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From Color to Brand

By: Jeff Falk, with contributions from Brian Budzynski and Kim Jednachowski
Posted: December 7, 2009, from the December 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

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“Any mixture of PCR, trim scrap and virgin resin isn’t pristine—and is somewhat dingy,” says Kulka. “We want to move that mix into the inner layer where it actually contributes to the opacity and color strength. In effect, it becomes our background, a functional ‘primer,’ and once we can pull it into the customer’s desired range of color, it becomes a positive component in the overall structure. Then we can come over the top with an outside layer that’s clean and brilliant. All pigments that have great reflectivity [such as pearlescents] are moved into the outside layer. The result is that the two layers work together to create a look that can’t easily be achieved in a single layer, and we can still use the PCR that is such a high priority for the big-box retailers.”

At the same time that the bottles were being produced and those colors evaluated, polypropylene (PP) overcaps were being produced for evaluation with both bottles. The first caps produced were dark brown, intended to complement the bottles, but customer Jednachowski was blunt: “I don’t like brown.”

It’s About the Brand, Not the Color

Something happens along this journey. As the iterations of bottles progress (see Project “Twitter Me” Technical Specifications), the discussions about color are no longer really about a “color.” The discussions become “What color is really saying about my brand, and what brings these bottles and caps together to communicate a message.” “All we’re doing is creating an easel and we’re putting a picture over the top,” says Kulka. “It’s the visual impression—that’s what it comes down to.”

The GCI magazine group’s requests for changes are met by the ColorWorks team, and options begin to emerge. We’ve moved away from looking for the “perfect” color, and have begun to explore complementary colors and colors that tell a story. It’s true that the bottles become more and more beautiful as the technicians work their magic—tweaking, looking for specific glows and highlights, and the working toward that “pop” to make the brand jump off the shelf.

When we’ve gotten to a point in which the bottles shimmer, that brown cap dismissed earlier in the day (and nearly supplanted by caps that were deemed attractive solely based on their color and not their role in the brand) is seen to clearly tie a line together. They’re not simply capping the bottles, they “cap” the brand.