Logo Color Across Multiple Platforms


I’m new here and am also new to logo design. I am wondering what is the best way to get fairly consistent color for a logo I am creating for a client that works for web and print.
I know color is complicated and that they won’t match exactly but I just don’t want them to be way off.

Color management and color science is a field of study riddled with complexity and variables.
I’ve studied color science under a lead color scientist at Canon USA in NYC. And even with considerable knowledge in the subject it’s different to verbalize a definitive solution.

To start, use you’ll want to design the logo for print applications. Designing it as a web graphic or using web/RGB colors will only result in disaster down the road when the time comes to print.

Take your Pantone swatch book and put it aside. If I were to be having this conversation many years ago, i might have told you that book would be the key maintaining color consistency. However, in order for a pantone color to be printed correctly, it must be ran on a 1 or 2 color press using the specific ink called for in the PMS.
Or, a 5 or 6 color press running CMYK and your designated PMS. And, lets’s face it, most smaller clients haven’t the funds to print their small volume print requests using these methods.

Now, CMYK print equipment, whether it’s offset or digital, will also vary from one press to the next, and even on the same press from one run to the next. Find a good, local printer, that you can trust. I have several clients in which I charge them a marginal, additional cost to match their color. I take the time, and have pride in the work I do. Find a printer who does the same.

Now, for a little bit on choosing color. CMYK colors consisting of a simple build (colors consisting of 2 out of the 4 CMYK inks, and have a clear dominant color) will print more consistently across multiple platforms and from one machine to the next. Clean up your swatches and selections. If you have 3% Cyan in a color selection, and notice little to no change with it removed, remove it. If there’s nothing present for a print device to over-saturate (say that irrelevant 3% of cyan) there’s less chance of a color to ‘walk’.

Colors to avoid would rich grays, browns, or any color involving the use of all colors with no dominate color in place. These colors will be all over the place. Not only from one run to the next, but perhaps even within a single run. they are a nightmare to print.

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Some good advice from Biggs.

Do you all feel Pantone colors are still relevant?

When I’m working on a logo project, I’ll still spec PMS colors for the logo (along with CMYK and RGB), but, honestly, I can’t remember the last time I (or a client) had something printed in PMS colors. Most of the “quick printers” I know that used to run jobs all day long on AB Dick one- and two-color presses have ditched those for digital presses.

And I should add color consistency on Web is essentially non-existent. Due to different screens, different gamuts, and even the different ways that people may have adjusted their screens to be darker, lighter, more saturated, etc.

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I’m gonna qualify Biggs statement a bit.
In wide format we NEED Pantone callouts. That’s how the machines are calibrated by the media manufacturers. Granted profiles get tweaked in house and hand-matching still happens, but a lot of “small clients” still need to have Pantone matches spec’d.

Everything else Biggs said is true. The more ink in the mix, the more likely the color will drift. I hate 4-color gray with a passion. Pantone grays are usually 4-color mixes and drift all over the place.

You can specify color using Pantone Solid Coated and Uncoated, Hex, CMYK and RGB. Not all of them are equivalents of each other.
In the US, the general starting point is Pantone Solid Coated.
With Hex, you just have to understand that every monitor in the world is different and quit worrying about it so much.

I agree with Biggs and think his advice is great. However, I probably disagree with him on setting aside Pantone. Sorry, Biggs.

I do agree that it’s become increasingly less important, but sooner or later something will come along for most successful businesses that call out for a Pantone color match of some kind. If this likelihood is ignored while the company’s logo or branding is being developed, and a CMYK color combination is specified that has no close PMS match, it’s a recipe for a significant problem down the road.

Yeah, so-called “digital presses” are taking over, but even so, in color-critical branding, a PMS color gives the diligent operator a known target.

Even if the print world switches over completely to LAB, there are applications beyond print where color matching is necessary. You can’t match paint to a LAB value for instance. Paint might be used in a brick and mortar fit-out or tradeshow booth for example. A wiser choice might be to stick to the restricted color choices of available sign vinyls out there. Even fewer pantone colors are represented there. Some companies actually run their own lots of sign vinyl in their own specific pantones. I have several rolls of corporate-only colors here for various chain operations. PITA to order those things.

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