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What G7 Master Means To A Marketer

January 5, 2010  By Jon Robinson

Crystal Uppercue describes G7 Master status after EU Services, a 400-employee direct marketing firm in Maryland where she works, recently achieved the designation. Uppercue explains what it means from a marketing-executive perspective.

By Crystal Uppercue

First of all, what is G7 Master?
G7 Master status indicates that a production facility has calibrated its equipment and systems to so-called “G7 grey balance and neutral tone curves.” In essence, this means that any print product coming out of a G7 Master facility will look like the same product printed at any other G7 Master facility. Obviously paper and other print characteristics will affect the appearance, too, but the colour and imagery will look like that printed at any G7 Master facility.


Who came up with it?
G7 Master status is the brainchild of the International Digital Enterprise Alliance, more commonly known as IDEAlliance. This is a not-for-profit membership organization whose business it is to advance best practices in printing. Members are not only printers, but also brand owners, agencies, publishers, materials suppliers and consultants – the full range of professionals interested in the quality of printing.

IDEAlliance’s G7 “Proof to Print” process is the way a production facility reaches targets laid out in GRACol 7 (General Requirements and Applications for Commercial Offset Lithography version 7), issued in 2006. G7 is currently being applied to many types of printing, including commercial and publication printing, newsprint, and even flexo.

What’s the point of G7 Master?
As the world of marketing and advertising becomes more complicated, so does the printing of the vast array of an organization’s packaging, signage, and marketing collateral. It’s commonplace to order variable printed direct mail from a printer in the D.C. area, signage from Philadelphia, and packaging from Richmond. Naturally, printed matter should look the same no matter where it’s printed. That is the objective of qualifying a production facility, its equipment, and its systems as a G7 Master.

How does the qualification work?
Marketers are all familiar with the environmental certifications awarded through FSC and SFI. G7 Master status is different, in that it qualifies a production facility, its equipment, and its systems as a G7 Master. For the time being, G7 Master status is not a certification, as no tolerances are imposed, though the program may evolve into such as industry data is gathered.

In order for a facility to earn G7 Master status, a professional who has earned “G7 Expert” status visits a production facility, meets with and educates staff about G7, and calibrates proofing systems and/or presses. G7 Experts are versed in the field of colour management, process, and quality control for proofing and printing equipment. They are able to analyze colour and print-related issues and take corrective action to bring systems and processes in control to a set method, standard, or specification.

Generally, a G7 Expert makes their living as a consultant to the agency/print/publishing industry. The production facility pays the consultant directly and IDEAlliance does not collect any fees. In-house G7 Professionals trained by the IDEAlliance can calibrate the systems, but an outside G7 Expert must review and approve the calibration data. To maintain G7 Master status, a production facility must be requalified each year.

What’s in it for you?
Predictability for one thing… and quality control. Knowing that your marketing brochures and direct-mail campaigns will look the same printed at any G7 Master facility – one less problem for you to worry about. A G7 Master shop can combine the latest technology with the experience and expertise of the printing professional, who is ultimately responsible for approval of the final product.

Crystal Uppercue is the marketing manager for EU Services, a 400-employee direct marketing production facility in Rockville, Md. EU was awarded G7 Master status on September 4.

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