With so many people texting and Tweeting, it’s no wonder whenever you see an abbreviation like CMYK, you’re perplexed what the cryptic code really means! Exchanging words like “you” for “u” and “are” for “R” are not just teen-only territory anymore. Anyone and everyone is familiar with OMG, LOL and WTF!

So, what exactly does CMYK mean? Well, it could be slang for “Come on, ya okay.” For parents of teens, any four-letter acronym like CMYK may send shivers down the spine!

No worries! CMYK refers to the four primary inks used to create art for print media which are cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). Also known as process colors, CMYK is used in a wide variety of print materials. The process uses a series of dots in the four colors to create images and colors.

Most computer art programs can create in either CMYK or RGB. RGB (red, green, and blue) is used when preparing graphics for viewing online and on computer displays. Colors created for print will almost always need to be adjusted for online viewing.

The main problem with CMYK colors in printing is that they can be inconsistent. The same color may turn out differently each time it is printed on a different paper or even on separate areas on the same page. This can be a problem when printing logo art and matching brand specifications.

Some clients never notice the difference, but understanding which color system to use when is important when creating a consistent corporate brand. Sometimes, we will recommend printing CMYK with a PMS match (Pantone Matching System) for certain logo colors. Oh no! Not another acronym?

PMS inks or spot colors are very similar to choosing paints for your home. Each color corresponds to a different number and swatch. Specifying PMS colors guarantee a consistent look that is difficult to achieve with CMYK. Using CMYK and PMS colors on the same printed document can be much more expensive to print, but may be the best solution for consistency in logo and brand matching.

Understanding the difference between CMYK, RGB and PMS may seem as overwhelming as deciphering different acronyms or chopped up spelling in text messages, but can make all the difference in corporate brand identity. Those who understand each color process can more accurately adapt computer and web-based documents into stunning and consistent print marketing materials.

TTYL (talk to you later)!