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Color Consistency In Packaging - A Game Changer

Since 1923, Coca Cola, people’s favorite soft drink brand has maintained a consistent red color in its packaging. In fact, we see the same purple color in Cadbury Dairy Milk’s packaging. And the company is retaining the color for more than eight decades. If you noticed, we have developed a recognition for these product colors because of unchanging packaging color since decades. Needless to say packaging is the first thing that comes to a consumer’s notice and through the color he’s able to identify the brand’s product. In this article we will discuss how lack of color consistency in packaging hampers the brand identity.

coca cola brand identity
Image: Amazon

Effects of Lack of Color Consistency in Packaging

#1 Dilutes Brand Perception

Consistent color across brand’s marketing materials, packaging, and logo is important for customer to trust a particular brand. It is difficult to overcome counterfeiting, but keeping a unanimous color can help consumers identify the brand.

Using different color can create confusion between actual product and a fake one. And of course, sales and marketing efforts would be wasted eventually.

#2 Creates Hassle at Production and Supply Line

Depending on the scale of production, some manufacturers rely on one packaging line (converter) for its multiple products; while some manufacturers distribute the packaging among multiple firms. For example, cut and stack labels, flexible packaging, and promotional products are commonly sourced by different individuals at the brand.

Therefore, it becomes important to communicate the color guidelines, printer settings, and other specifications in advance. Otherwise, the discrepancies may lead to a negative brand perception. Inconsistent colors may also create difficulty in sorting saleable and non saleable products.

Having unvarying parameters can reduce the hassle at production and supply line. 

#3 Gives Way to Counterfeiting

According to Health Research Funding, 10-30% of medicinal drugs are counterfeited from developed nations. If a brand is open to introducing packages in inconsistent colors, there won’t be a clear distinction for the products from the original brand.

With counterfeiting on the rise, it’s more important for brands to safeguard product integrity and assure consumer confidence. It is essential that a pack’s color is both accurate and consistent. Together with other anti-counterfeiting techniques, it will help to combat an increasingly sophisticated global threat.

Mike Cheetham, CEO, Chesapeake

#4 Fails to Differentiate You from Competitors

There can be two perceptions - one from sales point of view and the other from consumer’s.

If the consumer likes your product, but is often a victim of counterfeiting, he’ll naturally deviate towards your competitor’s product of which he’s very sure of.

Next, there can be one distinguishable color for your brand’s packaging and not its variants or shades. If a brand is using multiple colors, then it is diluting its presence in the consumer market.

lack of colour consistency example
Image: X-Rite

#5 Hampers Brand’s Familiarity

Once consumers began to recognize your brand and its primary packaging colors, it is important to stay with it. Even if changes are inevitable, then the brand should communicate it properly to the consumers.

For example, when BP Plc, a British multinational oil and gas company changed it logo in the year 2000, consumers’ perception towards the brand was greatly impacted. The company communicated the change by sponsoring athletes, supporting the Olympic infrastructure, and offsetting spectators’ travel emissions at the London Olympics 2012.

Communicating Logo Change - Olympics
Image: More About Advertising

Is Sustainable Packaging Trend a Challenge towards Maintaining Color Consistency?

Yes, sustainable packaging can be a challenge for printers and manufacturers because the same color looks different on different materials. Color also varies according to the printing technique.

Sustainable packaging materials generally include cardboard boxes, paper, etc. which have completely different texture from plastic. Also, when sustainability is  a concern, brands look out for sustainable printing and inks as well.

Therefore it is important to understand the properties of the sustainable packaging material, inks, etc. and convey the same to the client before finalizing the brand color.

Handy Tips for Maintaining Your Brand’s Color Consistency

The packaging design industry faces numerous challenges while maintaining color consistency. For example, the monitor, copier, packaging material, mobile screen, printing method, ink, etc. display different shades of the same color. Human intervention to judge colors becomes essential despite the color code, which uses the same standards. Here are some tips, which can help you keep a consistent color throughout the brand packaging and collaterals.

  1. Color Code: Printers are configured for CMYK color codes. Although they use different inks and materials, it gives the closest results even for sustainable packaging materials.
  2. Hardware: It is important to make sure your hardware (printer) is clean and up to date.
  3. Screen settings: Use color calibration tools to set up your screen or monitor. Device colors often drift on their own. Therefore, setting your screen back to True North periodically can reduce the chances of error in color consistency.
  4. Use consistent technology: Whether it's a printing technology or design tech, it is good to be consistent in using the same app and technique for printing across different platforms. For example, if you’re using InDesign tool for design, try to use the same app throughout the brand. Also, if you use offset printing, for instance, use the same printing method for packaging across different lines.
  5. Measure color: You can use color measuring instruments like Spectrophotometer to determine the color reproduction characteristics. The following video illustrates how a spectrophotometer works to determine color characteristics.

If you’re finding difficulty in selecting colors for your brand, here’s a comprehensive guide on choosing packaging color.

Final Thoughts

There is another unseen benefit of packaging color consistency. Brands need not communicate the color specifications again and again. It is beneficial for stakeholders as well because they can maintain same tooling and print settings for a long time. 

It is essential to understand that brand strategy comes before name, tagline, logo, and packaging design. Since, consumers are becoming more conscious towards environment-friendly packaging, brands should also keep sustainability in mind. 

It is, of course, the brand’s responsibility to safeguard its identity. And consistency in design and color in packaging are one of the most important parameters.

Know more about how to choose your packaging colors through our comprehensive guide.

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