If your logo or business stationery was designed using what is commonly called “spot color” there is something important to keep in mind when requesting reprints or running an ad in a full-color magazine: the color on the digital or printer’s proof you receive will not be an exact match to your original stationery item that was run using spot or PMS (Pantone Matching System) color because it is generated using 4-color process printing where all colors are produced by using layers of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) ink, just like your inkjet printer at home. Magazines also use the 4-color process ink system, so when you run an ad using your PMS color logo, the color is not going to match exactly to that on your letterhead.

PMS colors are premixed inks put down in one layer on press and therefore have an intensity and saturation that just can’t be specifically matched when trying to recreate that color using percentages of CMYK ink. That’s one reason your designer likes to use spot color, because the results can have so much more impact on the eye and provide high contrast between differing colors.

An indispensable tool a designer should have is the Pantone Color Bridge swatch book. Color Bridge shows the PMS color printed side-by-side with its 4-color process equivalent. And in some cases the difference is dramatic. If you are getting your reprints printed in PMS color, but the printer’s proof frightens you because it doesn’t look like the same color, it may offer some comfort to pull out the Color Bridge swatch book and see if your printer’s proof matches the PMS color’s CMYK equivalent. This would be a good indication that the correct color is being used. But if there is no getting around printing in 4-color process, such as an ad printed in a magazine, expect that the color won’t be an exact match, but as close as it is possible to achieve. Most people will not even notice that the bright orange logo they saw in your magazine ad looks a little dull compared to the brilliant orange logo printed on the card they pick up when visiting your business. If you use a quality designer (like us here at Odato!) everything will work together and complement one another. Your clients will be subtly impressed by the professional and appropriate visual elements used in your business identity, and this can translate into how they will feel about your ability to deliver on the products or services you offer.

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