Pantone Matching System – A Designer's Guide

The Pantone Matching System is a standardised representation system for CMYK colours, a universally accepted and acclaimed technique for selecting, matching, and communicating shades.

It is employed across a variety of fields, including print media, web design, graphic design services, and digital marketing.

It was formulated back in 1963, by the Pantone's founder, Lawrence Herbert.

He built on the experience of previous systems (most notably CMYK colour processing) and refined them to create something that still helps designers overcome various challenges.

When they adhere to the Pantone Matching System principles, they can figure out accurate, standardised colour matches across different families.

So, it is time to get down to the brass tacks and your creative juices flowing.

A golden standard

Traditionally, the Pantone Matching System has been used to make sure that the colours you print look exactly like you expected them to look, every single time, even when handled in different locations and by different manufacturers.

It was embraced by numerous companies and industry sectors.

It saw extensive application in the printed and digital world.

We are, of course, primarily interested in the former.

Here, PMS serves as a guiding light to designers seeking to flesh out visual style and identity.

Moreover, when it comes to Pantone colours in general, they are mostly used in stationery and logo design.

However, they are not limited to these uses.

Pantone Colour Matching System

When the worlds collide

You can think of the palette of Pantone tones as a universal language of design.

They have their different codes and numbers, along with some widely used, signature hues.

You could say they are the ultimate celebration and demonstration of the power colours hold.

Now, in the area of the web, a general rule is that all colours should be in RGB format.

On the other hand, print media is rooted in CMYK or Pantone spot colours.

The truth is that, despite the gap, one can get pretty close to matching colours in web and print.

Alas, it is never a perfect process as colours do not end up looking identical.

This is one of the main obstacles that designers face.

Tried and tested

It is usually not a good idea to make fundamental design choices on nothing more than a whim.

Colours are a staple of graphic and web design, and they have some inherent qualities that affect our perception and mood.

Yes, colour psychology is real, and besides, there are also some hard rules when it comes to mixing and matching colours you have to be aware of.

That is precisely when the Pantone Matching System comes into play.

There is no real substitute to the set of guidelines it involves.

Thus, you cannot go wrong harnessing the Pantone Matching System whenever you need to specify and communicate colours.

It is universally accepted and understood— an essential part of your toolkit.

Pantone Colours Guide

A surefire method

For instance, graphic designers use the Pantone Matching System when they want to transition from the design to the production stage and need to match various colours they came up with.

This system works like a charm regardless of which tools are used to create the colour.

Namely, you can follow the guidelines to ensure that the visuals of a website or a blog reflect fundamental principles of good design and also represent the brand identity well.

In other words, those who take advantage of Pantone's matching system can achieve a high level of consistency across all marketing, digital media, and touchpoints.

The art of cherry-picking

Many designers agree that the best application of the Pantone Matching System is during the colour selection design process.

There, professionals are faced with an overwhelming spectrum of choices.

Pantone colour family alone has a huge rainbow of over 18,000 colours.

When facing it, personal preferences should be set aside.

The best shot you have is to follow the tried and true principles.

To narrow down the choice, keep an eye on the Pantone colour of the year, your main brand colours, prominent design trends, and novelty tones that are added now and then.

Build a lovely palette of colours that ooze your brand values and mission.

Bridge over troubled water

One of the central values to be drawn from Pantone's system is its ability to bridge the gap between print and digital media.

After all, colours and design solutions never look the same on a paper document and screen: the light comes through a monitor, while it reflects off the paper.

Therefore, holding colours swatch next to a monitor does not help much.

The good news is that Pantone offers books with HTML colour codes.

They are tailored to aid designers in picking and combining colours for websites.

It is also possible to share it across software programs you use for graphic and web design as well as across different departments in the company.

You can do this by selecting all Pantone Swatches in the Swatches Panel.

Next, choose a save option and pick a filename.

Finally, the file can be explored to design tools and put to good use right away.

Pantones Color Matching System

Tools of the trade

Furthermore, note that you can rely on Pantone Guide, which contains thin cardboard sheets with related colour swatches bound in a small flipbook.

Pantone colours are labelled with numbers and are available in 500 different iterations.

Another handy product is Pantone Plus Series Color Bridge, which provides colour simulations of all solid tones as well as their side-by-side presentations.

This allows various design professionals to be able to determine exactly how the colour will look like when displayed on a computer screen and web pages.

Also, remember that the Pantone Matching System can and should be used in combination with various other design tools and platforms.

For example, you can check out free website templates, layouts, and themes on websites like WordPress, ThemeForest and SITE123 and then assess how they are aligned with PMS rules.

Unleash your inspiration

Along similar lines, feel free to visit the Pantone website at any time to get a robust code to match printed media and marketing materials.

Also, bear in mind that to translate your vision into reality, you might have to find an RGB colour that is closest to the Pantone or CMYK tone you had in mind.

As we have indicated, this can be carried out by entering the Pantone colour into a tool that supports them, such as Photoshop and Illustrator.

After that, you merely let software convert into RGB.

However, make an effort to experiment a bit before taking the plunge.

Try several variations of the same hue until you discover that picture-perfect shade.

Eyeball it on a few different screens to be sure.

I would also check out creative projects from Pantone to get inspired. Cover all the bases!

Pantone Color Guide 2018

United colours of Pantone

Colours are the crown jewels of any digital presence.

They set the tone for the branding and marketing efforts of businesses and individuals.

As you may know, the Pantone Matching System has a wealth of applications in the world of digital design.

Since its inception moment in 1963, it spread like wildfire.

Today, it poses an exceptional website colour selection tool and an internationally recognised framework for colour reproduction.

So, do not hesitate to dive into its rich pool of hues and tones.

Master the art of mixing and matching colours.

Explore the worldwide web of visual splendour and take your pick.

Ensure your branding colours are consistent throughout.

Put the best face of the brand forward and finish your design projects with flying colours.