Know Your Colours

The difference between Pantone®, CMYK, RGB and HEX

‘Pantone® 2865C’ might not mean a lot to you and probably most people, but this code actually represents an iconic colour, the famous Cadbury’s purple. This exact shade of purple runs over the whole Cadbury’s brand and that’s how we recognise it instantly.

Keeping the colour consistent can be difficult when it is used across varieties of different media such as print, TV, mobile devices, etc. To keep the colour consistent overall it is broken down into two distinctions; print and screen.

So, there are two variations of colour for print. PMS (Pantone® Matching System) and CMYK. And for screen, RGB and HEX. It is important to know that colours render differently on paper and screen, for instance you wouldn’t use PMS on screen, but why?

PMS is perfect for one or two colour print jobs such as for branding and stationery. They are made up of standardised ink colours made by the company Pantone®. Pantone® created this system of standardising colours over 50 years ago. Most design companies and printers use PMS because there can be no confusion about a specific colour as it ensures a strict colour consistency.

CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) is great for a full colour brochures, postcards, flyers, etc. CMYK is also known as four-colour process and it is made up of tiny dots of the four inks (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) overlapping each other to create colours. This is where Pantone® and CMYK differ as Pantone® is a solid colour.

RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is the colour profile for computers, monitors, mobile devices, illuminated signs and TV screens. The three colours (Red, Green and Blue) are merged together to create new colours, but the mixing of colours is completely different to print. When the full three colours are mixed together you get white and when the colours are removed, you get black. RBG colours look vibrant on-screen because they’re illuminated but if you were to then print in RGB the colours will be dulled down.

HEX (Hexadecimal Colour) is predominantly used by designers and developers in web design. A HEX code is basically the values of red, green and blue from RGB shown as a six digit code.

If you need any guidance when it comes to colour, whether it be for branding or printing, then get in touch. Call us on 01260 281546 or email us at

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