All About Color: A Guide to Color Management

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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

Color Management

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.


• 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.

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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:

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Logos-SteveVolkers-color2 All About Color: A Guide to Color Management
Logos-GCU-color2 All About Color: A Guide to Color Management
Logos-Teel-color2 All About Color: A Guide to Color Management

What does your favorite color say about you?

Content Contributed by Sheri Nicholson, Advance 360, Senior In-House Creative Strategist

Transitioning Marketing Tactics or Agencies: A How To Guide

Every campaign has a season, and a ceiling. It’s unrealistic to believe that a marketing tactic, piece of creative or strategy will never need refreshing. Even those that measure the outcomes of their efforts diligently eventually reach a point of diminishing returns. As you transition from one tactic to another, or in some cases from one agency to another, you may want to keep this in mind.

To eliminate disruptions to services and outcomes, consider keeping existing active campaigns live until the new material is launched. In this way, you won’t have a period of “darkness” where your constituents aren’t hearing from you.

Use goals to establish new tactics, not gut or the proverbial “squeaky wheel.” This will inform strategies to optimize campaigns, close segments or tactics of a campaign that are underperforming. Measure, and measure again. Then optimize. Repeat. Don’t believe the anecdotes you hear from stakeholders unless they can be proven by your data.

Think about the macro versus the micro goals. Macro: more visitors to the site. Micro: inquiry form fills. This will help to prioritize the frequency required, and which groups you must influence to generate that activity. Clearly articulate these goals among your existing team and your agency team. It will dramatically refine your relationship and your partnered activities.

Put your old and new agencies in touch with one another. These are professional adults, and should be able to work together to maximize your transition. Both parties have or have had your best interest in mind, and the more visibility you can offer the new service providers into the old strategies, the better.

Whether you are simply adjusting your marketing goals, changing channels or introducing something new, have a new partner to bring on board, it’s important to keep these elements in mind.