Color Concepts and The Age of ColorBase
Color Concepts, the renowned print industry partner that specializes in profiling, training, material testing, and media certification programs, is undergoing a radical transformation. Now, it is quickly becoming a leading-edge tech company offering a plethora of digital services that connect the industry. At first glance, this shift can seem radical and sudden – but, like the caterpillar that becomes a butterfly, this metamorphosis has been a long time in the making, and a natural evolution of the company’s long term strategy.
Early in his career, founder Marco Roos learned the old truth, “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.” In 2003, Marco started Color Concepts as a one-man consultancy operation, and offered training and profiling services to printer and material manufacturers across the globe. Finding himself in high demand throughout the Large Format Print Industry, Marco made a name for himself. Alone, he was moving quickly, but even then, he knew it was not enough. As a travelling print ‘guru’, he would never permanently solve the structural gaps in knowledge that he encountered across the LFP community. Marco was becoming an expert at crossing rivers one at a time, when his true goal was to build bridges for all.
Marco envisioned a connected industry where information is shared and collaboration the norm. From this ‘anti-guru’ philosophy, the first Color Concepts print lab was opened in Rotterdam, and the company quickly became the driving force behind material testing standardization and certification programs. By focusing on testing and profiling, Color Concepts developed expertise at the intersection of print material, print hardware, ink technology, RIP software, and color science – and as a result, the company established a totally unique position. Marco and his band of ‘Pixel Pirates’ were reaching R&D departments at large technology companies such as Avery Dennison, HP, Mimaki, Onyx, Ricoh, Roland, and more, helping them build products that work better together. By testing and certifying materials on different printers and ink technologies, then packaging the optimal print parameters into ‘profiles’, and finally delivering these profiles down the chain to the print shops, Color Concepts was realizing Marco’s dream of a connected industry – and positioning itself firmly at the center.
But the company’s most radical transformation was yet to come. Marco’s belief that information is most valuable when shared was being coded into the company’s operations. Throughout Color Concepts’ testing and profiling work, the company had been steadily storing all the data it was generating into what it calls ColorBase – a database that maps the connections between print materials, ink technologies, printers, RIP software, and more. Today, ColorBase contains more than 1.1 million profiles, 3300 print materials, and is accessed by more than 100,000 users across the globe. Through ColorBase, Color Concepts has manifested its vision of a connected industry in digital form, and is now using the ColorBase ‘digital pipeline’ to launch an ecosystem of software services that together strengthen the industry and connect innovators across our space. The age of ColorBase has begun.
ColorBase Exchange, the first of these new services launched, is a cloud-based marketplace that facilitates the purchase and sale of print materials between manufacturers and resellers. The ColorBase data set at the core of the platform powers advanced search features; resellers can effortlessly find the materials they need, and manufacturers can easily reach both the resellers they already work with and new ones they want to target.
Another equally important entrance to the ColorBase digital pipeline that the team has opened is ColorBase.com. This end-user-focused platform is a one-stop hub for print shops and converters. It allows material manufacturers to share their rich content, such as profiles and tutorial videos, through the industry’s most advanced profile download client, content-sensitive video players, and interactive e-learning solutions. But this is just the beginning – with more exciting tools being developed, ColorBase.com is quickly becoming the resource print shops need to improve their craft.
This is just the beginning – Color Concepts is also well into the development cycle of the next ColorBase service: ColorBase Labs. This cloud-based solution will empower material and printer testing engineers throughout the industry to define – and perform – standardized tests and will provide them with all the ‘digital pipeline’ needed to send the results anywhere across the ColorBase ecosystem. This will enable a plethora of exciting services, like auto-population of ColorBase Exchange product listings, or dynamically created technical documentation. Ultimately though, everything ColorBase Labs achieves is in service of its end goal: helping print buyers pick the right material for their applications.
To help the industry make full use of the ColorBase platforms, Color Concepts has launched ColorBase Studios – a content production studio that can draw on the technical expertise of the Color Concepts Print Lab to create informed and compelling videos, graphics, and copywriting. If you need a promotional video to boost sales on ColorBase Exchange, or if you want e-learning content to host on ColorBase.com, these are the creative experts to engage.
Just as the ColorBase ecosystem weaves throughout the Visual Communication Industry, Color Concepts’ ethos similarly threads throughout its shift from an analog service provider to a software solutions provider, contributing to continuous productivity gains, professionalism, and innovation of the large format printing industry. The best is yet to come!