The world around us is full of colour, and the way humans perceive colour is nothing short of fascinating. Colour is a part of light that reflects off an object. Different colours separate and reflect in different ways to give us the scope of colour. We use colour in many different aspects of our lives. The colours we choose for our clothes to portray an image, we decorate our homes in various colours to bring a certain ambient into our spaces. Colour also plays an important part in advertising, where advertisers use colours to attract the target audience and make products more appealing. Whether you advertise digitally or the old-fashioned way with printed materials, colour is a great way to attract attention. The colour models at your disposal are RGB or CMYK[i]. Before you decide which one is for you, let's take a look at the difference between RGB and CMYK and how they can work for you.


What Is The Difference Between RGB And CMYK? [ii]

In terms of printing and advertising, RGB is primarily used for television or websites, while CMYK is widely used for printed advertising such as brochures, posters, business cards, etc. 

RGB represents the three primary colours of red, green and blue. RGB is essentially an additive colour model that uses these primary colours with light to make the colours brighter. CMYK represents cyan, magenta, yellow and key, which means black. CMYK is a subtractive colour model taken from natural white light to produce different colour pigments or dyes. 

We'll move on to discuss the finer points of each of these colour models and the best ways to use them.


RGB Meaning

As we've mentioned, RGB stands for red, green and blue. It is primarily used in digital advertising on television or for websites. What is interesting about this colour model is that it has been around since the 1800s. The theories of this colour and light concept were developed by renowned physicists Thomas Young, Hermann Helmholtz, and James Maxwell, just to name a few. Early photographers used it, taking advantage of the cathode ray tubes which used the conical-shaped tube to convert an electrical signal into an image. Televisions widely used this before being replaced by flat screen and LCD TVs. Think of those old televisions with massive rear compartments. [iii]

You may be wondering how RGB works. In the simplest terms, RGB, meaning red, green and blue primary colours are combined with light to create a wide variety of colours. These colours combine with light to produce a kaleidoscope of colour as much as our eyes perceive colour and light. RGB is called an additive colour model because the addition of lights creates colours that stimulate the various cone cells at the same time.

What Is The Best Way To Use RGB?

Due to the phenomenal incorporation of light, RGB is the colour model of choice when it comes to digital graphic design, particularly where a screen is involved. This is of notable importance in this day and age as we seem to be surrounded by screens. We're either watching television, computers or smartphones and tablets. RGB gives us a seemingly endless array of colours and shades for incredibly vibrant images that bring the pictures and videos to life. 

The advantage of using RGB in your digital advertising is that it is compatible with almost every application used in modern graphic design. For example, think of photo editors and other design software. 

Unfortunately, this colour model is not perfect. While it may look fantastic on one device, the colours may look quite different on a different device. This is because the types of LEDs used in devices may vary from one manufacturer to the next. The other drawback is that RGB may not print very well. So, that graphic design on the computer screen may blow your mind but look very dull and lacklustre when it's in printed form. 

The best results with RGB are most definitely when you want your project displayed on a digital screen. RGB can certainly make your website stand out with crystal clear colours and dynamics. If you want to create a stunning logo or something spectacular to identify your brand, the use of RGB can certainly set you apart from the pack. In particular, you definitely want the eye-catching graphics used in RGB for videos, website photographs, social media content, apps, infographics and other digital graphic designs.


CMYK Meaning

So, we already know that CMYK, meaning cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black) are the colours mainly used by printing services. In fact, most colour printer cartridges use the CMYK colour model. However, the true magic of CMYK occurs when professional printers utilise it. These professionals generally have hi-tech commercial printing equipment to produce full colour graphics and images, which are mainly used for advertising purposes. 

When printing an image, the printing software will send a message to the printer to send out the ink in these basic colours in different combinations to reproduce the image on the screen onto a printed medium. Of course, this involves different types of paper, but these days you can pretty much print your photos on anything with a relatively smooth surface.


What Is The Best Way To Use CMYK?

Whenever you've picked up a colour brochure or read a glossy magazine, you've held an example of CMYK colour printing. When you think of how colour is used in advertising, you'll soon discover there are many factors at play in the choice of colours. People usually connect colour to an emotion, so marketing and advertising experts use the psychology of colour to bring emotion and meaning to their visual advertising materials. The concept of colour psychology is simple enough, but it still takes careful planning and execution. The colours also need to be relevant to the product and the target audience. The images need to be inviting, true to life and inspiring. CMYK is used not only in advertising materials but also in packaging. CMYK has been used successfully on billboards, posters, flyers and pretty much anything else you can think of. CMYK is the colour model to use if the surface can be printed on. 


When To Use Both RGB And CMYK

Every successful advertising and marketing campaign needs several key elements for success. First, it takes an insightful marketing mind to understand the market and the consumer demographic to which the company will be advertising. In most campaigns, advertisers will avail themselves of both RGB and CMYK services. The campaign may start in digital form for television, websites, social media, etc. After all, most of the world has at least one digital device such as a laptop, tablet or smartphone, and a flatscreen or LCD TV. This is where RGB comes in. As these devices all make use of light, it makes sense to use the additive concept of RGB to create brightly coloured campaigns to distribute via television advertising and via digital devices right across the internet and the millions of apps at our disposal. 

You shouldn't ignore CMYK, though, and in many cases, you can't just choose an RGB image and hit the print button. RGB and CMYK for print purposes won't always look the same. For example, when you print the RGB image on a card or glossy paper, it often loses some of its brilliance. Graphic designers will use their software to tweak the RGB image so that it looks just as stunning in graphic printing on paper and other products as it does on the screen. 


Now You Know The Difference Between RGB and CMYK…..

Which one's best - RGB or CMYK for print? The real answer is both are equally great and equally necessary. Graphic designers will use their skills to create a stunning RGB image for your business logo and any marketing campaign you are working on. Still, they will team it up with an equally fabulous CMYK image for printed materials and merchandise. However, these two colour models aren't just for use in the corporate world. There are many reasons why ordinary people also use printing services that incorporate RGB and CMYK for various reasons. You could be planning a special event, such as a wedding or a special family holiday, but you can also use these services for gifts, decorations and more. The key is to find a service that offers graphic printing and design.

Most humans are visual by nature, and our eyes are easily attracted to colour and light. Our first connection to advertising in today's world is via a screen of some type, and this is when RGB is key. Once we have this image imprinted in our minds, we'll easily recognise the same image in the other form of CMYK. While you can choose just one for business advertising, you'll quickly discover the benefits of choosing both.