, definition and vibrancy, it can enhance what is possible to be reproduced, allowing clients’ packaging to be different than everything else on shelves, it has done its job. “The better you understand the process, the more you are able to expand the enhancements,” explains Jeff Hall, quality and color process manager. “We use the process to limit the number of rigid rules. Our process allows designers and printers to expand the opportunity for great packaging.” For example, by utilizing expertise in Expanded Color Gamut (ECG) separation with state-of-the-art expanded gamut prepress software, Beck is able to free designers from the restriction that the number of colors used must not exceed the number of ink decks on the printing press. ECG has allowed Beck to tell designers to use virtually any number of colors. Designers can narrow in to what they are looking for in terms of color intent. They’re no longer design- ing large billboards of spot colors. Their packaging can be more organic in nature, fading in and out of colors. This type of design allows a package to emote more of a feeling than an advertisement. “The goal is to completely free the designer,” says Mark Causey, director of color technologies. “We’re not 100 percent there, but, by using this process and technology, we’re closer than a few years ago.” PrinTer & CoLor PArTner While Beck’s mission is to help brand owners make an emotional connection to the consumer. Beck’s strategy is to introduce technologies to tear down the rules, or the limits of the rules. With all of this attention to the brand owner, it is significant to remember that Beck is a staunch advocate for the printer. According to Beck, it is a partnership between the brand owner, Beck and the print supply chain—using advanced technology—where everyone wins. They can be successful with the brand owners but, if they do not get “buy-in” from each stakeholder on the parameters to achieve the design, they will never get the desired end product. Beck realizes it must give printers the tools to understand technologies like high-definition flexo. Its staff works with printers to improve the processes to adapt to this new evolu- tion of design. “It truly is a consultative partnership. We often encounter resistance and uncertainty from printers when introducing them to our process, technology and methodologies. Howev- er, once they live it, it’s an easy sell. We know that the printer must ‘win’ as well,” says Hall. “We spend a lot of time making the printer feel comfortable about the process.” Beck outlines to the printer the key performance factors that will be needed to achieve success, such as fades to zero and consistent, impactful solids. Then the two work together to determine how to accomplish the job, with technologies like ECG and high-definition flexo. The team finds when Figure 1: Printing with seven colors increases the color gamut about 70 percent over 4-color process. beck Atlanta attests that with the larger gamut it achieves greater stability, with a nicer, cleaner, higher chroma image. 40 FLeXO NOVEMbEr 2013 www.flexography.org www.flexography.org NOVEMbEr 2013 FLeXO 41 Gary brown, (front), Ken Hatterick (center) and Dennis Smith of beck Atlanta study color targets, keeping brand intent foremost in mind. Photo: beck Atlanta