Large format printing offers businesses some great options when it comes to outdoor advertising sure to stop passers-by in their tracks. You might want to start with advertising banners; these vinyl banners are lightweight, easily hung inside or outside, and reusable. They’re also highly customizable in terms of graphics, colors and sizes. If an advertising banner is too blasé for your company’s strategy, you can go for high impact with barricade or building wraps. These have a relatively low cost per square foot when compared to their advertising value, and can even reduce air and moisture infiltration into your building.
But designing for large format printing can be tricky no matter what the project is, especially if you lack significant design experience. The best option, if your company has the budget for it, is to work with a professional graphic designer who has a background in designing for commercial printing companies. But if you’re small enough that you need to keep your design process in-house, make sure you at least avoid these three common mistakes:
- Readability Problems:
In general, you should add an inch of height to your type size for every 10 feet of distance between the ad and your intended audience (10 inches is ideal for 100 feet, and so forth). Typography can add visual interest to your design, so you shouldn’t stick to Comic Sans. But some fonts can be extremely difficult to read at distances, even if appropriately sized. Whatever it is that you’re trying to convey (whether that’s professionalism or whimsy), you’ll probably want to find the simplest possible font that has the qualities you’re looking for. After all, what good is a large format sign if no one can read it? Also make sure that you don’t have too much text and that multiple lines of text have plenty of space between them.
- Poor Color Choices:
When it comes to large format printing, impact is the ultimate goal. That means that sticking to high-contrast, easy-to-achieve colors can be better in the long run than going through every single Pantone shade for the perfect robin’s-egg blue. Some research shows that yellow and blue have the highest impact of any color combination. In most cases, you’ll want to stick to two or three colors.
- Low Image Quality:
Even the best large format printing services can’t perform miracles; if you’re trying to use a 3×5 image blown up for a 15-foot banner, you’re going to run into some trouble. Take some time to educate yourself on DPI and check with your print company about image resolution before finalizing your design. You should also use a vector-based design program if possible to ensure all your graphic elements are scalable.
Do you have any other tips for designing for large format printing? Add them or ask questions in the comments.
There are a lot of print companies out there, and as a business it can be overwhelming to choose one. But, as in most business decisions, it all comes down to a combination of quality and price. Here’s what you should look for when you’re vetting printing companies:
- Digital and Offset Printing Services
There are two basic types of printing: digital and offset. Digital printing prints directly from computer files, whereas offset printing uses custom plates to apply ink onto paper (or whatever else you’re having printed). Some people settle for digital printing companies, assuming that will get them lower prices across the board, but it’s actually best to find a print company that has both capabilities. Digital printing offers many advantages, especially for small businesses, since it allows for an extremely affordable way to customize pieces that have unique codes or addresses (direct mailers, letters, etc.). It also skips expensive setup fees and allows for lower minimum runs.
But offset printing still has a place in the industry, and it may even be more cost effective for businesses who need thousands of identical copies of a project. The bottom line is that by choosing a company that offers both offset and digital printing techniques, you can rely on the print company representatives to help you choose which method is truly the best for your product, since they won’t have a vested interested in pressuring you toward one or the other.
- History and Expertise
Whether you end up using offset or digital printing, there’s a lot more to high-quality results than running sheets of paper through a machine. Inquire about the training employees of each print company, and look at the history of the business. If they’ve been in business for a long time, keeping up with the newest techniques throughout that whole period, then it’s likely they’ll guide you in the right direction and handle your project well.
Reviews or samples may be helpful, but keep in mind that projects may vary widely in terms of the desired outcome. You should focus more on the skill levels of the printers and the customer service quality of the company as a whole than on whether you like individual examples of past work.
- A Wide Variety of Services
Today, you might be looking to print direct mail pieces. But what if soon, next week or next month, you need large format printing services to make a banner or sign? If you don’t want to start your search for the perfect print company all over again, it’s best to choose one now that offers a wide variety of services.
The other advantage to this is that you can actually build a relationship with the print company. These kinds of business-to-business connections end up benefiting both companies, and that way you’ll know for years to come that you’re getting the best possible quality and price on all your projects.
It’s also good to keep in mind that although most companies operate online as well, and there’s no geographical barrier to working with a print company located hundreds or even thousands of miles away, it’s generally smarter to stick to a company in your area. You’ll pay less in delivery fees, have fewer customer service headaches, and even support your local economy while you’re at it.