When it comes to printing professional marketing materials, everyone knows to use high-resolution images and be mindful of the margins. But there’s more to it than that. Before your files even make it to a printer, there are some key steps to take during the design process. Let’s take a look.
Check your file format
Different file formats result in noticeably different marketing prints. Make sure your file is prepared for the level of quality and the overall look you want to achieve. For example, consider if you want to maintain background transparency or convert it into white space.
Since we’re discussing print, forgo the JPG, JPEG, and PNG formats for your visuals. Those are much better suited to online spaces. Instead, convert your files into PDF, EPS, or TIFF.
PDF is a universal format. Those files are easy to open and use across a variety of platforms. EPS is a vector file type and is excellent for graphics and logos. TIFF boasts the “lossless compression feature”. This means that all of the original file data is maintained no matter how many times it’s compressed, copied, or edited, and re-saved.
Embed the unique elements
Many companies express their brand identity through custom visuals. These can be logos, headers, banners, or all of the above. One of the most significant elements in these customizations, especially in brand logos, is the font.
Some businesses purchase an already existing font to use for their branding, while others elect to have a whole new one created specifically for them. In either case, those fonts are considered rare and will not be available on standard printers and computers.
The easiest way to preserve such custom brand features in your printed documents is to embed them. Embedded elements increase the overall file size, so use them strategically. However, even if it’s inconvenient, embedding is essential to avoid unwelcome conversions.
When you print a file with an unembedded custom font, the computer or printer will automatically convert it into a standardized one, such as Arial. This makes the print smoother and spares you the rectangles or other weird characters, but it also ruins your branding.
By contrast, when your font is embedded, the software reads it as an image instead. That way, when your file is sent through a printer or opened on another computer, your custom identity element is displayed as-is.
Know the size you need
Printing papers come in many different formats, all sorted into several different series. The most commonly used is the A series: you see it in notebooks, official documents, maps, etc. Different marketing materials are suited to different dimensions in printing.
For instance, the A1 size paper format is good for poster printing and other large-format advertisements. Calendars, artwork, and various diagrams come out better on A2 papers. Magazines and larger leaflets do well as A4 pages, while smaller leaflets, flyers, promotional booklets, and greeting cards are best printed as A5 or smaller.
Confirm the color mode
Color palettes are essential tools for communicating your brand identity. They even allude to certain values – e.g. an eco-friendly company will feature greens, while a business with innovative tech goals might opt for metallic hues. The trick is, colors display differently in printed vs. online marketing content.
When designing your materials, take a moment to check the color mode. CMYK is the one you want for the printed medium. If you slip up and leave the file in RGB prior to printing, the end result will look somewhat off. How weird it gets will depend on the design itself and the color arrangement. It might actually turn out repulsive to your target audience.
Consider specialty finishes
Finally, to really grab attention and make an impact, consider incorporating some embellishments to your final printed material. Some of the most effective options are textures and highlights, gradients, shimmers, and laser cuts.
Textures and highlights add a degree of contrast and dimension. You can achieve them by using embossing (raised design), debossing (depressed design), spot UV, lamination, and colored foil.
Gradients lend your design a soothing, relaxing, and elegant air. They include effects like watercolors, subtle fade transitions, etc.
Shimmers are sort of like targeted highlights. These techniques are usually applied to just a few select areas of the print. They give a shimmering quality to those spots which makes them look more three-dimensional than the rest of the page.
Laser cuts are ideal for delicate designs, as they are highly precise. Use them when accuracy is important. They are perfect for achieving complex textures in design elements such as flowers, leaves, or abstracts.
In conclusion, the effectiveness of your print marketing materials depends less on the design itself and more on how you technically handle it. The print medium demands some different considerations. These include the specific file format, the color mode, and maintaining unique elements such as custom fonts.
For the printing itself, you need to be able to choose the best paper size for the purpose. You also might opt for some specialty finishes to make your materials really stand out from what your competitors produce.