Spectrophotometric Monitoring of Color Consistency Solidifies Brand Identity
camera
Choosing the right color palette for your brand can be vita l to your success. Image Source: Flickr user peace6x

 

Color is all around us. It is part of virtually everything we see, informing our experiences day in and day out in. And on January 20, 2017, the politicians in Washington D.C. wanted to inform your experience of them. Trump in his red tie, Obama with his in blue, Hillary, Ivanka, and Tiffany in white, Michelle in crimson, and, of course, Melania in her sky blue. These colors weren’t accidents, but deliberate choices driven in part by the desire to shape public perception using color psychology.

 

“Colors and brands are very important [for all politicians],” says Dr. Dong Shen, professor of Fashion Merchandising and Design at California State University.1 Shen explains that the inaugural color choices, particularly for the women, were designed to tap into our shared sense of meaning, one that goes beyond red for Republican, blue for Democrat. Melania’s blue, she believes, symbolizes loyalty and trust, while Michelle’s red reflects fire, passion, and sensitivity, although her choice of a more subdued crimson shade signals that she is no longer center stage. Purity was the message sent by Ivanka and Tiffany’s whites while Hillary’s was one of healing. Through their respective shades, these women invited us to see them in particular ways, introducing (or re-introducing) us to their “brands” and sending us messages about their values and identities.

 

Clothing, however, can be changed. If you make a misstep you can just try something new next time. Choosing the right color to introduce a product brand is a far more complex operation, which is why companies go to great lengths to select appropriate color palettes for their brands. “Color is one of the biggest factors that marketers and designers take into account,” says Rose Leadem of Entrepreneur. 2 Color allows you to speak for your product without saying a word, offering a way of instantly “conveying meaning and message” to connect to consumers on a deeply visceral level.3 And deploying color psychology is no easy task; as Leadem explains, “Perception of color can change based on a person’s age, gender, personality, income, and other factors, which means marketers must understand who their target audience is and how they wish the brand to be perceived.” This often means countless hours of research, design work, and testing in order to come up with the right shades.

 

But choosing the perfect color palette for your brand is only the first step. The colors chosen must be reproduced exactly again and again in order to create a cohesive brand identity and fortify that identity through repeated exposure to consumers. Spectrophotometric color measurement is a vital part of that process, ensuring perfect color matching regardless of the material with which you are working.

 

The Importance of Reproduction

 

Color is widely recognized as the most important aspect of a product’s branding materials, as it is the one that is most readily remembered by consumers and instrumental in guiding consumer perception. Iconic brands have perfected this art by creating a strong color scheme. They do this by exposing the public to that scheme again and again and again, until the colors and brands become interchangeable. McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Tiffany & Co. have all been wildly successful in this endeavor and can be identified based on color alone in the same way we can identify a Louboutin shoe by its red sole. The colors themselves have become icons, standing in for the brand as a whole – it’s not just red, it’s Coca-Cola red. It’s not just robin’s egg blue, it’s Tiffany blue. Recognizability, then, depends on exact color reproduction to cement the relationship between the product and color in the minds of both current and potential customers. In order to strengthen that connection and encourage instant identification, your chosen shade must be represented each and every time the consumer encounters your product regardless of what form that encounter takes, whether it’s on product labeling and packaging, advertising, or signage.

 

coke bottles
Spectrophotometric color measurements gives you the highest level of insight into color behavior, allowing you to match color and appearance in disparate media. Image Source: Flickr user SoxFanInSD

 

Creating Color Consistency

 

Historically, color consistency has primarily been evaluated via visual inspection. However, the human eye is inherently a subjective evaluator, prone to inaccuracies that compromise the ability to maintain truly consistent color. Spectrophotometers, however, offer a sophisticated, objective way of capturing color information without the vulnerabilities inherent to the human eye. As such, companies across industries rely on spectrophotometric instrumentation to monitor color behavior throughout the production process, ensuring batch-to-batch and lot-to-lot consistency.

 

But what is truly remarkable about spectrophotometers for the purpose of branding isn’t just that they measure color in one type of material. Rather, spectrophotometers are capable of measuring color and appearance in all material forms, allowing you to create color consistency across media with disparate optical properties. From flat, matte papers to translucent plastic films, spectrophotometers offer a range of optical geometries to ensure you have the ability to analyze color quality and product appearance across your entire product line and throughout your packaging and marketing materials. Sophisticated software packages like Easymatch QC facilitate this process, giving you the data you need to produce exact color matches and instantly alerting you to unwanted variations. As a result, you are easily able to quarantine any defective product that may compromise your color/brand strategy and prevent its release into the marketplace.

 

The HunterLab Difference

 

HunterLab has been a pioneer in the field of color measurement for over 60 years. Throughout that time, our advanced technologies have helped our customers create and solidify their brand identities through smart and consistent use of color. Today, we offer a comprehensive range of spectrophotometers capable of analyzing virtually any material performing in even the most challenging conditions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned instruments, customizable software packages, and world-class customer support services.

 

  1. “The Color Psychology Behind Inauguration Fashion”, January 21, 2017, http://www.abc10.com/news/local/the-psychology-behind-behind-inauguration-fashion/389407249
  2. “The Role of Color in Branding”, December 10, 2016, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/286324
  3. “Color & Branding”, 2012, https://www.colormatters.com/color-and-marketing/color-and-branding
Spectrophotometers Help Control Deodorant and Antiperspirant Stick Color Consistency

For the last thirty-five years, my aunt and uncle have been building a life and love together. By now, their patterns are long established. Settled and in their grooves, they resist any change that might disturb their comfortable routines. The last time I visited was evidence of this; I listened to them argue for a solid hour over a stick of deodorant. My uncle insisted that my aunt bought the wrong stick. My aunt insisted it was the same. My uncle disagreed. My aunt refused to go back to the store. My uncle refused to put on the deodorant. My aunt insisted he use the deodorant because it was the same. My uncle insisted it wasn’t, and that if my aunt wanted him to wear deodorant, she needed to go back to the store to get the right kind. My aunt refused but insisted he wear the deodorant. They repeated these points until it was time for lunch.

 

Deodorants on a shelf
Instead of choosing from dozens of brands every time they go to the store, customers often default to the same deodorant over and over again. Image Credit: Flickr User Clean Wal-Mart (CC BY 2.0)

 

Color Consistency Is Essential to Maintaining Deodorant Brand Loyalty

 

Consistency is important to people purchasing consumable products. Over the course of years of repeated purchases, customers grow accustomed to the particular brand they’re used to purchasing. They know which stick of deodorant they like. Instead of making a new decision every time they go to the store, they choose the same stick over and over again.

 

For deodorant manufacturers, this is a double-edged sword. Cutting one way, this means that brand loyalty will be strong and that customers can recur for decades. Cutting the other way, this means that the product must always be consistent. Changes to the formula of a deodorant or antiperspirant stick will be noticed by consumers. If the product they’re purchasing no longer seems to be the product they like, they may rethink their decision and switch to a different brand.

 

Manufacturers are aware that the color of a stick of solid deodorant is determined by the addition of a few colorants late in the mixing process, and that it has little to do with the efficacy of the product. The average customer, however, only sees the finished product, not the process. To them, a difference in a stick’s color is more noticeable than other changes in formula, and an indicator that other changes may also have occurred. In short, to a customer, two sticks of deodorant that are exactly the same except for color are two entirely different sticks.

 

woman putting on deodorant
Not all customers understand the intricacies of the formulation—or usage—of deodorant & antiperspirant. Image Credit: Flickr User Toby Bradbury (CC BY 2.0)

 

Spectrophotometers Deliver Repeatable Color Quality Control Results

 

So, color consistency is a serious concern for manufacturers of solid deodorants and antiperspirants. That’s why rigorous color quality control and quality assurance processes have been implemented across the industry. In company quality control laboratories, manufacturers test each batch of deodorant with spectrophotometers to ensure that the final color meets standards before it is shipped. They also conduct quality assurance studies using spectrophotometers to ensure that their processes consistently result in correctly colored deodorant.

 

Spectrophotometers are essential instruments for color quality control. By measuring light reflected off opaque substances, such as deodorant, they can generate objective, repeatable reports on that substance’s color. These instruments are significantly more effective than human observers. Human observation is subjective, varying from person to person and from day to day. Humans can also be thrown off by differences in lighting, which spectrophotometers control for with standard illumination settings. Finally, while humans lack specific language for describing small color differences, spectrophotometers generate numerical results. These numerical descriptions allow manufacturers to establish precise tolerances for acceptable deodorant color, that are repeatable across an enterprise and over decades.

 

With over 65 years of experience developing spectrophotometers to measure the color of deodorant and other products, HunterLab intimately understands the industry’s demands. Whether you’re considering upgrading outdated color measurement technology or improving your color quality control process, HunterLab has the experience, tools, and knowledge to help. To learn more, contact the color measurement experts today.

 

Coffee Roasters Can Use Spectrophotometers to Determine Color on SCAA Roast Scale

My sense of taste lacks distinction. I get the broad tastes alright—sweet, bitter, savory, sour—but after that, it’s all greek. As a result, I tend to doubt that the differences in flavor the informal sommeliers of my acquaintance swoon over are as strong in the mouth as they are in their minds. So, when my friend told me he could taste the difference between cups of coffee so distinctly that he could match a series of cups to their respective beans, I said, “prove it.” That weekend, we brewed eight cups of coffee from eight different roasters. I kept a bean from each bag for him to match the cup with. After a short sip from each cup down the line, he puzzled for a minute, tried a few cups a second time, then matched the cups to the beans. He got them all right. “How did you do that?” I asked him after I settled the cash side of our wager. He was, of course, only too happy to tell me—at length.

 

coffee beans
The color of coffee gives clues to its flavor profile. Image credit: Flickr user Olle Svensson (CC BY 2.0)

 

The Color of Coffee Can Display its’ Flavor Profile

 

The color of a coffee bean can say a lot. Different colors come from different roast durations. Minute differences in roast can have outsize effects on coffee’s flavor, acidity, body, and aftertaste1  So, determining the exact color of a coffee bean after a roast can tell a manufacturer a great deal about what the coffee will taste like.

 

For the average coffee drinker, telling a coffee’s attributes from the color of its roast is a neat party trick,  It’s a way to show off to their friends that they’ve read about the eight strictly defined SCA color grades, Very Light to Very Dark—a way to build up self-esteem. In short, the stakes are low. For a manufacturer, however, the SCA color grades are their brand. It’s why people buy their coffee. Keeping color consistent is essential to retaining customers. In short, the stakes are high.

 

unroasted coffee beans
Coffee beans are green, and without much flavor, before being roasted. Image Credit: Flickr User Jessica Spengler (CC BY 2.0)

 

 

SCAA Scale Is Used to Classify the Colors of Coffee

 

That’s why coffee roasters rely on the SCCA scale to rate the color of their beans during the production process. By matching the color of a bean to a printed sample, they can determine within a reasonable margin of error whether each batch has been properly roasted.

 

This method has its drawbacks, however. To start, exact color matches are difficult between textured materials. The differences in surface texture of coffee beans and vinyl printouts affect human color perception. Also, human beings are inherently subjective at assessing color. Color perception differs between different observers, or even between the same observer at different times of day. Sample preparation and measurement can cost manufacturers valuable time if they are not done properly. Saving data from tests takes up even more time, as it must be initially recorded and then entered into one or more data storage systems.

 

Spectrophotometers Can Measure Coffee on the Agtron Scale

 

To correct this, many coffee roasters have turned to using the HunterLab ColorFlexEZ Coffee spectrophotometers to determine the color of their roasted beans. These instruments measure color with extreme precision and can be delivered programmed to display their results according to the SCAA scale. HunterLab even invented the HCCI (Hunter Color Coffee Index), with input from roasters worldwide, to improve upon the SCAA scale.  By using instrumental measurement, they eliminate the subjectivity inherent in human observers. The data can be transferred easily from these machines to a central location, such as a hard drive or the cloud. The machines take fast, reliable measurements, and samples can be quickly prepared, and a single measurement can report the SCAA number, Roast Classification, and HCCI number.

 

HunterLab has over 65 years experience developing spectrophotometers for industry use. Working extensively with coffee roasters, we’ve developed the ideal instrumental solution for coffee color analysis, the ColorFlex EZ Coffee Spectrophotometer. To learn more about how the ColorFlex can help keep your roasts consistent, contact the experts at HunterLab today.

 

Color Quality Control for Traffic Signs Can Be Accomplished with Spectrophotometers

My driving habits changed when I got my commercial driver’s license. I started parallel parking like I was shooting pool. I slowed way down. And I started paying much more attention to traffic signs. Large vehicles react more slowly than smaller ones. An accident involving a large vehicle will be more serious. To drive safely, I needed to make decisions well ahead of time. With my attention divided between the condition of my vehicle, other vehicles, pedestrians, road conditions, and navigation, I needed to quickly and easily identify traffic signs. Color differences and reflectivity of signs made this possible. Without them, the roads would be far less safe to drive.

 

yellow signs
Warning signs are color coded to keep motorists safe. Image Credit: Flickr User Jay Galvin (CC BY 2.0)

 

Retroreflective Sheeting for Traffic Signs Must Meet Federal Color Standards

 

For this reason, traffic signs must conform to the standards established by the Federal Highway Administration1 regarding color and reflectivity. So, manufacturers of retroreflective sheeting for traffic signs must meet rigid color control standards. Whether supplying client companies or the next division of a vertically integrated company, color quality control is an essential stage of traffic sign manufacturing.

 

This is a matter of simple dollars and sense. In either case, rejections at delivery costs more than problems corrected on the production floor. Not only are time and materials wasted, but so are delivery costs and the energy needed to run the machinery. For busy shops, the capacity lost to rework comes with an opportunity cost as well. That time could have been used to fill a new, profitable contract.

 

Highway signs
Highway signs must conform to federal color standards. Image Credit: Flickr User Doug Kerr (CC BY 2.0)

 

Spectrophotometers Accomplish Objective Color Assay

 

Fortunately, the color standards do not rely on subjective, human analysis. When it comes to communicating precise differences in the shades of objects, human language lacks the necessary precision. To improve on our imperfect color description abilities, scientists back in the early 1930’s developed a method to correlate the human perception of color to the instrumental measurement of light in terms of the primary colors Red, Green, and Blue.  This allows an instrument to measure reflected light and provide numerical coordinates. As a result, acceptable tolerances for the colors of traffic signs can be objectively quantified.

 

Few people would claim to be able to look at a color and describe it numerically. A spectrophotometer is designed to do exactly that. As each sheet is extruded, spectrophotometric analysis can determine whether or not it will meet color tolerance standards. If sheets that do not meet standards are being produced at a growing rate, despite adherence to established formulas, managers should inspect their process to discover the problem. Doing so can lead to increased efficiency or adjustments in formulas.

 

old stop sign
Looks like someone was in a hurry. Image Credit: Flickr User GizmoDoc (CC BY 2.0)

 

Choosing the Right Instrument for the Job

 

The effects of texture play a large role in spectrophotometric assay. With retroreflective sheeting, the 45/0 geometry is the prescribed method and the ColorFlexEZ has been chosen by many manufacturers to check their production. The ColorFlexEZ has built in the special retroreflective trapezoidal acceptance tolerancing capability.  

 

With over sixty years of industry experience, the technicians at HunterLab have worked extensively in the color measurement of reflective materials. To learn which spectrophotometer would be best for your process, contact the experts at HunterLab today.

 

  1. “STOPsigns and More Product Info,” 2017, http://www.stopsignsandmore.com/t-product-info.aspx
Visual Assessment: When the Human Eye Is Just Not Enough for Accurate Color Measurement

As I drove down the road today, the colors painting the landscape reminded me why I love this time of year. In my part of the country the trees are beginning to turn bright hues of golden-yellow and reddish-orange. Every day I am amazed by the stunning visual assessment of color that our human eyes are capable of. Fall is also the time of year that has me reflecting on the colors that line the isles of my local store as I contemplate my next autumn-inspired wardrobe or décor purchase, or comforting crockpot meal. Once again the visual assessment of color invigorates my senses… and my purchasing choices, too.

The amazing human eye

The eye is one of the most important and complex parts of the human body. Consisting of over two million working parts and is second only to the brain in complexity. It is no wonder why vision is such an essential part of who we are and the way we perceive the world. Our visual assessment directs the way we feel, our choices in clothing, the foods we eat, and the products we buy.

visual assessment
The human eye is made up of over two million parts making it second only to the brain in complexity.
Image Source: Flickr user Ali T

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From Clear to Pure: Chemical and Color Analysis in the Petrochemical Industry

Chemical analysis is an intricate part of our everyday lives. From the water we drink to the food we eat to the fuel we put into our car, nearly everything we consume has undergone some form of chemical analysis before use. Although it’s likely not something we consider as we go about our daily activities, it’s a vital aspect of the production process for many things and something we all rely upon for quality assurance.

Petrochemical manufacturers know that chemical analysis is one of the most important steps in the monitoring of chemical compounds in the petroleum refining process. It is also one of the most unique and difficult processes to quantify and analyze. The ability to detect color changes is an important step in the process for identifying contaminants and impurities. With the right technology, the challenges of chemical analysis can be met.

color analysis
Clear liquids are classified based on visual comparison.

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Colorimetric Scores: Making Sure Your Tomatoes Make the Grade

The bright red color of the tomato can tell us a lot about quality and nutrition.

Color terminology has been changing; what we once called red is now referred to as magenta. Well, you know how the song goes: “you say tomato; I saw tomahto.” However, when it comes to color there is only one standard by which to abide.

Colorimetric scores are an important component for quantifying color in order to create the measurements needed to relate product quality to a grading scale. These scores have been developed through extensive research and analysis of tomato products at various stages of production to ensure color consistency and maturity. Various colorimetric methods and spectrophotometers have been used to revolutionize the tomato industry and lead to higher standards in all tomato-based products. Continue reading

Color Psychology: Subliminal Messaging, Courtesy of Your Local Pharmacy
pill color comic
What are your pills telling you?
Image Source: www.glasbergen.com

Numerous studies have recently been conducted regarding color psychology. Color can tell us a lot about who we are, how we are feeling, and the choices we make. Why do people prefer their lemonade pink? And why is that “little pill” blue? Well, it is certainly not by accident. As human beings, there is a direct correlation between our senses and color. Color psychology not only impacts our internal thought processes, it also has a great deal of influence on consumerism — especially when it comes to pharmaceuticals. All major drug corporations know that color is one of the most important ingredients in prescription medications. That is why they depend on the highest levels of color technology and spectrophotometry in order to maintain consistency and accuracy in their product. Continue reading

What’s Really in Prescription Drugs? The Value of Impurity Analysis and Spectrophotometers

Impurity analysis is not only important for maintaining consistency and product quality. Patient safety and reliability are equally important, if not more so. Lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies have reached epidemic levels over the past decade, and the number of products recalled has increased accordingly. These figures are not only astonishing, but unacceptable and preventable. Safety and effectiveness are the top concerns for pharmaceutical consumers, and companies must make sure that they use the highest level of technology to assure patient safety and satisfaction.

Super Man and Kryptonite
The consequences of impurities may be greater than you think.
Image Source: www.glasbergen.com

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The Taste of Success: How Colorimetry Can Exploit the Brain’s Perception of Food Quality
Colorimetry has been used in a variety of scientific studies to create specific color standards and visual comparisons. The standards and comparisons within this field can be of great value when evaluating color and consistently repeating data. Test results in colorimetrics through the use of spectrophotometers can give us a wealth of information about the choices we make that are dependent on color, especially those involving the foods we eat.
Green to yellow bananas
Color is a deciding factor for consumers when it comes to food choices. Food has to “look right” to “taste right.” Image source: Flickr user Ian Ransley

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Color Variations in Plastics: You Say Lime, I Say Chartreuse — What Is It Really?
Building colors
Many variables affect color and visual appearance. Light, angle, and/or background all affect visual analysis and cause major variations in color perception.
Image Source: Daniel Christensen via wikimedia.org

The human eye is a remarkable tool in identifying color variations. In fact, the human eye can actually distinguish over 7,000,000 different color variations in our known spectrum of colors. Science and technology have explored the eye-to-brain connection of how light is absorbed and reflected, and these results have shown that the human eye is capable of distinguishing even the slightest deviations in color.

Despite how amazingly accurate and complex human vision can be, the eye and the brain do have their limitations. Optical inputs of color variations are altered by a variety of causes that lead to problems with visual analysis, especially in plastic manufacturing. Manufactures have to be incredibly precise when creating their products, to account for the variations in the way we see things, and to mitigate against their negative effects. Spectrophotometry tools are incredibly useful in this process.

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