The consequences of choosing and specifying Brand Colors directly from a screen – and the need for Brand Color Management

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This paper examines some of the implications of choosing Brand Colors directly from a software program, based on what the designer see on the screen.
The reason is that more and more Graphic Arts Designers tend to choose colors directly from the screen and to a lesser extent from a physical color catalog such as the Pantone fans. Therefore, designers do not really know what color they have chosen until it is available in the final printed form and this can bring unpleasant surprises.
The starting point for this study is the digital solutions from Adobe CC and the web service Pantone Connect. The focal point is sRGB, as Pantone recommends, which also is the standard for Internet and mobile devices.
Initially, the problem with using a small color space as sRGB to select and define Brand Colors is investigated. Examples of Pantone colors outside sRGB gamut but still available for the designer to choose without any warnings, have been sought. For example, if the designer chooses Pantone Green C as a Brand Color, the result would be a color difference of 10.5 DE2000.
The CIELAB values for a color defined in sRGB are compared to the CIELAB reference values for the same color as it will appear as a printed as spot color. This gives a color difference (DE2000) between how the color appears on the screen versus the physical color as it appears on a print, printed as 1-color solid spot color.
Pantone Connect's feature for converting colors from sRGB to Pantone Solid spot color is also investigated. As an example, entering sRGB values for cyan (0/255/255) results in a proposal for Pantone 311C as Best Match, giving a color difference of 17 DE2000 between the reference values for Cyan and the reference values for the proposed Pantone 311C.
In addition, the feature to extract color code values from an uploaded photo is examined. An iPhone screenshot image of Pantone 1505 C (orange) is uploaded to Pantone Connect, which interprets the color as being Pantone 1585 C giving a color difference of 6.3 DE2000.
The overall conclusion is that it is very uncertain and unpredictable to choose colors directly from a screen. The color differences between the color as it appears on the screen and the color as it appears on the final print can be very large and thus be the cause of the customer's dissatisfaction, even if the customer is partly responsible.
As a consequence of the lack of management and control in this area, Brand Color Management is introduced as a new technical concept. It is an extension of traditional color management, so it also includes color selection, color specification, color description and an extended form of Color Control.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2208
JournalJournal of Print and Media Technology Research
Pages (from-to)85-97
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2022


  • media production
  • Pantone Connect
  • color difference
  • color reproduction
  • sRGB
  • spot colors


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