So I’ve been trying to dream up a blog post for a while. For me, I always dive head first into the pool of possibilities and end up fatigued as I’m treading water, trying to figure out what exactly I should share with people. What do people really want to know?
Well I’m never really able to figure out the answer to that question, but this is what I wish I knew when I began designing logos.
I’ve been told in the past that it’s better to design a logo in black and white and get the color down after you have the form. It seems to me that the form comes together quickly; the real challenge is selecting the right color that will look similar across different media. You should caution your client from the beginning that no matter what there will be variations in color. You’ll see a different color on the screen than you will see printed on a freshly calibrated printer. Also, you can control how colors display on your screen, but you can’t ensure that everyone is viewing your logo through the same lens. There’s no way around it.
The only way to ensure that your colors will have some consistency is to design using PMS colors. PMS stands for Pantone Matching System, which was created by Pantone Inc. as a proprietary standardized color reproduction system used in a variety of industries, primarily printing. There’s a finite number of PMS colors, and they’re not always going to get close to their vibrant RGB counterparts. Note that it’s much more expensive to take your PMS colors to print because the printer must physically mix the color for you. But for me, I would argue that if you really need your colors to be consistent, you just have to stick to PMS colors, because if you stray in the beginning, it’s going to drive you nuts later. If you later decide you need to get your stuff printed, but you don’t want to take it to someone who will mix the PMS color for you, printers can find the nearest process (CMYK) color for you.
Additional variance in color can be observed within editions based on the paper stock used (coated, matte or uncoated), and still further variations occur when there are changes to the specific paper stock used. Also, bear in mind that color variation is inherent in any print process. A range of color tolerances for the same color can be seen in the printing.com image.
So for me, I’m sticking to PANTONE solid uncoated colors. I stay away from process colors for logo designs altogether. But hey, that’s just me.
This is a great resource for you if you’ve already started going down the wrong road: Convert CMYK swatches to Pantone numbers in Illustrator.
With that, I would love to hear what other people think on this topic.