Category Archives: Presentation folders

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

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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

Great Design of Ordinary Objects

Cookie Cutters, Lisa Congden

Have you heard about A Collection A Day?  I’ve been digging this blog recently, and not only because I’m a vintage collector myself.  (My extensive collection of rulers eerily foreshadows my involvement with Conformer.)

This blog was created by Lisa Congdon in San Francisco not far from my office.

Every day in 2010, Lisa photographed or drew one collection.  Most of these collections consist of quite ordinary objects – spoons, dominos, cookie cutters – except for the fact that these images are anything but.

What I like about her approach is that when I look at her cookie cutter collection, I am suddenly thinking about cookie cutters – their characteristics, their variety, their forms – and I don’t ordinarily think about cookie cutters or appreciate the utility baked into their design.

The other day I went onto Twitter looking for anyone talking about “presentation folders.”  I found no one, not one person in the whole Twittersphere, tweeting about a topic that I spend all day obsessing about!  And yet, I know that everyone out there owns and needs a presentation folder.  Good thing there are people like Lisa out there who call attention to the beauty and function in the most basic and vital objects in our lives (plastic golf tees, staples, clothes pins…and yes, presentation folders).

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

‘Fringe’ Case Study: Social Media Really Works!

A Good Sign

I’ll be honest with you.  Product placement has never been in our marketing plans.  I mean, product placement is for soft drinks, laptops, and running shoes.  Right?

But our ongoing social media outreach, coupled with product placement, turned out to be an incredibly effective marketing combination.  Since so many of us are still trying to figure out how to use social media tools effectively to build business, I thought you might be interested in hearing our own success story this week.

As you may know, the Conformer mailer was featured at length in the opening sequence of “Fringe” last Friday on the Fox television network. Had the media exposure stopped there, the “Fringe” product placement probably wouldn’t have influenced a single sale.  That’s where social media made all the difference.  Here’s what we did next:

  • We used Hulu to create a tightly edited version of Conformer’s appearance, creating an efficient way to showcase our Hollywood moment.
  • Then I updated the Conformer blog on our lucky break and added an easy click to our video clip.
  • Our blog automatically streams to our LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, so all of our connections heard about the story first.  We have a clever link at the bottom of every Conformer employee’s email signature that features our blog stories, so our video clip showed up there, too.
  • Our PR firm wrote a press release, which alerted trade magazines and our favorite bloggers.  Our story got picked up online in places we’re still discovering, allowing us to reach people who have never heard of Conformer before.
  • A personalized email was sent to friends, colleagues, clients, and interested parties and we encouraged them to share with friends.
  • On our home page, we showcased the video spot on a peel-back corner of our website, which we know through Google Analytics is one of our most-clicked web pages.
  • We shared many of these tools with our strategic partners who collaborate with us to bring Conformer to the marketplace. This enables our “Fringe” fame to go viral among their customer base.   And some even featured our video clip at the weekly sales meeting to fire up the reps.
  • We used a URL shortener called bit.ly to create a tidy way to communicate the link and also allows us to track clicks.   https://conformerinc.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/fox-networks-fringe-gives-conformer-15-seconds-of-fame/ became http://bit.ly/dHthFD.  This shortened URL prints nicely on a sticker, now placed on all Conformer samples.
  • And of course, we’re writing stories like this one and sending them in our monthly enewsletter in case you may have missed all of the hullabaloo from last week.

So how many “Fringe” viewers from that first Friday night called us after seeing our product placement?  Zero.  How many people contacted us after our social media campaign?  A LOT…and they’re sales inquiries.  Our blog and website traffic is way up and continues to stay up (thanks to viral marketing), which conveniently improves our Google search rankings.

Many thanks to Bill Tignanelli at Admore, the “Fringe” television fan who alerted us, and to all of you for fueling our viral campaign.  (Now please, send this to a friend!)

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

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