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CMYK vs RGB - What does it mean?

Updated: Jul 6, 2022


Let’s talk colours!

Have you ever heard the acronym CMYK, or perhaps, RGB and thought to yourself… what on earth?!

You are not alone! Plenty of our clients are stumped by the colour codes for print.

What do they stand for? What do they mean? Why are the important?

These are all EXCELLENT questions!

To make your life easy we are going to answer these questions in simple, easy-to-understand terms. Let’s crack the codes…

What does CMYK stand for?

CMKY stands for… C = cyan, M = magenta, Y = Yellow, K = Black

What does RBG stand for?

RGB stands for… R = Red, G = Green, B = Blue

You may also come across hex codes, which are often used for online purposes or in programs such as Canva. These are generally derived from the RGB colour codes.

When do you use these colour codes?

When it comes to actually using your CMYK or RGB codes, the all-important question is WHAT are they used for and WHEN?

RBG is a colour code designed for screens, usually dependant on your screen lighting. These colours can vary depending on which screen you view them on – Yes really!

CMYK is a colour code designed for PRINT, as it represents the inks required to reproduce your design.

Why is it important to understand?

The reason is, because often the appearance of colours can differ between colour code styles. If you supply a design that you wish to have printed and it is in RGB, you may find that when converted to CMYK the colours vary. It is important to use the correct code for the correct application to avoid disappointment.

What difference do colours make to my brand?

Now that you understand the colour codes, let’s talk about colour palettes and why they are important to your brand…

A colour palette can contribute to the success or failure of your business. It is a fact that visual elements contribute to the conversion rate of your target audience. Colour & aesthetics are powerful elements that are linked to buyer psychology. Choosing appropriate colours will help your business initiate familiarity and trust by tugging into your client’s emotional heart strings. Choosing a suitable colour scheme is vital to the image and identity of your business.

Here are some HOT TIPS:

1. Stick with the personality and style of your brand When selecting colour palettes for your business, consider the purchasing intent. The colours will have a significant impact on how customers perceive your brand. So first, make sure the colours are consistent with the style and personality of your brand. Also, it helps to be specific about how you would want your customers to feel about your product. For example, if your business is in the fitness industry, you want to go for a bright and bold colour like yellow or orange.

2. Strategically limit your colours to make your brand memorable Within your colour palette, avoid using more than 5 colours. It makes your brand and marketing materials confusing, therefore, making it harder to convey your message. Instead, stick to two to three dominant colours for typography and graphics. You can get creative with the look by playing with various shades.

3. Choose colours that can blend seamlessly One colour alone won’t have the same impact, so try and pair other colours. Don’t just pick based on your preference because your favourite shade may not be suitable for the message you are trying to convey, instead, consider your audience. Additionally, you need to be mindful of how your colour choices will be interpreted in different cultures if you’re selling your products abroad.

4. Avoid competitor brand colours The goal is to make your brand colours unique and instantly recognisable. Your product will appear among competitors—either in physical stores or online—so you want it to stand out. Imagine selling shaving cream in a sea of black. The chances are your product will be ignored. To avoid duplicate colours from your competitors, you can start with a mood board of existing shades on the market.

Need some guidance?

Talk to Bannerworld for expert help

The success of your business depends on distinct brand identity. Your brand colour affects your consumer's buying behaviour. After all, it is seen on your logo, website, store design, packaging, advertisement and social media. Therefore, you want to ensure that every hue and shade represents your brand personality and sends the right message to your target market.

If, you still feel stuck, it is best to seek expert help. Our team of professional graphic designers and marketing strategists will take the burden off your shoulders.

Get in touch today!

Bannerworld assists small businesses across Australia with brand building and business improvement strategies.

Contact us at or give us a ring at 1300 91 31 81. Let's make your design a reality!

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