Choosing the right colour system for an exhibition display stand is crucial for creating an engaging and visually appealing environment. The colour system you choose can significantly impact the mood, feel and effectiveness of your stand in attracting and retaining visitors. The two most common colour systems are RGB (Red, Green, Blue) and CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key/Black), each serving different purposes. Pantone is another often chosen but not one advised for exhibition stands. More of which we will explain later.

What are the purposes of RGB and CMYK colour systems?

Both colour systems deliver benefits that ensure promotional material, exhibition stands, and branded literature all follow brand guidelines, however, each system lends itself to a particular aspect of marketing your business.

RGB colour system

This colour system is used for digital displays, such as computer monitors, television screens, and smartphones. It combines red, green, and blue light to create a wide spectrum of colours. RGB is ideal for digital content displayed on screens at your event stand, including digital signage, presentations, and videos.

CMYK colour system

This colour system is used for printed materials. It combines cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black) inks to create a wide range of colours. CMYK is perfect for any physical materials you plan to use or distribute at your stand, such as large-format banners, brochures, flyers, and business cards. It can be used on your event stand itself but there may be specific requirements that your exhibition stand designer makes. This could be the image resolution, the dpi and the overall size of the images you provide. Typically, it will be found on paper materials and packaging but not plastic.

How do CMYK and RGB colour systems work?

The CMYK colour system works by having one layer of colour added at a time to create the final colour you require. CMYK printing allows you to have as many colours as you want in your exhibition stand design without any additional charges. Think of it as multiple colours but just one print job.

The RGB colour system works by having the light source in the electrical item create any colour by combining red, green, and blue. The varying strengths of the colours determine how the final colour appears on screen. In the design process, you add different numerical RGB values on top of black. This then creates the pigment you are looking for. The more colour you apply, the brighter your end result.

How to decide what colour system to use for your event

If your event stand will feature digital displays prominently, focus on designing your materials in RGB. This ensures that the colours you choose will appear vibrant and accurate on all digital screens.

If you’re relying heavily on printed materials for your stand, design then use the CMYK colour system. This will ensure the colours in your printed materials match as closely as possible to your original design when printed.

Important considerations when choosing a colour system for your event

Whilst you may be factoring in budget, you will also need to look at branding, consistency, psychology, and the environment your event is being held in. Neglecting one of these when designing your exhibition graphics, your exhibition giveaways or your digital displays could all reduce the effect you were hoping for. 

Consistency Across Mediums

It’s common to use both digital displays and printed materials at an event or exhibition. In such cases, aim for consistency in your colour choices across both RGB and CMYK systems. Be aware that colours might not always match perfectly due to the fundamental differences between how colours are produced in each system. It may require adjustments and test prints to ensure the colours look as similar as possible across different media.

Colour Psychology

Regardless of the system, consider the psychology of colour in your designs. Different colours can evoke different emotions and behaviours in your audience. Choose colours that align with your brand identity and the mood you wish to create at your stand.  Take a read of our blog on Event stand colour psychology.

Environment and Lighting

The lighting at the event can affect how your colours look in both digital and printed formats. If possible, test your colours under lighting conditions similar to those at the event to ensure they appear as intended.

The choice between RGB and CMYK depends on the specific needs of your stand.

RGB should be your preference for digital displays and CMYK for printed materials. Always aim for consistency across mediums, consider the psychological impact of your colour choices, and account for the lighting conditions at the event to ensure your stand is as engaging and effective as possible.

What about the Pantone colour system?

The Pantone colour system is a wide range of colours created by a company called Pantone. Using this system, you can pick a specific colour for your brand.

Due to the vast number of colours available, it becomes easy to create unique logos and brand patterns. With one colour system, it’s simple to have everything look the same and create strong branding for your business or event.

Colours are not mixed when using Pantone like they are in CMYK and a printer can typically print 5 or so Pantone colours in one design. However, in many cases, if opting for Pantone colours for an exhibition stand, there are likely to be additional costs to bear. If you have chosen more than two Pantone colours, the printer will need to add them over the top of the CMYK, and this will see you having to spend additional funds to get the job done.

At Starlight we can help you with your artwork preparation. Our graphic design team are on hand to help you every step of the way and take you through the process of creating high-impact, high-quality graphics.

Using our years of knowledge and experience, we design memorable exhibition stands to match your exact needs. This means we work to your budget, your timeline, and your brand specifications. With a variety of stands available alongside our bespoke modular units and lightbox displays, there is something for every event type. when you choose Starlight Exhibitions. We are the official supplier of Nomadic Display products. Why not contact us today to find out more?