If you were Cadburys Marketing Manager you would understand the importance of a true representation on your famous purple. That luxurious silky purple (even before the metallic finish) on those little bars of loveliness is instantly recognisable as a brand asset.

So when you come to print a booklet for visitors to Cadbury World you want to be sure that purple printed in different surfaces reflects that very same purple you are renowned for. That is why you would choose Spot colour.

Spot colour is a process of matching the colour needed by mixing up the inks before printing. This can be done through the use of Pantone colours, using a scanner or by eye for truly bespoke colours.

Pantone is a company that provide colour systems for the selection and accurate communication of colour. They work with all industries to make sure colours are standardised worldwide from designer to manufacturer. Printer can use Pantone colour guides to match a colour and mix the ink by hand to the recipe Pantone provide.

If you have ever been in Bunnings you may have come across the paint mixing. You could take in a cushion or throw, they scan it and recreate the exact colour in paint starting with a white base. This is essentially the same process for capturing the spot colour required to then mix the inks for printing.


Once the spot colour has been identified it is a case of getting this on to a separate plate for printing. It is not uncommon to see a process colour print job needing additional spot colour printing.

For example here’s a hypothetical scenario: A big company such a ‘Virgin’ when producing a company brochure full of images may require the Virgin red colour to be printed in ‘spot colour’ It could be printed in full colour process but if it was so specific (and we know Richard Branson has an eye for detail) then only spot colour printing would do. This spot colour would be added at the end of the full colour process, as most large printing presses have an additional ‘towers’ capable of printing the ‘spot’ or ‘special’ colours after the main run of CMYK process colours in one sweep.

Process colour, otherwise known as full colour, is a term general related to a lithographic process, although digital printing is also full colour using the CMYK technology. CMYK is a process of adding the colours Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (black is know as K as it’s the key colour) as separate inks through a four-process machine. Different amounts of each colour are added to make up other colours, totalling millions of colours and all this is achievable using varied size ink dots. These colours are added from separate rollers in one pass of the paper through the print machine, making it fast and cheap for larger quantities.

Process colour does produce excellent colours although they are not as accurate as the Spot colour process if you need something specific, like Cadbury Purple – this is the main difference comparing spot colour vs process colours.