Color Matching Retail Packaging & Shopping Bags

Coordinated retail packaging has a significant visual impact that increases brand retention and consumer confidence. Shopping bags, gift boxes and ecommerce packaging should all be consistent with the color standards set for your brand.

Achieving an exact color match is more complicated than it seems. Color matching is an art form and science where quality is impacted by numerous variables. This is true for the printing of packaging or shopping bags as well as all commercial printing.

The slightest variation in color is easily detected by the human eye. Understanding the various elements that impact the end result insures a greater success rate.

Press workers are highly skilled in the mechanics of press machinery and know color intimately. They are also experienced in the nuances that could impact the final color; humidity, moisture content or whiteness variations of base paper and drying temperatures to name a few.

Pantone Matching System (PMS)

The pantone matching system (PMS) is used worldwide and simplifies the process of color matching because it lists an ink formula corresponding to each PMS number.

Custom Color Matches

If a specific custom or signature color is not covered in the PMS system it becomes even more complicated to develop the matching formula.

The printer and ink department or supplier match a sample and submit an "Ink Drawdown". Once the ink drawdown is approved, it is read by a photospectrometer and the readings are brought to press to check during run.

A photospectrometer is a device that is used in objectively measuring color and helps to take the subjective elements out of color evaluation and matching. The photospectrometer can detect differences indiscernible to the human eye and then instantly display these differences in numerical terms. After identifying color differences using L*a*b* or L*C*h values, it should be decided whether the sample is acceptable or not using tolerance limits.

Assuring Final Colors Match

Even though we use either of the above systems, pantone colors or a custom color match guided and measured by a photo spectrometer there are very important additional factors that must be considered.

  1. Age, gender and eye sight of individual evaluating color.
  2. Proper and consistent light source used for evaluating color.

These factors can play tricks on color judgment. So even when matching a color is achieved and verified objectively by a photospectrometer, there can still be a dispute in the final color match.

The very best way to ensure color matching is for the color evaluator to be on press throughout the print run to supervise and approve color in real time. If this is not possible, ink draw downs are then there must be a certain range made for variations.

If this is not possible, the photospectrometer becomes the objective guide and final word.