RGB or CMYK: What printing option to choose for your labels?

When it comes to printing custom labels for your business you will often be invited to choose between RGB and CMYK, but what is the difference between these two printing options, and which is the right choice for your business?

In this article, we explain the best printing option to choose for your labels.

What is RBG?

RGB, which stands for red, blue, green, is a primarily digital colour space. RGB has been around for some time, indeed, if you see an image from a vintage film camera it’s likely that RGB was probably used to produce the colours. Using red, blue and green as a basis, RGB is able to create virtually every colour you can conceive of simply by combining these three colours in different quantities. This is known as an 'additive' process, where colours are added to each other to produce new hues. To produce the colour white, you mix red, blue and green together, conversely, when all three colours are removed completely you get black (with black by definition the absence of colour).

The primary use of RGB is digital, it's the colour space used in pretty much all digital displays such as mobile phones and computer screens, as well as web and app design, logos, banners and ads. However, while RGB colours look nice and bright and screen, they can appear dull and faded when printed.

When to use RGB:

  • Website design
  • App design
  • Company logos
  • Social media graphics

What is CMYK?

CMYK, which stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key (Black), is a colour model used primarily for print design, whether at home or commercially. Indeed, if you have an inkjet printer at home you'll see inside that the four letters ascribed to each colour section are CMYK.

What makes CMYK different from RGB is that here there is no 'additive' process as such. Instead, CMYK achieves its effect by layering and overlapping tiny dots of colour. The end result is a much more vibrant print, which more closely resembles the original design than would be possible with RGB. So if your design project entails the use of ink, you will be using CMYK rather than RGB, whether that be business cards, retail packaging, labels or t-shirts.

When to use CMYK:

  • Custom labels
  • Leaflets
  • Business cards
  • Signage

RGB or CMYK for your labels

Now we have a clearer understanding of the difference between RGB and CMYK, what should you use for your next label printing project?

Clearly, CMYK is the best choice for a printing project as it is able to recreate an accurate reproduction from the design process through to print. CMYK is also able to faithfully reproduce designs on a variety of printed surfaces. RGB on the other hand is most suitable for digital displays, and would rarely be used over CMYK for a print project.

When you print labels for your business you want your brand design and colours to really pop to present the best possible image of your business. For that reason, the choice between CMYK and RGB is an important one, and could be the difference between a muted design, and a clear and vibrant one.

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