Tag Archive for Design

One Way to Save On Printing

Think about common paper sizes. Your printer buys paper from paper mills in standard sizes. Hopefully your printer will try to help you minimize your costs and maximize the amount of the sheet that will be used, so you are not paying for paper that you won’t use or waste.

The most common sizes of paper from paper suppliers are:

  • 17 x 22 inches
  • 19 x 25 inches
  • 20 x 26 inches
  • 23 x 35 inches
  • 25 x 38 inches
  • 28 x 34 inches
  • 26 x 40 inches

We hope that you or your designer will keep these dimensions in mind while your piece is designed. Speaking of things to think about while you design, please talk to us about postage and classification before you go to press. There may be a small alternation that you can make that will save you a large percentage in postage.

Lessons Learned from The Gap’s Attempted Logo Change

BNET recently discussed The Gap’s logo change and the quick abandonment for something that looks much more like the original.

These ideas could share some new insights about brand management.

  1. Consumers own brands. Your brand does not have any value until it is valued by your customers. You might feel your business needs to be rebranded or relaunched, but your opinions are irrelevant: You work for the company. You’re so “inside” you can’t see outside. Proceed with caution!
  2. Consumers are savvy about design in just the same way as they are about media and advertising. The 21st Century has really stripped the mystery from design and advertising. Most consumers have better software on their laptops today than professional designers had on their desktops 20 years ago.
  3. As a result, consumers expect more from professional design. One of the main problems with the Gap’s new logo is that it used a typeface — Helvetica — which everyone has available on their own computers. Similarly, the graduated blue box is also something that virtually everyone can do after just a few minutes fooling around on the most basic graphic design software. This left Gap open to the legit accusation, “My kid could do that!” Redesigns need to be a lot more subtle and complex — even if the aim is to to be simple and clean — than they used to be.
  4. The move saves Gap some money. Changing back its web site is a lot easier than changing back all its store interiors, point-of-purchase material, catalogs, etc.
  5. The change removes uncertainty from the brand. Gap could probably have gotten away with keeping the new logo. Fashion and product trends drive Gap’s business, not typefaces. Most people didn’t even know the logo had changed. With the blue box back on its throne, the risk goes away.

So perhaps your website is a good place to test new design ideas. Can we help you before you go to press with a new idea?

The Power of Typefaces

One of our favorite authors, Pat Friesen, discussed fonts in a recent issue of Target Marketing Magazine.

Select typefaces and fonts for their readability. A typeface is a set of fonts in the same family, such as Arial or Goudy. A font is a single kind of typeface, whether it is Times New Roman bold or Times New Roman in 10 point. For readability in print, this generally means using a serif typeface for body copy and sans serif for headlines, subheads and smaller pieces of copy, such as callouts or captions. Why? Serif type has thick and thin lines with horizontal serifs that pull your eye across the page. Eyes love serif type for denser copy such as books, brochures, ads and magazines.

Arial is commonly used online it is a classic sans serif typeface. The typefaces being used online are changing. Other popular sans serif typefaces for print include Franklin Gothic, Futura, Frutiger and Avant Garde. Online you’ll see Arial, Verdana and Calibri, to name a few.

Two typefaces are usually enough. When you look at typefaces (a.k.a., font families), you quickly see there are “relatives” within the same family—italics, differing weights, condensed, etc. These are good for differentiating copy elements, such as callouts, captions, body copy and sidebars. Your job as a nondesigner is to help your designer understand what needs to be emphasized so he can choose the most effective type treatment.

Use reversed-out type with caution. Be selective about using white type on black or a colored background, because it can be difficult to read. This is especially true in point sizes smaller than 10 point, serif typefaces with thick and thin lines, and in large quantities. While senior eyes may be OK with reversed-out headlines, it’s a no-no for body copy.

How big should type be? The answer varies by typeface, application and audience. But here are guidelines.

12-point font for e-mail marketing messages and at least 12-point for Web page design. He says the most common error in Web page design is using a font that’s too small.

At least 11-point font for body copy; and, if there’s any doubt, go up a size. Letters should be in 11-point or 12-point serif type. Online, he agrees with Bly—11- or 12-point minimum.

Typography is about pacing and message mapping. It’s important to use type as a visual guide for scanners and readers. Eye flow is, in large part, a function of typography.

Ask yourself, “Where do I want the eye to go first?” Using the choices within a typeface encourages readership and controls eye flow. For example, put benefit headlines and subheads in a bold sans serif font for easy scanning and added emphasis. Use italics for customer testimonials to make them stand apart from unquoted words. Create a hierarchy of type used for headlines, subheads, captions, sidebars, bullets and callouts to guide your reader to your call to action.

On the Web, vertical rhythm—the spacing and arrangement of text as the reader scrolls down the page—is influenced by font size, line height, and margins or padding. All must be calculated with care to keep the reader scrolling.

Many marketers think typography consists of selecting a typeface, choosing a font size and deciding between regular or bold. For most, it ends there. But there’s a lot more involved in good typography. It’s these details that often go neglected and take their toll on both readership and response.

Font Fact

Switching fonts could save money and ink. The University of Wisconsin Green Bay’s IT department has changed the default font for all users of Outlook to Century Gothic, and urges users to switch the default font in other applications too. The IT department said Century Gothic requires 30% less ink in printouts than Arial, the most commonly used default font. Ink accounts for about 60% of the cost of a printed page.

Tips for Compelling Mail

Use your own list

Your own list of customers and prospects who know you and have previously responded to your advertisements will generate a much greater response. Update your list frequently with changed addresses.

What is in it for the reader

What excites you may not be what resonates with your audience. What’s most important to your reader isn’t your product or service; it’s how that product or service improves their life. Talk in terms of their interests to generate a higher response rate.

Personalize your message

Past customers won’t need the same message as potential clients who have never dealt with your company. The more relevant the message is for your intended audience, the better your response rate.

Get past the recycle bin

To get your direct mail piece past the shredder and into the right hands:

  • Address to a specific person, not just a job title or occupant.
  • For business mail, use a standard size envelope and make it look like personal correspondence as much as possible.
  • Also for business mail, try using language like “Requested Information Enclosed” so it looks like the addressee is expecting it.
  • Using a stamp usually increases response.

Make it easy for the recipient to respond

Many mail pieces have gone out without complete contact information. Make sure to include your phone number, website address, email address and any other way your want to interact. And if people contact you, make sure you get back to them right away.

Examples of Writing for the Senses

Marcia Yudkin wrote some ideas in her weekly email “The Marketing Minute” for ways to involve the senses of readers in marketing copy. She was attracted to a magazine ad for Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic:

“You’re welcomed by warm smiles, slapping dominoes and whispering trade winds.  Here, you can share sunsets with artists and fishermen as merengue rhythms course through the streets like mountain streams.”

These sentences evoke visual, auditory and kinesthetic sensations.

Warm smiles – feel and see them

Slapping dominoes – hear and see them

Whispering trade winds – hear and feel them

Share sunsets – feel and see

Artists and fisherman – watch them

Merengue rhythms – hear and feel

Course through the streets – see the movement

Like mountain streams – see and hear

Resolve to use more vivid sensory language into your marketing copy – even if you sell something abstract, like computer security, legal compliance or increased confidence.

Evoke seeing:

An iron wall against invaders

Feds bursting into your office

Evoke hearing:

The clink of a prison cell door

The swoosh of a credit card swipe

Evoke feeling:

Your shoulders straight and tall

Are you itching to start writing yet? How can we help you engage your readers with more sensation? What about mail that can be touched and felt to deliver the sensation?

Marketing and Color

Deliver Magazine talked to Cynthia Cornell a color researcher with Color Communications. She offered some loose meanings for colors.

Blue-based reds (like raspberry) are associated with more expensive products

Yellow based reds (like tomato) are imagined to be less expensive

Orange can play up affordability

Yellow is the first color the eye sees, when it is used with a dark color for high contrast, it becomes more powerful and easily read

Green conveys possibility and hope

Blue connotes confidence and safety, it is a great choice for financial and medical institution mailers

Purple is very popular right now, but it is traditionally used with high fashion, sports teams or sweet treats

Black conveys a strong sense of power, promise and the ability for high contrasts. Add sheen or matte to black and it becomes more powerful

White implies sophistication and formality, but also a high-end price point

Does this refresher about color inspire you to try something new with your design? Can we review your ideas or help you put them into new idea?

For Designers

As you work on putting together your direct mail piece, one designer shares his rules. Some of them may be valid for you, others maybe not. We just want to get you started.

From: Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual by Timothy Samara

  1. Have a concept
  2. Communicate don’t decorate
  3. Speak with one visual voice
  4. Use two typefaces maximum
  5. Show one thing first
  6. Pick colors on purpose
  7. If you can do more with less, do it.
  8. Negative space is magical
  9. Treat type as image
  10. Keep type friendly
  11. Be universal, it’s not about you
  12. Squish and separate: create rhythms in density and openness
  13. Firecrackers and rising sun: distribute light and dark
  14. Be decisive
  15. Measure with your eyes
  16. Make what you need; don’t scavenge
  17. Ignore fashion
  18. Move it! Static equals dull
  19. Look to history, but don’t repeat it
  20. Symmetry is not good

Postcard Design Idea Sparks

We found some ideas about postcard design at this site from Chuck Green on Ideabook.com.

What is the purpose of a post card?

“Greetings from” and rotating racks decorated with pictures of places great and small—those are the type of messages associated with post cards. The marketing potential of a simple card is unbounded. You can show something such as a photograph of a new product, a remodeled showroom or the impressive gear you use to provide your service. You can double your advertising impact by sending cards to your mailing list with a reprint of your magazine ad. Send a reminder of an upcoming event. Ask for an appointment and follow up with a phone call. Step one? Establish a clear mission for your card.

Why is it done the way it’s done

Why are post cards designed the way they are? For reasons of cost and contact. First, since private postal cards were authorized by Congress in the late 1800’s, they have been the among the least expensive way to put a printed piece in the hands of your prospect. And because a standard post card can’t be smaller than 3 1/2 by 5 inches or larger than 4 1/4 by 6 inches it is easy to handle, sort, and deliver. Plus, the design improves your odds of making contact. A post card message is out in the open, eliminating the real possibility your prospect might toss a sealed envelope.

If cost is less important than impact, you may spend a few cents more to mail a card up to 6 1/8 by 11 1/2 inches—a size that demands more attention.

How can You do it most effectively?

With your mission and a strategy established, the challenge is to execute effectively. Let’s say you have a list of a few hundred prospects with whom you hope to establish a relationship. You could use the shotgun approach and run a series of ads in a local publication that you hope they might see. Or you could pinpoint your prospects by printing a half dozen series of post cards, each featuring a different advantage of doing business with you, and mail them, one each month for the next six months. Which would be more effective?

Start with these post card ideas and create your own variations, see more information about postcards.

  1. Bust the size barrier. Once you exceed the 4 1/4 by 6 inch maximum for a standard-sized card, you may as well take advantage of the 6 1/8 by 11 1/2 inch maximum. You’ll pay extra to mail it, but this super-sized format allows more dramatic graphics and a more detailed message.
  2. Request a response. Every good marketing piece has a specific call to action. Why not ask your prospect to respond on the spot? This post card has two missions—first, to request some survey information. The “How’d we do?” half is detached and returned to the sender by business reply mail. The second half, labeled “Keep this card by your phone,” is a way to keep the company’s name in front of the customer. The postage for this 2-card format may be higher, but the added value can be well worth it.
  3. Work the cliche. The old-fashioned picture post card is a theme you can use to your advantage. This design plays on what you expect a post card to be. But what looks like a souvenir from a museum is actually an announcement from a restaurant. A painting by the Impressionist Monet graces one side, the message, set in elegant type is opposite.
  4. Make contact. The reason direct mail is all dressed up with fonts and graphics is because it wasn’t long ago letters and cards were mostly handwritten—fancy type and pictures were something different. Today, the opposite true? Don’t you pay special attention to a handwritten message? The idea here is to print a supply of post cards on which you can jot down messages that keep you in the front of your customer’s mind.
  5. Create a ticket. When you use a post card as a discount coupon or a ticket to an event, you raise the possibility of a response. The message here is obvious—bring the card in and get a discount.
  6. Publish a mystery. You may have seen this technique used on billboards—pieces are added one at a time until, one day, you drive by and discover the total message. The same type of mystery message can be posted and solved in a series of post cards. You simply divide the finished message into puzzle pieces and sent them in sequence. In most cases, the cost of printing cards drops substantially when you print several different designs at the same time—you may be surprised to find how practical this possibility is.
  7. Make news. Post cards are great for spreading the news. Next time a new captain takes the wheel, you move to a new location, announce a product, or add a new service—publish the news by post card.

Direct Mail Hot Spots

Target Marketing Magazine published a great article a couple of years ago about how readers eyes move around a mail piece. We all do this so many times without thinking.

A hot spot is where your eye goes first when you look at a postcard, outer envelope, catalog spread, direct mail letter, space ad or even an e-mail.

Most of us had our first experience with hot spots in elementary school when we looked for easy ways to study for tests. We wanted to pick out key points to review without reading entire chapters. What did we do?

We looked at chapter titles, subheads, terms in boldface type, maps, charts, graphs, photos, and the captions under them. In other words, we looked at hot spots. From this experience, we’ve trained ourselves to look for eye-grabbing design and copy elements. We use these signs for scanning copy and deciding whether or not we’ll read the rest. Here are 10 things every direct mail writer, designer and approving manager should know about hot spots; nine tips for putting these road signs in action; and six techniques to avoid.

What You Need to Know

  1. All formats have hot spots. This applies to postcards, self-mailers, letters, envelopes, brochures, order forms, catalogs, e-mail, space ads and even buck slip inserts.
  2. Some hot spots are innate to the direct mail component in which they’re found, such as the return address on an outer envelope or the saluation or P.S. in  a letter. (Did you know 30 percent of the people read the P.S. first?)
  3. Other hot spots are created to capture and direct the reader’s attention, such as the dot-whack teaser on an outer envelope or corner slash on a catalog cover.
  4. Outer envelope hot spots include: corner card/return address in the upper left-hand corner, addressing, postage, teaser copy on front or back and the back flap.
  5. A checklist of letter hot spots include: letterhead/masthead, salutation, first sentence, first paragraph, Johnson box area in the upper-right corner, last paragraph, signature and title, P.S., P.P.S., P.P.P.S., copy underlined or indented, bulleted, or boldface copy, indented subheads, and handwriting in the margins.
  6. Hot spots are useful for controlling eye flow. For example, if someone reads only three things in your letter, which three things do you want him to read? And how can you use hot spots to make sure they get read?
  7. You have three seconds or less to grab your reader’s attention; hot spots are critical for quickly getting the reader involved in your mail piece.
  8. Direct mail designers use type fonts and sizes, background colors, borders, violators, copy placement, images, callouts and other graphic tools to create hot spots.
  9. Direct mail writers create compelling hot-spot copy using the words “you” or “free”, customer testimonials, major benefits, strong calls to action, action verbs at the start of sentences and headlines, and other direct response techniques.
  10. Hot spots are a team effort; writers and designers need to work together to make them effective.

Hot Spots in Action

  1. Add a person or group of people to the photo of your office building or store, and you’ll transform the photo into a more interesting hot spot. The eye naturally is drawn to photos that include people or human elements, such as hands, feet or eyes.
  2. Double the impact of photos by adding captions. When your reader looks at a photo, he or she looks below the photo for a caption. Use captions to highlight major benefits, focus on points of competitive differentiation or provide a strong call to action.
  3. Create hot spots that break up long copy by using headlines, and subheads, photo captions, bullets, violators, testimonials, sidebar stories, charts, icons drawing attention to phone numbers and URLs and callouts. Rarely is a letter, brochure, insert or order form read from top to bottom, start to finish. Readers look for copy interests them in bite-size pieces.
  4. Use hot spots on response devices to restate benefits, showcase your guarantee, restate the call to action and response options, provide methods of payment, and offer shipping options.
  5. State and restate major benefits in hot spots so your benefit story won’t get overlooked.
  6. Position your major benefit at the beginning of a sentence, paragraph or headline. Don’t bury it in the middle.
  7. Do not color-coordinate every component in your mailing. Instead, use a bright yellow free gift insert or fluorescent-orange burst to highlight a customer testimonial in your letter.
  8. Use hot spots appropriately. They don’t necessarily have to be big or bold. For example, the salutation of a letter doesn’t need to be large, colorful or even personalized to draw the readers eye to draw the readers eye to it. It’s a natural hot spot. However, it does need to be appropriately accurate to establish a rapport between the individual receiving and the person signing the letter. Used appropriately, “Dear Friend” and “Dear Preferred Customer” can both be equally effective. Be very careful with “Dear Sir” it is not appropriate or effective with women.
  9. Use hot spots strategically to gently move the reader’s eye from one place to another. Don’t fill your outer envelope with bright bursts of copy and expect it to get read. Too much of a good thing is not a good idea.

Words of Caution

As much as hot spots encourage scanners to become readers, there also are techniques that stifle readership. In most cases, you want to avoid:

  1. dense copy blocks filled with long sentences;
  2. large amounts of copy in difficult-to-read red or reversed-out type;
  3. long headlines in all caps;
  4. gray-screened backgrounds for copy;
  5. body copy in smaller than 10-point type and/or in sans serif type; and
  6. justified copy that creates odd word spacing.

How else can we inspire you to lead your readers eyes with Direct Mail?