With all the buzz about social media and online content marketing, it’s easy to get carried away with these trends. If you aren’t careful, you could end up blowing your budget on digital marketing with nothing left to use on print collateral. In reality, successful businesses integrate quality content into both print and digital campaigns. Check out these five essential marketing tips for using quality content with your print collateral:
1. Always Start with Quality Content
Successful small businesses understand the value of quality content in digital and print marketing efforts. Your small business needs to start with content that is compelling, relevant, and helpful in order to increase sales and brand loyalty. No matter what business marketing format you choose, keep in mind that consumers respond to quality content across the board.
2. Try Customer Magazines
Customer magazines give small businesses the opportunity to deliver quality, relevant content to a captive audience. Businesses have been using customer magazines for decades as a way to position themselves as an industry knowledge base and thought leader, but these types of publications have become even more popular in the past few years. Surprisingly, in an age that is seemingly flooded with digital content, consumers are still craving the tactile, tangible experience of magazines.
3. Revisit Mailers
While it’s easy to ignore an email or move it to the spam folder, most people take more time when going through their snail mail. For many consumers, print is perceived as more credible and also more important than electronic correspondence. If you take the time to send out more than just advertisements or sales flyers, consumers will respond positively.
4. Integrate QR Codes
QR codes are a great way to enrich your content as well as connect your print and digital presence. You will most likely find consumers who initially engage in print collateral are pleased to have such a convenient method to purchase your product online or connect with your social media campaign.
5. Leverage Print Collateral For Events
In-person events, trade shows, and conventions are all excellent opportunities to connect with consumers. You won’t be able to talk to every single person that passes through, but you can distribute print collateral. Visitors to these events are often hungry for information about new products. You can satisfy the curiosity of most visitors by having a wide variety of printed materials on hand.
Though the term “content marketing” usually refers to digital collateral, successful businesses have been using quality content to engage customers for many years. Regardless of the business marketing tactics you choose to utilize, don’t neglect your print campaign. Print content can be just as effective as digital content, if used correctly.
Printing is a multi-stage process. Your file will pass through multiple people and locations before you receive the printed product. It is possible that an error can occur during that time. Someone can miss a spelling mistake. The graphic designer might not have a properly calibrated computer display when choosing colors. Data can be corrupted when your files are sent back and forth to the designer and the printer. These issues can be a headache but don’t worry! They are all easily remedied by proofing!
A proof is simply a copy of your work that allows you to review for any possible mistakes or errors. Some proofs are electronic copies (usually PDF files). Other proofs are hard-copy samples of the final product sent to you for review before the rest of the work is printed. Here are three steps of the printing process that should include proofing:
1. Proofread after you write the copy!
Even the most detail-oriented person makes mistakes from time to time. When writing text for a print project, proofreading is an absolute must. Any spelling or grammatical errors could ruin the effectiveness and professionalism of the prints. Take your time when writing the copy and then take even more time to cautiously review your text. We suggest slowly reading aloud because you’re much more likely to notice errors in sentence structure that way.
2. Double check the designer’s work.
If you outsource the imagery and layout work to a graphic designer, always double check their work before sending the files to the printer. They may be a seasoned professional in the design industry but there is always room for human error. There’s also the possibility that they may not interpret your instructions as you had intended so it’s best to at least ask for a digital proof before moving forward.
3. Request a proof from your printer before the final production.
As a print company, we absolutely love the proofing process. It helps us to ensure that our work is solid and that our customers will be happy with their products. It’s just good business. We can send a PDF proof to show that your files transferred without any data loss and then provide a hard-copy proof so you know exactly what your end-result will be.
We strongly suggest that you request a proof for your next order because it is better to spend a little extra time (or money if necessary) in the beginning than to go through the lengthy and expensive reprinting process. Whether your prints are large or small, proofing is a great idea.
Packaging designs can dramatically increase the value and desirability of a product. Every year, new packaging trends emerge as consumers begin to favor certain design elements. Keeping up with these trends can help ensure your products stay in high demand. Here are 8 current packaging trends for 2013:
1. Clean designs and powerful fonts
Many companies are finding success by simplifying their designs. A less cluttered design sends a clear and bold message. This can be amplified by the use of vivid typography. Notice how the authors’ names command presence on the cologne bottles below.
2. Use the product as a design element
If your product already has visual appeal without packaging, there’s no reason to cover it up. Use transparent panels or partial packaging when appropriate to highlight the look of your product.
3. Find creative ways to incorporate product information into the design
Most products have necessary information that must be included on the packaging. These data elements are not always attractive on their own but some clever designers are finding unique ways to include them in the flow of the packaging art.
4. Create attractive packaging with low environmental impact
Using biodegradable materials including unbleached and recycled paper in your packaging is much better for the environment than the traditional plastic cases. Designing efficient packaging with less materials is also a great way to decrease environmental impact. The packaging below is a great example of both concepts.
5. Mix modern designs with natural elements for a stylish and memorable look
Industrial inspired designs are currently in high demand so it’s no surprise that these concepts have spread to packaging design. Your packaging can greatly benefit by juxtaposing deliberate and colorful designs with natural tones and textures (woods, metals, textile fibers). These type of packaging designs are often seen as luxury items because of their high-artistic value.
6. Create interactive packaging to add a fun and personable element to the product
Interactive packaging designs offer a fun way to build a relationship with consumers. These interactive elements are simple ways for the customer to personalize their purchased items or further connect with the company (through social media, surveys, or contests). The example below is a “Wine Kit” that lets the consumer vent their frustrations in an amusing sort of mad-lib while receiving a supporting statement from the company.
7. Use artisan-level packaging to boost the perceived value of your product
This type of packaging is usually costly but it can separate your product from the rest of the competition by adding an element of unique sophistication. Often, consumers will keep the packaging long after the product has been used because of its artistic value. This feature creates a whole new selling point for your products.
8. Incorporate multiple textures in the packaging to add tactile intrigue
An easy way to create “shelf-interest” is to increase the tactile qualities. Physical elements of packaging design can make consumers want to pick up your products off the shelf just to feel and examine the item. The benefit of this concept is that a consumer is more likely to purchase an item that they took the time to pick up vs. an item that they just glanced at as they walked by. The image below shows products that have multiple textures (matte foil, elegant papers, smooth glass, string, and cork).
Many amateur photographers start out using the JPEG converter on their camera. JPEG files are easy to work with and upload to editing programs with no problems. There’s a much better file format on most digital cameras that is worth some extra attention: RAW. RAW files are the most detailed files possible on your camera. They may take up extra space on memory cards and require a little extra processing before editing but the benefits they provide are worth the trouble. Here are the top three reasons to use your camera’s RAW setting:
1. RAW files contain all data from the camera sensor.
Take full advantage of your camera’s features by shooting in RAW. These files capture every detail of color, light, exposure, and sharpness that your camera’s sensor can pick up. Higher details in the image file gives you many more opportunities in the editing phase. Shooting pictures in JPEG format is simply a waste of that power.
2. RAW files record an incredible scale of brightness compared to JPEG files.
JPEG’s are stored in an 8-bit format and therefore can only represent 256 levels of brightness (levels from black to white). RAW files are stored in a 12-14 bit format which allows them to contain 4,096 to 16,384 levels of brightness. These sound like big impressive numbers, but what it really comes down to is how smooth the image will look after you’re done editing. 256 levels of brightness is not a bad number by any means. The human eye will perceive that as a smooth gradient. However, after any amount of intense editing, you are likely to see posterization (or banding) where noticeable lines form in gradients giving the image an unpleasant and cartoon-like look. RAW files provide enough detail to allow for heavy editing without worrying about banding.
3. RAW files can correct color and exposure problems.
You can’t always take photos in the best conditions. You also don’t always have the time to carefully plan the optimal camera settings for each photo. Sometimes you wind up with over/under-exposed photos or photos with over/under-saturated colors. The high detail in RAW files allows you to make the extreme corrections necessary to remedy many of these problems without losing an essential amount of data. The end result will still look natural to the human eye. JPEG files don’t contain enough data to safely make these edits which could result in a lot of great photos ruined.
The setup and editing may take a bit longer but working with RAW files is definitely worth the effort. Give it a try on your next photo shoot and see what a difference it makes!
Typography is an incredibly expressive art form. The shape, size, direction, and color of the font can radically alter the meaning of a phrase. These factors can help the visual flow of a design as well as assign a mood to the piece. Here are 10 impressive examples of typography designs:
1. Mr. White’s Fav Type
The blue waves, clean white lines, and hook-like points give this font a very nautical atmosphere. The phrase seems like a playful characterization of the shark (Mr. White – Great White).
2. The slanted and sharp cornered font is bold. The triangle designs and the almost monochrome color scheme in the background adds a heavy atmosphere. The result is a definitive and punchy statement.
3. The elongated lines in the text and the heavy shadows falling in this image give a very ominous feeling. The red adds a sinister vibe to the statement as well.
4. Each letter is represented by a set of repair tools which illustrates the content of the phrase in a fun and playful way.
5. The black-and-white image of the Panda against a black background offers striking contrast. The letters detailed into the fur are clever without being intrusive.
6. Quite the opposite from the last image, the text almost entirely composes the main character in the image. It’s impossible to notice the design without reading the text but the result is cool and calculated.
7. The shaky and huge font provides a humorous form of visual shouting. It’s hard to read this without imagining someone yelling it.
8. The neon theme against a brick wall is definitely a classy look. The soft glow from the lights is very pleasant while the skewed text and playful font style keeps up the energy.
9. The lines, reflections, and perspective make this a very stylish image. The typography is powerful enough to stand on it’s own without other design elements in the background.
10. The clever use of raised lines gives this image an active feeling. The fluid lines between the letters gives a cascading motion to the image as well.
There are so many options to chose from when beginning a print project: size, color, paper stock, texture, ink type, ink effects, offset / digital, folding, binding, etc.! It can be very difficult to decide what combination is best for your project. If you’re stuck and can’t decide what to do yet, just research some print inspiration. With a quick Google search, you will find some really amazing examples of artistic and professional-looking printed products. Hopefully one of these ideas will embody what you’re hoping to achieve with your own product. Even if you don’t find an example that matches your exact designs, the examples are great inspiration to get you to think creatively and arrive at the perfect way to print your project.
Below are 10 beautiful examples of inspiring print products that successfully utilize neutral tones and natural elements. Take time to notice the fine details of each and determine what factors of each piece stands out most to you.
Hopefully these inspiring prints were just what you needed to bring your print project to life. Contact United Reprographics to get started!
The stock brushes that come with Adobe Photoshop are useful and well-designed but they don’t work for every application. Have no fear! It’s easy to create your own custom brushes that are perfect for your projects. Here is a quick 10 step Photoshop tutorial to show you how:
Open a new Photoshop document. For this project, create a page that’s 2000 x 2000 pixels at 100 pixels per inch. You will be creating a custom brush so you want to make sure you give yourself plenty of room for detail so that you have the option to use this brush for any size of project. Small brush sizes look blurry on large design projects so avoid starting small here. Click “Ok” when you’re done setting up the parameters.
Next, use the pen tool to draw a shape. It doesn’t have to be very complicated at all. In fact, the simpler the design, the better your brush will look down the line. In the example below, I activated the grid which helps if you want to make sure your design is symmetrical. To activate the grid, go to View>Show>Grid. Be sure to also click View>Snap To>Grid so that your lines magnetically “snap” to the grid marks. Don’t feel obligated to use this design either. Get creative and have fun with it!
When you’ve finished your line(s), you’re ready to turn it from a path into actual pixels (a path is just a map to tell the program where you want your designs to show up).
*A quick tip – go to your brush icon on the sidebar and make sure your current brush is the right size and color for your design. The next step will rely on these settings. For this project, I chose a round brush at 7pt size and 100% hardness.
Create a new layer by clicking Layer>New Layer or by pressing Shift+Ctrl+N. With the Pen Tool selected, right-click on the path you’ve created and click the “Stroke Path” option.
A dialog box will appear asking what tool you want to use. Select “Brush” and click “Ok.”
After the previous step, you’ll notice that your path has been traced using the brush settings that you selected earlier. We will no longer need the path so feel free to hide or delete it. With the Rectangular Marquee Tool selected, highlight the entire design you created.
With the Move Tool selected, either grab the line and move it slightly press one of your arrow keys to select only the pixels used in your design.
Now that your design has been isolated, click Edit>Define Brush Preset.
Another dialog box will appear with a thumbnail of your new custom brush design. Select a name for your design and click “Ok.”
To test out your new custom brush, select the Ellipse Tool and draw a large circle in the middle of your page. You can hide your previous layer and create a new one to avoid having a cluttered page.
Click the drop-down arrow next to your brush settings at the top-left side of the page. Scroll down to find your new custom brush design and select it.
Go to Window>Brush or click the Brush Menu icon highlighted below. In this menu, you can alter the visual details of your brush. Change the direction if necessary to make sure your brush flows cleanly. I would also recommend opening the Shape Dynamics tab and changing the Angle Jitter control field to “Direction.” This will make your design turn with your line for a much more cohesive appearance. Try adjusting all the settings to familiarize yourself with the menu. Make sure you choose a size appropriate for your page since we made a large brush size to begin with. I scaled mine back to 302 for the example at the end.
When you’re happy with the way your new custom brush appears in the preview display, select your Pen Tool once more, right click your path, and click “Stroke Path.” The dialog box will appear again asking what tool you want to use. Select “Brush Tool” and click “Ok.”
Depending on how you created and set up your brush, you may have wound up with an interesting design like this. There’s no wrong or right way to do this. Just keep trying until you find one that works for your design projects. Thanks to the incredibly diverse options in the Brush Menu, each custom brush design can be used for an infinite number of purposes.
Have fun and enjoy using this process on your next design project!
Building a successful brand requires a coordinated effort. The goal is to secure a positive and lasting place in the minds of your target audience. “Brand consistency” is an important tool in these situations. This term refers to maintaining a uniform image and identity throughout your company and products. The consistency helps to keep your brand vivid and recognizable. The result of brand consistency is a cohesive and unified marketing front that gets real results. Here are 5 important aspects of branding consistency:
1. Consolidate your image and message.
Design a single logo that will translate well on a light or dark background. Pick a font that is unique and very legible. Write a catchy phrase that not only encompasses your brand mission, but is also concise, ambitious and difficult to forget. The product created in this step will determine the public perception of your brand so make sure your visuals and phrasing accurately represent your values.
2. Invest in branded communication tools.
An easy way to solidify your brand is to use a single source for your printed materials, especially your stationary package (custom letterhead, envelopes and business cards) and marketing materials (postcards, flyers, brochures, posters). Selecting a single printer for your entire organization will help ensure that your materials are printed using the correct ink and stock each time. Branded daily communication tools keep your concept fresh for customers as they receive your correspondence.
3. Develop a branded social media presence.
There is no doubt that social media has forever changed the way we handle business. Social media has the power to make or break many modern companies. Establish your brand presence online to give your business a voice and a clear position in the online chatter about your company. Make sure you jump into social media soon enough to acquire a user name that reflects your brand and make sure your logo is flexible enough to be noteworthy in the square shape that is used for most social media postings.
4. Power your branded documents using web-to-print document sourcing.
By working with your printing company to create online templates and pre-defined print specifications within a web-to-print portal, you can ensure that your documents always meet your brand standards. Eliminate the opportunity for renegade employees to change your logo color or typeset your company name in their favorite font by giving them the opportunity to easily order their printed materials through an online corporate print shop where they can edit the information you want them to be able to change, but cannot change the document features that have been established by the marketing department, such as colors, fonts, headlines, and images. By using a web-to-print storefront, you can be confident that employees are using the correct logo and style guide selections, ensuring that your brand remains consistent with all employee publications and communications.
5. Build up branded “infrastructure.”
Items like car wraps, window clings, floor decals, and large format banners take your brand beyond day-to-day communication. They establish a physical presence for your brand within your local community or even within your own building. This helps to create a positive brand experience for your employees and customers.