Industry Insight

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. This means 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 is making sure you pick the right 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.

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 under the No Surprise Pricing table and you’ll see a section labeled “How We Add Your Logo.” Underneath, you’ll see every imprint color available for your product.


Click on any color and a table with automatically pop up indicating the price of your selected imprint choice.

Below the available imprint colors you will see a specification as to how many colors you can choose. This number will vary from product to product.

For this pencil, you can choose one imprint color from more than a dozen imprint colors. 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.

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! Visit our exclusive PMS Color Picker 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.

You can upload your artwork on our exclusive tool and we’ll provide you with a list of PMS colors that best match your artwork.


Don’t have a logo, but still looking for a specific color? No problem! All you have to do is select from a list of colors, and we’ll hook you up with a list of matches, right on screen!

When using our online order form, you can enter your PMS Color into the pop-up and it will automatically add the additional cost for your order.

You can also click on “Logo Setup” in our No Surprise Pricing table to update your PMS Color.

If you need help with the process, your customer representative is always available to ensure the most accurate color match.  They are always here to guide you through the process and ensure your logo looks exactly right on your product of choice.

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 appear dulled down on a black item.

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 do not have to choose an exact PMS color.


 Which imprint color will look best on my item?

In general, the imprint color you choose depends on your design and the product you choose. You certainly want your logo to look the best that it can, and we absolutely agree!

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.


Remember, our sales reps are always on hand to recommend the best possible choice and offer a second opinion on what will look great on your promotional products!

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

Some products on our website only include one imprint color at no additional fee, while others include a full imprint 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. This 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.

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.
  • Certain items include a full color imprint, while others include only one imprint color at no additional fee.
  • By using the PMS Color Picker you can get a very specific color on your items.
  • Light imprints look best on dark items and vice versa.

You can contact our customer service team for more information about imprint colors by email (, by phone (1-866-312-5646), or via our live chat. No matter what design you have in mind for your custom products, we’re here to help every step of the way!

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

Expand Your Brand!