10 Tips to Break Through the Clutter With Printing

Jul 22, 2014



In this increasingly digital world, brands have the opportunity to differentiate through print—to create a real life, physical touchpoint in the hands of potential customers.

Imagine how this user feels when they first interact with your project. Designing for great user experience goes beyond websites and apps. For a brand, strong printed design in the hands of your consumer can make a valuable impression. 

1. Make print a priority.

Think about it early in the design process rather than as an afterthought. Make room in the budget for quality and options that make an impact.

2. Develop a relationship with your printer.

For me, predictability and accessibility are the most important traits for a printer. Whenever possible, I use one I know and trust.  A good printing partner can be just that—a partner—great for bouncing ideas off and brainstorming. They can help figure out how to create impact within budget. They’re printing every day, so they have unique insight into current trends and new technologies or techniques available.

3. Think sustainability.

Recycle Colors

As sustainability increasingly becomes important in the marketplace, you should definitely consider options here. Sustainability probably isn’t the first word you think of with printing, but with the environmentally friendly options out there, maybe it should be. Explore post-consumer recycled papers and soy-based inks. And reduce waste by sizing the print area to fit the useable area of the sheet. 

4. Choose the right medium.

Start with what you’ll be printing on…paper—then look through sample books, touch the paper, feel the weight. Consider whether paper is the right medium at all. Maybe other printable materials would work better—such as vinyltyvec, or even fabric.

5. Differentiate through shape and size.

Just because the paper leaves the factory in flat standard sizes, doesn’t mean it has to leave the printer that way. Consider conveying the message with shape. The paper could pop-up in 3-D or have pull-out components. Different pages could be cut to reveal more features as pages turn. The possibilities for user interactivity are endless.

6. Finish it.

Dull Vs Gloss Coating Demo

Coatings are a low-cost way to increase quality without blowing your cost-per-piece. They come in all sorts of textures—think paint finishes (gloss, semi-gloss, dull…). Some printers even have proprietary coatings that create unique textures—we’ve even used one that feels like an orange peel.

7. Proof until you can’t proof anymore.

When a printer makes edits to a file, the project cost grows. To avoid that, make sure the file is as perfect as possible before it leaves the office. People (including myself) have a tendency to not edit a draft as closely as they should when they know there will be another opportunity to make edits. This is the last opportunity to make edits on your own time—which saves money and prevents frustration. It works for me to pretend that my final printout is a printer proof.

On your own “proof,” here’s what you should be doing:

  1. Read all the copy.
  2. Read it again backwards and have someone else read it with fresh eyes.
  3. Check that photos and other images look the way they should. 

8. Make your printer happy.

Find out the specs they need and follow them—makes everything easier. Label the file with the date or version number. It cuts down confusion if you end up needing to send an edited one later.

9. Proof some more.

There’s nothing worse than getting an unexpected final printout. Colors vary from printer to printer, screen to screen, and eye to eye. Make sure the proof looks exactly like the final product should and don’t feel pressure to approve something you’re not happy with. You should feel 100% confident that your project will print correctly.

10. Enjoy and reflect.

Check the finished product thoroughly—if something did go wrong between proofing and final, it’s better to catch it before the product reaches the marketplace. If everything looks like it should, take some time to interact with your final product and think about how it could be even better in the future.

Print provides a rare chance to give potential customers a piece of your brand to hold. Use that to create a positive branded experience. They’ll not only look at it… they’ll feel, smell, and hear it. Seize that opportunity to make an impact.

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