Guide to choosing logo colours

This article was posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2014


You’ve chosen fluorescent orange and it sums up your brand perfectly; it’s energetic, bright and fun. No one could possibly miss such a vibrant colour logo.

The problem is that many colours are very difficult to manage over the various printing and production processes. This post will hopefully serve as a practical guide to choosing a manageable colour for your brand.

Take into account your budget and on what kinds of media your brand will be represented. Ask yourself:

  • Will I be doing mainly paper-based printing such as brochures and leaflets?
  • Will I be printing things like banners, pens, coffee mugs or doing embroidered shirts and caps?
  • Will my brand only appear online?

The more varied your branding collateral, the harder it will be to manage your colour.

Choosing a Pantone colour reference is the safest route in terms of getting global standardisation. Pantone 294 in Pretoria will be exactly the same as Pantone 294 in Pakistan. However you must be careful of what Pantone colour you choose if you are planning to do any digital printing or CMYK process printing (with no spot colour), as some Pantone colours are very difficult, often impossible to match using these processes.

Option 1

If your branding material consists of mainly paper-based full colour process printing, with the some promotional collateral every now and then, and if you are on a budget and don’t want the expense of adding an extra spot colour to your CMYK print jobs, choose a CMYK-friendly Pantone. Get a Pantone Color Bridge guide, this will give you an idea of which Pantone colours can be achieved using CMYK process printing. This option will give you the best of both worlds; you will have a Pantone version for spot prints and a very similar CMYK version for process printing. The downside is that there are a limited number of Pantones and CMYK colours that are the same.

Option 2

If you do a lot of print jobs that involve silk-screening, spot colour printing and embroidery (such as corporate gifts, clothing, vinyl signage, one or two colour print jobs) OR if you don’t mind adding and extra spot colour (an added cost) to your CMYK print run, then you can safely choose any Pantone colour you like.

These are the kind of problems you may encounter when trying to replicate a Pantone using CMYK:


Colour glossary

CMYK: Cyan Magenta Yellow and Black. Also known as the process colours. CMYK process printing is commonly used in lithographic, digital and desktop printing. These four colours combine in overlapping dots to create the illusion of full colour.

RGB: Red, Green, Blue. This is a screen-based colour format used on TVs, computer monitors and any other digital display.

Spot colour: Spot colours are specially mixed inks which come in a variety of colours, including metallic and fluorescent inks.

Hexcode: This is a common web based colour code that uses the RGB gamut. example #FFFFFF is the code for white.

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