POSTED BY on Dec 28, 2007

What is a color gamut and why is it important in branding?

Most of us in the graphics community know that RGB is the color space for digital design and CMYK is for ink on paper (There are Pantone inks too, but that’s another discussion). We also know that digital color appears brighter than ink on paper. But do we know why? Do our clients know why? Do our clients even think about it?

And why should we care?

It’s easy to assume RGB as brighter because the images are typically illuminated. But the reality is RGB has a much larger color gamut than CMYK and therefore displays more colors allowing for more vibrancy.

In the images attached you can see the same photo in both color spaces. (Depending upon your monitor and the program in which you view the two images, the difference changes in intensity.) As you can see, the reds yellows and greens are much more vibrant in RGB than in CMYK. All due to the smaller color gamut in CMYK.

Being the stewards of our client’s brand, we care about and are responsible for presenting a consistent brand experience. From digital to environmental design, in packaging and collateral, we should be aware of the color gamut differences to ensure that logos and images have the same impact and are instantly recognizable in every application.

It is important for us to remember that colors between gamuts will not match exactly. Some colors and images will present a more apparent shift than others. As tricky as it can be, it is our job to remember this and plan for minimizing the difference to allow a consistent brand experience across all applications.

Judy Dixon is the VP of Production at Hornall Anderson. You can connect with her at j_dixon@hornallanderson.com.

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