It’s nice to discuss the intricacies and theories of logos and branding, but theory aside, there are some very practical implications to the logo design process. And it usually involves having things with your logo on them printed, your business card design let’s say, and usually involves the services of an offset printing company. Many of you will choose to work directly with a local printer, but may be new to working with offset printers and some of the industry jargon involved. Especially if you decided to design your own logo from scratch. Here’s a few pointers on working with your printer and how to help insure there’s no surprises when your new stationery design and/or brochure are delivered.
If you’re hiring a printer to print spot color material, and BEFORE printing, ALWAYS check your colors with a Pantone Swatch Book. Checking colors on a monitor depends greatly on how the monitor is setup, and spot colors don’t preview correctly using and RGB palette. Using PMS swatches is the only way to insure that your colors are to your liking.
Always ask for a ‘press proof’ of your print job, regardless of the size. While it’s sometimes difficult to get a color proof that’s completely accurate when using spot colors (most proofing systems are set up for CMYK and 4 color process) it will give you a rough idea of the finished product, and also allows you to check for spelling and typographic errors before committing the job to press.
If you’re printing on a combination of coated (glossy) and uncoated (matte) papers – typical with ‘glossy’ business cards and letterheads which are matte by nature – keep in mind that the coated and uncoated surfaces may shift the colors you’ve selected and accordingly. colors may not match exactly across your stationery. You can adjust for this by using different inks for each part of your print job. Keep in mind this will add cost to the overall project, but may be worthwhile if you’re a stickler for color accuracy and consistency.
Colors may not match exactly if you attempt to print spot color artwork as a CMYK (four color process) job. This may be in issue if your original logo was setup as a spot color design, and you’re utilizing an online printer who tend to print ALL their material in CMYK. To compensate for this, many printers and designers will simply change the colors to CMYK digitally and in your original file formats. This may lead to your original colors shifting significantly. A more accurate method is to use the Pantone Spot to Process Formula book. This allows you to choose CMKY equivalents to your spot colors which are as close to the original as possible. Ask an experienced designer to do it for you. Keep this in mind. Certain spot colors do not convert exactly.
If your printer is using a ‘gang run’ – grouping your job with a number of other pieces on a large sheet – expect varying colors from run to run. The accuracy of your print job depends largely on the color densities of the other projects on the sheet and the colors may vary widely from print run to print run. This is normal, and within industry tolerances as ‘gang run’ printing is designed to be cheap and fast, not precise, and you’re not paying for exacting color standards.
Your printer can change spot colors on the press easily, regardless of what is ‘tagged’ in your digital file. The PMS number has no effect on the ink used – it is simply a notation to indicate to your printer what color SHOULD be used as originally conceived by the designer. Your printer can set up the press in any way required, substituting any colored inks for the ones originally proposed. Once again, check the swatch book beforehand.
If you’re printing a 4 color process project, and are also using pixel based images, insure that the digital files you’re supplying your printer are in high enough resolution. While some online printing services will accept images as low as 150 DPI (dots per inch), it’s recommended that your digital files are no lower than 266 DPI (300 DPI and higher for high-quality glossy reproduction). If your images are in a low or even medium resolution, you run the risk of ending up with ‘blurry’ or out-of-focus images in your printed piece.
Any other questions about working with a printer? Don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll help where we can. For more information, visit the design help center for a quick reference guide for all logo formats.