How to Define Color for Nameplates and Labels

colorful aluminum nameplates and plastic labelsColor Specifying for Product Identification

There is no shortage of information on the topic of specifying color. Plug the term into Google, and you will find pages of terminology, guidelines, and tips designed to help users manage and define color. While it is exciting to see the plethora of information on specifying color today, it can also be somewhat overwhelming to process and difficult to translate across substrates for your product.

Check out this summary on specifying color. More information can be found in the eBook Guide to Color Specifying for Product Identification. The focus is on aluminum but many points can be carried across other substrates used in nameplates and labels such as stainless steel and plastics.

Define Your Target Color

Color specifying begins with the definition of a master or target color. There are several options for communicating the information across suppliers. The most common method used is the use of a mass-produced, categorized color system such as the Pantone Matching System, or PMS Book. A second method is the use of an existing color sample on basically any substrate. The least used option is a verbal or written description, since it is the most subjective.

Define Your Substrate

The base substrate a color is printed on affects the character of ink and thus the ink formulation may need to be adjusted. The same ink printed on bright and brushed aluminum may appear slightly different in color. This is why it is important to understand up front how a color will be used.

Types of aluminum finishes available as a base for color development include bright aluminum, mill finish, and brushed aluminum. Additional options in mechanical finishes include engine turn and engine striped aluminum. In addition, the design of a nameplate may require development over a color such as black or white.

Is the Color for Graphics or Background?

This may seem like a trivial question. Understanding how color will be used is critical for the color development. This question determines which printing process will be used as well as the order that the colors are laid down in production of your nameplate.

Define Your Gloss Level

The gloss level is often overlooked. Colors can look quite different when the gloss level is changed. High gloss normally makes a color somewhat darker. Low gloss normally lightens a color. A sample part or submission of a gloss target may be required.

Opaque, Transparent Tint or Metallic Color

Just like gloss level and mechanical finishes can impact the appearance of color, there are categories of color which should be called out. Define whether you want your color to be opaque, a transparent tint or metallic

The naturally reflective surface of aluminum makes it a natural choice for using transparent tints of color to take advantage of the metal substrate. When combined with standard opaque or solid colors they create eye-catching results. Metallics, colors which are developed with a metal flake, add to the possible color combinations.

End Use and Specifications

Exposure to the elements or changes in temperature make a difference for the type of ink and its protective top coat that is used. The more detail that can be provided during color development the better. 

Attractive Nameplates and Labels

Communication of your design intent is key in order to achieve the attractive nameplate or label that your brand identity deserves. Color is one way to add interest as well as carry over your color scheme for the end product into the branding efforts.

How will you use color for your next project? Let's talk!

color guide, aluminum decoration options, color options on aluminum

Subscribe to Nameplate Blog



Subscribe to Nameplate Blog

Request A Quote

see all

Namplate Samples, Aluminum Nameplates, Plastic Labels