Dos and Don’ts for Print Design and Marketing

By: Calvin Jackson, Founder of The Lemon Ad Stand

You want your marketing pieces to be fantastic every time. How do you make that happen? How can you get the best out of every job? Here are some do’s and don’ts for working with your designer.

Don’t try to tell your designer how to do his or her job.

Do take your designer’s professional advice.

Good designers want to hear your ideas and be given direction. They will draw on their experience and intuition to give your ideas life. But if your designer tells you that something isn’t going to work, there is a reason. The design might not reproduce well on that paper stock. That fold might be problematic, especially under your tight deadline. If you send that mailer in a square envelope, it will break the budget.

Don’t try to make a stock do something it isn’t designed to do.

Do match your stock to the intended application.

For example, for high-end invitations, some clients will choose a linen or textured paper and want to use thin, elegant fonts on top. When the job is printed, they are disappointed because important details of the font are lost in the texture of the paper. The same thing can happen with certain condensed fonts and tight letter kerning. When printed on textured paper, they don’t look the way the client envisioned. Either you have to use a bolder font or typeface or go to a smoother paper.

Don’t experiment with the postal system.

Do be creative . . . but within limits.

Creativity is limitless, but the U.S. Postal Service is set in stone. If you mail a square piece, it will cost more. If you are sending a direct-mail piece, the addressed side should be uncoated for the adhering of postal markings. You might want to make the front of your envelope very elaborate, but you still need to leave certain areas clear for postal marks. What happens if you don’t follow the rules? Busted budgets and low delivery rates. If you violate “clear” rules, you risk the strong chance of your mail not reaching it’s intended audience.

Don’t develop a creative design, cross your fingers, and hope for the best.

Do work backwards to ensure that your ideas can be implemented.

For example, when you are folding in any kind of panels, you have to compensate for how the paper folds in. Certain panels must be slightly shorter so that the entire piece folds flat. This can get tricky if you want lots of panels that fold into each other. Maybe the whole thing opens up into a poster. The more folds you have, the more complicated it gets.

If you are doing full-color coverage, you may need to add an extra score to prevent cracking. This is particularly important if you are printing digitally. With most digital presses, the toner sits on top of the page. If the sheet is not scored correctly before folding, the ink can crack on the fold. Or depending on the stock and ink coverage, you might need an aqueous coating for aesthetics or product protection (such as to prevent scuffing in the postal stream).

Sometimes the client wants to do a gatefold and wants the design to extend across the fold and the images or lines to match up exactly on both sides. Depending upon how intricate the design is, that may or may not be possible. Especially on a digital press, where the registration is slightly less predictable than on an offset press, you might not want to have words or lines that go across the gatefold just to be safe.

As professionals, designers will help you make the best decisions. If your designer says it just won’t work the way you want it to, trust their judgment. Most of the time it’s dealing with the type of stock or paper or how certain fonts are going to print on certain substrates. Most designers have been doing this long enough to have a good sense of what works and what doesn’t. Trust us — helping you get the best possible printed piece is our job.

Are you a graphic designer? What other do’s and don’ts would you like to share with marketers?

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