When I started in the marketing business decades ago, PMS was certainly a big deal. It could cause a headache and cramp your style for days at a time. PMS, short for pantone matching system, was the bible for recreating your corporate brand on things as varied as golf balls, business cards, brochures…you name it.
Every company had logo standards and PMT sheets and then of course you would have to match those PMS standards to vinyl swatches for decaling vehicles, thread swatches for embroidery and so on. What a nightmare. The truth is there were so many variables in the resulting colours that it almost made the whole process redundant. Letterhead stock printed different than glossy brochure stock, process colours printed differently than spot colours. The whole deal caused many a sleepless night for marketing professionals.
Although this system continues as the standard today, most work is produced in 4 colour process. The varying percentage combinations of black, cyan, magenta and yellow can reproduce millions of colour combinations. The pre press cost of reproducing materials is a fraction of what it was when I started in the business in the late eighties. The actual cost of printing is similar, while the cost of stock is at least twice as high.
Most of the wrinkles have been ironed out over the years but a couple of things still remain. Along with the various PMS numbers there are a few primary colours that do not require mixing. They gave these colours a name instead of a number, like pantone red, warm red, pantone yellow and reflex blue. Reflex blue is still the worst colour on the planet for reproduction. It never dries without a varnish, it likes to turn purple without warning, so if you’re still using that one…do yourself a favour and heave ho( or simply revise your reflex blue to PMS 286, no one will notice and it reproduces more consistently).
The moral of the story…when you’re picking or revisiting your corporate colours ask your agency these 5 basic questions before deciding:
Lee’s quote for the day