A Distributor Asks: My client ordered totes and is not happy with the color of the logo. The logo imprint method was silkscreen, and we paid for PMS matching. The color of the proof looked perfect, and I will admit the color on the tote is slightly lighter/more neon. It is not way off, and personally, if I were the client, I wouldn’t have had an issue. However, it is slightly off.

Should I respond to the client and say that color varies slightly due to the material in which it is printed or take this up with the supplier?

What is considered the industry norm in terms of color variation allowance, particularly if you paid for a PMS match? How would you respond to this client?

I put a disclaimer on the order approval and art approval that PMS colors may not be an exact match due to the color of the substrate, curing methods and ambient temperatures. All those can be a factor in the final color. The color of the substrate can even affect how our eyes perceive the color, even if it is an exact match.

Lev Promotions
Santee, California
PPAI 218331, D1

Suppliers should be able to match PMS colors on totes by under-basing with white if it’s a dark substrate with a light color print. If it’s a light color tote with a dark imprint, it may not be needed. If you paid for a PMS match, you should get it. If you didn’t pay, then yes, the color can vary slightly from the PMS color you asked for.

Executive Vice President
New York, New York
PPAI 781237, S12

Talk to the supplier first and tell them she’s not happy. Show them a photo of the bag, they may just look at it and tell you they will redo it. They may offer a discount to the client to keep them.

Account Executive
Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
PPAI 716629, D1

A Distributor Asks: There seems to be a major disconnect with most graphic designers when it comes to apparel and branded merchandise. Some of our clients have rebranded recently, and now they’re having to come to terms with the fact that their new logo and style guide will not work for many of the branded products they’d like to purchase due to line size, number of colors in the logo, inability to get a good one-color version, etc.

I’m wondering how any of you are handling aspects of design like this. I know you larger firms out there are creative agencies as well. For those that aren’t, are there graphic design firms who specialize in branding from an apparel/product/engraving standpoint as well?

Any respectable graphic designer – not necessarily with a degree – knows that any logo should look good in black and white or in any one color. Any company that doesn’t have their logo in several versions, including a one-color option, hired an amateur designer.

Pro-File Marketing
Las Vegas, Nevada
PPAI 439909, D1

If the new logo is created by a professional graphic artist, there would be a version of the logo to be used for branded products, uniforms and such. But so many times, people work with self-taught designers who might have a good sense of design but don’t know the fundamentals. So, if there isn’t a suitable logo version, you can offer to create it for them and charge, if appropriate. It’s what we did back in my distributor days and never had an issue.

Action Marketing
Plantation, Florida
PPAI 656637, D1

A Distributor Asks: I got a new customer, and she orders 30 zipper hoodies for her son’s bar mitzvah. There’s a DTF on the left chest and full back. I cut the price to do her a favor, as she was a referral from my designer. The order was printed six weeks before the party. She never opened the box until the party. Some of the shirts had the left chest printed upside down! It was a very weird combination of the initials, so I can see how it could happen.

She tells me 12 are wrong, but seven of those 12 are with people who live out of state, so she doesn’t want them reprinted, she wants her money back – all of her money back.

I explained to her that we do not refund money for orders that were, first, placed almost two months ago and, second, we offered to reprint all of the ones that were bad. Along with the reprint, we would offer her a credit of $105. She still wants her money back. Now, she’s taken to social media and thinks that she should get the money back for the whole order and a reprint of all the shirts.

What a headache. You were fair. Re: your policy question, my terms and conditions state, “It is client’s responsibility to notify [Distributor Name] of any defects or discrepancies in writing within 72 business hours of order delivery.” Whether or not it’s read or happens may vary, of course, but at least it’s covered. On another note, I tend to shy away from social orders. Usually these types of issues are handled professionally and reasonably when it’s B2B.

The Boca Ratonian
Boca Raton, Florida
PPAI 586034, D1

I have a clear note on my invoices, and I remind my clients when I send them the tracking number to check to make sure their order is complete and damage-free. If she wants a full refund, tell her to send all of them back to you. Tell her she’ll get a refund for each one sent back to you within one week.

The Global Toy Box
Cardiff By The Sea, California
PPAI 637758, D1