Category Archives: Great Design

5 Tips: What Designers Know About Designing Mailers

Too often considerable resources are spent on the marketing literature, and yet the decision as to how it will be presented to your target market is made by the mailroom.    It is the mailer, and not the literature inside, that is on the front line speaking volumes about the quality of your firm.  Here are five great design tips that will enable your mailer to work as hard as your marketing materials:

1.  Paperboard mailers are exceptionally print friendly (unlike bubble mailers, boxes, and Tyvek envelopes).  So get bold about using that space to your company’s advantage.  Put your logo, your branding statement or icon, and even “Follow us on Twitter!”.   A generic approach is best if you anticipate that the mailer will have multiple uses.

2.  Alternatively, design your mailer specifically to create excitement about what’s inside.  For example:  “Your samples are here!” or “Valuable conference materials for Expo 2011!” .  This ensures your package gets opened first, rather than the recipient discovering it on their own only once they’ve opened it.

3.  Put business on the back, branding on the front.  In other words, put your mailing label on the back side of the mailer where the flap closes so that you have a full canvas on the front side to let your branding and marketing message shine.

4.   Putting your mailer in the mail will put your beautifully printed mailer through its paces, so avoid printing it in a dark color end to end (a.k.a. “full bleed).  If the mailer’s corners get bruised in any way, the white fibers in the paperboard will appear and distract the eye from the overall look of the package.

5.  QR Codes are all the range on billboards these days, so why not think of your mailer as a giant billboard for your company that just happens to be delivered to your client’s mailbox? Add a QR code to your mailer to tie your offline marketing efforts to your online ones.  You could feature a video of your CEO thanking your customer for their business!

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

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5 Tips: Presentation Folder Structural Disasters to Avoid

I heard more than one actress on the Oscar Red Carpet give credit to Spanx as the key to her great look.  Great construction marries both form and function, and a great start is knowing which presentation folder designs fall flat.  Here are my Top 5:

1. The Box Pocket

Why Avoid: A mini box built into a capacity folder is great in theory, but it takes a terrible beating in reality.  Unlike a sturdier shoebox, the box pocket folder collapses under its own weight (even if you use 18pt paper stock).  Once these folders get stacked, filed away or – God forbid mailed – they begin to fail almost immediately.  They’re bulky to ship and store, so you’ll pay extra for this bad choice.

2. The Zippered Pocket

Why Avoid:  These delicate cuts may give you extra room in the pocket, but giving these cuts a little tug (i.e., use it) rips the pocket wide open.

3. Reinforced Edges with T-shaped cuts

Why Avoid: The pockets need to be the strongest part of the folder to hold the weight of your materials.  So why you’d cut into the pocket and create a weak spot precisely where it needs solid construction is beyond me.

4. The Presentation Folder Wrap

Why Avoid: This presentation folder wraps the contents with flaps instead of pockets.  You often see this no-no in tri-fold pocket folder design.  This folder is guaranteed to deposit its contents in your lap when you open it, as its lack of construction is expressly designed to do so.

5. The Plastic Laminator

Why Avoid: All that good stuff about “going green,” eco-friendly and FCS-certified gets tossed out the window when you coat a paperboard folder in plastic lamination.  Fusing paper and plastic together makes your folder 100% NOT recyclable, just like a diaper in a landfill.

Sometimes making a great choice is knowing what not to choose.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

5 Tips: What Designers Know about Great Presentation Folders

Award-winning folder featuring pearlized linen, blind embossment, and 2-color spot

How do you design a standout presentation folder?  Designers have several tricks of the trade – what I call “special effects” – that you can use to create something really special for your company. Even better, an extraordinary folder doesn’t need to cost you any more than an ordinary one.

These tips will help you attain presentation folder greatness.

  1. Treat the interior space of the folder as valuable real estate.  Your documents may cover up this space before your client removes them from the folder… then voilà!  Feature your client list, testimonials or marketing copy.*
  2. Finish the folder… aqueous finish that is.  Aqueous finish seals in the color printed on blank stock.  Many pocket folders are finished with glossy finish by default, but you have options.  The color can be sealed with an aqueous finish – gloss, satin, or matte – just like house paint.  Or you can go for UV Gloss with a super shiny finish.  Conversely, if you’ve chosen a dark folder color, consider a satin finish to reduce signs of fingerprinting.  Just be sure the finish fits the personality of your business.  Travel industry?  Gloss.  Insurance?  Matte.
  3. Add sparkle to your folder design with UV spot.  Folder designers are very familiar with using embossment or foil stamping to make a logo pop.  But consider UV spot for a more modern look.  It can add high gloss shine in a precise place, like right on top of your logo.  And finish the folder underneath in matte aqueous for the strongest contrast.
  4. Create texture using linen stocks or embossment to add interest and perceived value, particularly if you have a conservative color palette.  Or dress up your look with a pearlized linen (which is FSC-certified, too).
  5. If your corporate colors are dark (see Brand Building Great Presentation Folder Design story) and you want a guaranteed crack-free finish, check out Xtreme Coated Cover paper stock.  It’s the only paper I know of with a crack-free guarantee.

* If you use a tint of your PMS color plus the PMS color itself, you can create nice contrast while still running a one-color job…which can save you money.

This article is part of a series on great presentation folder design featured on the Conformer Products’ Blog.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

5 Tips: How to Pick Paper Stock for Presentation Folders

Selecting paper stock is one of the toughest – yet most critical – decisions when ordering presentation folders.  Paper choice affects the perceived value of your firm. It determines how the ink gets absorbed and the final effect produced on your folder.

These tips will make sure you select the right stuff before you’re stuck with the wrong thing all year long.

  1. Choose the right paper weight.  I recommend 14 point; a 12 point paper stock weight risks feeling too flimsy, and 18 point paper is overkill.
  2. Invest your budgeted dollars in quality paper stock.  To get the best bang for your buck, choose one of the papers that your printer buys in bulk.  If you’re set on something specific, choose a pocket folder provider that already carries it as a stock paper.  If you’re placing a sizable order, your paper can be easily and reasonably sourced.
  3. Know the difference between C1S and C2S, especially if you’re considering print on both sides of your presentation folder.  C1S is “Coated One Side” and C2S is “Coated Two Sides,” with the former costing less than the latter.  Uncoated paper absorbs ink differently than coated paper, and it has a matte appearance.  If you want your folder to have a consistent finish throughout,  go with C2S paper.
  4. Pick an FSC- or SFI-certified paper.  FSC is Forest Stewardship Council, and SFI is Sustainable Forestry Initiative.  Both organizations ensure that your paper stock comes from sustainably harvested forests.
  5. Honor the investment you’ve made in your company.  Your print ads, and your social media campaign.  Don’t stick your logo on a cheap folder, or you will cheapen the very thing your customer puts his hands on…with your name on it.

This article is part of a series on great presentation folder design featured on the Conformer Products’ Blog.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

5 Tips: Make Your Logo Shine on Your Presentation Folder

Great Logo Treatment on a Presentation Folder

Many firms will tell you that they don’t have a brand, but they do have a reputation.  Whether it’s law, financial services, accounting, insurance or consulting, a firm’s reputation is everything.  And that reputation materializes in the company logo.

These tips will help your unsung hero – your presentation folder – reinforce your reputation using only your logo.

  1. Invest in a quality paper stock.  If your law firm wants to convey the story of success, you need to show it, not tell it.  Your pocket folder – and your business card, for that matter – needs to feel expensive to the touch.  You’ll be saving money on print, so you’ll have the coin to put it in the paper.
  2. Consider embossing your company logo.  Embossment raises the surface of the folder to give it dimension.  This elevates your logo, giving it more heft on the page.  Blind embossment is a natural choice for your presentation folder when you’ve chosen a textured stock like linen  that may not be printed at all.   Printed embossment is more often seen on coated stocks (like C1S or C2S) where your logo is raised and printed on the paper.
  3. Consider foil stamping, but proceed carefully.  Foil stamping adds a gold or silver (and other color options) metallic to your logo .  It is a very classy effect provided that it is used sparingly.  If your logo is an elegant script or a thin font, foil stamping is a great option.  But if your logo features fat lettering, foil stamping may give you too much flash to your look (especially if you’re a CPA or an attorney).
  4. If you are unsure of how to size your logo on the cover, err on the side of too big.  A too-small logo on your presentation folder will make your firm look even smaller.
  5. If you don’t already have a logo, select an official font to represent your firm and stick with it. Many graphic designers specialize in font treatments, and it’s not an expensive investment. Using the same font on your presentation folders, your letterhead and your website will create a unifying look that shows (not tells) your clients that you’ve got your act together.

This article is part of a series on great presentation folder design featured on the Conformer Products’ Blog.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

5 Tips: Could Your Presentation Folder Work Harder to Build Your Brand? (You Betcha.)

Brand building means consistently delivering your brand message to your target market whenever your consumer encounters your brand.  Your presentation folder is a key touchpoint between your brand and your consumer:  displaying your proposal, delivering your product samples, or introducing your services for the first time.

These tips will convert your workhorse marketing tool – your presentation folder – into a great brand statement.

  1. Use your corporate colors boldly. If you don’t have a corporate color palette, enlist a graphic designer to select one or two colors from the Pantone Matching System (PMS). The Pantone guide is the definitive international reference for selecting, matching and controlling ink colors. Using PMS colors will enable you to specify “your colors” by number for every print job.
  2. Flood coat your paper stock with one PMS color and then use your second PMS color as an accent.  Perhaps flood coat the interior (Side 2) of your folder so the pockets are the first PMS color, and the back panels are in the second PMS color.
  3. Don’t stop at your company logo.  A folder gives you lots of opportunity to integrate the company tag line or a corporate visual image that represents your brand.
  4. Bridge your offline and online marketing efforts.  If you are using in YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and the like, feature these icons on the folder holding your marketing literature.
  5. A busy design can kill a folder’s versatility, so tread lightly.  Think of the folder as gift wrap.  You want it to say “open me,” but don’t let the packaging overwhelm the gift inside.  You want the literature inside to do most of the talking.

This article is first in a series on great presentation folder design featured on the Conformer Products’ Blog.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com