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Published: 12/10/2010

Top tips for a successful print design campaign

Filed under: Print design,Top Tips — Mavo Studio @ 12:13 am


The world may have gone online and mobile crazy, but print design is still an effective and innovative way to communicate to clients. Here are some key things to consider when commissioning a piece of print communication for your organisation.

1. Decide on your time frame
It stands to reason, if you have left it until two days before your client event to send out invitations you might be better off telling them by email. Likewise, if your company brochure needs to be delivered in four days, but you have yet to find a printer, you might be better off reverting to an emailed PDF. When commissioning a piece of print design whether it be an invitation, promotional mailer, event banner, brochure or annual report… it’s important to factor in enough time to ensure the end result is effective. You will need to allocate time to: create engaging copy and a fantastic design; source the right printer; source the right paper stock (and envelopes); check your print proof; allow for final print delivery and delivery to your client (more details about each step in discussed in the following article). So make sure you schedule enough time for each stage to run as smoothly as possible.

2. Create your content
Before you can sufficiently know what you want designed, it’s important to know what you’re aiming to communicate. So aim to get all of the content, images, messages in place before engaging a design agency.

If your piece of print communication includes graphs, photos or illustrations collate as many of these as possible before the design process begins. In addition, if you have a brand style guide that includes the right font/s, logo/s, colour references etc. it is good practice to send this media to your design agency at the start of your project.

3. What size?
It’s worth properly considering the size of media you want to send, different sizes may be suitable for different circumstances…

For example, a recent client decided against printing an A4 brochure for an upcoming event as they’d seen so many people with tired arms the year before, lugging around bags full of heavy brochures and discarding of them at the end of the event. Instead, they decided on a handy A6 postcard size booklet which could fit neatly into the pocket of a potential new client and was more likely to make for an easy read on the train home!

It’s just as important to consider how long you want your print media to be. It is no use trying to cram a years worth of client case studies into a twelve page brochure. Equally, if you’re aiming to mail out hundreds of brochures, the more pages (or spreads) the higher your design and print costs, so try to get the balance right for your campaign and target budget.

4. Design concepts
Once you have all of your content in place, a design agency can create a series of concept designs from which you can choose your preferred design style. Typically you would need to allow several days for this, so make sure you factor in this time into your overall schedule.

NB. You might want to consider how your print media should be packaged too. If you are sending a newsletter or brochure by post for example you might want to commission a beautifully designed envelope too. Alternatively, if you’re hand delivering your media in person, then a well designed box or folder can add impact and help prevent damage to your media.

5. Final design and artworking
After you have agreed and approved your preferred design style, your design agency will go about designing and laying out your final print media. This process can involve several days of work and it is important that all final designs are set up as final print-ready artwork files. All images should be CMYK and 300dpi in resolution, bleed or cutter-guide instructions should be included and colours should be checked (to ensure the correct Pantone or CMYK colours have been used).

6. Proofreading
No matter how beautiful a design maybe, if there is a spelling error in a headline or a glaring grammatical error on page two the impact is quickly lost. So, once your final design has been created, it is vital to check for spelling or grammar errors and make any required final edits or amendments. You should see this as the ‘last chance’ before you make that bold move to send your final artwork to print.

7. Print production

While many good design agencies handle print production in-house, they’re equally happy working with printers that you may already have an established relationship with. Either way, it’s important to consider the type of paper and stock you’d like to use eg. matt, gloss etc. Sample swatches to choose from can of course be supplied by established print companies (and you should not expect to pay extra for these).

You’ll also need to consider how you would like to print your campaign. Do you want to print using a digital or litho printer? There is plenty more information about which may suit your needs here for digital printing and here for litho printing, but broadly speaking, for low volume print jobs, where a faster turn-around is required a good quality digital printer can achieve the right result. For higher volume or more bespoke printing litho is a much more appropriate choice and there is a range of finishes, effects and special colours that you should be able to discuss with your design agency and printer that can truly add ‘wow’ factor.

Whichever print choice you make always receive a ‘print proof’ before approving your final print run. Some printers can over-promise what can be achieved, while others tell you exactly how your finished item will look, but you might imagine it differently. So it’s important to receive and approve a proof of your final design. Whatever you do, don’t commission a final print run of any quantity without first seeing what your final product actually looks like.

8. Mailing list and delivery

Finally, if you’re posting your print media it’s really important to assemble a correct and up to date mailing list of who you’re sending to. If you’re strapped for time to do this properly the Royal Mail have an ingenious guide and service to help you with that too.

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