Thursday, July 05, 2007

"Managing Color and Customization Without Losing Your Mind" by designer Margaret Patterson

Ink-on-paper, web sites and HTML news bulletins are sources of angst for sales support staff under pressure to achieve consistent results in record time. These “good to know” pointers will seem too basic for many readers, but revisiting basics can help solve woes for everyone.

Printing Speed

Digital color printers can be ranked by page per minute (ppm) speed. Never mind what manufacturers claim… the devices are not that fast. To boot, printing speed may be slower if your document contains multiple import files (photos, complicated charts, big logo files on every page, etc.)

Printing Process

Digital Imaging is commonly referred to as DI. DI presses are direct-to-plate (no film is necessary), a fast printing solution. If you need quantities that would bog down your in-house inkjet device a good DI printing companies is a must.

Here is my “yardstick” for choosing a printing process:

· Most small- to mid-size financial services firms need time-sensitive short runs. Desktop inkjet printers are good for color proofs, and modest batches of pitch books and fact sheets.

· High-end digital imaging service providers are cost effective for runs of up to 4,000

· Commercial offset service providers may be more cost effective for quantities above 4,000

Color Management

Like most financial services firms, most of your marketing tools are created and produced in-house. Using a precise measurement program, your IT provider can ensure consistent color results from initial ideas to the final printed piece—and all the device-to-device exchanges in between.

Color management is a detailed process, too long for this blog. With brevity, the first step is device calibration, eliminating drifting color changes that scanners, monitors and printers experience over time. Step two is device characterization, actually creating custom device-specific profiles that are more accurate than factory-generated, generic profiles supplied by manufacturers.

Chart Updating

Make every effort to maintain links between your PowerPoint charts and relevant Excel spreadsheets. If a chart will not print well you can import a printed PDF, but you will have to update and import again every time your chart data changes.


Many DI and commercial printing service providers can customize each sheet or batches of sheets, a process called “variable data capability”. For example, it may be useful to specify recipients’ names or different contact names within your firm.

Customizing investment management data is another animal. As stated in an earlier article, I only encourage that level of pitch book customization if you clearly understand your prospect’s concerns and the data you provide has been reviewed by your compliance department.

Input and questions are welcome. Your thoughts may show up in future articles, so let me know if I can quote you.

Margaret Patterson Company
Corporate Identity & Communications Graphics for Financial Services Firms

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