Back when I was in design college (that’s a long time now), it used to be that every logo had specific colours that were chosen from the Pantone Matching System (PMS). These Pantone, or PMS colours were noted by number which could be 185 red or 545 blue. As a graphic designer, that was one part of the design job: to choose and assign a PMS colour for the brand identity.
But the question is in today’s world, do we still need pantone colours? Now with digital printing it’s easier and cost effective to avoid the traditional offset printing.
Pantone colours were used in offset printing jobs when you print a one-colour or two-colour job. This used to be common for letterheads or business cards . If something prints in 4 colour process (CMYK) whether with your traditional offset printer, or with a digital printer, PMS colours are not used and will be converted in your file. Read this link if you want a clearer understanding of the differences between CMYK and PMS colours.
These days it’s not always necessary for a logo to be designed with PMS colours.
More and more now, clients find it more financially economical to get their artwork digitally printed (4 colour process) rather than offset printed, even if it’s just one or two colours.
This now means, we do not have to select a PMS colour. But no one’s asking should we?
TO ENSURE CONSISTENCY
Consistency of your brand such as your logo is important in helping your’e customers make a visual connection with your brand across all types of media.
Pantone colours are a good way for defining the visual elements of your logo and identity. But this can also be achieved by having your graphic designers indicate your corporate colours using other colour systems such as CMYK, RGB and web colours.
So, it is not critical that there is a specific PMS colour, but there should be specific formulas for the colours that are used in online and print.
TO MINIMISE COLOR CONVERSIONS
When a logo is approved, we provide a library to our clients. A common mistake clients do is use the files in a way that converts the colours back and forth between the different colour systems.
One example is our clients will place a RGB jpeg file in a Word document, but then send it to be digitally printed, which should be a CMYK print. This means that the client’s corporate colours may have started as a CMYK file, then become converted to RGB instead, and then converted again to CMYK.
Every tool that makes this change from one colour to another uses formulas to make this conversion. As a file gets changed over and over the true colour that was specially and carefully picked by the graphic designer can change from where it originally started.
The example of New England Clean Energy was designed and PMS 300 selected for their corporate blue. It’s important for them to have this logo as a one colour because they use it on many different applications such as signs, print and shirts.
So, do you need to use Pantone colours? No, you don’t, but you should still define the corporate colours in all the different colour systems, just incase the client needs to use any of these systems.