In our previous article, The Meaning of…Color, we discussed choosing the right color scheme for your brand and identity package. We looked at color psychology, research behind color preferences, and their influence on personality, culture, and context.
Once you have chosen the ideal colors you should define your Pantone, CMYK, RGB, and Hex values for quick reference to ensure color matching and proper color management. What in the world of color do Pantone, CMYK, RGB and Hex mean and which is best for each type of media?
CMYK & 4 Color Process
As a young artist, we learned how to mix basic colors to create a new color. I know you remember mixing red + yellow to make orange or yellow + blue and to make green or, better yet, mixing all the colors to make brown or black. That’s how 4-color processing works, only the base colors are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK). We really don’t know why black is represented by K, but perhaps they didn’t want it to be confused with blue, which is cyan. Much like our elementary art project, the colors are mixed in different percentages to create the desired colors.
RGB & Hexadecimal (Hex)
Unlike our art project above, if you mix all the colors together on a screen (computer, television, mobile) you will get white instead of black. This is because displays use RGB (red, green and blue) in values 0-255, not CMYK percentages, to create color. Adding color actually adds more light to the display backlight to create the different colors. Because they are completely different, you will sometimes have different results on an RGB monitor than you will in a CMYK print. You may have to adjust your color mix to more closely match your color in both mediums. Designers will also use the Hex# or hexadecimal value to define colors so the browser can recognize and display them accurately. A Hex# will either have a 3 or 6 digit value assigned to it made up of numbers 0-9 and letters A-F.
Pantone or PMS
Pantone is actually the name of the corporation that created the proprietary color matching system called Pantone Matching System (PMS). Their main goal was to create continuity when it comes to picking a color. As we discussed in our Let’s Talk Logos article, printing with a Pantone color means printing with a single ink as opposed to mixing four inks as in CMYK. It also typically means color matching is the most accurate. However, with the advancements of digital printing, it is very hard to tell the difference when the equipment is calibrated properly and the print pieces are checked for consistency.
In a world of multi-channel marketing, you will need these colors for your brand defined depending on the medium you are choosing to deliver your message. Creating a stylesheet that includes your Pantone, CMYK, RGB, and Hex values for quick reference will not only be a timesaver but will ensure brand consistency.
Knowing this information will help you communicate with your creative team, including AlphaGraphics, in order to keep your colors as consistent as possible. If you have questions – or this all sounds like a foreign language – our team is here to assist you. Stop by the shop or contact us today.