CMYK vs RGB vs PMS – What Is The Difference?

CMYK vs RGB vs PMS – What Is The Difference?

RGB : Red Green Blue

RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue. These three colors are essentially additive light colors that are used to make new colors. When all three are combined, it creates white. When no light colors are added, it shines black. The stronger the light intensity, the brighter and more vibrant the color appears. RGB colors are considered additive colors and added to a black screen.

When to use: RGB is often used by graphic designers and others who use computers to design art. RGB can only be used on screens and other technological devices. Due to some technology limitations, our computer screens, TV screens and other device screens can’t display every color our eyes are able to see. RGB offers more colors, that are more vibrant than CMYK.


CMYK: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black

CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK,  and often referred to as 4-color process. It offers a larger scope of colors than RGB. Additionally, CMYK colors are considered subtractive colors and added to a white “screen”, or paper, to block out the light reflecting off paper. When adding cyan, magenta and yellow together, you would not get black unless adding them multiple times, causing more expense. Adding in a true black is time efficient and budget friendly. The CMYK color range allows for colors to be displayed more accurately and colors are presented in small, tiny, indiscernible dots to create the most accurate color possible.

When to use: CMYK is used on print materials such as paper, banners, apparel, promotional products and vehicle graphics. CMYK is best for photographs and designs that incorporate multiple colors or gradients


PMS: Pantone Matching System

PMS stands for Pantone Matching System and uses solid colors, sometimes known as spot colors. PMS colors are not recommended for color blending, as using multiple PMS colors can get expensive. Each Pantone color is solid and assigned a unique number to ensure consistency across print mediums. While you can convert PMS colors to CMYK colors, results often vary.

When to use: PMS is best used on logos and other branding, and best for projects with 1 to 3 solids colors without photographs or blending. It can be used to achieve colors outside the CMYK range of colors.




Color Process

When Best Used




Print Materials – especially with lots of colors Print Materials – good for blending, 2 or more colors, does not have to be solid artwork Can convert to RGB


Digital Designs Digital Screens Can convert to CMYK


Logos and Branding & Solid Colored Artwork Print Materials – no blending, 1-3 colors max, must be solid artwork Can convert to CMYK/RGB, but differences often occur


Cascade Print Media offers a wide range of options for both PMS and CMYK printing. We offer press checks upon request, so you can see your project being printed in real time, check the colors to ensure they match your branding standards, and get a tour of our facility!

Still not sure which option is best for you? Don’t worry — one of our printing experts would be happy to sit down with you to find the best options to meet your budget and ensure your project comes out exactly how you want it.

Print Marketing vs. Digital Marketing – Twenty Facts That Will Surprise You

Print Marketing vs. Digital Marketing – Twenty Facts That Will Surprise You

You may have heard the cry to reduce paper use. If you are considering a post card campaign or other types of direct mail, rack cards, brochures, or other types print marketing you might wonder whether to switch to “electronic”. The topic is well researched and the facts are crystal clear.

Effectiveness and Engagement of Print Marketing vs Digital Marketing


  1. 56% of customers find print marketing to be the most trustworthy type of marketing.
  2. The response rate of printed direct mail marketing is 37% higher than email direct marketing.
  3. More than 92% of 18 – 23 year old’s found printed content easier to read rather than digital.
  4. 80% of households read or browse their print advertising mail.
  5. 62% of consumers who responded to direct mail in the past three months made a purchase.
  6. At least 47% of customers report using ad-blocking technology when browsing online.
  7. The average return on printed direct mail campaigns is 1,255%.
  8. 70% of American’s say mail is more personal than the internet.
  9. Brand recall for direct mail ads was 70% higher among study participants who were exposed to direct mail ads and digital ads.
  10. 80-90% of direct mail is gets opened, while only 20-30% of email gets opened.
  11. 44% of customers visit a brand website after receiving a direct-mail marketing – 10% MORE than those who receive an email.


Green Responsibility – Print Marketing vs Digital Marketing


  1. Print is Green! Print is environmentally-friendly and one of today’s most sustainable industries. Only 17% of cut forest trees are used by the paper industry.
  2. Most paper is recycled at least seven times before adding in virgin wood fibers.
  3. 91% of consumers agreed that print and paper are sustainable ways to communicate, when responsibly produced, used, and recycled.
  4. Spam email wastes at least 33 billion kilowatt hours annually – equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of 3.1 million cars using 2 billion gallons of gas.
  5. The average person wastes 2.4 times more electricity on powering a single computer than the energy used to produce the paper they use in a year.
  6. Lately some cite the “environmental stress” of sending paper documents. However, paper comes from a sustainably grown renewable resource. The demand for paper creates the economic incentive that drives continual regeneration of forests and the delivery of carbon sequestration benefits.
  7. A 2016 study found that 85% of respondents believe that companies who make negative green claims about paper are simply seeking to reduce their expenses.
  8. Roughly two-thirds of the energy used by North American pulp and paper mills is self-generated. The paper industry uses more renewable energy than any other industrial sector.
  9. The global print and paper industry accounts for only 1% of the global carbon dioxide emissions.


The facts are clear when it comes to using printed marketing pieces versus electronic marketing – printed marketing pieces are more effective and “green” than email and online marketing.


Contact us today to talk with a print marketing specialist to create a plan to help your organization to reach your goals.


Sources:, American forest & paper association, small business trends, choose print, two sides