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Hip, New ColorMunki —Sherburne

May 2008
I HAVE written before about the value of using your color expertise as a market differentiator and marketing tool. A recent announcement from our friends at Pantone potentially adds another tool to your arsenal in this regard.

ColorMunki (you have to love the name!) is a unique and affordable color management tool targeted at the design community. For many designers, the whole issue of color management as it relates to print can be somewhat of a mystery, resulting in the provision of files that may not print accurately.

ColorMunki is a tool that you can bring to the attention of your design customers—or even provide to them if it makes financial sense for you—that can go a long way toward preventing these issues and solidifying your customer relationship.

So what is ColorMunki? Color-Munki Design addresses core issues of color creation, control and communication in one easy-to-use, integrated solution that draws designers into a color-managed workflow without them even necessarily realizing it.

In a unique application of technological convergence, ColorMunki is about twice the depth of a cell phone, but otherwise about the same size. It combines the functionality of Pantone’s ColorCue—a tool that allows users to scan and recognize a color from any source—with the ability to color calibrate monitors, projectors and printers in a simple and easy-to-use interface.

Previously, a user would have had to purchase several separate tools to accomplish these tasks, learn how to use them all, and hope that they all worked together to deliver desired results. All of this at a cost of $1,000 or more, depending on the tools acquired. With ColorMunki, the user simply turns the center dial to change functions.

While this is a really cool idea, it doesn’t stop there. It comes with robust software and online resources that are really the key to the value this solution provides for you.

I spent time in a Web demonstration using Adobe Connect with Doris Brown, Pantone vice president of marketing, getting a view into the functionality of the device and software. It was quite impressive.

First, ColorMunki is an all-in-one approach that includes very fast monitor and printer calibration. Because it is fast and easy, busy professionals are more likely to use the tool. Brown reports that she was able to create a printer profile in a few minutes without reading the manual. Perhaps even more impressive is the software suite that comes with the product.

The designer can easily determine whether a color choice will conform with a color standard, such as SNAP or SWOP. Secondly, color palettes, which are easy to prepare, can automatically be loaded into design tools such as Quark, InDesign or PhotoShop, without the need to repeat the process several times across applications.

Perhaps coolest of all, if a designer selects a color that will not print with process color, the color will show up greyed-out in the palette, leaving no question about the suitability of the color for the project. The program will make suggestions about alternative colors, or easily allow the designer to call up a range of alternative colors that fit into the palette.

So to summarize, ColorMunki lets your client easily:

• Automatically create color palettes from photographs; manage, store, tag and search color palettes; gamut check in one click; and quickly verify spot colors for process-safe reproduction.

• Capture color from any surface, automatically import colors to design applications, and incorporate spectral color data into design files.

• Quickly accomplish printer-to-monitor calibration, as well as calibrate projectors.

• Easily set profiles in design applications, automatically synchronize color palettes, and connect with the Web for individual or collaborative work.

The price for all of this is $499—significantly less than the $1,000 or more a collection of tools would require. And Pantone is preparing to launch a simpler version called ColorMunki Create that will sell for $149, with a logical upgrade path as requirements change.

This product is worth a look, whether you want to make it available for in-house designers, purchase it for key freelance or other external designers, or simply educate your customer base about its availability.

It is new, hip and very functional. It is a way for you to set yourself apart as a color expert and a supplier that is always looking for creative and innovative ways to make your customer relationships more efficient and effective. And, to the extent your customers use this or similar tools, your life will be easier in the long-term.

I’d be very interested in your feedback, once you explore this fun and functional new product. Let me hear from you—what did you think? What did your customers think? And did it make a difference in the way you were perceived by them?

Marketing your company has a wide range of implications and aspects. I hope this review of Color- Munki has proved helpful, as you think about new ways to position your company and your color expertise, and to set yourself apart from competitors. PI

Cary Sherburne

About the Author
Cary Sherburne is a well-known journalist, author and strategic marketing consultant working primarily with the printing and publishing industry. She is a frequent speaker at industry events, a regular contributor to printing industry publications and has written three books, which are available for purchase through the Bookstore section on Printing Impressions’ Website ( Sherburne can be contacted at

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