How to choose RGB, CMYK & Pantone colors for a corporate brand identity
Currently I am working on a brand identity. I have to decide which color to use but I can't understand how the systems work. I read previous posts here and also searched the internet but still I have questions.
So I have an RGB color that I like and a CMYK that is vary dull and not similar at all. Should I:
Find a Pantone color and set this as my color, and believe that RGB and CMYK will appear the same.
Keep the RGB I like and find a CMYK and a Pantone I like and set these to colors (it doesn't matter that they are not listed as analogous if the eyes see them as analogous).
Choose a Pantone, then an RGB and CMYK depending how the eye sees it and not depending on the numbers.
Keep the RGB and change it into CMYK no matter how it looks.
In short: what are the steps for choosing a color (company uses both printed and digital material)?
In reality, it's up to you. Do whatever works and looks best, no matter what that isâ€”don't blindly rely on numbers or automatic conversions.
Generally what you want is to find colors that match as closely as possible. Pantone colors are specifically designed for faithfully reproducing single colors, so choosing a Pantone color and sticking to that is a good way to go. Pantone itself gives conversions to CMYK and RGB of its colors that you can use, they're normally pretty spot on but there's nothing stopping you from coming up with your own values.
Keep in mind that RGB has a bigger gamut than CMYK* so there are colors you simply cannot reproduce going from RGB to CMYK (as you have seen). Pantone similarly has many colors that you simply cannot achieve in CMYK. There is nothing stopping you from using those colors and choosing as similar a CMYK color as you can, but be aware that there will be noticeable differences depending on the medium, which obviously isn't ideal. Or you can pick colors that are comfortably within the gamut of RGB, CMYK and Pantone and have consistent colors, but you are then limiting your choices (the easiest way to do that is to start with CMYK).
As with many things, it comes down to compromise. At one extreme you have the perfect color that you unfortunately cannot faithfully reproduce, and at the other extreme you have consistent colors that are dull are boring. Hopefully there is a happy medium.
But, as I said beforeâ€”it's all up to you (Not only is it up to you but it is specifically your job to make that decision. Just make sure you can back up that decision with solid reasoning).
* Comparison of some RGB and CMYK colour gamuts on a CIE 1931 xy chromaticity diagram. Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CIE1931xy_blank.svg