If you order printing, you may have heard the terms PMS and CMYK tossed around when talking about colors.  We wrote a blog post back in October that summarized the differences between PMS spot colors and CMYK colors in clear terms.  In case you missed it, click here.

PMS book


When you understand the difference between PMS colors and CMYK, you can use this information to order cost-effective printed materials.

Start from the beginning…your company logo, business cards, envelopes, and a sales brochure.  These are the items most businesses order.  Your business cards and envelopes will likely be printed with PMS spot colors on a traditional printing press.  Chances are, your sales brochure has lots of colorful photos and eye-catching colors.  If you are ordering less than 10,000 pieces, we can assume that your brochure will be printed on a full-color digital press using CMYK.  These printing methods are the most cost-effective for these particular jobs.

So…now you have some marketing materials printed with PMS spot colors and other materials printed with CMYK.  Remember that nice logo you created for your business?  How do we ensure that the colors look the same on your envelope (PMS spot color) and your brochure (CMYK)?  These printing processes use completely different technology, and there are variances between machines, so you may end up with different shades of your true colors.  Let’s work together to minimize this possibility!

Some PMS spot colors are difficult to match with the CMYK process.  In CMYK, the colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, are layered to make the range of colors.  Sometimes PMS and CMYK colors appear identical.  In other cases, the color is different enough to be noticeable…and look unprofessional.  Our years of printing experience and our Pantone color resources help us select colors that work every time.  Having a conversation about color early in the design process will help you avoid years of struggling to make your materials look cohesive.

This image is from a book called the Pantone Color Bridge.  It shows you what a PMS color will look like if you create it using CMYK.  As you can see here, the difference can be noticeable.  And this is the closest possible match!

Pantone bridge

If you are starting a new business, re-branding, or looking to create new printed materials, please ask for help!  We love to educate our customers, and we are happy to guide you toward colors that will save you money and keep your company image consistent.  We will help you maximize your budget and love the results.