New spot colour matching system

Paul Lindström's picture
Paul Lindström

To match spot colours accurately in CMYK is an old and well known challenge. The Islandic developer Spot Nordic has developed a Spot Matching System (SMS) to help designers and brand owners establish which spot colour will work well in CMYK.

Ingi Karlsson is an Icelandic colour scientist and the originator of the SMS system. One of his main objectives with the SMS system is to enable a way to ensure that brand colours will look the same in multichannel publishing, be it print, web or on TV.

Ingi Karlsson, founder of Spot Nordic, shows the first reference proof for the base colours in the SMS system, in November last year, 2018.

470 selected base colours
Spot Nordic has selected a range of spot colours which can be reproduced accurately with no visual difference on both coated and uncoated papers. In technical terms this means that the colour deviation should be no more than 1 Delta E using the DE2000 formula. The colours are selected so it should be possible to reproduce them with most established printing methods, be it litho offset, digital, gravure or flexo. Ideally the designer should choose among those when deciding on a brand colour. Spot Nordic use digital contract proofs compliant to ISO 12647-7 when printing the selected spot colours. If a designer isn’t happy with any of the selected base colours Spot Nordic can help in selecting a spot colour from one of the well known spot colour systems, and create a base colour which matches as closely as possible when printing in CMYK.

The selected brand colour is now coupled with a number in the SMS system, and if you subscribe to the SMS system you will get an ICC profile that you can send to the designer, and to the print service provider. Spot Nordic also registers what paper type should be used, and which ISO standards are applicable for the print job.

We think this is actually a quite sensible approach, and one that ideally should be taken by many brand owners, at least if they have the opportunity to make such considerations before the actual brand colour is chosen. But even with an established chosen spot colour as your brand colour, a reference CMYK colour definition should exist, and be used when ordering prints. Well done, Ingo and team!

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