Demystifying design: CMYK or RGB? Understanding colour modes

In the world of impactful branding, websites, and campaigns, colour plays a pivotal role in conveying emotions and messages. When collaborating with a design agency for your charity or organisation, having a grasp of colour modes can be very handy.
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In the world of impactful branding, websites, and campaigns, colour plays a pivotal role in conveying emotions and messages. When collaborating with a design agency for your charity or organisation, having a grasp of colour modes can be very handy.

CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black):

CMYK printing, a process commonly embraced in design, relies on four ink colours to create a rich spectrum:

  • Cyan (C): A cool shade of blue-green.
  • Magenta (M): A purplish-red friend.
  • Yellow (Y): The sunny primary colour.
  • Black (K): The key player, often called “black” to avoid mix-ups.

When these four colours are blended in varying percentages, a wide variety of colours can be created. Making it the go-to for brochures, business cards, and more. But here’s the thing—it might struggle with some super bright or specific colours. For those, designers might choose Pantone (spot colour) printing for an extra pop.

Pantone:

Imagine having your very own colour, like Levi’s Red or Cadbury’s purple—a shade that screams ‘you.’ While CMYK is great, Pantone takes it up a notch. 

Pantone colours, akin to crafting a bespoke hue, offer exclusivity and precision. Unlike CMYK, Pantone utilises custom-mixed, specialised inks for each colour in the Pantone Matching System. Although more expensive, this method is chosen for its unmatched colour accuracy and the ability to create unique shades synonymous with a brand’s identity.

When navigating the choice between Pantone and CMYK, organisations and designers need to weigh the benefits of colour accuracy and customisation against budget considerations.

RGB (Red, Green, Blue):

When it comes to digital (TV ads, websites and social media), RGB takes centre stage. Tailored for screens, RGB relies on the additive colour model, combining red, green, and blue light. The more intense the combination, the brighter the colour, achieving vivid hues not easily replicated in print.

HEX (Hexadecimal):

In web design, HEX colours are favoured as they are a concise and standardised representation of RGB. Each six-character code, preceded by a hash symbol, captures the intensity of red, green, and blue. HEX codes are widely adopted in web design, seamlessly integrated into HTML and CSS to maintain consistent colours across diverse platforms.

Understanding the language of colour modes equips your conversations with design agencies, fostering collaboration that ensures your charity’s message is not only heard but seen in all the right hues. 

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