It might be all about digital marketing these days, but print is still king when it comes to producing the kind of breathtaking marketing designs that makes your audience stand up and pay attention to what you have to say. Computers have not yet replaced the ritual of actually holding something in your hands and exploring it with all of your senses; until such a time when that experience can be reproduced digitally, there will still be plenty of opportunities to make an impact using your printed marketing materials.
However, you won’t garner much of your audience’s attention if you use the same old, dated design ideas that consumers have seen thousands of times before. To make a splash using printed materials in this digital centric world takes creativity, originality and confidence in both your design and in the brand itself. Without these important components in your design, your printed marketing materials will have as much impact as the take-out menus that you find haphazardly shoved in your front door. Of course, nobody can make you be creative, but the following ideas can at least put you on the right path towards discovering your creative side.
Design Dynamic Business Collateral
If you had a plain manila folder and a magazine sitting out in front of you, which would you rather read based on cover appearance alone? The pictures, composition and attention-grabbing copy of a magazine cover is designed to entice readers, so why can’t the same be true for your business cards, presentation folders, brochures and other business collateral? Give your print media some high-quality images or design them around a familiar theme.Choose dynamic printing methods to ensure your audience takes notice. If you’ve already determined that your business is serious enough for brand recognition, don’t they deserve some seriously awesome branding materials?
Put Yourself on the Map
Your brand identity is determined by a great number of different factors and one of them happens to be the location of your business. Utilize maps and geographical markers as a fabric of your overall design. Is your business located near a particular landmark or at a popular intersection? Add a map or pictures of the nearby area to show off your hometown pride. Maps can be either accurate reproductions or an artistic interpretation that put your location front and center. One of the more clever ideas I’ve seen related to location branding is to send out mailers with custom maps that lead the recipient directly from their mailbox to your business’s front door.
Printing is More Than Just Paper
There is a much wider world of printing materials out there than just your standard papers and stocks. Vinyl, leather, poly materials and even recycled materials can change the texture, the durability and the overall look of your print designs. But don’t limit yourself to the expected choices-why not incorporate materials directly from your brand in order to make your printed materials really stand out? For example, an apparel company might cover their printed materials with actual pieces of fabric remnants or a masonry company might try printed tiles as a creative alternative to business cards. Even if you do use paper, consider something like felt, vellum, linen or other stocks with a unique texture.
When you look at a well know brand name like Nike or Apple, they use a very minimal design effect to make a bold statement. On the other hand, that junk mail you always throw out is usually packed from corner to corner with design elements and visuals. It takes a skilled professional to use a minimalist design for maximum impact, but your marketing materials will look more prestigious as a result. For example, you could use the mission statement “Embarking on a journey to the future!” with a collage of images related to science and technology, but it wouldn’t look as stunning as just one picture of a rocket taking off with a shortened statement saying “Embark!”
Be a Tease
Remember being a kid and wanting to take just one little peek at your presents to see what was inside? Great designs fulfill that desire by adding a die cut window, giving a preview of what’s inside your booklet, folder or other printed material. The best die-cut designs are the ones that alter the visual message while adding to the mission statement. For example, how about a cut-out cover for a mailer for a dentist office that shows only a few smiling mouths and the statement “These smiling faces” When you open the cover, you find out all of the people are patients and the mission statement continues by saying “are all thanks to Statham Family Dentists.” In this example, the reader wants to open the cover to find out what the smiling faces are for and to finish the statement.
Cut It Out
Speaking of die cuts, consider the shape of your printed material. Forget what the song says, it’s not always hip to be square. Use die-cut effects to outline the strongest visual elements or to create shaped pockets, openings and closures. Breaking away from a traditional shape not makes for a striking visual effect; it gives your design a tactile quality that sets it apart from the rest. A stack of business cards are going to all feel the same, even if they’re for different businesses. However, if yours is the business card with the unique rounded edge, you’re more likely to stick out.
Spruce Up Your QR Codes
QR codes are a great way to entice recipients of your marketing materials to get in touch or to visit your website, however they don’t exactly bring much to the look of your design. Fortunately QR technology is evolving and it is now possible to add color, words and even images to your QR codes. Try adding a QR code&decked out in your brand colors or superimpose a logo on your QR code to tie it back into your brand identity. Don’t just place your QR code on the page, make it a part of your design. For example, a restaurant could use a picture of a happy couple dining and hide a QR code on a plate of food that takes you to an online menu.
Give recipients something to do with your printed marketing other than read it and forget about it. Whenever I get a mailer for a used car dealership with a scratch off area, I immediately want to scratch it off. I know they’re cheesy and that the same offer is behind each one, but my curiosity still gets the best of me every time. Interaction gives your audience an incentive to spend more time with your printed materials, just make sure there’s something of value tied into your interactive features. Other than scratch offs, you can also garner interaction with pop-up design elements, pull-tabs or even just funky textures that beg to be touched.
Inform and Entertain with Infographics
Charts and graphs are an easy way to make a point using visual cues, however these don’t always make for the most exciting design elements. This doesn’t need to be the case though, as long as you take the time to break free from the mold and try your own style. Infographics are a great way to express information in a way that is both easy to understand and actually adds to the overall aesthetic. The most effective infographics are the ones that use original artwork unique to only your business. Play with the font, color and even layout of your bar graphs and pie charts to come up with something that has mass visual appeal. Whenever you can, try to bring in a separate image or graphic to make a particular point.
If you’ve ever looked at a finished design and thought it could benefit from more branding elements, then you’ll want to invest in some high-quality company stickers or labels. Stickers let you put your brand on practically anything, which means that your brand can go anywhere that you do. Branded stickers make for a cheap, quick-fix solution for when your printed materials just need one small detail to be up to your specifications since they don’t require you to reprint everything again. Rubber stamps are another way to have immediate branding at your fingertips and makes for a unique look on printed materials. Investing in a good rubber stamp will let you hand-print some of your marketing materials while adding a personal touch to your marketing collateral.