Posts filed under ‘design’

Connect With Customers Through Color

Watched HGTV lately? Color trends come and go in the interior design world, so I thought it would be interesting to see if the print world follows suit. Do you know what colors are currently forecasted to be “hot?” How often do you reinvent your print collateral to coincide with such trends? Is your color palette universal enough to stand the test of time?

Believe it or not, color speaks to people with great emotion. What are your paper products saying to your customers?

“Color trends are not conjured up using a crystal ball. They are the result of much observation of our surrounding natural world as well as the influences that will impact our world in the future,” Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®

According to Pantone, an X-Rite company, and the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for design industries, name a few factors that play into the selection of color trends: socioeconomic issues, technology, lifestyles, entertainment, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, the needs, moods, fantasies and aspirations of CONSUMERS!

Eight featured palettes in PANTONE VIEW home + interiors 2010 offers the newest colors and combinations to best express directional themes for 2010. CMYK printing equivalents are ALSO supplied to accurately reproduce the forecasted colors in marketing materials, in-store signs and packaging.

With our unpredictable economy, is it worthwhile to look at our print materials with an eye to color? What do our color palettes need to convey in such economic unrest?

I believe consumers are looking more to the “old days” for a sense of elegance and a return to quality. Making the old new again appeals to our sense of practicality and resourcefulness – qualities which are definitely back in style. Products and services that also connect emotionally have a better chance of appealing to our cautious consumerism.

What SINGLE color do you think can take us back and make us feel nostalgic and secure…Pantone has announced that the Color of the Year 2010 is… PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise, an inviting, luminous hue.

Combining the serene qualities of blue and the invigorating aspects of green, Turquoise inspires thoughts of soothing, tropical waters and a comforting escape from the everyday troubles of the world, while at the same time restoring our sense of wellbeing.”

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According to Pantone, whether envisioned as a tranquil ocean surrounding a tropical island or a protective stone warding off evil spirits, Turquoise is a color that most people respond to positively. It is universally flattering, has appeal for men and women, and translates easily to fashion and interiors. With both warm and cool undertones, Turquoise pairs nicely with any other color in the spectrum. Turquoise adds a splash of excitement to neutrals and browns, complements reds and pinks, creates a classic maritime look with deep blues, livens up all other greens, and is especially trend-setting with yellow-greens.

Looks like we can’t go wrong with turquoise – add a splash where it works within your current style guidelines. Perhaps your design already has a placeholder for each year’s current color trend. If not, give it some thought!

May 19, 2010 at 7:07 am Leave a comment

Something Worth Holding

As gizmos like the iPad and Kindle take technology to new levels of customer comfort, messaging through interactive touch is the new “little black dress.” Thankfully, for tactical –minded people, holding something, feeling its texture, sensing its smell, and evaluating its texture and quality is in fashion.

For those in the print world, this might seem to scream, “Quit taking our beloved paper goods away!” But alas, this is a golden opportunity to take advantage of the romance with touch. Get creative with your print materials. Have a little fun with some redesigns and actually give your customers something worth holding!

Let’s talk specifics. What about your business card design?

Designs are a journey, they connect people. They connect the consumer with the producer through a product or service.

According to fellow blogger Nick Barker,

“Design is all around us – the chair you are sitting on, the keyboard you are touching and the building you find yourself in. Design is at the heart of everything. I believe what makes a good design is a holistic creation right through a product or service. A design should effectively connect the consumer with the product or service.”

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May 10, 2010 at 12:11 pm Leave a comment

How we React to Color – Tips for Commercial Printing

Even in the wilds of nature, color plays an intensive role in behavior, attraction and aversion. Color is informative. It tells a creature whether or not something is probably safe to eat, as well as whether or not another creature is weakened, sickly or healthy. Color has the power to alter moods. Softer oceanic colors can soothe frazzled nerves, high energy neon colors dazzle and delight the night life crowds, and power colors adorn the workspaces of professionals that understand the profound effect their surroundings can have on their productivity and focus. With so much to be communicated via proper coloration, and with certain tasks being better suited to certain colors, any professional working in commercial printing would do well to put extensive thought into the subtle or explosive messages they are sending with the palette they select for each project.

Successful commercial printing first requires a clear and goal-oriented identification of the overall mood or schema of the project at hand. Publishing with the intent to advertize will usually require a far different set of shades than that required by publishing with the intent to inform. Taking a moment beforehand to clearly define the project goals and intentions will pay dividends down the road in terms of successful and relevant visual themes.

Once the goals are defined, it’s time to choose the best colors for the particular job. Advertizing material, which is always designed to be eye-catching and visually distinct from information surrounding it, benefits greatly from oppositional colors that create strong contrast to the human eye, and thereby increased reactive interest. Notice how often advertizing materials feature dichromatic balloons, banners, or bubbles in yellow and red.

Because these two colors are naturally strong signals for the human brain, due to their wide prevalence in the wild as indicators of food edibility or the shock of blood, they cast a powerful spell all their own upon modern readers. At the same time, their placements on the light spectrum cause them to be mutually enhancing. Red and yellow trimmed informational boxes are even more noticeable than either solid red boxes or solid yellow boxes.

The overall effect achieved by these two colors when synthesized by the human brain is one of heightened attention. Countless other such combinations exist, each with their own varying thematic message. Deep greens, when commingled with dark or soft browns suggest earthy peacefulness, growth and the natural world.

Tinkering with these combinations and allowing time for various color themes to show their ultimate thematic effects can greatly enhance any commercial printing project. Likewise, identifying the target audience of any particular publication and making educated guesses as to their thematic expectations or moods will increase the overall effectiveness of assembled content. Brochures designed to woo potential retirees to a beach community, for example, should display the area being promoted in soft, relaxing, pleasant hues. A mixture between the tranquil blue comfort of sea and sky and the entrancing sherbet swirls of a sunset will strongly deliver the message that it’s time to buy tickets.

April 25, 2010 at 8:32 am Leave a comment

Essentials of Call to Action for Commercial Printing Marketing

When it comes to commercial printing, a call to action is an essential marketing concept. Call to action refers to a request made on behalf of the advertiser for the prospect, or potential customer, to do something in regards to a product or service. Basically, an advertiser issues an effective call to action in order to persuade a buyer to move closer toward making an actual purchase. Understanding and effectively employing this concept is absolutely essential to directing a successful marketing or advertising campaign, and a good call to action answers the following question in the mind of the advertisement’s reader: “That’s interesting. Now what do I do?”

Commercial printing applications for the call to action concept are as diverse as the possible mediums for advertising. Web to print applications could include buttons that visitors click in order to begin purchasing a good or service. Web to print applications above all others, in fact, require a sound understanding and implementation of this concept, considering the sheer volume of retail business being done on the internet every second.

In terms of hard copy media, some examples of effective calls to action include instructions for a customer to call an 800 number in order to discuss the product with a company representative. Coupon campaigns in local supermarket pamphlets or direct mailing packets are another effective call to action, as they inspire customers to directly seek out the goods and services that are being discounted. In terms of the internet, every time an advertisement mentions a website to be visited for more information, they are essentially issuing a call to action.

To this end, it is the responsibility of the marketer to drum up fresh and exciting ways to issue effective calls to action to their customer base as well as new prospects. A local business owner could promote a new opening by distributing materials that advertise rock-bottom opening specials so long as patrons come within a certain small window of time.

Successful web-based marketing campaigns have used the full spectrum of today’s available technology to reach customers at home and on the go. Offering free content such as ringtones, pictures or music in exchange for the telephone numbers of customers that SMS or text a certain number via a cell phone is one way that clever marketers are generating current and active customer data.

Specifically to the realm of the web, today the name of the game is free give-away content or service. Many successful sites offer a compelling web or information based service at two simultaneous levels. New users that register using basic personal information are eligible to use the service at a basic level for free, but may be restricted to a certain number of uses per day or bandwidth constrictions, for example. Once they are thusly introduced to the service, customers often opt to pay a flat monthly fee or one time upgrade fee in order to enjoy the full features of the service with all trial restrictions lifted.

April 18, 2010 at 8:53 am Leave a comment

Tips for Using Quark Correctly in Commercial Printing

If you’re new to the wonders of Quark for desktop publishing and commercial printing, or even if you’re an advanced user, avoiding some of these common Quark mistakes will make your working experience smoother and less stressful.

One of the most common mistakes new users of Quark is to fail to register their software. Though tossing the registration card in the trashcan along with the plastic wrap packaging of any new software is habit for many people, you should think twice in this case. Registering with Quark has several distinct advantages. For one, registering with quark puts you into Quark’s user database. This automatically entitles you to 90 days of free after-purchase technical support, which can be invaluable should any unexpected platform or hardware problems slow your digital presses to a crawl.

Another common error involves the overuse of fonts on a single project. Tempting though it may be to run wild through the list from arial to zapf chancery, keep in mind that professional publishers rarely if ever employ more than two separate fonts on a single page. With a little practice and some time and effort, you can achieve a striking level of design and eye-appeal with correct image and text placement, color schemes and layout. In fact, the same basic idea of less is more applies to the total amount of content you put on one page.

Overcrowded pages full of different clashing colors, jammed-in images and pictures, and rocketing text bars looks overzealous at best and downright clownish at worst. Some subtlety and room for the eye to move will ultimately be appreciated by your audience. Pages with too much going on, and those blanketed in contrasting swaths of neon and animated graphics will quite literally become eyesores that are unlikely to generate repeat traffic.

Consider, instead, some of your favorite websites, especially ones you visit repeatedly. Chances are they have sleek, simple and elegant templates or navigational bars. Their color scheme is uniform and somewhat understated but still unique and appealing. You know exactly where you are once the page loads and it’s easy and comfortable for your eyes to scan the page and read long blocks of text.

Take a lesson from such sites and apply their general simplicity to your commercial printing project. Especially in environments where several postings or publications are competing for public attention, it’s the tastefully designed but visually pleasant publications that are likely to get the most consideration.
A final word to the wise Quark user involves master pages. These are like templates for your commercial printing project, and they define and keep track of those elements of your publication that are going to be unchanged from page to page.

Logos, headers, business address footers, for example, are all in the realm of master pages. Creating and using master pages will halve your production time while simultaneously ensuring the continuity and uniformity of your product. They quite easily reduce the possibility for error and omission, and therefore should not be overlooked.

April 17, 2010 at 8:58 am Leave a comment

The Difference Between RGB and CMYK Colors for Web to Print Ventures

As anyone who has ever had the basic science class lecture about color spectrum knows, interpreting all the millions of different colors we see each day is a very complicated process for the human eye and brain. It’s all the more difficult when trying to design and program a monitor or computer program to correctly receive and display similar color information. Various different file formats, technologies and display types only further complicate the matter, but developing a competent sense of these aspects and their key differences is essential to success in any web to print venture. The two major types of color displays used in computing environments are RGB and CMYK.

The first type, RGB, is an acronym for red, green, blue and is known as an additive coloration mode. In order to understand this terminology, it helps to first think of the computer screen and its totally black background. It is upon this black background that the tiny networks of lights in the screen display their various hues, essentially adding coloration to the black of the background in order to make up the final target value which the user sees displayed. The RGB coloration mode is typically used to render colors within monitors and computer screens.

The second type, CMYK, which stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, black, is known as a subtractive coloration mode. Ultimately intended to be applied to white printer paper, CMYK is considered subtractive because it calculates its correct hues by subtracting from the initial brightness of the paper in order to make up the final target value. For this very reason, CMYK uses lighter secondary colors than those used by RGB coloration modes. This is due to the fact that producing darker tones via the CMYK method would require a great deal more ink. The CMYK coloration mode is intended for use in paper printing applications.

Given these basic stipulations, successful and efficient development of web to print applications and products requires some consideration of which coloration modes are best suited to a particular project, as well as the respective advantages and disadvantages of each. For example, consider the fact that, due to its method of building up printed colors on a white page, the RGB coloration method must repeatedly blend a great deal of ink together in order to achieve the color black, since it can only combine red, green and blue. CMYK, on the other hand, has a true black available and can therefore apply a single tone of appropriate intensity.

This ability of the CMYK model significantly reduces the amount of image blurring and paper stress that can occur whenever an RGB coloration model is attempting to achieve black. RGB also underperforms in this situation because its constant re-applications of the three colors usually serves to overly saturate the printing medium. It can also ultimately fail to achieve a rich enough black by blending only red, green and blue. In short, the differences between RGB and CMYK are pronounced, and cannot be overlooked in web to print projects.

April 16, 2010 at 9:50 am Leave a comment

The Basics of InDesign’s Control Palette for Commercial Printing

Commercial printing publishers, graphic designers and casual users alike have reason to celebrate Adobe’s InDesign software for its customizability and robustness of functionality. Knowing how it differs from other commonly used web to print publishing software is essential to getting the full use out of this software. Because the basic features of this software are easy to overlook but always applicable throughout the course of a design project, a quick refresher is in order for anyone hoping to get the most out of their InDesign experience.

The customizable menu bar, which defaults to being docked at the top of your workspace in InDesign, features a special palette known as the control palette. This is the palette which changes in appearance and functionality to reflect any new tool selection made by the user. This control palette also contains the item measurements of any object you create or select within the workspace. For example, if you were to create a rectangular shape in the center of the workspace and then select it, you would notice the X and Y coordinates of this new object being displayed in the control palette.

These coordinates are very helpful when it comes to properly aligning various elements within your project or positioning single elements precisely. Because web to print and commercial printing applications, for example, demand a high level of precision in order to guarantee proper image displays on hard copies, it’s important to make note of these coordinates.

When you select your rectangle, you will notice a display of various little black boxes. When the center box is selected, you are telling InDesign to use the corresponding center of the rectangle as the reference point. Based off this reference point, the software will display the applicable coordinates. If you were to click a different reference point box, such as one in a corner, InDesign will likewise show you the applicable coordinates based off your new selection.

Other key elements of the control palette include the H and W values. These offer the user at-a-glance measurements of the height and width of their selected object. Another handy tool provided for managing the size and shape of your object is represented in the small chain icon nearby. Clicking this chain icon tells the program to constrain the selected object’s height and width in order to preserve a constant scale.

Basically, if you increase the height of a constrained object, its width will increase proportionally, and vice versa. This is a great time saving tool whenever you’re trying to create a banner or graphic for, say, a print on demand product that requires a totally filled space. In the same vein, should you find yourself having trouble manually expanding an object or image to take up the exact amount of space required, you can directly type over the displayed H and W values in order to tailor your object to your exact specifications. In this case, the chain feature serves the same purpose and will behave just as it would in a manual expansion.

April 16, 2010 at 8:42 am Leave a comment

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