“No, that’s not the right purple!” (Or green or orange or blue or red or insert your color of choice) you’ve undoubtedly thought at least once if you frequently order short-run prints, online promotional products, or digital brand assets.
How do you ensure that your brand maintains color consistency across all media, and in every single order?
Of the many ways to define digital and printed color hues, the two most important for brands to know are each identified hue’s hex code and Pantone number, respectively.
For a given key brand color, say Hierank’s own bright ‘Electric Blue’, these two values are #00B0F0 and PMS 306 C.
What do these hex codes and Pantone numbers mean?
A color’s hex code encodes the color’s RGB values – a breakdown of its ratios of the three primary colors of light, Red/Green/Blue – into a six-digit number value. Each hexadecimal digit has 16 options, 0-f. In this code, the first two digits are the color’s Red Value on a 0-255 (or 00-ff) scale, then the next two represent its Green, then its Blue.
Hex codes are optimal to save for any digital color usage because they offer a consistent optical color recipe in a simple to Copy-Paste format. Popular programs like Canva will save color swatches for your brand with one-click-‘Copy’ hex values.
In short, hex colors are what you’d want to know and provide to a designer for any graphic displayed onscreen.
When it comes to printing, however – that is done with pigments, not light. Digital CMYK printing can often convert RGB colors into an approximately-correct print mix, but on different surfaces these colors can be inconsistent due to subtleties like the material’s absorption properties. This is where Pantone numbers come into play.
The Pantone Matching System is a proprietary color system, used across printing, manufacturing, and design, with a catalog of thousands of physical swatches of color assigned to specific number codes.
Unlike often-referenced CMYK color codes which only define ink inputs and may yield inconsistent outcomes across different media—Pantones describe a targeted observable color result for the given material to achieve.
Assuring a Pantone Match with your printers and other manufacturers will yield consistent-hued materials – paper, plastic, fabric, and ink – every single time.