By Cassandra Balentine
Design is an integral component of a successful campaign. Depending on the client, print service providers (PSPs) may have a hand in designing or transforming elements for wide format and maintaining brand standards for campaigns that incorporate a variety of elements.
“The key to a cohesive look across all campaign elements is color consistency and control,” states Dean Derhak, product director, SA International (SAi).
Those tasked with handling wide format production must also maintain quality, consistency, and accuracy. Part of the solution is having sophisticated software tools in house, as well as skilled employees that can manage client expectations.
“Not all companies have well-defined corporate standards, so they rely on us to be the professionals,” comments John Dobie, founder/president/CEO, BSC Signs, a Broomfield, CO-based sign shop.
Even those with access to professional design tools have challenges in terms of execution. Christine Grant, VP marketing and business development, Digital Color Concepts (dcc), says most of its clients have in-house creative teams. “For many, we are treated as an extension of their creative team. Since we have numerous substrates on hand and varying devices, the process is simultaneously collaborative and streamlined,” she explains.
Maintaining consistency across a multi-element campaign is a challenge. A variety of programs are available to aid in the process.
“Smart designers insist on starting with a customer’s standard brand and corporate colors and making sure all spot colors are named, rather than CMYK or RGB values. Then, they can be matched for every media and application type in RIP software,” explains Derhak.
Tony Severenuk, user experience designer, Corel Corporation, explains that it is best to invest in a tool for color management that calibrates input, display, and output devices.
Michael Ninness, senior director of design product management, Adobe Systems Incorporated, suggests creating multiple pages or art boards for a campaign in a single document to ensure consistency between various deliverables. “It makes it easier to reuse graphical elements and apply design choices in a consistent manner,” he offers.
Size and Scalability
PSPs in the wide format space must ensure graphics are able to reproduce on a large scale. Starting with high-quality graphics that reproduce well is the first step.
Ninness says vector-based graphics are strongly preferred over pixel-based graphics when working in wide format.
“Designers are given content from a variety of sources. Most of the time it’s not workable for large format,” admits Severenuk.
Visualization of a final design is also a consideration. “For decoration projects, a challenge commonly faced is to understand what is in customers’ heads. It’s often difficult for them to imagine the real space with real furniture. A realistic preview presents a clear advantage to avoid long approval processes and rejected designs,” offers Mar Lezcano, Hewlett-Packard (HP) WallArt Solution product manager, HP.
For many PSPs, design challenges including color management, brand consistency, and graphic scalability is part of the job.
BSC Signs offers a range of signage, from electric and neon to mounted and vinyl graphics. While it produces a majority of its work in house, the company has chosen to sub contract its digital printing needs as it expands its new office complex.
Its daily design workhorse is SAi FlexiSign-Pro. “We’ve been using FlexiSign-Pro for about 15 years now and have about 16 licensed versions and two SAi EnRoute programs—version 4 and 5,” says Dobie. He estimates that FlexiSign-Pro fits about 95 percent of the company’s design needs.
BSC Signs often shares its expertise with clients to ensure the best outcome. “We were recently asked to do a red logo against a brick wall, and the client saw the wisdom in using white faces instead,” says Dobie.
In addition to managing color concerns when it comes to a brand, actual logo dimensions are sometimes an issue. However, Dobie points out that most well-designed corporate logos will have two to three different versions to suit different shapes, including square, long, and short. “Sometimes we have to be creative in making a logo fit in an unsuitable place,” he explains.
New York, NY-based dcc is a privately owned company with various disciplines, including photography, retouching, digital, offset, and large and grand format printing. Established 28 years ago as a boutique retoucher, the company gradually grew its business to meet evolving client needs.
Today, Grant says about 20 percent of the company’s sales is large format. It relies on a Rho 500R and Lambda from Durst Image Technology US, an HP Scitex FB6100 Printer, as well as finishing equipment from Fotoba International Srl and Zünd.
When it comes to design, Grant says dcc works in the same native applications as the designers. “The Adobe Creative Suite is the most popular, with Illustrator leading InDesign for layout creation.”
dcc works with retailers who rebrand their locations monthly. The firm relies on ICC color profiles to ensure color consistency on campaign rollouts that incorporate various elements across a range of substrates and printing and finishing techniques.
Creating and managing a design is often sensitive and challenging. Depending on the client, it could be a handholding experience or the customer may take control. Design tools offer key feature sets that enable help on a large scale.
Jun2015, Digital Output