Every company needs printed pieces that do a careful and well-considered job of presenting its products and services, as well as promoting its overall image. Marketing materials such as catalogs, newsletters, product sheets, brochures, business cards, letterhead, presentation folders, specification sheets, case histories or application sheets, postcards, special event brochures, annual reports, manuals, technical bulletins, posters, product insert sheets, labeling, recruitment materials, and more are essential to this effort.
With the increased availability of desktop publishing systems and software, as well as office copiers, some companies try to meet these needs internally. Resist this impulse, as your homegrown materials will betray their improvised origin to most of the people who see them. Appearance is reality in marketing, and you have to look as professional as you are. Very few companies have the expertise or high-end printing and finishing equipment to produce truly professional marketing materials in-house.
Here are some tips in dealing with the literature needs you’ll encounter as your company expands and grows:
Get a logo and stationery package designed professionally. Do this right, and don’t change it for at least ten years to ensure brand consistency and recognition. Make an investment by hiring a professional to do this job: an advertising agency or a graphic designer will have the experience and skill to do this task effectively. A professional graphic designer will ensure that your logo and stationery reflects your corporate personality, while maintaining a clean and professional look. Your logo should look good in color or in black and white, reproduce well in any size, and will simply be more attractive than what you can expect to do yourself.
Learn basic principles of solid graphic design. Thoroughly understanding graphic design is a lifetime’s work, but some reading and a sensitive eye can teach you a lot. Get a few graphic design books from a local bookstore and educate yourself. A good, basic understanding of graphic design will ensure the best possible outcome when working with your graphic designer. All your printed materials should follow fundamental design principles:
- Keep the look clean and simple. Don’t overload the reader visually, and use a graphic grid to align the different elements in an orderly fashion.
- Use headings and subheadings to direct the reader. When the reader turns the page, where will she look? Use headings and subheadings to provide scanning points to keep the reader properly oriented.
- Avoid too much type; pages filled with writing are not appealing. Most people will initially scan the document to get an overall understanding of the topic and only return to get detailed information if they have further interest. Break up the copy with photos, illustrations, charts, and other graphic elements to maximize visual interest and quickly convey the gist of the information.
- Avoid a crowded look. Use white space, despite the temptation to make use of every square inch of paper you are paying for. White space serves as a visual frame for the rest of the content on the page.
- Stick with standard formats and sizes unless you have a good reason to do otherwise. We are all accustomed to the standard 8.5″ x 11″ format for print materials; even our filing systems are made for things that size. If you go with an unusual size, your pieces may not lend themselves to being filed easily for reference.
- Include captions with all photos, so that your readers know what they are looking at. A caption also gives you the chance not just to identify your product or service, but to promote its benefits.
- Use charts and graphs rather than tables whenever possible. Graphics boost visual interest and put numbers in proper context.
Utilize high quality papers. Using a better stock for your marketing materials will add minimal cost to your printed pieces as compared to standard papers, but will make them significantly more impressive and impactful. Thicker, high quality stocks convey a positive image about your company. Marketing materials that are poorly printed on thin papers may cause potential customers to think that your company is not quality focused and may take shortcuts.
Be sure your materials have a “family look.” Every piece of printed material doesn’t need to look identical, but they should all look planned as a compatible unit. Imagine your literature laid out in front of you on a conference table. Does it all look like it comes from the same company? It should.
Invest in good photography. Small companies sometimes scrimp on getting good photos of their products, equipment, job sites, or other things that they want to incorporate into their printed materials. Strong, professional photography will set you apart from other companies. Your customers want to be confident of the quality of your product, and amateur snapshots give a very damaging impression of your professionalism. Good photography is an investment in your future.
Appoint one person as marketing materials coordinator. Your literature needs will be ever-changing and evolving. Trade shows, new products and markets, and normal growth are all important reasons to update your marketing materials. You need to have one person responsible for anticipating future needs, handling literature production, and maintaining inventory. Unmanaged marketing materials become increasingly ineffective over time.
DALLAS PRINTING is a respected leader in graphic design, printing, and direct mail. Contact us for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.