I'm trying to create a brand identity guide for the small non-profit I work for. The color selected before I joined the organization was Pantone 3125U. I've read so much over the last few months in an attempt to get a better understanding of color that I feel more confused then when I started.

I've found multiple CMYK, RGB & HTML values, but I don't know which values to use. I'm exhausted and frustrated, because everything we seem to do comes out different. I have printed materials including signage that ranges from teal to dark blue to sea foam green.

We hired a firm to update our logos, but they just used the Pantone 3125U color from our current branding guides. I've searched the internet for days including using Pantone's online color cross reference tool. I've tried my look in Illustrator C5 & C6 and Photoshop C5, but I honestly have no idea what I'm doing.

Can you help me determine the best CMYK, RGB & HTML values using Pantone 3125U as my starting point?

  • In reality... this is a matter of opinion. You have to visually determine what the different color model breakouts are by looking at the various colors. "By the numbers" will get you somewhat close, but ultimately it's your eye that needs to make the decision.
    – Scott
    May 28, 2015 at 20:04
  • 2
    RGB values vary because monitors have different color calibrations. In a sense RGB colors mean nothing without calibration info as thy do not reproduce the same on different monitors. So without knowing the color space and surrounding lightning setup of the monitor there is NO ACCURATE color nd color varies wildly
    – joojaa
    May 29, 2015 at 4:26

2 Answers 2


Trying to achieve the perfect color for everything is impossible if you are not color calibrated. So I would ask, are you calibrating your equipment?

Also, if you are referencing a Pantone book and the colors do not match it could be due to several reasons:

  1. The Pantone book wasn't stored correctly so it is faded.
  2. Pantone books get updated so make sure your codes are current.

After calibration you could use the Swatches palette and navigate to the Pantone 3125U.

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Ideally if I have a client with a range of particular colors I will build an .ase file for all the colors to be stored. I do use rgb.to sometimes for a global project that would include print and digital.

These are the results for your color:

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Link for reference

If you are outsourcing work sometimes the printer will provide you a sample. One daunting task can be trying to find a printer that is calibrated as well. If your signs aren't digitally printed and use vinyl it would almost be impossible to color match the cast vinyl. Each material should be calibrated often so I would consult with the printer for a test run and inform them you are trying to match a specific color. If you are getting work screen printed they could use the Pantone color you specify but it would be more. If you don't specify a Pantone they will use a CMYK value.

  • Thank you! I didn't realize that my equipment needed to be calibrated, but I will definitely get that done.
    – Rachel
    May 28, 2015 at 21:39

Wellcome to the wonderfull world of pantone (and color management)

One could think that pantone is sinonimus of a clear guide of color. In my opinion is not. The numbers has no sense. (Yea, I have read the meaning of the numbers... They have no sense :o) )

They change the cmyk and rgb equivalents from time to time. I collected some pdf references from over some years, not from a third party user, but from the oficial site, and the values were different.

I think you can not download them anymore from the pantone site I have not found an update for a cuple of years.

Ok some explanations

1) The standards of the fabrication of the inks (Swop, Eurocoated, Japan) Change. Lets imagine a manufacturer of inks find a new formula to make yellow that has no radioactive materials in it and it is purer and brighter.

After some time the ink is adopted as standard and as the yellow is brighter, you need a bit less of it on a formula to match a color. Then, the Pantone to CMYK values need to change.

2) The second explanation is from the standards itself. For example.

The Classical Swop V2 (american) standard assigned a maximum ink coverage to 300%. That was the maximum of ink in a photo in a deep black photo of the emptiness of the space.

But in other standards, like Fogra your ink can be 350%. Obviusly you need strech the values accordingly.

The explanation from the Lord of the Sith... Darth Vader, is correct, but you NEED to take into acount the cmyk profile you are using and the last version available.

So in this case I would not rely on the conversion of the rgb to pantone site, but in a well configured Ilustrator or Corel with the correct color profiles that you need where what part of the world you live.

Embeded profile or not in a RGB file

The RGB values are also modified in a file when adding (or discarding) a color profile.

In this case the values of a file without any color profile are simmilar to the ones Darth Posted, but the RGB values inside the aplication (Corel, Ilustrator, Photoshop) Will be diferent like (R76 G168 B195) + the color profile = (R0 G169 B198) (simmilar to the one posted by Darth Vader.

If you are using windows, you can use a small aplication to read onscreen colors like: http://www.color-picker.de There should be something similar for Mac.

One aditional note.

It is not a common practice to define a corporate color in the Uncoated chart, but in the Coated one. If you can define a new similar color in the coated guide, in my opinion its better.

This of course depends on the main printed usage. If you print more in a coated or uncoated paper. But it is easier to controll color on coated papers.

  • 1
    Also note it makes little sense to have a CMYK value of XXX unless you specify in what color space that color is defined in. The CMYK color does not need to change if you include that info! Without that info its meaningless. Same applies to RGB but you can just assume sRGB instead
    – joojaa
    May 29, 2015 at 4:25

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