Just the other night, my wife was watching the recap of The Oscars? and the hosts were commenting on Katherine Hiegel’s fire engine red dress. The next day, the newspaper spotlighted Katherine Hiegel’s candy apple red dress. What! Which is it, fire engine red or candy apple red? Well, it’s both.

How is this atrocity possible? Simply put, color is relative from person to person. If my wife tells me to paint our living room green, what color green is it? I need her to be more specific so I do not have to paint it again.

In our design world, we do not have fancy names like pumpkin bread and midnight blue like the paint stores. Instead we have an elaborate numbering system. Yes, your logo might use colors 3435 and 541. Surprising, huh? Yes, this is your logo’s green and blue colors. These are very important numbers when maintaining your brand integrity and consistency. Have you ever noticed that the Coca Cola red and the Gap blue is always the same? That is because each designer, printer, and specialty item company should be using the Pantone Color Matching system. PMS for short. No, that is not a joke, it really is PMS. The color does change some with different papers, materials and printing methods, but that should be taken in consideration when developing your identity.

So, what color was the dress? Maybe 186. Next time I see her, I’ll ask.