The DEVIL is in the details

The DEVIL is in the details


When it comes to graphic design, there are big problems out there, and they are getting worse. There is more and more focus on digital media, with print valued less as a primary focus for marketing, and marketing budgets. So on-spec, digitally printed materials are more and more commonplace, high quality print less and less so.

Yet printed materials can offer something that digital cannot – physical proof of quality, personal ‘touchable’ delivery of brand values and slow-consumption marketing messages. This is particularly important when trying to get through to key decision makers.

Just ask yourself these questions:

  • How many senior executives will take the time to work out who has the most credibility or quality via social media?
  • How long will decision makers take to read on screen communications? And if they print them out (or their PA does it for them) what do the materials then look like?
  • Will anyone return to a tweet or email a few days later to read it in more detail?
  • What does a tweet look like lying on a desk?

Now don’t get me wrong, online and social media are fantastic ways to attract business and engagement with your audience. Not only that, but the ability to track and collect data on engagement is incredibly powerful – which is why it is easy to justify larger digital marketing spend.

But there are advantages to including high quality printed media as part of your marketing strategy:

  • Preference. If you analyse your target market carefully, not just in general terms, but for key decision makers and people of influence, you will find that some will prefer a physical ‘takeaway’ that they will have more time to go through at their convenience. This is particularly true of event related activities (exhibitions, trade shows, etc).
  • Uniqueness. The quality of the brand message can be accentuated by the quality of the printing and thoughtful design in a way that digital cannot match. Choice of material, unusual format or colour combinations, folding and finishing cannot be reproduced online, and the very fact that you can create a great brochure, flyer or invitation makes a statement about your credibility and seriousness.
  • Competitive advantage. Good design with quality printing stands out because less companies bother to (or have the ability to) do it properly. Particularly when aiming for senior executives or high net worth clients, you will be seen as part of a smaller ‘credible’ section of the market that knows the clients’ requirements and values.



So maybe you are already using print as a key part of your marketing mix, what are the key elements you have to get right to arrive at a fantastic result?

There are five ways to great design for print:

  1. Define your audience. By knowing the type of people you are targetting (we often workshop ‘personas’ with our clients), what drives them, what they need to know to make the decision to hire you or order from you, you can focus on the right content, the right format and the right follow up strategy
  2. Plan the content. Together with your designer or agency, draft rough content with mix of text and images, illustrations, etc so the initial designs match what you want, saving time and effort later on.
  3. Open your mind. The agency should be briefed to look at the design problems from a wide a range of angles as possible, both from a practical perspective (e.g. size of paper) and creative one – so long as the ideas are in line with your brand and the audience (see 1).
  4. Push for value. Make sure you can get the most out of the project, by pushing the agency to quantify their ideas in terms of cost/benefit, and how the same designs can be used digitally across your other marketing channels.
  5. Details, details, details. Before you press the button to go to press, make sure the document is checked thoroughly, ideally by a professional designer and/or copywriter. Spelling and punctuation are a given, but small touches like pull quotes, background colours, consistent photographic quality or layout structure can make or break the design of a document.

Lastly of course, don’t forget to proof your design, either via pdf, ideally with a printed or wet proof as well. Sometimes seeing a document many times on screen makes it harder to catch those last few areas for improvement without seeing the brochure design ‘in the flesh.

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