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When it comes to organizational communications, the work is never really over. But unlike appeal season, work and projects at the beginning of the new year are a bit more spread out allowing for more time to experiment with your creativity. With special events and spring programs looming on the radar, now’s the time to explore what’s out there to make your marketing materials stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re working with an in-house designer or going the freelance route, having a firm grasp on finishing, folding, and cutting options can help you be bold from the get-go and surprise your audience with an invitation or program booklet they’ll be hard pressed to forget.

Rule of Thumb: Catch Their Eye

If it looks boring, it’s not getting read. Whether it’s flipping through a brochure or tearing open an envelope, your donors or customers have a few hurdles to jump through before they get the message. Here are three simple ways to combat that obstacle:

Use Lots of Compelling Images
People are hard-wired to respond to images. Bright, vibrant, compelling imagery will hook your audience every time.

Design for Your Audience
For example, if the audience is young and hip, give them a more edgy typeface that angles off the page. If they are more upscale and sophisticated, let white space and elegance be your guide.

Love All Shapes and Sizes

Interesting shapes stand out and make people want to touch your design. Shape the piece to convey your message or intrigue your audience. Shapes that follow the contours of an image or that contain different angles make your piece more appealing.

Texture Makes All the Difference

Choose paper that includes a texture, add an emboss or de-boss to your design, or try a contrasting spot varnish. If the piece is on glossy paper, use a matte finish or vice versa. These tricks help to add visual appeal and more physicality to your printed materials.

Here’s a little more on varnishes and coatings:

Traditional varnishes and coatings can be solvent or aqueous and are available in a variety of gloss levels.

Spot coating is available if you want to highlight a certain element, such as a particular image or bit of text. Try using a spot matte coating over a high gloss piece for that unexpected effect.

UV coatings add greater levels of sheen and protection than traditional coatings.

Some simple finishing techniques include:

Embossing uses dies to create raised (or “relief”) areas that make images or text literally pop.

Foils and specialty inks can be added to embossed regions for an even greater special effect.

De-bossing creates eye-catching effects by depressing portions of a printed piece.

Foil stamping applies metallic foils like gold or silver to the substrate, also going a long way toward highlighting text and images.

Fabulous Folds

An innovative panel or a fold that goes in the “wrong” direction adds mystery and interest to your piece. Try adding slotted folding panels or multiple folds to increase the uniqueness of your design.

The Wrap Up

You wouldn’t bake a cake without finishing it off with icing, would you? The same rules apply to the materials you serve to your audience. Print design can be both simple and challenging, so always consider how finishing can add some intrigue to your initial design with one or more of the options we’ve discussed. Regardless of the finishing technique used, it should always work in concert with the content or message of the piece itself. Style and substance should never work at cross-purposes, nor should they take a back seat.

Like what you see? Stay in touch!

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