Why Are Pantone Colors Important?
Color matching and consistency.
How does a printer know the actual color of your logo? For example, when the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill won the national basketball championship in 2017, they ordered thousands of t-shirts to sell. How did the UNC feel confident that their screenprinter would make “Carolina Blue” shirts instead of some other slightly different shade of blue or – God-forbid – DUKE BLUE? This consistency is done through color matching systems.
One of the most famous and widely used color matching systems is the Pantone Matching System for colors. Sometimes referred to as “PMS Colors”. Developed in the 1950’s, this system is basically a collection of colors that are used as a reference for printers and graphic artists to rely upon when reproducing logos and other color critical graphics.
The scope of products and uses of color matching systems is too complex and long to completely address in this discussion. (For more detailed info on the Pantone matching system, click on the links at the end of this article.) For the purposes of this discussion, we will stick to the bare essentials: What is color matching and how does it relate to logos and branding.
Whether you are just creating a logo for your business or you have an existing logo, you should be sure your brand’s colors are matched as closely as possible to a “standard”. Consistency is the basic tool of branding (for more information, read Daniel’s blog post on branding). This consistency extends to the exact colors that represent your brand. How do we do this? Reputable printers, ad agencies, and graphic designers usually have a Pantone guide that they can use to determine and assign a color that matches your brand’s colors.
For example, when developing a logo for a client, one of the first steps we take at Freedom Creative Solutions is to go to the Pantone book with our client and decide on the colors that the client and our graphic design team feel are a good representation of their brand. Or, when a client comes in that has an existing logo, we will ask our client to bring in the most accurate printed representation of their logo’s colors and we then us our book to find the closest match. Sometimes there is not a clear match and we can keep the client’s example to refer to much like a Pantone color chip. We keep files on our clients with these reference colors and ensure that whenever we design or print for our clients, we maintain their color consistently as close as possible.
“As close as possible” is important to point out. Much of today’s printing is done on digital presses and wide format printers which don’t allow exact color matching. However, having a printed example of the correct color as a reference, we can work to get the printed color as close as possible. Without this reference, we could be way off and really have no way to know other than our recollection of what the color looked like. Once you have seen the countless shades of color available in any color gamut, you quickly understand why a printed reference is vital.
Thanks and check out my blog about branding and logos for more info! Daniel (signature)
More resources: https://www.pantone.com/the-pantone-matching-system | https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantone