Archive for February, 2012

Color is the spice of design (said Jack Bredenfoerder, director of BV Color Strategy, in a recent webinar) It is so true! Color evokes emotion, creates a mood, influences purchasing and opinions, and much more. Colors work together to place more emphasis on certain areas of a document or web page and to direct the viewer’s eye to the most important information.

Basic Information About Color Modes


When you are looking at the screen of a computer or mobile device, you are viewing color in RGB, which is an additive color model, using red, green, and blue light to produce the colors you see. These colors may not only appear to look different on separate devices but also on the same computer using different browsers.


CMYK is referred to as four-color process. CMYK, a subtractive model, makes up the color spectrum in print. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key. The K stands for key because the other plates (cyan, magenta and yellow) are aligned with the key of the black plate. The different color inks are actually small patterns of the primary colored and black dots that the eye sees as the intended colors. This works by masking the colors on a lighter or white background. The ink reduces the light that would otherwise be reflected.

PMS or Spot Colors

The Pantone Matching System was developed in 1963 to identify, match and create colors for the graphic arts industry as a standardized color reproduction system. Pantone colors are identified by numbers (eg PMS-186) The Pantone Color Matching System has been expanded to accommodate digital technology. PMS colors are used as “spot” colors in printing, usually in cases when printing four colors does not fit the budget. Many businesses have one or more PMS colors in their logo as their corporate identity. In that case, they may print in CMYK and add the brand’s PMS color or colors to the job. This is necessary since the CMYK equivalent is often inconsistent with the closest PMS color.

Color Inconsistencies

A client prints out a pdf proof and is concerned it looks different than on screen. First of all, on screen they are viewing it in RGB. On top of that, when using desktop printers, the colors will print out differently than the final product produced by a commercial printer. The only way to be sure of accurate color is by looking at the press proof provided by the printer.

Another consideration is the paper. Uncoated sheets may produce slightly muted or darker colors due to dot gain. The paper absorbs a bit more of the ink, where on a coated sheet, the ink lays on top of the sheet, producing brighter colors.

Digital or Print?

You may think “it’s comparing apples to oranges” but the two work well together. With digital media growing increasingly more popular, many businesses are questioning the value of printed marketing materials. While a website is essential for marketing your business, printed materials such as brochures, media kits, business cards, letterhead and in some cases, signage are an important component of your marketing strategy.

Advantages of Print

There are a number of ways that print has a clear advantage. Many aren’t necessarily costly. Using unusual folds or diecuts, a printed piece is a real attention grabber. Good design on quality paper combined with processes such as letterpress, foil stamping or varnishing will create a huge wow factor. Print offers a tactile experience that no website or electronic publication (e-pub) can provide.

Isn’t printing expensive?

Businesses are always seeking ways to cut costs and you may think printing is expensive. You may need to print small quantities, and in the past that was not cost-effective. Digital printing has changed all that. It is an economical option to traditional offset printing and has really made an impact in the printing industry. In many cases you will not notice much, if any, difference between digital and offset printing.

Advantages of Electronic Media

Often, the quickest way to find information is by visiting a website. Digital publications are engaging, many offer interactive features. Smart phones and tablets are compact, portable and provide instant access. Information can be changed at lightning speed.

Which is better for the environment?

A common misconception is that printing is more damaging to the environment but that is open for debate. Two studies from Germany found that electronic newspapers can actually have a greater environmental impact than print newspapers. This is due to the energy required to make content available 24/7 on electronic devices, as well as the energy consumption of the required devices, not to mention discarded batteries clogging up landfills. Printing has become much more environmentally responsible. Printers who are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified use sustainable paper products. In order to to use any of the FSC trademarks on printed pieces including the FSC logo, the product must have flowed through the FSC “chain-of-custody” from the FSC-certified forest, to a paper manufacturer, merchant, and finally printer who have FSC chain-of-custody certification.To learn more about FSC Certified paper visit their website:

Another interesting article on this subject:

Why you need both

Your brand is your identity. To have a strong presence, all of your printed and electronic media should have a consistent look. Everything relating to your business should reflect your brand, so it is easily recognizable to your existing and potential customers. This is called brand awareness.