Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Add Order and Finesse with Versatile Binding Solutions

Your home wouldn’t be complete without the paint, and print projects also come alive when you add beautiful finishes.


Binding is a necessary step for compiling multi-page documents, and you have many options to work with. Here is a quick reference guide of several formats that might be a good fit for your project.


Case Binding


Case binding attaches a hardboard book cover to a bound set of pages.


Case binding is timeless, classy, and typically requires around 60 pages (approximately 1/8 inch) of content. Since the hardcover makes the binding so sturdy, case binding is ideal for documents that will be handled frequently and need to hold up over time. While this method offers immense durability, it is usually the most time-consuming and expensive process.


In case binding, using an adhesively bound – or hinged – cover with a flexible joint can allow your book to open without breaking the spine. (Hinged covers are scored 1/8 inch from the spine, so books can open more easily.) 


Coil Binding


Coil binding uses a piece of spiraled plastic or wire (looped through a series of punched holes) to hold the finished book together.


Also called spiral binding, this format allows a book to be laid flat when opened or even folded over onto itself. This is a wonderful binding option for reports, instruction manuals, cookbooks, calendars, and other items that need both flexibility and the ability to stay open. Spiraled binding comes in over 60 different colors that can be matched to your cover art or brand colors, so the project really pops.


Alternatives include wire-o binding (which uses a double set of wire loops instead of a single spiral) or even several gorgeous fabric options, like those used in Japanese ribbon binding.


Perfect Binding


Perfect binds secure papers together at the spine using glue that attaches them to a wraparound cover.


This is the preferred binding method for most paperback books because perfect binding is a lightweight, cost-effective option for large volume booklets. A variation is lay-flat binding, which allows publications to open completely flat across a centerfold, so images can run across both halves of the spread with minimal disruption.


Plastic Comb Binding


Plastic comb binding is the most common of the punch and bind styles.


Comb-bound documents are cost-efficient and easy to edit and can be reused as many times as you need. Combs come in many different colors and are capable of binding even very thick documents. And they can be customized! Add your document title, company name, or quick reference handle to the comb spine to make your binding more professional.


If resilience is a priority, remember the teeth of a plastic comb tend to break over time.


Post Binding


This mechanical binding process inserts metal or plastic posts through punched or drilled holes in pages to hold them together.


One advantage of post binding is it allows pages to be added (and the post extended) as the size of a publication increases. And the screws or spikes used bring a sleek, polished feel to your piece. 


An alternative to post binding is Velo binding, which applies heat to two plastic binding strips, so the spine cannot be opened and re-closed without a Velobind machine. Velo binding cannot be tampered with or easily photocopied, so this is an excellent option for sensitive legal or financial documents.


Binding methods vary and can be uniquely tailored to the design specifications of your project. Add order and finesse with this beautiful finishing touch.

Friday, April 16, 2021

How the Best Leaders Embrace a Results-Based Perspective

More than 40 years ago, Dale Miller conducted a study that compared two groups of executives.


One group was identified by their colleagues as highly effective and ready for promotion. Individuals in the other group initially seemed promising but were later deemed unready for an advanced role.


During evaluation, each group received a deck of 62 statements describing management behavior and was asked to sort the statements on most effective versus least effective leadership qualities. After the first group finished sorting, the top behavior they selected was this: “accepts full responsibility for the performance of the work unit.” This phrase was chosen above delegation, staffing, time-management, or even technical skills.


The primary difference between these groups? Those primed for high-level leadership took full ownership over the team, its cohesiveness, and final project outcomes.


Practical Ways to Practice Personal Responsibility


“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” — Theodore Roosevelt


Many people who enter management are willing to accept the benefits of their position without fully embracing the pain points of this role.


Modern society often views leadership as self-serving, with the needs and desires of the individual taking priority over those of the team. But effective leadership primarily benefits the followers, not the leader. People who put the team’s needs above their own will achieve maximum influence and increase efficiency and effectiveness in their organization.


What does it look like to embrace a results-based perspective in your leadership? Ultimately, this starts with a mindset that says, “I am the person who must make this happen.” This goes beyond merely completing a task to a wholehearted commitment to the company’s best interests, including doing things for which there is no immediate reward. Do you turn off the lights if you are the last one in the building, or do you assume the custodian will do this? Responsible leaders use organizational resources with great care; they take the long view and see their own well-being as intrinsically linked to this organization’s success.


On a tangible, daily level, here are several ways successful leaders take personal responsibility:


-- Asking, “how can I help?” instead of “what does that have to do with me?”


-- Sharing credit when things go well but acknowledging personal shortcomings when a team fails


-- Proactively seeking honest feedback about personal performance


-- Acting as a buffer to protect the team from unreasonable demands on time, resources, or output


-- Delegating tasks (using clear job descriptions) while avoiding the temptation to micromanage


-- Being willing to forego being one of the group (or everyone’s “buddy”) to accept the social stigma of leadership


-- Encouraging people to take responsibility for their own roles by highlighting the importance of what they are doing and how these efforts tie into the bigger picture


-- Breaking large ventures into small steps, so people feel proud of their progress (rather than overwhelmed by the magnitude of a project)


-- Ensuring team members have the resources needed to do their job (including training, equipment, access to mentors and coaches, etc.)


-- Documenting poor outcomes and intentionally communicating them to struggling team members so positive changes (or eventual termination) can occur


Empower Yourself and Encourage Others


While taking responsibility can be difficult, it is also empowering.


Pursuing this results-based mindset allows you to take ownership over a situation and avoid feeling like a victim. When you take ownership over your role in every situation, you become an active participant, not a passive bystander. You are a trustee of these intangibles, and this empowering attitude helps others move forward in vitality – even when they’ve forgotten how to believe in themselves.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

3 Ways to Create Pictures that Pop

Have you ever heard the expression, “a picture paints a thousand words?”


It’s true. While words can limit our ability to effectively communicate ideas, even a split-second glance at an image can convey volumes of information. Whether you’re a marketer or design specialist, it is important to employ tactics that add power and clarity to your communication.


Creating Dynamic Images with a Singular Focus


Experienced graphic artists have many tricks of the trade. Some like to blur the background of an image to draw central focus to one element. Others add texture to flat graphics by adding bevels, text shadows, or blended layers.


But on an even more conceptual level, you can communicate boldly and clearly with signs and symbols. Looking to simplify – while adding complexity? Here three techniques you can experiment with in print marketing to amplify your visual messages:


Signs


On a basic level, signs are the combination of a word and a picture to create meaning.


What comes to your mind when you see a bright yellow triangle, an image of a dog with a slash through it, or a photo of a distressed person clutching their neck with two hands? Signs convey simple, universal ideas that viewers can understand immediately. Even colors themselves can have inherent meaning!


Like a cross and skull poison symbol, signs can stop people in their tracks. Signs are especially helpful when communicating with mass audiences at a glance.


Typograms


A typogram refers to the deliberate use of typography to express an idea visually.


For example, the word “half” displayed with only the top half of each letter showing might imply an eraser effect. The word “volleyball” with the “o” popping out above the text brings a playful, spirited message. Want inspiration? Check out this 365-day challenge, where Daniel Carlmatz created a typographic logo for every day of the year!


Typograms use basic visual enforcement to add subtext to the words you display. Logos, taglines, or custom envelopes are a great place to put typograms to work.


Symbolic Imagery


While signs communicate a very straightforward message, many images have connotative meanings with far more complexity.


While a house denotes a place where you live, a home has far greater connotations (like family, security, and love). A subject, the objects surrounding it, and the editing techniques we use can all play a role in the cognitive messages we bring. Consider these examples:



  • Cropping a woman’s face to only the eye can make viewers wonder what she is thinking

  • Cropping a man’s body to only his head and shoulders may suggest he’s leaning in to hear more

  • Inverting colors may insinuate a flashback scene or a memory

  • Increasing contrast between the back and foregrounds might suggest the object behind a person is about to surprise them

  • Larger contrasts or color saturation can elicit feelings or arousal or cheerfulness

  • Increased sepia tones can give an aged or vintage look (like a photo carried in wallet)

Add Clarity and Complexity to Communicate on Many Different Levels


While language can limit our ideas, an image communicates on many different levels. Proficient designers know the more clarity or complexity you bring to your print pieces, the greater impact you will have on your target audience.


Use signs, typograms, and symbolic imagery to add emotional weight, to increase the efficiency of your communication, and achieve a greater return from your marketing dollars.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Creating a Substantial Visual Impact Through Corporate Responsibility Campaigns

In a post-pandemic world, marketers are tasked with a unique balancing act: helping people return to reality while remaining sensitive to the challenges of this era.


Today’s consumers appreciate businesses that prioritize people over products. Research by consumer authority Mintel has shown that as many as 56% of Americans will stop buying from brands they believe are unethical. Additionally, in a global survey, 91% of consumers reported they were likely to switch to a brand that supports a good cause, given similar price and quality. 


Corporate responsibility, or cause marketing, occurs when a company’s promotional campaign has a dual purpose of increasing profitability while bettering society. Or, more colloquially: cause marketing occurs when a brand does well by doing good.


Visual campaigns are potent, and they are even more compelling when combined with a social initiative of some sort. Here are three dynamic examples.


Cadbury’s “Donate Your Words” Campaign


In the United Kingdom, 225,000 older people often go a week without speaking to anyone.


During the pronounced isolation of COVID-19, Cadbury chocolates launched an initiative to benefit Age UK, the country’s leading charity dedicated to providing companionship, advice, and support for older individuals.


In a stark visual, Cadbury removed all lettering from the front of its dark purple packaging and replaced it with a blank tag: instead of a price, there was a pledge to talk to an older person. Blank pledge tags were also available for customers who wanted to write personalized pledges. Shoppers could take any display item to the till, but instead of paying money they could pledge to talk to an older person.


Cadbury donated its chocolate and challenged a nation to donate its words.


American Express and Small Business Saturday


Did you know that the original founder of Small Business Saturday was American Express?


Without a non-profit partner, American Express embraced entire communities by encouraging consumers to shop local and support the mom and pop stores in their own neighborhoods (presumably while using an American Express card to do so!).


Launched in 2010, local profits leaped from $14.3 billion in 2014 to $19.8 billion in 2020. Key to this success was visual marketing; to equip local businesses, American Express designed creative pieces like signage, social posts, scavenger hunt maps, recipe sheets, and themed passports to support their “Neighborhood Champions”—men and women that vowed to formally celebrate Small Business Saturday in their areas.


A Meaningful, Memorable Message


Consumers want to see positive change in the world and when your brand can be part of it, the emotional impact of your marketing will ratchet up.


Choose your cause wisely, listen to your audience, and lean in to the power of print marketing to put your message front and center. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

How to Prepare Large-Format Projects for Print

When you want to flaunt your finest, large-format printing can make an oversized impact!


Large-format printing includes products printed at a length of 18-100 inches with a minimum width of 60 inches. Some of the most popular items include posters, window graphics, yard signs, vehicle wraps, vinyl banners, media backdrops, and more.


While large-scale graphics are stunning, these projects require special preparation, so these images remain vibrant and sharp when stretched to larger-than-life proportions.


If you plan to go BIG, here are some factors to consider.


Communicate from the Start


When diving in on a large-scale printing, create a detailed brief and use this to speak to your printer as early as possible.


Try to include everything from the size, design, materials, and deadlines. Your printer will work with you to be sure your ideas are achievable, and the timeline is realistic.


Set Appropriate Image Specifications


As you connect with a printer, be sure your images match the required specifications.


Pixels per inch (or PPI) is the standard measurement for image resolution. PPI refers to the density of pixels per square inch of space they occupy. The higher the PPI, the sharper your image will appear as a large-format graphic. As a general rule, most commercially printed materials require at least 300 PPI.


The viewing distance required for your project can be a factor in selecting the appropriate specs.


Select Clear and Legible Fonts


Since most large-format products are meant to be viewed from a distance, fonts are a big deal.


Usually, sans-serif fonts are easier to read than script or serif fonts. Fonts that are too bold or have wide spacing between letters are also very difficult to read when viewed from afar. To check your font’s legibility, take a few steps back from your computer and evaluate from a different perspective.


Limit the number of fonts you use, and don’t crowd the design!


Choose Your File Formats


There are generally two file types in large-format printing: EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) and TIFF (Tagged Image File Format).


EPS – such as .eps or .ai files – can contain both text and graphics and are a better option for vector images, which use algorithms to increase an image size (rather than pixels), which preserve image quality when scaled up.


TIFF files are best for high-quality graphics, with color depths ranging from 1 to 24 bits. They can also support special Adobe features like layering and transparency.


Not sure which format is best? Your printer can help and may even have software presets they can send you in advance. No matter which file type you select, don’t flatten the original file before sending it to print. Keep an editable file to make the design and printing process easier!


Get Color Samples


Did you know there are two primary ways of displaying colors?


Anything designed for a screen – such as digital banners or a website – uses an RGB (red, green, blue) color model, while printed materials use CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). RGB looks great on a screen but can look dull when printed, so you can save yourself extra hassle by converting your design file color to CMYK before you begin. If you haven’t, double-check with your printer about how to proceed from where you’re at.


Amplify Your Voice


Large-format printing offers huge promotional potential for your business.


But it can be a big investment, which is why it’s important to get things right the first time. Whatever your large-format printing needs, our experienced team can help! Whether you’re looking to build brand identity or bring curb appeal to your business, upgrade your customer experience with magnificent large-scale visuals.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Add Unity to Your Design with Clever Repetitive Elements

Do you ever find pleasure in the chiming of a grandfather clock or in honking geese as they migrate for the winter?


Repetition is therapeutic.


Rituals provide structure and something to hold on to, and they free us from the tyranny of choices and chaos. Repetition can help complicated pieces of music, movies, or books reveal the depths of their richness. And repetition in design adds consistency, beauty, and unity.


Strong designs repeat some aspect or element throughout the entire piece. The recurring element may be a bold font, a thick line, a snappy bullet icon, a repeating color or page layout, or anything that a reader will visually recognize.


From business cards to complex multi-page booklets, subtle repetition is a visual cue that ties every piece together. Want to be more intentional in your repetitive elements? Here are some options to try:


Headlines and Subheads


All text starts somewhere, and text banners are a perfect way to add graphic unity.


Are all the headlines in your newsletter 14-point Times Bold? How about investing in a very bold sans serif and making all your heads something like 16-point Mikado Ultra? Take the repetition that’s already part of the project and elevate it, making it stronger and more dynamic.


This adds beauty to the page and anchors readers in a framework of ideas.


Rule Bars or Page Numbers


When creating multi-page publications, it should be perfectly obvious that pages 2 and 12 are part of the same piece.


Beyond similar layouts, adding simple elements like rule bars and page numbers can bring harmony to your design. Try a thick, heavy rule bar on the top of each page and a narrow bar of the same color at the bottom. Label your pages with more than just numbers; design these digits with heavy fonts, fun shadow boxes or slashes, or print them vertically by rotating them 90 degrees.


Recurring Shapes


Patterns are a pleasing way to add visual continuity to flyers, reports, or even product packaging. Here are three ideas:



  1. If you choose a branch as one of your central graphics, you might add smaller leaves throughout the document (as column markers, page number outlines, or bullet icons, for example).

  2. Add colored waves behind the text that repeat in variations of your color palette or in repeating style (like a freeform eggplant shape) throughout the document.

  3. Splatter your text across a subtle background of grid and dot patterns.


Playful Characters or Color Matching


Not everything needs to be serious!


Have a little fun by adding repetitive elements that have nothing to do with your page’s purpose. Add funky bird caricatures, petroglyph characters, or a toss of confetti. Borrow the colors in these images and match or complement them with handles in your text.


Feel free to add something completely new simply for the purpose of repetition!


Consistency Counts


Don’t underestimate the power of the visual interest of your pages.


The repetition of your work will eliminate chaos and add beauty to your work. Think of repetition as consistency, but push those existing patterns a bit farther. Can you turn some of your repetitive elements into a part of the conscious design strategy? Take a unifying graphic and create spinoffs of this concept to bring subtle accents to each page.


Sound time-consuming? It’s worth the effort! Repetition matters because when a piece looks more interesting, it is more likely to be read.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

4 Intelligent Ways to Combine Print and Digital Marketing

Imagine a college campus on a warm fall day, as freshmen are moving into the dorms for the first time.


There are loads of students buzzing around and getting settled. As they unpack and get their bearings in a new community, many realize they’ve forgotten a lamp or shelf to make their dorm room a bit cozier. No problem! A strategic, targeted digital ad whisks across their screen on move-in day.


Two days later, a mailed piece is sent featuring lamps, rugs, and closet accessories. This venue's campaign (a combination of digital and print marketing) snags interest in a fleeting moment then follows this digital hook with a more robust mailed piece.


The Successful Marriage of Digital and Print


Print marketing is powerful. Digital marketing is powerful. When you combine them... well, the result is dynamic.  


Want to create a more strategic relationship between your print and digital marketing efforts? Here are four strategies to build momentum:


1. Create Distinct Online Landing Pages


Online landing pages can be created specifically for promotion through your print ad (for example, see Uber’s landing page targeting new riders here).


While your website homepage typically offers an introduction to your business, a promotional landing page is slightly different. A landing page:


--Is designed to receive traffic from specific sources


--Prompts visitors to take one well-defined action


--Stays focused on a single topic or offer


--Omits or downplays site navigation options


Beyond using narrow landing pages to evaluate your print marketing, you can also record general web traffic during a campaign to note whether a spike in visits may indicate a particular ad’s effectiveness.


2. Use Digital Opt-ins for Direct Mail


Instead of asking someone to sign up for your email campaign the next time they visit your website, why not ask them to sign up for a direct mail newsletter?


Unlike email (which can easily go straight to a junk folder), a direct mail campaign engages people through tactile, memorable, physical marketing pieces. There’s something special about receiving a thoughtful newsletter or meandering through a well-designed catalog.


Instead of opting toward email, build stronger connections with your customers outside the screen.


3. Combine In-Store and Social Displays


Live events provide great opportunities to build strong relationships with customers – particularly in our experience-driven culture.


At your next event, distribute valuable coupons or great giveaway items after advertising through social media ahead of time. Post fun selfie displays (like clever photobooths or imaginative backgrounds) that people can post using event-specific hashtags. Or give gift cards and freebies to those who check in at your kiosk and follow you on social media.


4. Add QR Codes to Your Direct Mail, Brochures, and Displays


Today QR Codes (those funny-looking square boxes that look like over-sized bar codes) have many uses, including marketing, product labeling, ticketing, and more.


QR codes can be used as a compact way to deliver loads of information, and you can use one in any situation where you want to send people to a specific website. Add QR codes to your brochures, direct mail, business cards, in-store displays, or even to customized client birthday cards.


This lead generator can be used to push a new promotion, link to an instructional video, solicit reviews, incentivize subscription renewals, or prompt people to download your app. 


Customers on the Move


As people hop between on- and offline worlds, businesses must provide an increasingly cohesive, personalized experience.


Combining your print and digital marketing can build momentum while providing users a streamlined customer experience. Employ this customer-oriented strategy to ensure your brand receives a multi-fold return on your marketing investment.