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Pantone Live

X-Rite and Pantone have just announced PantoneLIVE, a cloud-based colour service that provides instant access to essential brand colour standards.  PantoneLIVE is the first service under the Pantone Digital Business Unit, a newly created division of X-Rite that is the by-product of Pantone’s expertise as the world’s colour authority and X-Rite’s colour 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 colours that uniquely identify brands. Cadbury and Veuve Clicquot were involved in high-profile legal battles to own their brand colours, while Christian Louboutin fought to trademark its signature red soles. With colour so critically tied to brand identity, inconsistent brand colour 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 colour definitions, accuracy and consistency in creating products or packaging are important to their business, while 42 percent indicated that colour-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 standardisation. Historically an analogue process, reliant on centuries’ old colour alchemy, printing and production have advanced with technology in the digital age,” said Ron Potesky, senior vice president and general manager of Pantone. “PantoneLIVE digitises 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 colour 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 colour 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 colours will reproduce on a wide variety of substrates including brown corrugated, clear film and white polypropylene. A brand’s colour assets, analogous to a brand’s colour DNA, are managed and maintained in a secure cloud-based data repository to ensure accurate colour 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.  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 colour variance of 50 percent and saved time by establishing one colour 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 colour 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, 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 colour can make a product suspect and the brand vulnerable to counterfeiting. 

On one job, for example, Chesapeake was able to reduce colour 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 colour choices. 

PantoneLIVE is connected to a large portfolio of software, containing real-world colour data for hundreds of thousands of colours, and is supported by the latest colour measurement technology. This is combined with professional services including workflow and colour rationalisation audits, and customised operating procedures from Pantone and X-Rite. Custom and bespoke spectral data, as well as metadata, are used to digitise brand colours. Digitised palettes are then expanded to create independent colour standards to allow for accurate colour reproduction on a variety of substrates.

Brand colour data, equivalent to a digital colour 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 colour communication across all materials in the production process. This centralised colour 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 colour quality.

Industry Support

While users of any manufacturer’s ink will be able to take advantage of PantoneLIVE, Sun Chemical is the preferred ink partner. Esko is also a preferred partner supporting PantoneLIVE. Both companies worked closely with Pantone and X-Rite to develop PantoneLIVE. Sun Chemical’s technology and colour 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 recognised 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 colour 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 colours 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 colour management and colour 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 from 15th June 2012

For more information, please visit www.pantone.com/live.