Achieving Color Consistency Across Digital & Print Media



In a digitally focused world, it is easy to overlook the subtle nuances of print. For example, there are nearly 16.7 million colors that computers, tablets, mobile phones, and television screens can produce thanks to RGB-based light. For those unfamiliar, the RGB color mode is associated with electronic displays and combines red, green, and blue lights in various degrees to create a variety of different colors. On the other hand, it is possible to produce over 60,000 colors with the printer in your office, which is based on the mix of four base colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black). So how can you ensure color consistency for your brand across both digital and print media?


Start with a Pantone Swatch Book

You want to avoid picking your brand colors on screen from the largest color gamut (RGB). Finding a print equivalent will prove to be a nightmare as it is impossible for every web-based color to flawlessly translate to print. However, if you could select colors from a smaller set—a set encompassed by the RGB and CMYK colors—it would help create better color consistency across all mediums. That’s where Pantone colors come in.

Pantone Color Books

Pantone colors, also referred to as PMS for Pantone Matching System, is a color profile comprised of 1,867 swatches. Swatches are the varying degrees of color that are combined to make a solid color. You choose the color you want, based on a number, and the colors are mixed using a PMS formula guide to create it. It is incredibly similar to how paint is mixed at a hardware store. Pantone colors provide more consistency in your brand’s colors, including shade, tint, and hue, across the different printers you may use for your marketing needs.

It is important to note that while Pantone swatches will provide you with an accurate idea of how your colors will look, it is not foolproof. For the web, monitors and other devices have varying levels of ability to display colors as some can show more shades than others. There are also other elements of the unknown that can impact how colors display on screens such as the age of the device, the display’s configurations, lighting conditions, and even the viewing angle can alter color.

With print, different types of paper stock, print finishes (i.e., gloss, varnish, and embossing), the type of texture or material you are printing on, and the quality of the printing device may change the outcome of your color. For this reason, it is recommended you always request a proof or attend a trial print run before rolling out any print materials. Even if you have printed a project in the past, there is no guarantee you will have the same results the next time.

With that said, the greatest benefit of beginning the color selection process with Pantone colors is that Pantone makes the color translation process easy. Each Pantone color swatch provides a tried and true formula for its CMYK and RGB equivalent to ensure your colors are as consistent and close to what you want over an array of mediums as possible.

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Establish Brand Guidelines

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You may know your brand inside and out, but does your agency, your printers, or other partners or affiliates? For this reason, it is important to establish clear brand guidelines for the use of color in all of your digital and print materials once your brand colors are selected. Your brand guidelines should outline the rules and specs of your logo, fonts, brandmarks, etc., and approved colors, including Pantone, CMYK and RGB numbers. While you’ll still always want to create drafts or tests for new marketing collateral, these guidelines should make it easier to maintain the quality and integrity of your branded materials.

Keeping Color Consistent Is a Vital Element of Branding

Color is a key design element and brand asset. Similar to Coca-Cola’s red or UPS’s signature brown, consumers may come to associate a particular shade of color with your brand. Your brand’s color(s) could potentially become a valuable intellectual property on their own. Yet none of that would be possible unless you pick appropriate colors and know how to ensure that they translate faithfully across all mediums, be it your website, business cards, or t-shirts.

Need help defining or refining the colors for your brand? You can trust the experts at MoreVisibility to help you achieve consistency in your use of color and make your brand stand out amongst your competitors. Contact us for a Complimentary Consultation today.

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