We have redesigned our product labels for our supplement brand and want to know from professional graphic designers and print savvy individuals if most product labels you see in retail stores use pantone or CMYK? The pantone will give us the consistency, but the CMYK may give us a bit more flexibility in color choice and future printers. We are curious to know if most brands that can be found in retail use Pantone or CMYK for their product labels? Thank you very much to all who share their knowledge!
Further to the comments, I think I can answer this now, kind of . . . I can't answer this for "most brands", because some kind of research would be required.
Anyway . . .
For 3 colour printing, and a large print run, it's likely that 3 spot colours and lithography would be the best option. It may or may not be cheaper though. Ultimately only your printer can give you a cost estimate.
In nearly all cases (depending on the artwork), spot colours will look better than CMYK printing. No halftone screening is required for the colour mixes. Areas of colour will be sharp, flat, and well defined. And the quality of the colour will far superior.
If you are thinking about using digital printing, then the only real option is probably full colour/CMYK.
CMYK printing can of course still look great, but it uses halftone screening to achieve mixes of colour, which will be visible if you look close enough. Also unless the text on the label is a solid C, M, Y or K, then the text will also be a halftone, which can look pretty awful with small text.
If I were you, I'd ultimately ask your printer for advice. Most are pretty happy to give it. Show them your artwork, and ask them what they would recommend.
Here are some points to consider.
- Number of colors.
- Type of paper, absorption, roughness.
- Details on the label, mainly small text.
- Stile of the label. Gradients, flat colors.
- Special colors, metallic, fluorescent, bright colors.
- Print method and Finish. Puffy inks, engraver, silk print.
Sometimes we look for cheap alternatives for our prints. But cheap also means easy falsification, so, if your brand uses normal paper on an inkjet printer, they can easily be forged.
Using a spot ink, means, at least that it needs a bit more effort than a home printer.
You need to define what you mean when saying:
flexibility in color choice and future printers.
You define your colors and production cycles. Period. Normally a brand is not changed on the fly.
From a print and brand perspective - your logo and brand name should be in spot/PMS color to maintain consistency across your product line and branding/marketing materials. If you change printers, change machines, etc, the PMS color should remain constant. If you decide you want to go with process colors, then establish a standard CMYK mix for your logo and brand so no one has to guess what formula to use. If you're going online with your materials, also establish your RGB percentages. Consistency is key to making your brand recognizable as well as making the reproduction process as smooth as possible. Just as a random pick, here's how FedEx sets it up: https://usbrandcolors.com/fedex-colors/
(Active in packaging and labels artwork for 25 years)
Spots colors are still very common in packaging, especially (but not exclusively) with A-brands as they have larger order sizes and they are less willing to compromise design, quality and consistency. Six, seven or eight color prints are more rule than exception (CMYK + spot).
For cost and time-to-deliver reasons, CMYK label printing is slowly making a rise, made possible by digital printing presses (where spot colors are not possible and every color is to be composed) and halftoning advancements in offset printing.