Hyper-Customization, Color Management Bring NBA-Themed Label to Life

Published June 2016, flexpackmag.com


The Indianapolis Pacers dropped their first home game of the 2015-16 NBA season on Oct. 29, 2015, 112-103. But despite the loss, those who took in the contest at Bankers Life Field House were still treated to something that helped take the edge off from the concourse.

Vendors were serving a new craft beer called “Tip Off Ale,” featuring a rich copper color, fittingly reminiscent of a basketball, with a mellow malt flavor.

Brewed by Indiana-based Sun King Brewery, the German style altbier was sold in a 16 oz. can. It payed homage to the team in a few notable ways. First was its unique flavor. There was also a decorative shrink sleeve label, printed by Century Label, an Ohio-based film converter.

Each shrink sleeve label prominently displayed the team’s colors – blue and maize – as well as a cut out shape of Indiana with a basketball court backdrop, a basketball and a vibrant background with miscellaneous designs that differed on every sleeve.

Printing since 1980, Century Label specializes in the food and beverage market, creating prime labels, pressure-sensitive labels and shrink sleeves using both digital and HD flexo methods. The company employed the use of three HP Indigo WS6800 digital presses and HP SmartStream Mosaic technology to create Sun King Brewery’s vision.

“Mosaic allows for what people are calling hyper-customization or mass-customization, and the best example of it to date in the market is the Coca-Cola ‘Share a Coke’ campaign where you can have your own name on the bottle and on the can,” says Heidi Chambers, director of sales at Century Label. “We wanted to partner with one of our customers so we could show that you don’t have to be one of these top brands in the country in order to utilize Mosaic.”

This hyper-customization technology is what allowed Century Label to print differing designs on the background of each of the shrink sleeve labels, which made the cans marketable as unique collector’s items.

Chambers also says that the company’s No. 1 competitive advantage, color management, helped them when creating Tip Off Ale’s shrink sleeve label, as it was imperative that the final product matched the Pacer’s team colors.

“(Custom color match) is something that we’re very adept at doing,” Chambers says. “But that certainly could have been a challenge had we not had that kind of experience at our company.”

The digital presses ran at about 1200 dpi – creating an end result that looked more “photographic” and “crisp” – and printed in CMYK OV, which includes standard process colors as well as orange and violet. These capabilities allowed Century Label to create colors for the Tip Off Ale label that accurately matched both the team colors as well as the Pantone Matching System.

With the Pacer’s season now over, following their first-round playoff exit, and and the Tip Off Ale project behind them, Chambers says that the company looks forward to working on more labels for craft beer – a $22.3 billion market that has grown exponentially in the past couple years.

“We won (the HP) Inkspiration award for a beer can sleeve for excellence in digital print for an alcohol product,” Chamber says about another shrink sleeve label the company recently worked on. “We keep running into this theme of beer cans.”

Century Label Packaging

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