Last week, Pantone and X-Rite announced the new PantoneLIVE color service, a cloud-based product designed to deliver standardized color palettes across all points of production workflows and ensure consistent color throughout. The Pantone library of colors has historically provided that kind of color consistency but changes in workflow structures, printing methods and substrates have made it difficult if not impossible to be exact every time.
The PantoneLIVE webpage currently doesn’t say a whole lot—the service doesn’t go live until June 15—but designers and pressmen will find the Heinz and Chesapeake case studies, which describe some promising results across a large workflow and multiple projects. In both cases, color matching across all their printed products was the goal. Along with the cloud service, it appears that color auditing and services beyond the cloud product are an important part of PantoneLIVE. These services are also lucrative: a color audit starts at $4,500. The price points for the cloud service are pretty good—designers can buy into PantoneLIVE for $99 per year, preproduction departments for $2,000 per year and production departments for $2,650 per year.
In its press release, Pantone is promoting partnerships with three companies integral to the PantoneLIVE service:
- Sun Chemical, the preferred ink partner
- Esko, the supplier for PantoneLIVE’s database systems
- Windmöller and Hölscher, which is incorporating PantoneLIVE access into its EASY COL on-press color matching
I don’t know how effective or useful PantoneLIVE will be for a company’s existing press and inks. I think the additional services, such as customized operating procedures created by Pantone and X-Rite, might be needed to perfectly marry PantoneLIVE with existing workflows and equipment.
Pantone and X-Rite Introduce PantoneLIVE;
Allows Brand Owners to Manage Color in the Cloud
Delivers color DNA based on real ink, on real substrates with
real printing processes for predictable, repeatable results
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., March 1, 2012 – X-Rite, Incorporated (NASDAQ: XRIT) and Pantone LLC, today unveiled PantoneLIVE™, a cloud-based color service that provides instant access to essential brand color standards. PantoneLIVE is the first service under the Pantone Digital Business Unit, a newly created division of X-Rite that is the byproduct of Pantone’s expertise as the world’s color authority and X-Rite’s color science and technology leadership.
From chocolates and champagne to soda and stilettos, the past year has been wrought with cases of counterfeiting, deception and consumer confusion – all tied to the ubiquitous colors that uniquely identify brands. Cadbury and Veuve Clicquot were involved in high-profile legal battles to own their brand colors, while Christian Louboutin fought to trademark its signature red soles. With color so critically tied to brand identity, inconsistent brand color can lead to a lack of consumer confidence and lost sales.
In a recent survey conducted by the Pantone Color Institute*, more than 70 percent of creatives noted that brand color definitions, accuracy and consistency in creating products or packaging are important to their business, while 42 percent indicated that color-related challenges have a negative impact on their company. “Nearly 50 years ago, Pantone brought consistency and a common language to an industry that lacked standardization. Historically an analog process, reliant on centuries’ old color alchemy, printing and production have advanced with technology in the digital age,” said Ron Potesky, senior vice president and general manager of Pantone. “PantoneLIVE digitizes the process, taking it from visual and subjective to consistent and repeatable – significantly reducing production timelines and improving the bottom line.”
“PantoneLIVE represents a transformational change in color management for brand owners across their entire supply chain,” explained Tom Vacchiano, president and CEO of X-Rite. “Our own Dr. Sonia Megert, whose vision for the digital supply chain led to the development of PantoneLIVE, will head the new Pantone Digital Business Unit.”
“Globally consistent color standards are essential to brand identity. With supply chains made up of hundreds of different facilities scattered around the world, corporations struggle to control and maintain color consistency,” said Dr. Megert. “PantoneLIVE is a dynamic ecosystem, open to all supply chain participants, which delivers consistent color across the entire packaging workflow – from design concept to retail store shelves.”
Brand color standards are the principal component of PantoneLIVE and are derived from real ink on real substrates using real printing processes. This allows brand owners to predict how corporate spot colors will reproduce on a wide variety of substrates including brown corrugated, clear film and white polypropylene. A brand’s color assets, analogous to a brand’s color DNA, are managed and maintained in a secure cloud-based data repository to ensure accurate color communication – to any supplier, around the world.
“The benefits of using PantoneLIVE are clear,” says Nigel Dickie, director of corporate and government affairs for Heinz (see Beanz Meanz Heinz and Knowing about Color case study). “The digital tools gave us unprecedented control and consistency from different print processes and materials. Across all of our packaging formats we saw a reduction in color variance of 50 percent and saved time by establishing one color target that can be applied to all our Heinz Beanz designs. The results with our Beanz packaging have been so remarkable that we plan to extend PantoneLIVE to additional product lines, including Heinz soups and Spaghetti Hoops.”
While accurate color is important to the brand identity of consumer packaged goods, protecting brand integrity in the pharmaceutical industry is crucial as counterfeit drugs put the health of consumers at risk. Chesapeake (see Accurate Brand Colors Help Stem Drug Counterfeiting case study), a global producer of consumer packaging for many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, turned to PantoneLIVE to increase consistency in its customers’ packaging. When it comes to pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter medications, even the slightest variation in packaging color can make a product suspect and the brand vulnerable to counterfeiting.
On one job, for example, Chesapeake was able to reduce color variation by 84 percent and improve process controls, which led to zero rejections from the print run and 100 percent client approval. PantoneLIVE is creating another positive impact on Chesapeake’s business. The company previously stocked as many as 3,000 different inks in its Leicester, U.K. plant and now stores only 537 without reducing color choices.
PantoneLIVE is connected to a large portfolio of software, containing real-world color data for hundreds of thousands of colors, and is supported by the latest color measurement technology. This is combined with professional services including workflow and color rationalization audits, and customized operating procedures from Pantone and X-Rite. Custom and bespoke spectral data, as well as metadata, are used to digitize brand colors. Digitized palettes are then expanded to create independent color standards to allow for accurate color reproduction on a variety of substrates.
Brand color data, equivalent to a digital color swatch, is stored in a secure, cloud-based portal that lets brand owners and other approved members of the supply chain manage digital rights and facilitate color communication across all materials in the production process. This centralized color communication process promotes consistency and helps achieve speed to market efficiencies from initial design to final production. The portal also provides direction to suppliers to meet brand requirements related to color quality.
While users of any manufacturer’s ink will be able to take advantage of PantoneLIVE, Sun Chemical (see Sun Chemical press release) is the preferred ink partner. Esko (see Esko press release), a global supplier of integrated solutions for packaging, sign and display finishing, commercial printing and professional publishing, is also a preferred partner supporting PantoneLIVE. Both companies worked closely with Pantone and X-Rite to develop PantoneLIVE. Sun Chemical’s technology and color data are the foundations for PantoneLIVE, and this technology is integrated into Esko’s solutions.
In addition, Windmöller & Hölscher, a leading supplier of flexographic central impression and rotogravure printing presses, is recognized as the PantoneLIVE technology partner, serving the flexible packaging industry. In this unique capacity, Windmöller & Hölscher will extend the capability of their EASY COL on-press color matching solution to incorporate access to the PantoneLIVE ecosystem, thereby allowing converters to reduce press set-up times and in turn assure the quality of important brand colors on press.
Pantone and X-Rite are continuing to work with leading vendors to integrate and enhance their solutions with PantoneLIVE. This approach will offer customers real value in the color management and color communications process, while leaving much of their current investments in place.
Pricing and Availability
Access to the PantoneLIVE database starts at $99 USD (£63 GBP, €76 EUR) annually for a designer, $1,150 USD (£730 GBP, €885 EUR) annually for preproduction and from $2,000 USD (£1,275 GBP, €1,540 EUR) to $2,650 USD (£1,690 GBP, €2,040 EUR) annually for production. A color audit for a brand owner starts at $4,500 USD (£2,870 GBP, €3,460 EUR). Additional fees apply depending on services and scope required. PantoneLIVE solutions will be available June 15. For more information, please see www.pantone.com/live.
X-Rite, Incorporated, is the global leader in color science and technology. The company, which now includes color industry leader Pantone, develops, manufactures, markets and supports innovative color solutions through measurement systems, software, color standards and services. X-Rite’s expertise in inspiring, selecting, measuring, formulating, communicating and matching color helps users get color right the first time and every time, which translates to better quality and reduced costs. X-Rite serves a range of industries, including printing, packaging, photography, graphic design, video, automotive, paints, plastics, textiles, dental and medical. For further information, please visit www.xrite.com.
Pantone LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of X-Rite, Incorporated, has been the world’s color authority for nearly 50 years, providing design professionals with products and services for the colorful exploration and expression of creativity. Always a source for color inspiration, Pantone also offers paint and designer-inspired products and services for consumers. More information is available at www.pantone.com.