The Crucial Shelf Life of a Swatchbook
2009, 2011, 2013, 2014. Hmmm. 2008, 2011, 2015. I was trying to follow the train of thought of an industry expert whom, as such, I’d always thought to be a reliable source. But now he was claiming that if your swatchbook is from 2012, you should count yourself lucky—that’s a "fresh" swatchbook. Really.
The numbers above are just a few examples that I pulled from our own resources showing when a paper company had come out with updated swatchbooks for a specific line over the last few years.
And yes, you guessed it—there seems to be no rhyme nor reason to when mills release new swatchbooks. Well, of course there must be, but none that you and I can ever hope to understand.
While some brands get updated regularly—2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015—others stay the test of time—2008, 2011, 2015. Think of it like a restaurant menu. Some restaurants update their menu every other month, while others hold on to the tried and true for years and years.
Each has its benefits. One might be more hip, adjusting their offerings depending on what is in season. The other provides reliable fare no matter what the time of year; you can count on your favorite dish to be waiting for you.
The important factor here is that as a print service provider, your clients rely on you to know what is available at any given time. To ensure that you both speak the same language, it is important that your clients have access to the same information you do.
Yes, you can drop off sample sheets (always a nice idea), but often time is of the essence, and it speeds up the process immensely if you both can refer to the same swatchbook and information. "Do you have the XYZ swatchbook with the stars on the cover? Great, check out the royal green in 80 Text…"
But all this requires that you be in the know. If your client has a more recent version of the swatchbook than you do…not so impressive.
So if your swatchbook is 2+ years old, make sure to check and see if a newer version is available; your clients are relying on you to be the well-prepared professional we both know you are.
p.s.: In case you are not 100 percent sure if your swatchbooks are really up-to-date, check out the overview at PaperSpecs Mill Swatchbooks.
Sabine Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.
Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.
Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge.