What color format should be used to create a logo: CMYK or RGB? (It would be used for both printing and for screen)

  • 3
    You tagged this both color and color-spaces. You should be aware that CMYK and RGB are color modes, not color spaces. You’ll want to be aware of what color spaces are (if you are not already) and use them correctly. If you don’t, then when you see your logo rendered on another computer screen or in print the colors may be dramatically different. Your RGB product should be delivered in the standard sRGB color space. Feb 3, 2016 at 11:16

6 Answers 6


You should supply both.

Ideally you should supply screen and print versions in RGB and CMYK and in vector and bitmap formats.

It completely depends on the situation and requirements but an example of formats to be delivered could be something like;

  • JPG (RGB - high res & low res)
  • PNG (RGB with transparency - high res & low res)
  • SVG (RGB)
  • PDF - (CMYK)
  • EPS - (CMYK)
  • AI - (CMYK)

There will normally be variation as well (e.g. Full color, black & white, with/without text etc) and there could be spot colors to take in to account and any specific format requests.

  • 2
    I agree with everything here except delivering in JPEG. The thing with JPEG is that it is a photo format, not a graphics format, and it is an output format, not a master format. When you deliver a logo in JPEG, my experience has been that somebody at the client will use it as a master and you will later see a logo on their website or even print materials that is all blocky and has no transparency. If you give them just a PNG and SVG then they have less of a chance to fail. Keep in mind that we think of these formats as old friends but clients only recognize JPEG and use it for everything. Feb 3, 2016 at 11:20
  • 4
    In an ideal world, yes, I agree with you, and getting clients to use the correct format is definitely a struggle! JPG had become ubiquitous though and guaranteed the client will ask for a JPG at some point if you don't supply it. As I said, it depends on the situation and what you and the client is happy with
    – Cai
    Feb 3, 2016 at 11:38
  • I provide jpg (and gif) only because clients expect to see them. That's all.
    – Scott
    Sep 29, 2016 at 21:27

Some notes:

First of all RGB and CMYK are not standarized values.

I always mention one fast exercise.

Take a cyan watermark and draw a line on a newspaper and on a good quality magazine.

You will have a bright color on the magazine but a dark color on the newspaper. The ink is exactly the same, but the color is totally diferent.

A color profile, besides giving you the ink values (Cyan on this case) gives you the standarized conditions on where that amount of ink will be.

You do not define a cmyk or rgb value without a color profile.

So you first need to define a color profile and after that define a cmyk or rgb color.

The original question

What color format should be used to create a logo...

This will depend on the main aplication. If it is a web based logo, with only some ocasional printed aplications you could go for an RGB based image. But keep in mind that the printed version could look dull.

But if printing is important you define a CMYK color first, then for the RGB aplication you know you can't use veeery bright colors.

Normally you use a coated color profile to design. They are brighter than uncoated.

Or use some spot colors

In theory theese are more standarized colors. If your base logo has not gradients, but solid colors it is a safe bet. The drawback is that you have a more limited palete.

Brand manual

Normally you do not provide just a isolated file.

You should prepare some basic brand manual where you include not only the base files, but some adaptations.

Black and white? Only white as negative? Usage on bright white? usage with colour background?

You need to adapt thepending on the aplication.

A direct RGB red to CMYK could give for example some like this: C0M95Y92K0

There is nothing that stop you to define that CMYK value as C0M100Y100K0.

So at the end you need to design in a more integral way.

So in this manual yes, now you should include some files, some in rgb with the correct profile, some cmyk, with the correct profile, if you used it the pantone values.

  • +1 for the watermark analogy alone. That is a great way to explain dot gain!
    – Vincent
    Sep 30, 2016 at 8:45

In designing a logo, you should always start with CMYK. The reason being that CMYK has a smaller colour gamut than that of RGB.

The reasoning behind this is that when you are converting from CMYK to RGB to provide the logo for screen (eg. websites), the colours would have an unnoticeable shift in colour, if any.

On the other hand, if you start creating the logo in RGB, and then convert to CMYK for printing purposes, such as a commercial printing press, you are more likely to have a colour shift that is very noticeable, compared to the original.

In regards to the format of the logo, it is advised to create it in vector format. This will allow you to alter the size without affecting quality.

Bitmap is all about pixels, and as you enlarge it, it tends to try to fit additional pixels to fill in the gaps (sort of breaking each pixel into smaller pixels as you enlarge it). This process may degrade the logo.

Vector, on the other hand, is a filled shape; as it gets larger, it maintains the same look.

Now, whatever the format that you will end up using is only a bi-product. Your initial step should always be vector CMYK.

Final thought: Having a vector CMYK logo provides for an extended array of possible conversions without affecting quality or colour.


It should be CMYK and some prefer the use of Pantone colors to accurately convey the colors you intend to use in the logo.

The reason why it should be CMYK is that RGB has a much larger array of brighter colors, which when printed will not come out the same.

Short answer, CMYK or Pantone spot colors.

  • This answer might have been correct 10–20 years ago, but if you design a logo today, it is going to be seen the majority of the time in RGB. To avoid someone who is unskilled doing the conversions, you definitely want to supply both RGB and CMYK if the spec calls for both screen and print use, as it does in this example. Feb 3, 2016 at 11:13
  • 1
    When I do a logo for large company, that logo will most likely see a ton of print use. Maybe if you are doing a web based business you might want to start with RGB, but a ton of companies' brands are still heavily represented in print.
    – zachzurn
    Feb 3, 2016 at 17:01
  • 1
    The answer is short, but acurate. "Avoid someone who is unskilled doing conversions" it is a diferent topic. The question is about designing a logo. Yes you can also provide a rgb version.
    – Rafael
    Feb 3, 2016 at 17:36

RGB is for web but CMYK is for printing & t-shirt printing

if you post cmyk to web it will convert to rgb and (or the opposite) look bad and poor colors

also rgb work with (jpg & png & svg) but on the other hand cmyk is for (eps & pdf & ai)

so if you create logo to post it to the web (website,facebook page,etc)use rgb

but if you want to create it to print it on t shirt on submit it to brochures posters etc and print use CMYK

I hope i helped you


Short answer: RGB. Unlike CMYK, RGB is standard (as far as I'm aware) across all displays. When you send the logo to be printed, they'll be able to fiddle with the CMYK colors until it matches closely enough.

  • RGB is standard for screen and web, but the standard for printing is CMYK. My question is why would he create something in RGB then send it to have someone else "fiddle" with it to match a CMYK equivalent? Doesn't make any sense.
    – elrayyes
    Feb 3, 2016 at 19:59

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