Behind The Scenes: Colors Explained

Behind The Scenes: Colors Explained

Ever wonder why your brand colors look different on your website, compared to your business card and even in your google docs? Rest assured it’s not you. There are many different factors that come into play—screens, papers, printers, and the biggest culpritcolor set up. So, let’s geek out a bit, and we’ll explain the differences to you!


Stands For: Red, Green, Blue

Also Called: Roy-G-Biv

Uses: Websites, Apps

Pros: Bright Colors—Since it is a subtractive color process on screen, more vivid colors can be achieved than with CMYK.

Cons: Printing—RGB colors do not print well. They do not look the same on paper as they do on screen.

Did You Know: You’re looking at a blend of RBG colors right now!  There are over 16 million color combinations.


Stands For: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black

Also Called: Process Colors, Digital Printing

Uses: Any printed materials with images (brochures, annual reports, etc.), Cereal boxes

Pros: Cost—Digital printing is often a cheaper option compared to offset printing.

Cons: Solid Colors—Since this printing process is a blend of dots layered on top of each other, printing a solid, dark color is difficult to achieve and results in what we call “banding”. In other words, you can see the color fluctuate across the page.

Did You Know: Your home printer used CMYK. Have you ever noticed this while replacing an ink cartridge?


Stands For: Pantone Matching System (not what you were thinking, huh? 😉 )

Also called: Pantone Colors, Spot Colors, Offset Printing

Uses: Business cards, Color matching for products (promotional items such as pens, bags, etc.)

Pros: Global—This is a universal system printers follow. It will be consistent across the board at any printer.

Cons: Cost—It is the most expensive printing option.

Did you know: Printers have to be certified by Pantone and be licensed to print with their colors.

So, besides talking to us cool designers, why do you care?

Takeaways: Color is key to building a recognizable brand. To achieve consistency across touch points, it’s important to correctly work with all of these color models. For example, we all know Coca-Cola for it’s signature red color. If it is sightly off across media points, people notice. That’s because they’ve used it so consistently for so many years. For your company, this means knowing more than your Pantone color but having a full brand guideline that defines the proper use of color.

Check out some examples below:!

Want to know more??


Need your own brand guideline?

Having trouble producing consistent colors?