If you are someone who manages a brand (maybe your own), it is important to have a basic understanding of color profiles to assure your brand is represented correctly and consistently. For example, Tiffany’s is known for their very specific powder blue color. And in protection of their brand (like many others), they are feverishly assuring that their colors are spot on every single time across all mediums.This is an outline of color profiles you might run into and what they mean.
These color profiles are used exclusively on the web for optimal viewing. You would not want to send your artwork in RGB or HEX because it will come out very differently compared to your color palette intent.
RGB (Red, Green, Blue) – These three colors, red, blue, and green are combined to make every color you see on a screen or on a camera. Each of the three colors in RGB is made up of levels from 0-255. For example, you might see RGB noted as follows: R=255 G=255 B=255, and this would make the color white.
Similarly, you might see HEX (hexadecimal) codes to denote color. It comes in the form of #fcc203. This six-digit combination of numbers and letters is actually shorthand for an RGB color reference.
These color profiles are used exclusively in print for optimal viewing. It’s not recommended to use the CMYK in any digital space because it will come out very differently compared to your color palette intent.
CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) – This is a four-color print method. You might be familiar with it if your at-home or company printer used ink cartridges. You will see that your digital printers print in CMYK like traditional printing presses do. Each color is printed in a percentage value one layer at a time until all four are completed and you have the full-color artwork. Knowing your CMYK values and making sure the printer hits those profiles are going to assure the most consistent color representation every single time.
Similarly, Pantone Matching System (PMS) are patented, standardized color inks made by Pantone. They use various mixes of CMYK and is known for the consistency of their precise blends. Unfortunately, PMS can only be used for offset printing and not digital printing, which is very common today. In order to print a PMS color digitally, you will need the CMYK conversion.
Once you have an understanding of how color is displayed in each format, you can ensure that your brand is represented as you envisioned. I work closely with all of my clients to find intentional color palettes to enhance the impact of their brand and the share the color details to assure the brand’s consistency.