When companies are looking to refresh their image, they often turn to the Internet first. But the reality is that quality commercial printing is still one of the strongest ways to build brand awareness and draw in new customers. If you feel your business is languishing, consider one of these three strategies — or a combination of all three — to give it a boost:
- Think Bigger
If you want to create a bold new campaign that sets you apart from your competitors, wide format printing (also called large format printing) is one way to make your printed materials stand out. Wide format printing might take the form of advertising banners — vinyl banners are a popular choice because they’re lightweight, durable, and easy to hang and rehang indoors or outdoors — barricade or building wraps, even vehicle wraps.There are a few specific design concerns to keep in mind when you’re anticipating wide format printing of a project (you can look at past entries in this blog for some easy-to-follow tips), but in general the idea is simple: Grab people’s attention and then share a simple impression or message they’ll remember long after they walk or drive past.
- Give ‘Em What They Want
One basic marketing principle that always rings true, even when inelegantly stated, is that people love free stuff. If you’re looking to build brand awareness, then promotional gifts are a solid strategy. Research shows that 84% of Americans who receive a gift bearing a company’s logo are able to recall the company’s name later.Print companies offer a wide variety of materials that can be branded as gifts. Think calendars, bookmarks, water bottles, coffee mugs and other useful items that people will carry with them in their daily lives. Not only might they consider becoming regular customers of your company, they’ll spread your brand as they simply go about their daily routines while using your gift.
- Try Some Classics
Don’t be so focused on keeping up with the times that you eschew older strategies that have been proven to work, such as direct mailers. In contrast to large ads, this is a focused strategy designed to hone in on your target audience and persuade them to give your company a shot.Direct mailers have been around for a long time, but modern printing methods have made them much easier to design and affordable to print. Digital printing companies can offer the most cost-effective ways to customize these marketing materials, since each one will need a unique name, address and code.
Which of these strategies appeals to you the most? Wide format printing projects? More focused efforts such as direct mailers? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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.
Even in this digital era, print marketing is an important part of branding and marketing a company; in fact, more than three-fourths of small businesses say they’d like to include both print and digital campaigns in their overall marketing strategy. And when it comes to outdoor advertising signs, large format banner printing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to catch the eyes of passers-by, whether they’re drivers or pedestrians.
Vinyl banners are highly customizable, allowing businesses to pick nearly any designs, colors or dimensions they like, and are lightweight and easy to hang in or outside. But how can you create advertising banners and signs that will actually make prospective customers want to stop in or try your product? Here are some tips to get you started:
- Don’t Crowd Your Space
The point of large format banner printing is to be more eye-catching, not to give you space for more elements. No elements should come too close to the edge of the banner, there should be plenty of space in between elements or lines of type, and it’s recommended that you leave quite a bit of white space.
- Prioritize Readability
When you’re choosing fonts or sizes for your banner, readability should be your first priority. This means no overly fancy fonts. It also means you’ll want to size type based on how far away your target audience will be from the banner. In general, each inch of height added to a letter sets its optimum viewing distance about 10 feet farther away. So a 1-inch letter would be best read 10 feet away; a 5-inch letter, 50 feet.
- Choose Colors Purposefully
If you’re hanging your banner outside, you’ll probably want to choose high-contrast colors. Start picking your colors by looking at a color wheel. The colors directly opposite each other (called “complementary colors”) have the highest contrast. You can find color “chords” by drawing an imaginary equilateral triangle on the color wheel. The colors touched by the triangle’s vertices are likely to go well together. Choosing three colors that are next to or close by one another will create a more soothing feeling, which generally isn’t the goal of outdoor advertising.
- Use Photos Carefully
Custom vinyl banners can look great when printed with photos, but you need to be careful (and a tiny bit tech-savvy) when working with large format banner printing. You’ll need to check with your printing company to see what resolution the digital photo file should have in order to print clearly — it will probably be measured in DPI, or dots per inch.
- Get Creative With Typography
If your photos aren’t high enough in quality for large format printing, you can create visual interest with creative typography, which is a very popular contemporary trend that turns the writing itself into the artwork. Just make sure you don’t forget the second rule listed above.
Do you have any other tips to share on designing a large format banner? Join the discussion in the comments.
If you run a small or medium-sized business, you probably have already taken advantage of the digital printing services that allow a printing company to offer you low prices, quick turnaround, a high degree of customization and no minimum run requirements. But have you thought of expanding your print marketing efforts past advertising banners, posters and fliers?
Here are five creative ways you can take advantage of your printing company’s services and boost your company brand:
Market research shows that promotional gifts are an effective means of advertising; in fact, 84% of consumers who receive a branded promotional gift will remember the company’s name. If you want to give your potential clients something they can actually use, consider personalized bookmarks. They’re small, affordable and easily customizable — and since many people use receipts and other scraps as bookmarks, they’ll probably be happy to upgrade even if it’s branded with your logo.
- Barricade Wraps
Barricade wrap printing allows you to take the ugly, unused space of a construction barrier and turn it into a huge advertising canvas.
- Vehicle Wraps
Since your company vehicles likely spend a lot of time stuck in traffic, you might as well take advantage of that time by advertising to other drivers. Custom vehicle wraps range from simple, restrained door and window graphics to complete patterned wraps; the style you choose should depend on the image you’d like to project for your company.
- Vinyl Graphics
Custom vinyl wall graphics or floor graphics can allow you to make the most of your storefront. Instead of having plain graphics of your logo printed, have a designer create a chic pattern you may even be able to sell to your customers. That way, they’ll actually be paying for the privilege of advertising for you.
- Photo Areas
It’s the age of the selfie, and people love posting and seeing photos of themselves online. Have your printing company create a fun photo backdrop that incorporates your logo and set it up at your next event. You can either let people take their own photos using cell phones, or you can have an employee man the photo station with a good camera — just be sure you let your guests know when and where you’ll be posting the photos online so they can tag themselves and share their photos. As they self promote, they’ll be promoting you, too.
How else can you expand your marketing vocabulary past banners and signs? Share your ideas, no matter how wacky, in the comments.