Category Archives: Tips

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: 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

Try Googling “USPS Damaged My Package”

USPS Damaged My Package

Yesterday the USPS delivered a package from Amazon in a corrugated box that looked like it been tossed into a cage of chimpanzees just before feeding hour.  Normally, you think of corrugated boxes as being on the indestructible side of the packaging family.  And because of this — despite much higher postage costs — we often gravitate to this kind of packaging for added protection.

Chimpanzees 1, Hardcover Book, 0.

I don’t know what mail carriers (and I’m including UPS and FEDEX here) are doing with our parcels during transit beyond overcharging us for handling, but I’ve received some packages in some truly dreadful condition lately.  And if you feel like getting your hair blown back, try googling “USPS Damaged My Package”.  I am not alone.  I feel bad for the eBay sellers and the Amazon resellers whose livelihoods depend largely on the mail service.

Given these facts, the condition of the package itself is not as critical as whether or not that package protected the contents.  And here, Amazon is to blame, not the USPS.  There was way too much excess capacity and internal shift in the box containing my book order.  Because of the excess capacity in the box, the internal shift subjected the books to every bump and bruise incurred by the box itself.  These photos show you exactly what happened to the books along the way.

Is it a book or a paper airplane?

So how do you ensure your package survives the postal journey?

  • Do not be lured into an oversized package that boasts protection.
  • Whatever packaging option you choose, the packaging solution must conform to its contents to minimize the shift.
  • Use packaging that is sized correctly to the contents, and if it’s not, use eco-friendly fill to make up the difference.

These guidelines can’t guarantee a safe journey among the chimpanzees, but they dramatically improve the odds.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

6 Tips to Avoid Overpackaging

  1. Take out a measuring tape. Measure the length, width, and thickness of the contents you want to mail.  This will help you shop for the right package that will fit your contents.
  2. Don’t buy more than you need. Using a packaging solution that is far bigger than your contents requires more filler so your content don’t shift inside and get damaged.
  3. Think about the requirements of your packaging solution. This avoids overpackaging and overspending.  Does it need to be waterproof?  Does it need to protect something fragile?  Do you need perimeter protection or top/bottom protection or both?  Is it recyclable?
  4. Who is doing the assembly, you or someone else? Will it be used in a fulfillment center environment, or will it be assembled on the boardroom table by office staff?  Consider whether pre-assembly and peel-and-stick closure is a “nice to have” or a “need to have” feature.
  5. What is your shipping method? If postal cost is a big consideration, head to your shipper’s website and review your options through the cost-savings lens of your carrier.
  6. Plan ahead.  Don’t make your packaging a last-minute decision.  That almost guarantees that you will overpackage and pay too much for the privilege.

Send me your overpackaging stories… and tell me how you overcame your addiction.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com