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  • 01 Mar 2012

X-Rite/Pantone launch PantoneLIVE

Color management specialist X-Rite has unveiled PantoneLIVE, a cloud-based color service that provides instant access to brand color standards.
X-Rite said there have been notable recent counterfeiting cases tied to the ubiquitous colors that uniquely identify brands. This includes Cadbury and Veuve Clicquot, who were involved in high-profile legal battles to own their brand colors, while Christian Louboutin fought to trademark its signature red soles, X-Rite said.
‘With color so critically tied to brand identity, inconsistent brand color 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 color definitions, accuracy and consistency in creating products or packaging are important to their business, while 42 percent indicated that color-related challenges have a negative impact on their company.
Brand color 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 colors will reproduce on a wide variety of substrates including brown corrugated, clear film and white polypropylene. A brand’s color assets, analogous to a brand’s color DNA, are managed and maintained in a secure cloud-based data repository to ensure accurate color communication – to any supplier, around the world.
PantoneLIVE is connected to a large portfolio of software, containing real-world color data for hundreds of thousands of colors, and is supported by the latest color measurement technology. This is combined with professional services including workflow and color rationalization audits, and customized operating procedures from Pantone and X-Rite. Custom and bespoke spectral data, as well as metadata, are used to digitize brand colors. Digitized palettes are then expanded to create independent color standards to allow for accurate color reproduction on a variety of substrates.
Brand color data, equivalent to a digital color 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 color communication across all materials in the production process. This centralized color communication process promotes consistency and helps achieve speed to market efficiencies from initial design to final production, X-Rite said. The portal also provides direction to suppliers to meet brand requirements related to color quality.

‘PantoneLIVE represents a transformational change in color management for brand owners across their entire supply chain’

Heinz’s director of corporate and government affairs Nigel Dickie said: ‘The benefits of using PantoneLIVE are clear. 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 color variance of 50 percent and saved time by establishing one color 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 color 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, where the slightest variation in packaging color can make a product suspect and the brand vulnerable to counterfeiting, X-Rite said. It highlighted Chesapeake, a global producer of consumer packaging for many of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, who started using PantoneLIVE to increase consistency in its customers’ packaging.
Chesapeake was able to reduce color variation by 84 percent in one case study and improve process controls, which led to zero rejections from the print run and 100 percent client approval. Chesapeake has recorded an extra benefit, as where it previously stocked as many as 3,000 different inks in its Leicester, UK plant it can now store just 537 without reducing color choices. 
X-Rite/Pantone has named Sun Chemical and EskoArtwork as preferred partners supporting PantoneLIVE. Both companies worked closely with Pantone and X-Rite to develop PantoneLIVE. Sun Chemical’s technology and color data are the foundations for PantoneLIVE, and this technology is integrated into EskoArtwork’s solutions.
‘PantoneLIVE delivers an end-to-end solution that, for the first time, addresses the needs and requirements of every single discipline within the packaging supply chain. This means that the brand manager will see an accurate representation of on-press color early in the design process, while converters can be assured of first-time-right color proofing and easy-to-match color on press. This sets the right expectations from the beginning of the process and has the potential to significantly reduce time to market.’
In addition, Windmöller & Hölscher, a supplier of flexographic central impression and rotogravure printing presses, is recognized 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 color 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 colors on press.

‘PantoneLIVE digitizes the process, taking it from visual and subjective to consistent and repeatable'

Pantone and X-Rite said they are continuing to work with other vendors to integrate and enhance their solutions with PantoneLIVE.
Access to the PantoneLIVE database starts at US$99 (£63, €76) annually for a designer, US$1,150 (£730, €885) annually for pre-production and from US$2,000 (£1,275, €1,540) to US$2,650 (£1,690, €2,040) annually for production.
A color audit for a brand owner starts at US$4,500 (£2,870, €3,460). Additional fees apply depending on services and scope required. PantoneLIVE solutions will be available June 15.
Ron Potesky, senior vice president and general manager of Pantone, said: ‘Nearly 50 years ago, Pantone brought consistency and a common language to an industry that lacked standardization. Historically an analog process, reliant on centuries’ old color alchemy, printing and production have advanced with technology in the digital age.
‘PantoneLIVE digitizes the process, taking it from visual and subjective to consistent and repeatable – significantly reducing production timelines and improving the bottom line.’ 
Tom Vacchiano, president and CEO of X-Rite, said: ‘PantoneLIVE represents a transformational change in color management for brand owners across their entire supply chain.’
PantoneLIVE is the first service under the Pantone Digital Business unit, a newly created division of X-Rite that is the byproduct of Pantone’s expertise color and X-Rite’s color science and technology experience. X-Rite’s Dr. Sonia Megert is to lead the new Pantone Digital Business unit, and said: ‘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. 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.’