What is your favorite color? What colors does your organization use in their branding? There’s a science behind translating the color you see to applications, and they have limits. We’re going to shine some light on color spaces and share color management recommendations.
GAMUTS AND THEIR COLORS
A color space is a set of colors also called gamut. The largest gamut represents the entire visible color spectrum that a human eye can see, called L*a*b* space. From the visible color gamut we can reproduce a visible color’s best match since other gamut’s have their own color spectrum limited to their device.
When printing with spot color (likened to paint), the Pantone Color System provides a library of premixed solid colors which include opaque white, fluorescents and metallics.
APPLICATION | printing on paper, color matching reference
When printing with transparent inks/toner, the CYMK gamut is a smaller range of colors. CMYK is a subtractive color system where transparent ink dots of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black are applied to a material. Since CYMK is a transparent ink, the material and its color effects the final applied color.
APPLICATION | printing on paper or other substrates
For color representation on digital screens the RGB color gamut is the largest device-driven color space. RGB is an additive color system using transparent Red, Green and Blue with light shining through.
APPLICATION | TV, monitor, websites, or mobile device screen
The aim of color management is to keep the same relative color from one device to another; I want to see the color I selected from Pantone on my monitor and then in my print. As you now understand, it can get a bit complicated as these different platforms don’t “see” or reproduce colors the same way. In addition, software such as Adobe uses their own methods for translating color into various gamuts. Instead of using Pantone’s recommended conversions, Adobe uses its own ‘Lab’ conversion which is mathematical and based on one’s color settings/profile.
We recommend first selecting a Coated Spot color from Pantone color library. Pantone is an industry-standard, consistent system for aligning color in ALL reproductions: digital, print, paint, signage, silkscreen inks, etc. For acquiring the best color match formulas in RGB, CMYK and Web(html) gamuts, we recommend using Pantone’s as opposed to Adobe. The Coated Pantone formulas have been tested to provide the best visible color match for each gamut.
SO HOW DO WE PROCEED?
• When specifying/designing for spot color printing (rare), silkscreen, solid vinyl –
use the Coated Pantone color.
• When specifying/designing for
process printing (mainstream) –
use Pantone’s CMYK formula mix.
• When specifying/designing for digital –
use Pantone’s RGB or Hex formula mix.
Brand guidelines should include their Pantone colors as well as other formulas clearly identified for vendors, partners, and designers. Check out some examples of successful Advance 360 branding projects: