What Are Those Rainbow Blocks On My Packaging? Mystery Solved!

February 19, 2013

Packaging design and creation is a fine art, rife with intricacies and enshrouded in mystery.

“Mystery? Packaging is not mysterious!” you might say.

Au contraire! There are all sorts of mysterious elements of packaging.

For example: Have you ever wondered what those funky, rainbow-colored squares are on some of your packaging?

You know, the ones that look like this:

printer’s color blocks
image via http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2013/01/08/color_spots_on_packages_what_are_those_things.html

What could they possibly be?

A rainbow to brighten your day? A bonus gift of a confetti template from the product manufacturer? Signals from aliens?

We’ve got an answer for you! Those printed colorful blocks are actually a tool that printers use to maintain quality and consistency in the printing of packaging.

In an interview with Slate, PR Manager for General Mills Bridget Christenson said:

“The blocks provide very technical information about printing conditions that allow printers to quickly adjust. For example, if something looks too red, the color blocks can help to determine if it’s the Yellow that is too weak or if it’s the Magenta that is too heavy. This keeps printing quality high.”


What other packaging mysteries do you wonder about? Tell us about them on our Facebook or Twitter pages and our Snap, Crackle and Pop team of Senior Consultants will come back with the answer.  Try and stump us!