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RGB vs. CMYK vs. PMS

It’s time to send your design to print, but you’ve got one big question: RGB, CMYK, or PMS? Choosing the right color profile can make all of the difference in the world when it comes to how your design will appear in print. Pick the wrong one, and your colors may not look the way you want. Here’s a simplified breakdown of each of these three color profiles and when you should use each in your marketing designs.


RGB stands for “red, green, blue” and is often used in digital design to accurately represent colors on computer screens. To create a color pallet, this profile blends red, green, and blue light waves to give you the exact shade you’re looking for. RGB is best for projects like:

  • Infographics
  • Websites
  • E-Newsletters
  • Online Catalogs

A viewer’s monitor settings can change the way RGB colors are displayed on the screen, so your digital designs might vary slightly on different computer screens.


Similar to RGB, the CMYK color profile blends multiple colors together to achieve the right look. The colors used in CMYK are cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black), and each color is applied in layers during the printing process to match your chosen hue exactly. You would use a CMYK profile for:

  • Most everyday print materials

This profile is ideal for printed materials, but you should expect very slight variation in your colors throughout the printing process. This is a result of differences in paper, ink levels, temperature, and the process of mixing inks itself. While this variation is barely noticeable, it should be a factor when considering which color profile to use for branded materials.


PMS, or Pantone Matching System, is the most accurate color profile for printed materials. RGB and CMYK colors are blended in real-time during the printing process, which can create inconsistencies in your color. PMS colors are pre-mixed before printing and each color is applied one by one to maintain consistency throughout the print job.

Given its unique accuracy, the PMS color profile is most often used for:

  • Corporate Branded Print Materials

You also have the option of using PMS and CMYK together to achieve a full color palette for full-color photographs and other multimedia printing projects.

Each of these color profiles has its strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to choose one that meets your specific printing needs. Discuss the possibilities with your printer to accurately display the colors of your design and capture the essence of your branding in the printing process.


Why Print is Thriving in an Increasingly Digital World

Why are consumers still attracted to print, and how has this time-tested medium evolved in today’s digital consumer landscape?

The fact is, printed communications continue to have widespread appeal, even as the digital revolution takes hold.  Recent research reported in Science Daily shows that newspaper readers overwhelmingly prefer paper – 89 percent of the total amount of time readers devote to newspapers goes to the print edition, versus four percent for online and seven percent for mobile formats.

The same can be said for book readers. Pew Research Center recently found that 65 percent of Americans had read a print book during the previous year – more than double those who have read an e-book (28 percent), and more than four times those who have listened to an audio book (14 percent).

Even though CNN reports the average American adult spends more than 10 hours a day consuming digital media, research supports the fact that that people are naturally drawn to print. Below are four reasons why:

Digital Fatigue

According to Daniel Dejan, print and creative manager for Sappi North America, the volume of digital communications consumers encounter daily is astonishing.

“I often refer to it as a tsunami,” he said. “And there are no boundaries with digital communications. Anyone with a computer and access to Wi-Fi can upload. So, we have this plethora of information, data, communications, video, music, opinion and rumor.”

In addition, printed communications undergo a review process before they reach consumers, giving them credibility. “If I write something that is going to be printed, there’s a copy editor – or it has to be approved by legal,” said Dejan.

Jay Sheffield, account executive for Continental Colorcraft, attributes some of print’s staying power to new eco-friendly solutions that consumers – especially younger generations – value.

“People are getting more interested in what a brand stands for and how it impacts the environment,” he said. “So, we get more requests to print on recycled media, and we only use soy-based inks. Most of the papers now are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified.”

Versatility and Reliability

Dr. Gillian Hayes, a Kleist professor in informatics at the University of California, Irvine, emphasizes that it is the flexibility of print that makes it so valuable to consumers.

“You can print something and set it on a table, and that table can be inside in the dark or outside on a boat, and it will work,” she said. “And you can take out any pen or pencil and make notations, and that will also work. Digitally, we are just not there, yet.”

According to Marcie Obstfeld, president of Power Promotions, print remains in demand today because there are so many applications for it.

“There is a way to imprint virtually everything,” she said. “It may be some sort of attachment to a product, but now our answer to clients is almost always ‘yes.’ This is made possible by the different techniques available now, which can create everything from edible imprints to tiny prints on the side of your eyeglasses.”

Print also offers a measure of security that digital lacks. “Pilots are moving to iPads and apps for their maps and avionics, but they still use printed logbooks and other documents because it is safer to have that paper as a backup in the air,” said Hayes.

Investing in print delivers big pay-offs for brands.  Direct mail and brand packaging can provide a significant return on investment. Consider the perceived value of print for brand packaging with such brands as Apple and Nike, for instance.

Sensory Appeal

While consumers are drawn to the depth and relevance of print, Dejan explains that our connection with the medium goes well beyond form and function.

“Print stimulates our senses,” he said. “A perfect example of this is how we have recorded the scent of printing. If you close your eyes, you can recreate the smell of a library, or a bookstore, or textbooks when you crack them open. It is an important aspect of our relationship with print, as is the sound of paper – how newsprint sounds when you are turning the pages, versus a magazine. These all contribute to a strong reader experience that is not recreated in a digital environment.”

In addition, a wide range of specialty finishes is mind-boggling. According to Dejan. “There is a lot of research being done now involving retinal scanning on how the eye is attracted to the special effects of printing. Pearlized inks, metallic inks and foil stamping are not duplicated readily digitally, and they capture the consumer’s attention.”

What truly separates print from digital is the sense of touch. “We have learned how to produce beautiful coatings with a soft touch, as well as sandpaper – everything from very, very light imprinting to heavy effects,” said Dejan.

Research also shows the more unique the print is, the more likely it is to find its way into digital channels. “Brands are trying to draw customers in to be loyal through social media; everyone is talking about it,” said Obstfeld. “One way you get more bang for your buck is to get an image of your printed product on Pinterest. If it is an interesting and unusual image, it will get retweeted, it will go viral, and have wider appeal.”

Striking a Balance

It appears that print is here to stay, much like the invention of the lightbulb and the wheel. However, don’t overlook the impact digital experiences are having on consumers today.

“You see this best in kids,” said Hayes. “They are born into a world of touchscreens, and that is how they see the world. They walk up to a big screen TV and touch it. They try to swipe paper books. They struggle to see the differences.”

Digital experiences also impact older generations, she adds. “We expect higher fidelity graphics in print today and interactive experiences. All these things work within an ecosystem, though; they work together. We tell our students to think about the whole ecosystem when they are designing because there is going to be a role for all platforms.”

Dejan notes, “If it’s a question of looking for data or information, then digital communications play a very important role. But if I want you to have a deep understanding of, appreciation for, and relationship with my company, brand, product or service, I want you to read ink on paper because you will remember what you have read, and you will value it.”

Click here to read the article in its entirety by Laurie Weller.

Benefits of UV Coating

Printed marketing materials are often your business’s first contact with new customers, and it’s important that they make a great first impression. UV coating is one way you can make your postcards, business cards, catalogs, and other products stand out and draw attention to your brand.

But what is ultraviolet (UV) coating? This finishing technique involves the application of a wet compound to paper that is cured and dried with ultraviolet light. This process results in a glossy sheen that is as attractive as it is durable.


What are the benefits of UV coating?

UV coating creates a stunning, dramatic visual appeal with a wide variety of mediums, whether you’re sending out postcards or designing presentation documents. But in addition to its aesthetic value, this coating process has several additional benefits.

  • High-Shine: UV coating adds a truly unique shine to your printed materials, deeply enhancing colors and creating a slick visual effect. This coating is great for photographs and high-color documents like catalogs and folders.
  • Customizable: Your printer can adjust the reflectivity and thickness of your UV coating depending on your unique needs. You may opt for a glossy coating or an understated matte for maximum effect.
  • Fast Drying: Production time can significantly slow down your marketing campaign, but using ultraviolet light, these materials dry instantly to save you time.
  • Durable: When you’re mailing or distributing your materials, they can often get scuffed or scratched in transition. UV coating keeps your materials looking fresh off of the press for much longer, allowing you to design mailing pieces, business cards, and brochures with a durable, abrasion-resistant design.
  • Environmentally-Friendly: Many coatings use harmful solvents, but the compound used in UV coatings are free of solvents and don’t emit volatile organic compounds during the curing process.
  • Affordable: The process of applying UV coating is very affordable, particularly when you consider the return on your investment. High-quality printed materials can inspire confidence in your brand and impress your customers and clients.

When is UV coating not a good option?

There are some instances in which UV coating is not your best option for your printed materials. These occasions include:

  • When you’re using lightweight paper (under 100#): UV coating may crack or curl if used on lightweight paper. Heavier stock is recommended for this coating process, such as paper stock used for business cards, booklets, flyers, and catalog covers.
  • If the material needs to be written on: Writing with ink on coated paper can take a long time to dry and result in unflattering smudges, so it’s best to opt for uncoated paper if it needs to be written on. For materials like business cards that may be used for visual and functional purposes, you can coat one side and leave the other uncoated for writing.
  • If you’re using metallic inks or foil stamping: Unless your metallic ink is sealed, its naturally flaky surface can cause the UV coating to peel and flake. Additionally, the UV coating on your materials may not allow for a foil stamp, so discuss this possibility with your printer before deciding on coating or stamping.

UV coating is a great option for marketers, advertisers, and small business owners alike. By using this coating on your printed materials, you can create eye-catching materials that promote your brand and attract customers—without breaking your print budget.

Make Your Mark with Print

Why printed marketing materials are here to stay

Huge chunks of marketing and advertising budgets are often spent on web design and online advertising, so it’s easy to overlook printed materials or to disregard them as unnecessary. But marketing collateral—a catch-all term for all of the media that sells a product or service—still goes well beyond the digital realm. Even the most modern business relies on the distribution of printed marketing materials as important tools for their sales force. They count on it for rich and robust direct mail campaigns, to distribute at industry events and tradeshows, and to accompany their product distribution.

Why it’s necessary

2015-08-20 10.08.34 (1)Marketing collateral is what sets your business apart from competitors. It defines and strengthens your brand, telling the story of who you are, why you matter, and why your target audience should buy from you. On a more practical note, it builds awareness of your business and leads to increased sales.

The most effective collateral leverages both digital and print resources, carefully blending them to accentuate the most powerful and unique attributes of your business. Digital provides accessibility and convenience, while print demonstrates your commitment to longevity.

Back to basics

The exchange of business cards dates back over a century, and remains a respected interaction among networkers today. A strong card design catches the recipient’s attention, making a memorable impression while clearly conveying your style, value, and brand identity.

Version 2Sell sheets and flyers provide information on products or services in an easy-to-read, unassuming format. These pieces effectively convey details that might otherwise be overlooked or forgotten, leaving behind a hard copy for future reference.

Another great tool is the brochure, which can be distributed in print and online format. You can highlight your main offerings while also delving a little more into who you are.

What your business needs

Marketing collateral is essential for business growth in all its forms, but it’s difficult for someone outside your business to tell you exactly what will best suit your needs. For maximum results, consider meeting with a printing company who offers graphic design and copywriting services. You’ll want to carefully consider your audience when choosing and designing the collateral to highlight your products or services. Most importantly, make sure everything is consistent: colors, logos, fonts, and styles should complement one another and resonate the same message across all advertising platforms.

Going the extra page

Beyond the basic pieces—business cards, sell sheets, and brochures—lies a world of enhancements for your marketing collateral. Coil books and smaller booklets go a step beyond the brochure with more facts and figures available for later perusing; this is a clean, sleek way to present industry colleagues or potential customers with a tangible reference.

Version 4Mailed newsletters and postcards help forge a connection with your clientele, and are viewed as more legitimate than a simple email version.

Finally, manufacturers and other industries often require a plethora of print collateral to accompany and support their product distribution. This may include product literature, packaging inserts, training manuals, kits, specialized fulfillment projects and more. Pairing up with a reputable printing partner that is capable of handling high volume printing and unique custom print projects, with all its support services, is key to receiving the adequate support your organization deserves.

Forge ahead

With a slew of printable materials available, it’s easy to find ways to make your business stand out, whether it’s by providing manuals and user guides or including something so simple and effective as personalized notes on custom stationery. With careful thought in choosing the right print collateral, your business will be primed to make its mark.

The Benefits of Using Promotional Products to Motivate Employees & Boost Your Brand

Port Authority (R) Stain-Resistance Sport Shirt

Port Authority Stain-Resistance Sport Shirt

Promotional products are all around us. If we borrow a pen from someone, chances are there’s a company logo on it. Our coffee mugs, calendars, and notepads may have branding elements on them. Even so, we may not realize these are actually powerful forms of advertising.

As most branded products are unobtrusive and often very useful, they are more often readily accepted than most other mediums. With this in mind, promotional products can be an effective tool for businesses looking to diversify their marketing efforts, foster employee loyalty, and increase credibility of their brand.

Let’s explore some benefits of using your company’s branded products as effective marketing and team-building tools.

Promotional products are useful to your employees.

There are a wide variety of promotional products available, from caps to polo shirts to lanyards. Your team can wear, use, and promote these items in many situations, such as trade shows, presentations, client meetings, and corporate outings.

Promotional products improve brand recognition.

As current or potential customers see you wearing or using promotional products, they will develop trust and familiarity with your brand, setting your company apart from a crowd of competitors. According to a recent survey, 76% of clients who are exposed to branded promotional products in the past 12 months were able to remember the name of the company.

Promotional products are a relatively inexpensive marketing technique.

Think about the cost of online impressions. Every time someone sees your company’s advertisement online, you’re charged the cost of that impression, even if you don’t capture the sale. Promotional products, on the other hand, offer unlimited impressions with a significantly lower price tag.

Promotional products encourage employee/team morale.

By distributing branded products—such as jackets, water bottles, padfolios, or thumb drives—you’ll indirectly foster the loyalty and morale of employees. Customized gifts show deep appreciation for work anniversaries, and also serve as great incentives for high levels of performance.

There is a wide variety of promotional products available.

Each company is unique. A product that works for one business might not suit another. Fortunately, there are hundreds of promo products available to personalize with your branding elements. Options include uniforms, golf accessories, backpacks, and many other useful items. There are even sustainable products for eco-minded companies.

With so many cost-effective options for promotional products, it’s easier than ever to create employee incentive programs and boost team morale—all while building brand recognition.

Bound to Succeed

Select the perfect finishing and binding for your next print project.

Colored plastic spiral coil used for binding.

Colored plastic spiral coil used for binding.

When you have multiple pages or documents you want to print and distribute, how do you decide on a presentation format? Your printer can suggest various options depending on how you plan to use the materials, the design and style of the product or service they represent, and the shelf life of the information it contains.

Before your print project is packaged for shipping, the bindery department of a printer will “finish” your job in a way based on your desired presentation format. In this article, we list the most common finishing options offered by printers, and give a brief explanation of each.

 The Many Bindery Options:

 Cutting — Stock paper sheets are often oversized, to accommodate a wide variety of finished document sizes. Several pages may be laid out per sheet, and therefore require cutting. A client’s finished document may also be an odd size, requiring additional cuts.

Scoring — Machine scoring uses an instrument such as a knife to crease paper along a straight line so it folds more easily and accurately.

Folding — There are multiple types of folds to choose from: the tri-fold, gate fold, letter fold, accordion fold, or double parallel fold, for example.

Perforating — Perforating is used to make tear-offs for documents such as registration forms or coupons, by creating a line of small holes that penetrate the stock.

Drilling — A drill bit or punch cuts holes in the page stock. Most common is the three-hole punch for ring binders, but there are drilling sets available in various sizes and patterns for ring, coil, or comb binding.

Saddle-Stitching — Used for pamphlets, booklets, and magazines, saddle-stitching binds by stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine.

Padding — Padding holds books or sets together with adhesive spread across the edge of the sheets. The standard number of sheets per pad is 25, 50, or 100.

Plastic Spiral Coil Binding — Made of extruded plastic available in many colors, spiral coil binding is widely used for documents, reports, presentations, and proposals because the books open flat on a desk or table.

Comb Binding —This binding method utilizes round plastic spines with 19 rings and a hole puncher that makes rectangular holes. Also known as GBC binding, it is easy to take apart and reassemble by the end user.

Wire-O Twin Loop Binding — Printed and pre-drilled pages are inserted into a “C” shaped spine, after which a wire closer squeezes the spine until it is round. Similar to spiral coil, the Wire-O book can lie flat on a surface, and can even be folded back on itself.

Leatherette + Acetate Overlay — Often used with Coil, Comb, or Wire-O binding, acetate and leatherette provide a more substantial cover system in comparison to simply using a heavier stock paper for the front and back sheets. The clear acetate protects the front cover of your pages, while the back cover is leatherette (often black but may come in many colors).

Ring Binders — Ring binders can identify, order, and segment your materials. O-ring, D-ring, and slant-ring binders of varying ring diameters can hold up to 1,300 sheets. Vinyl-covered chipboard covers come in scores of colors. Clear-view vinyl cover options invite insertion of custom-designed full-color cover sheets and spines for further identification and promotion. Ring binders are durable for both ongoing and archival use.

Folders — Folders secure your material and if customized, create great first impressions for your company, event, or association. Print them with graphics, titles and text, slogans, logos, contact, website and sponsor information. Able to be configured with pockets, tabs, fasteners, and business cards slits, folders are both functional and attractive.

Tabs — If you need to organize the contents of your project, you’ll want banked tabs. Custom-made of heavier stock in a variety of colors, they can be die cut, printed, and mylar reinforced.

Shrink Wrapping — Shrink-wrap is a material made up of polymer plastic film. When heat is applied, it shrinks tightly over whatever it is covering. Shrink-wrapping bundles of finished printing products protects them during shipping and makes handling and distributing them easier.

The Right Choice Sends the Right Message

Your selection of options to organize and display your content is an opportunity to command attention. The presentation package should reflect the nature of your offering, be it formal, fun, or just fundamental. With so many options from which to choose, you can be sure you’ll find just the right finishing and binding option for your unique print project.

Common Print Terms: Unpacking the Words

Outline-Format-of-a-Definition-EssayPlacing a print order can be confusing—not just in figuring out what you want, but also in understanding the terminology used by print companies. With printers spending much of their days surrounded by different cover stocks and binding options, it’s easy to forget that the world at large is mystified by their jargon.

This list provides a brief introduction into print terminology, so you can feel better prepared when your printer comes calling.

Binding: Wire, glue, stitching, or other means of fastening sheets together along one edge

Bleed: Printing that runs off the edge of a sheet, so that trimming makes each copy identical

Body copy: The text to be printed in the main part of the project

Cover stock: Heavier paper used for the covers of catalogs, booklets, etc.

Coverage percent: The amount of ink covering the page

Crop mark: Horizontal and vertical lines showing where a photograph or page should be trimmed

DPI: Dots per inch, a measurement for printers and monitors; sometimes known as pixels per inch in web graphics

Finished size: The size of the product once it’s finished (folded, etc.)

Flat size: The size of the product after printing and trimming

Gloss: Light reflecting off an object, whether paper, ink, coating, or more

Gutter: The inside margins of pages toward the binding

Inserts: Additional items within a publication that are not bound in

Laminate: A thin, transparent plastic coating applied to stock to protect it from spills and heavy use

Leaf: One sheet of paper; each side of a leaf is one page

Linen finish: An embossed finish on text paper reminiscent of linen cloth

Page: One side of a leaf

Perforate: To create holes for easy tearing

Process color: Also called CMYK color or four color, it uses four ink colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) to print the spectrum

Proof: The test run of a project, used to show errors and mark changes

Resolution: The sharpness of an image, whether on paper or screen

Saddle stitch: Binding with staples or stitching in the middle of the leafs to hold pages together, typical of magazines

Self cover: When no separate cover stock is used, instead having text stock throughout

Spiral bind: To bind by using a spiral of wire or plastic looped through holes

Text stock: Lighter weight paper, as opposed to cover stock, used for the inside of a publication

A little knowledge goes a long way! With this basic terminology, you’ll be able to communicate your needs more effectively to printing companies and make more informed decisions.