The Risk of Over Designing

IN GRAPHIC DESIGN, LESS REALLY IS MORE

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Simplicity is often seen, but it’s a concept that is not easily explained. For some graphic designers, it’s second nature. For others, it involves much forethought. Today’s designers are trending toward more simple, clutter-free designs, as they return to simplicity. Here are some examples of how the traditional theme of less is more is used:

Advertising
Not only can simple ads grab attention, but their short and to the point messages are also easier to comprehend. The concept of “less is more” is especially effective when writing ad copy.

Catalogs and Brochures
Catalogs and brochures are expected to be a vast source of information, yet readers appreciate when they are simplified, organized, and easy to read and comprehend. Simplicity is often its own reward since it encourages increased use.

Packaging
Like a poster, a package needs to attract the eye within seconds of its initial viewing. In recent years, shelves have been jammed with products whose designers have attempted to out-design one another. This gives simple package designs featuring primary colors, bold copy, white space, and clean design the ability to effectively break through the clutter.

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Identity
Not only do logos convey the personality of a company, but they also offer a memorable impression. Simple designs that incorporate a company’s complex ideas are the root of a logo’s power.

One of the perks of being a designer is the ability to develop a personality or character for a company or product. For designers, simplicity means a return to basics, but not at the expense of creative design.

Take a Lesson from Disney

BE OUR GUEST

If you visit any one of the Disney Corporation’s facilities, you have experienced a phenomenon they call “Onstage and Backstage.” It’s quite a simple concept, and one that Disney has definitely perfected. The “Onstage” area refers to anywhere that guests may roam freely, while “Backstage” is where the cast members (employees) travel from one part of the park to another, take “Disney-free” breaks, and get into costume. For Disney, the separation between onstage and backstage is essential in maintaining the magical feel of their facilities.

Your company most likely has a similar onstage (customer area) and backstage (production area) structure. And while your employees may not use your “backstage” area to don their Mickey or Minnie Mouse costumes, there are things that go on behind the scenes that most of your customers are not privileged to see.

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That is, of course, unless you offer to take your customers on a tour of your facility. At most Disney facilities, visitors can take a ride backstage to see some of the inner workings of the magical world. The same can be done at your business. Allowing your customers a peek at the inner workings of your company and introducing them to your staff will improve your relationship with them. And, showing them any impressive machinery or workflow systems you have in place will increase their confidence in the work you do for them.

Take a lesson from the Disney Corporation and see what kind of response you get from offering backstage tours of your company. You may be surprised to see how many people would be interested in getting to know your company better, and the effect their knowledge can have on furthering your relationship with them.

Nourish Creativity with a Visual Diary

NOURISH YOUR CREATIVITY

Long, drawn-out projects with endless stages and countless revisions can be emotionally and creatively draining. Recharge your creative stores by taking a bit of time every day for pure, no-external-obligation artistic and design endeavors. A visual diary keeps you creative by making a space where you design something new each day that’s just for you. Just as a written diary captures your thoughts in words, a visual diary is a place to record your thoughts in a graphical format. It provides a welcome break from your regular work routine and a place for inspiration.

Steps to Succeeding with a Visual Diary

It’s easier to begin if you set some parameters. Will you create something daily for a month? Do you prefer to have a theme or to free associate to create? Will you create a paper journal or put your work in a digital format?

Different mediums can inspire different results. For instance, some designers find that working in a graph paper composition book allows them to create well-proportioned designs.

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Whether you wish to do a small project a day or to dedicate time to your visual journal on three pre-set days a week, sticking to your commitment is important. Regularity is the key. Even 15 minutes a day freely creating can energize you for more in-depth and restricting projects.

Build daily entries into a series. When a subject, medium, or process excites you, explore it further in future entries. You may find that you create an impressive work over time. For instance, you can experiment with different ways to create motion in a graphic or make a typographical piece of art each day.

 

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Keep energized by sharing what you’re doing. Feedback feeds the creative soul. If you’re doing a paper journal, take it with you to gatherings to show friends what you’re working on. If your medium for the visual diary is digital, you can share it online through Facebook, Flickr, deviantART, or your own blog.

If you miss a day or two, don’t feel tempted to give up on the project altogether. Just pick up where you left off. Don’t feel you need to do extra entries to “catch up.” The idea is to make this a pleasant commitment.

When the month is over, look over what you’ve created and store the ideas for later. Your design journals can be a great source of inspiration. When it comes time to start a new design project for work, you may find a solution to design problems in your daily visual journal.

Making visual works for no purpose other than to create can help break up the tedium and stress of a professional creative life. Give yourself permission to create just for you for a short time each day. You’ll feel more engaged and better prepared in your professional work.

 

Preflighting: The Perfect Launch

COME FLY WITH ME

NASA has always understood the importance of a preflight checklist to ensure all systems are functional prior to launching its multi-billion dollar space missions. One small glitch can cost them more than they bargained for. The concept is similar with your printing projects. While your document may look snazzy on screen, you may not be able to see small issues with your fonts, colors, and images that can at worst, ruin your print project, or at least, make our production crew pull their hair out. For example, if a graphic has enough resolution to look great on screen, but not enough resolution to look as great in print, you might end up with something that looks more like the first image in the comparison below

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The best way to save our production crew’s hair and to come off looking like a pro is to preflight your documents and files before you hand them over. This will ensure there are no output issues. Luckily, Adobe InDesign has a built-in feature that allows you to preflight while you work by importing any required production rules (a.k.a. Profiles) and doing a few simple, quality checks.

To access the Preflight panel in InDesign, select Choose Window > Output > Preflight and make sure that “On” is selected and that your designated Profile is chosen. Equipped with super-hero powers, our team can help you come up with the perfect Preflight Profile for your work. This will allow you to check for output errors while you’re working. If you’ve already started working on your document, you may see a red light indicating one or more errors are present. At this point, you have 30 seconds to find them before your document self-destructs…kidding.

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What the error message indicates is that InDesign has just checked your document against the Preflight Profile and has noted some issues that need to be addressed so that your print project looks as fabulous on paper as it does on your screen. Some issues that the Preflight Basic Profile will check for include:

  • Missing fonts
  • Overset text
  • Missing graphics files
  • Low-resolution graphics

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    However, as we said before, you can import custom Profiles that will scan your document for customized issues that need to be addressed, like only using CMYK colors. Basically, anything that is specified in the Preflight Profile will be cross-checked against your document, allowing you to address output issues on the spot.

    We’d be happy to help you build the perfect Preflight Profiles that match our production workflow. Handing over a perfect and pristine file will not only keep your costs down and ensure a successful project; it will also make you a star in the eyes of our team.

 

5 Ways to Toot Your Own Horn

ONE, TWO, THREE, LOOK AT ME!

With the rise of email and digital marketing, you might be under the impression that print promotions are “dead,” but nothing could be further from the truth. Reach your interested customers who are staggering under the weight of spam emails and poorly-targeted digital advertising with an impactful and beautifully designed print promotion.

Rules of the Road

Whether you’re looking for a quick response to a particular promotion or your goal is to build interest over time with advertising, these key design rules will ensure that your message has the desired impact for your next project.

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition Sending out just one mailing piece will not provide you with the results that you would like. Instead, design a series of staggered, targeted promotions.

Make an Impact There’s no need for subtlety in advertising. Insert a clear call to action, or next step, for your customers within the design.

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Types of Promotions

No matter the promotion type, execution is critical. Poorly-presented type or design could ruin an otherwise clever idea — taking it from eye-popping to eye-rolling in a moment. Below are five common promotion design types depending on your goal:

Self-Promotion

Is your business the best at what it does? Say so! Create a booklet that details your specific offerings or a simple postcard that drives people to a web-based landing page or to give you a call.

Brag Promotions

Brag promotions are the ideal way of letting your audience know that you’ve done something impressive. Win an award recently or get recognized within your community? Create a brag promotion as part of a larger project and include messaging about how the award will benefit your customers.

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Capabilities Promotions

Want to let your clients know how many options you have available at their fingertips? Capabilities promotions are a great way to explain the breadth or depth of services that you offer.

Invitations

Let your customers know you have a special event coming up soon. Host an open house, a business gala, or a community fundraiser, and use a creatively designed and printed invitation to spread the word.

“Just Because”

There is never a bad time to say “Thanks” or celebrate a special occasion. Send a printed and well-designed note to your customers for corporate anniversaries, holidays, or after a large order.

Ready to design and create print promotions and advertising that makes people take action? Give us a call, and we’ll help you craft the perfect promotional piece that will get you noticed!

Smart Companies Get People Talking

YAKETY-YAK, GO TALK BACK

Growing your brand and business takes work. When you take advantage of the right tools it can help you become more visible, gain the trust of others, and increase your bottom line. Although technology is a helpful way to enhance your marketing strategy, sometimes, going back to the basics can also be one of the best things you can do.

What is the one tactic that has always worked?

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You can’t buy this type of advertising, and when people recommend your business, others listen. Knowing the five Ts of word-of-mouth marketing and how it can work for you is key. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Talkers

Who will tell their friends about you? Be tuned in to who will tell others about your business. Think about what you can do to get them talking and take it from there. If you’re offering specials, these are the people you give the exclusive deal to first, and then tell them to tell others. Make them an ambassador of sorts by giving others a discount when they mention that person’s name.

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2. Topics

What will they talk about? Is your business very accommodating? How is your customer service? What does your website look like? Can they place an order online? All of these make a difference and helps the talkers sing your praise.

3. Tools

How can you help the message travel? Be proactive. Have the talkers link you to their social media. Have you ever had a social session at your place of business? Get the radio station down there, have some freebies and discounts, and make it a community event.

4. Taking Part

How should you join the conversation? Have you partnered with the schools to do something for free, or have you volunteered to speak about what you do? Meet the neighboring businesses. Join the Chamber of Commerce and network. Engage with your audience on social media. Not to sell anything, but to have a real conversation. All of this makes a difference and gives the talkers something to talk about. When you join the conversation in a non-selling way, you welcome a better response for other channels of marketing later, like a targeted direct-mail campaign.

5. Tracking

How will you know what people are saying about you? Once you have implemented tools like savings discounts and specials, and have partnered with the community, you will get the feedback you are seeking. If your customer base is growing, you will know people are talking. Get people to add a review or two online, so others who are searching for your services will be able to read first-hand reviews

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Use these five Ts of word-of-mouth marketing and watch how impactful it can be. Integrating the old with the new can be effective and produce amazing results now and in the future.

 

6 Ways to Settle the Score

THE PERFECT SCORE

To score or not to score? This question faces anyone creating a printed piece that must be folded before mailing, display, or delivery. While in some cases folding without scoring will be sufficient, in others, scoring eliminates any color cracking on the fold and can make all the difference in producing an elegant final result.

The top consideration in whether or not to score a printed piece is the thickness of the paper being used for the project. As a general rule, paper that is 100 lbs. or heavier should be scored before folding. Other instances where scoring the paper is recommended would include:

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Budget cuts typically mean that scoring is the first to go, but you may seriously want to reconsider. The risk of not scoring a folded piece includes unsightly creases and buckling around the folded area.

You have a number of options when it comes to scoring a printed piece. The highest quality scoring process is called the Letterpress Score, but here are six other scoring options commonly available as well:

1) Letterpress Score

A steel rule is formed in the desired shape and braced in wood affixed to a metal frame. Paper is then pushed between the steel form and the press.

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2) Rotary Score

This process utilizes a pressurized roller system to make the score.

3) Litho Score

Also known as a “press score,” a metal rule with a heated back is attached to the impression cylinder, and a scoring rule makes the crease as the paper runs underneath it.

4) Heat Score

This technique is most effective on heavier coated paper stocks and involves heating a copper die to around 350 degrees.

5) Wet Score

A directed stream of water moistens the area where a fold is required. (Not recommended on coated papers.)

6) Impact Score (Electronic Knife)

A knife with a fixed-width steel rule strikes the sheet within a channel to create the score and crease.

We’re here to help you settle the score! You might want to know about different scoring options, but you certainly don’t need to worry about the best way to get the perfect score. That’s our job. If you have questions about whether scoring your printed project is the best option, give us a call. You’ll receive guidance on the best options for your folded piece so that you can create a result you and your customers will love!