For those who aren’t familiar, Pantone is a color matching system that’s been around since 1963. It’s had a large influence in the world of design, with the  “Color of the Year” in particular having a place in fashion, interior design, films, package design, and so much more.

Pantone is seriously like a wizard when it comes to getting the right color, which is why it’s such a popular part of printing. However, despite all of this greatness, there are still times when printing Pantone colors can go horribly wrong.  

Here are a few things to remember when using Pantone colors on your next printing job.

#1: The Material Affects the Color

Material affects Pantone colors

The material you’re printing on affects how the Pantone color turns out. For example, you might want to print PMS 301C (blue) on a denim jacket, but it’s going to look slightly different than it would on a plastic cup.

Some materials are more absorbent, while others are more translucent. That’s part of the reason why Pantone offers different ink types – Coated or Uncoated. The Uncoated is a slightly different hue, but it may be a better choice for certain types of fabric or materials.

Pantone C vs. Pantone U

There may be a slight variation in how your logo looks, but both Coated and Uncoated will use the same formula.  When in doubt, always ask before arbitrarily choosing a Pantone color. The printer will let know what you can expect.

#2: Firing Ceramics Affects the Color

Printing Pantone colors

In order to print a design on a ceramic mug, it needs to go through a heat fixing process. This ends up changing the tone of a Pantone color, every single time!

Silicone is also a troublemaker when it comes to printing Pantone colors. The material absorbs ink, causing the color to slightly shift. If you plan on getting drinkware, and customizing it with an exact Pantone color, be wary of ceramics and silicone. 

Do you plan on using the Pantone matching system for some promotional products? Check out the free PMS Color Matcher from Quality Logo Products®!

#3: Printing on White Will Usually Yield an Exact Match

Printing Pantone on white

Do you remember mixing paints in kindergarten and getting a different color? Red and blue makes purple, red and yellow make orange… you get the idea.

Well, printing a Pantone color on a colorful product, like a blue keychain or a red tumbler, will inevitably alter the color that’s being printed. The only neutral base where the logo color will be a 100% match is when you print on a white product.

If the exact Pantone color is important to your brand, then stick with white items –  white pens, white stress balls, or white water bottles. It’s the best bet when it comes to getting exact colors.

Keep in Mind

White usually shows an exact Pantone match, but the exception is on white textiles or ceramic mugs. The color will be affected due to the material and the firing process.  

#4: Preview Tools are Everything

Pantone knows color can sometimes go wrong, which is why they make it easy to see how things will look ahead of time with PantoneLive Design. You can access all the colors in Adobe Illustrator and see how your color will change on certain materials or products.

See PantoneLive Design in action!

The service does cost you some money, so consider how important exact colors are to you when it comes to your print job. There are elitists out there who want their Pantone colors to be spot-on, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Take Coca-Cola for example. Could you imagine anything other than that vibrant red?

Color can be a tricky thing to perfect. Printers are different, materials can alter the end product, and ultimately, even Pantone can’t stop things like the sun from fading the color.

The good news is promotional products companies, like Quality Logo Products®, can help you stay on track. You can submit your artwork or design and not have to worry about any issues. Your rep will work with you and help you find your true colors, no matter what!


Mixed Media Creations. (20195, December 5). Ways You’re Using Pantone Wrong: Fact vs. Myth. Retrieved August 16, 2019, from

Pantone. (2019). Get the Packaging Color Right Before It Goes Wrong. Retrieved August 16, 2019, from

Collinsworth, J. (2015, April 1). Pantone®, Color, and What I Wish I Had Known. Retrieved August 16, 2019, from

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