Everything You Wanted to Know About Imprint Colors: The Ultimate FAQ

When it comes to putting your name or logo on a promotional item, you have a couple of ways to get it done. If you’re purchasing a padfolio like this one, you can choose to have your logo debossed. If a fleece blanket catches your eye, you will most likely have your logo embroidered on it.

But for the majority of promotional products out there, you will have your logo, name, or graphic screen or pad printed onto the item. That means that the factory will create a screen or plate (or multiple screens and plates) with your logo and then print that logo onto your items with ink. (To learn more about imprinting processes, check out this blog).

One of the most important parts of creating your custom giveaway item is making sure that you pick the perfect imprint color. This post is going to walk you through everything you need to know about imprint colors and how to pick the best one for your promotional items.

If you’re looking to get a specific question answered, use these links to jump ahead!

What are imprint colors?

The imprint color is the color of the ink used when putting your logo on your item. This ink is loaded into the printer and pressed along the surface of the screen or pad to then be transferred to your promo item.

In this example, the imprint color on the stress ball is blue:


What’s the difference between imprint colors and item colors?

When picking a product it’s very likely that you will have multiple color choices. For example, if you have your eye on our Round Stress Reliever, you have the choice of over a dozen different colors of stress ball.

This is different from your ink color choice. You can have a pink stress ball with black ink or a gray stress ball with orange ink. The color combinations are endless!

Just note that the imprint colors and item colors will not be the same.

Which imprint colors can I get on my items?

The factories determine which imprint colors come standard for specific products. These ink colors are chosen based on standard colors, popular choices, and what ink looks good on that particular item.

A small percentage of promotional items only have one or two colors to choose from. These include calendars that only offer a black imprint, and the Metallic Viper Pen which only allows you to pick from a silver or gold imprint.

Generally, though, you will have a decent selection of free standard imprint colors to choose from.

Are you on our website and want to find out what imprint colors are available to you? On any item page (we’re using the Mood Color Changing Pencil as our example), scroll down past the pricing and then click on the tab labeled “Decoration Options.” The available imprint colors are linked at the bottom.

decorations tab

Click “View Colors” and a window will pop up with the different imprint color options.

imprint color choices

So on this pencil you have more than a dozen imprint colors to choose from that are free of charge.  Below is the Green to Yellow pencil with a black imprint color.


But what does “PMS” mean?

As you may have noticed in the imprint color selection, some of the colors had the letters “PMS” followed by a number. PMS stands for Pantone Matching System. Pantone has gone through colors and labeled them with a specific number and it has a very specific color mixture to ensure consistent representation. So if you ask for PMS 306 at any factory, you are going to get that very specific shade of blue.

In contrast, if you just asked for your logo to be printed in “blue,” it could vary between your pamphlets, stress balls, and website because not every factory and vendor has the same blue as its standard color. Having a PMS number makes sure that it does.

If you would like to learn more about color, check out our blog about the differences among RGB, CMYK, and Pantone colors.

So how can I get those PMS colors on my promotional items?

Very easily! All you have to do is tell your representative that you really want PMS 306 for your logo, and they will make it happen. If you pick a color that is not already listed on the available imprint colors, then you may have to pay a small fee. This is because the factories do not have his ink pre-mixed and they will need to make a special batch for your promotional items.

You can tell if the item you want is eligible for the PMS Color Match by going back to the “Decorations Options” tab on the product page. If the product is eligible it will say within the lines of information.

decorations tab 2

Please note: If you request a specific PMS color, that color may not show up the same on every item color. For example, Blue PMS 306 will show up very vibrant on a white item, but appeared dulled down on a black item.

Visit our list of PMS colors to see all the colors we can match on your items! Know that because your computer screen uses RGB you won’t be seeing the exact color. The only way that you can see the exact color is to view a PMS Color Book with an actual swatch of that color. However, the colors will be extremely similar.

Also know: PMS Color Matching is absolutely optional. If you do not need a specific color or are choosing to go with something simple like white or black, you will not have to pay extra for that ink.

Which imprint color will look best on my item?

Short answer: It depends.

Long answer: You certainly want your logo to look the best that it can, and we absolutely agree!

In general, if the item color you want is a darker color (black, navy, brown, deep blue, etc.) a light color imprint (white, pink, etc.) will look the best. Conversely, if you pick a light item color a dark color imprint will look better. Many of our sales reps will sing the praises of sticking with just white or black imprint colors, but you do have flexibility in what you choose.


If you’re concerned about your color choices, you can always ask one of our reps for a second opinion. After all, the better someone can see your logo, the better they will remember your brand!

So what about other ways to get your logo in color?

You can try one of our items that are available with CMYK/digital/full color printing. This method allows your design, logo, or message to be printed in full color like a photograph. That means your colors are only limited by your imagination. Your logo/design is printed onto your items by a printer instead of by screens or plates. Most of our mouse pads, magnets, and sticky notes come only with the option of digital printing.

And there you have it! An entire breakdown of imprint colors: what they are, how you find them, and how you can get your favorite color on your promotional items.

Before I leave you, how about a quick refresher?

  • Imprint colors and item colors will not be the same.
  • There are generally about a dozen free imprint colors to choose from on your promotional products.
  • By using the PMS system you can get a very specific color on your items.
  • Light imprints look best on dark items and vice versa.

If you have any other questions you can leave them in the comments. After all, I do want this to be the ultimate FAQ!

If you want to talk to one of our representatives about imprint colors then you can contact them by email (, by phone (1-866-312-5646), or via our live chat. No matter what look you want for your giveaways, we’re here to help!

Did you have any other questions about imprint colors? Have you always wondered what PMS stood for, too?

Expand Your Brand!

Mandy Kilinskis

Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on


  1. Mike Wenger

    This is BOMB. Light imprints look best on dark items and vice versa and PMS colors are based off of ideal conditions and white backgrounds. PMS colors will vary based off the background color its been printed on. <- That part is KEY!!

    Thanks MANDY!!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      You’re welcome, Mike! Hopefully the post helps clear up some questions that people have! 🙂

  2. Kelly Bird

    This post takes the mystery out of what imprint color options are available and understanding PMS colors to help you get the most out of your purchase. Imprint colors can be confusing but once you understand the options it can open up a whole new world to customizing your promotional products. A great way to develop brand recognition is to associate your logo with a particular color and keep it consistent in all of your marketing. On top of already great pricing, Quality Logo Products is offering a huge discount on PMS color matching that you don’t see anywhere else, so for very little extra money I hope to see a lot of customers experimenting with developing completely unique products.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Thanks for the comment, Kelly! I hope that a lot of people do experiment with some PMS color matching. Imagine getting that perfect purple or green on everything!

  3. Jaimie Smith

    This blog is awesome! Excellent job breaking down the process of choosing your imprint colors. Thank you Mandy!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      You’re welcome, Jaimie! I’m glad that it laid everything out and I hope people find it helpful!

  4. Wash

    Seriously though, sometimes the best imprint colors are just black or white!

  5. Patricia

    What a great and informative post Mandy! Love that you went into detail on the PMS color and color matching– not many people know that.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Thanks, Patricia! We get a lot of questions about imprint colors and PMS color matching, so I wanted to make an easy-to-read and understand guide. I’m glad that you enjoyed it!

  6. keith

    Great article! It is very detailed and informative about imprint colors and PMS color matching. Not everyone knows about this stuff. When it comes down to it sometimes black or white are the best option to choose with your imprint color.

  7. David Willits

    Very good blog post about the basics of colors and the PMS color system. It’s great to know that there is and always will be consistency between different facilities when you have a specific color selected for your brand. Thankfully, pretty much every facility has some very good standard imprint colors and usually, a lot of them overlap amongst facilities. Some of our facilities even do PMS matching for free on certain items.

    If there are ever any questions about PMS colors or anything imprint-related, please give us a buzz and we will be happy to help. If you have a great question and we don’t know the answer straightaway, we will find out and get back to you with the correct information.

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