Personalized Bandanas: Paisley, Personalized, Print to Order

 

Custom Paisley Silkscreened Bandanas

GREAT IDEA – why not put your logo and tag line on a bandana! They make a great as promotional products or swag gifts for customers, or to display for sale. The classic bandana with a paisley pattern seems to never go out of style. (You can read about the facsinating history of the bandana here.) We love these custom printed bandanas that incorporate a customer logo seamlessly into that classic design. They are lightweight woven cotton with screen printing in white and come in the whole rainbow of colors you would expect. We’d love to help you get set up with your own – to get started just click here or give us a call: 828-684-4512.

Pet Bandanas

The pet bandana version is also pretty awesome – a triangular shape makes it easier to tie around your best friend’s neck. They come in different sizes to fit the tiniest dogs or cats or some king-size buddies. The entire imprint area can be designed with your repeating logo or with some other shape or design of your choice. You can find this item here (along with thousands of other promotional products you can browse and order).

Color assortment of custom printed bandanasYou’ll need a version of your logo that works reversed out in all white with no screens – and we can help you with that. In our large bandana sample here, we used the logo at a larger size in the center, and then in four smaller imprint areas on each of the four corners. When folded, you’ll always see one of the logos. You might want to include a tagline or web address as well if the imprint area works better with that information.

Developing your logo in different variants is important for multichannel marketing. Never settle for one “FINAL” version of your logo from your designer with the idea that it can multitask for every need. Your mark can exist in different “flavors” that will be versatile enough to work in full color, single color with screens, spot color and at different sizes from tiny imprints to billboard size, offset to online. The standard full color logo that looks just perfect on your letterhead may not be the version that works for embroidery on uniforms, screenprinting, promotional products, black and white forms, single color designs, or wide format prints. For versatility of use, it’s also great to have your logo designed in a “Tall” (portrait) and “Wide” (landscape) version. Think about it: what might look good on a round coaster might look pretty tiny if you decide to print it on the side of a pencil!

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 to order your bandanas, or for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Foil Stamping Shines – More Options from Metallics

Foil Stamping - Hot, Cold and Digital

Foil stamping is a great way to add eye-catching shine and metallic glow to your print projects. Even a small touch of foil on a printed piece can bring it alive in a way regular inks never can. Foils have been around a long time (having once been done by hand) and today there are also several new digital and toner-based processes that can help meet the demands of any print budget, deadline, or run length. From the design side, defining the foil stamp area is generally no harder than defining a new spot color in your layout.

Probably the most well-known foiling process is Hot Foil Stamping. It requires a special metal die that is heated and pressed into the paper, creating a nice indentation in the finished piece. The hot foil process uses only one color of foil at a time, and is generally too costly for short runs. The final effect, however, elevates any print piece from average to classic – in other words, perfect for that customer who always says to “make it pop!”

Sample Foil Swatches Cold Foil Transfer is accomplished on a 6-color press. The first 2 units apply adhesive and foil, the other 4 are for CMYK printing. Overprinting CMYK onto the foil creates a whole gamut of metallic colors that would not be possible with one-color hot foil stamping. Besides gold, silver, and copper foil, there are also holographic foils which reflect a broad spectrum of colors back to the eye, as well as matte, gloss, pearled and pigmented foils from which to choose. Again, this can be a costly process, is often limited to coated stock only, and is not a great fit for a short-run budget.

New digital processes use either toner or a polymer varnish to attach the metallic foil, and can be cost-effective on short or medium sized runs. Also, metallic foil substrates are a great option – opaque CMYK inks are illuminated by the metallic media, and white can be under printed on specific elements to retain true or non-metallic color where desired. PaperSpecs has a great “Foil Cheat Sheet” you can download free here, outlining all the current processes.

InDesign Layout for Foil Stamping

To define the foil stamp area in your layout, just make all those objects be a new spot color – name it “FOIL” if you choose. You can get clear specs from your vendor or PSP, but in short they will need a separation from your design that only contains the area to be “foiled.” Foil stamping is also a great option when choosing from the huge variety of promotional products that can be branded for your marketing. Foiling can be used on most items from keychains to coffee mugs – in a wide variety of colors and finishes.

And speaking of varnishes, spot UV varnish coatings can give a flash of highlights to a printed piece in much the same way a metallic foil does. When the paper catches the light, these elements shine and give the illusion of depth and dimension but in a more subtle way than a metallic ink or foil. They too are simply defined in prepress as a spot color separation in the same way the foil is setup.spot UV coating adds gloss to print

So the options are out there today for employing great metallic foils and effects without any extra hassle for design, prepress, or budget concerns. The main limitation is often envisioning what the final product will look like — you will not really be able to create a digital or hard copy proof that will accurately preview the often stunning effects foil stamping can create. Perhaps the best way to do that is to ask your print provider for a sample of previous projects that successfully used foil. They should be happy to help you out.

In fact, rely on your printer for advice and direction with all of your integrated marketing. They should be able to provide you with everything from encouragement along the way to complete design, layout, copywriting, production, multi-purposing, online implmentation and distribution of your marketing outreach. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Print and Direct Mail Still Drive Integrated Marketing

Direct Mail Works

Just like fashion or the weather, trends in marketing tend to be cyclical – a decade or more ago the old chorus of “Print is Dead” was being sung by many in marketing looking toward the future. The excitement over the power of email, big data, social media, and online advertising worked to diminish an appreciation of the usefulness of paper, printing, and direct mail. And just like the weather, that excitement has been tempered over time with the realization that a mix of all these marketing tools will always be the most effective – and that print/direct mail has unique properties that can drive customer decision-making in ways a phone or laptop screen never will.

The nice part about this for the small business is that this holds true for their local outreach just as much as for the huge corporate players or the tech-savvy, flashy startups with national campaigns.  A recent Vox article explored “Why so many hip startups advertise with snail mail.” They note the cyclical trends of marketing and that print is making a comeback (even among the hip!) due to a combination of rising digital pricing and oversaturation of email/digital ads. The Vox article hesitates to actually praise the time-tested value of print advertising too readily:

“Are mailers more effective than online advertising? That’s certainly up for debate. No company Vox spoke with for this story would share numbers that compared the response rate of mailers to digital advertising.” link

 

Luckily, we don’t really need them to share that in order to see how a multi-channel approach to marketing harnesses the power of both print and digital (and we can check with the DMA for that data). The exact mix of those two that will prove most cost effective and successful varies based on business size, budget, location, goals, etc.

In the non-profit world direct mail has consistently been a staple to fundraising and survival. Check out these stats:

  • Direct mail increases online donations by 40%.

  • In 2012, US companies generated incremental sales through direct marketing to the tune of $2.2 trillion.

  • Advertisers in the US spend $167 per person on direct mail, earning $2,095 worth of goods sold. That’s a 1,255% return on investment.

  • Non-profits gain 78% of their donations from direct mail.

Source: PrintisBig.com
 
 

Yes, direct mail requires an investment upfront that can be larger than digital, but the longevity, focus, and the physical qualities of print reap larger rewards with name retention, response rates and ultimately ROI. The Digital Marketing Association reports that their 2017 research shows:

“Once again, direct mail response rates rank stronger than digital channels, sometimes exponentially: at 5.1% for house lists and 2.9% for prospect lists, mail response rates consistently exceed the 2% response rate of all digital channels combined.”

Rather than seeing an EITHER/OR situation between direct mail and new digital alternatives, embrace the opportunities of mobile marketing, qr codes, email, social media and website e-commerce as a whole new box of tools to get our your message and/or drive sales. To abandon print and it’s proven effectiveness in that transition will prove costly!

Rely on your printer for advice and direction with integrated marketing. They should be able to provide you with everything from encouragement along the way to complete design, layout, copywriting, production, multi-purposing, online implmentation and distribution of your marketing outreach. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Nonprofits, Charities Face Challenges of New Tax Law – Will Direct Mail Come to the Rescue?

Volunteer with donation jar

The new tax law passed by Congress in December 2017 has charitable fundraisers and nonprofits from the local level to the international level concerned. According to some estimates, the changes will potentially drain from $16 billion to $24 billion from the nonprofit sector each year. The reasons are clear: the law doubles the standard deduction for individuals and couples, making it unreasonable for millions to itemize their deductions and therefore eliminating an incentive to make or increase charitable contributions. Also, by raising the estate tax, the law erodes incentive to receive tax benefits by leaving bequests to charitable foundations. Many feel that smaller, locally based charities will be hit the hardest.

Of course, the generosity of Americans will not be diminished by changes in tax law (and not all of the changes are necessarily bad news for nonprofits). But the concerns overall are very real, and highlight the importance of giving now more than ever. Brian Gallagher, president of United Way International, feels that while people will still give they will not give as much. Why? Charitable contributions for the majority of people will be taxed.

These developments mean nonprofits will be more eager than ever to take advantage of smart, proven marketing/fundraising strategies. The strategic use of quality direct mail for charities and nonprofits is a proven winner, and should not be overlooked in marketing strategy plans for the years ahead.

Over at PrintisBig.com, you will find some eye-opening statistics about the print industry, and specifically about the power of direct mail – yes, good old-fashined direct mail, even in a digital age. While I would attribute part of the continued effectiveness of direct mail campaigns for marketing to their integration with other online and offline marketing methods, it looks like the preference of consumers for the physical nature of printed matter still pays off in increased conversion rates and marketing ROI. Also, small companies and non-profits are reaping the benefits of VDP personalization in increasingly targeted campaigns that drive up response rates as their database management matures. A couple of the stats from PrintisBig:

  • Direct mail increases online donations by 40%.

  • In 2012, US companies generated incremental sales through direct marketing to the tune of $2.2 trillion.

  • Advertisers in the US spend $167 per person on direct mail, earning $2,095 worth of goods sold. That’s a 1,255% return on investment.

  • Non-profits gain 78% of their donations from direct mail.

Source: PrintisBig.com
 

Rather than seeing an EITHER/OR situation between direct mail and new digital alternatives, embrace the opportunities of mobile marketing, qr codes, email, social media and website e-commerce as a whole new box of tools to get our your message and/or drive sales. To abandon print and it’s proven effectiveness in that transition will prove costly!

Current wisdom seems to say that millennials are less influenced by traditional print marketing in favor of online, digital ads. But the facts dispute this. Direct mail for millennials is still a trusted, welcome source of information and studies are showing that the most effective strategies always involve a mix of print and digital. Many who eventually donate online will have found you because they were first interested in a direct mail piece which directed them to the convenience of online giving.

As a nonprofit or charity fundraiser, rely on your printer for advice and direction with integrated marketing. They should be able to provide you with everything from encouragement along the way to complete design, layout, copywriting, production, multi-purposing, online implmentation and distribution of your marketing outreach. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

USPS Stamps Have a New Feel – Textured Coatings & Thermochromic Ink

 

USPS Stamps: Textured Sports Stamps and Thermochromic Ink Eclipse Stamps

The USPS continues to excel with great design, print and marketing ideas in their innovative new postage stamps. Their newest releases take the plain printed stamp to a whole new experience level. They combine cool, engaging print techniques with a topical interest in current events and culture.

USPS Sports Stamps

In honor of the America’s favorite sports, the USPS chose the kick off of the U.S. Open golf championship to debut a series of stamps with an actual “feel.” The Have a Ball! Forever stamps are round, and honor the sports of baseball, basketball, football, golf, kickball, soccer, tennis, and volleyball. Each has a special textured coating to simulate the surface of each ball. You can feel the baseball’s stitching, the golf ball’s dimples, the tennis ball’s seams, raised panels on a soccer ball and volleyball, and the unique patterns of a football, basketball and kickball. For the philatelist, you can order first-day-of-issue postmarks and first-day covers here. On Twitter, follow the hashtag of #Haveaballstamps.

Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever Stamps

To top that creative print idea, the USPS will commemorate a rare total solar eclipse, which crosses the entire width of the continental United States on August 21, with the Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever stamp. What makes this stamp as unique as the eclipse which it commemorates? The heat of your finger pressed onto the stamp will transform the image of the darkened moon blocking the sun into an image of the full moon. This is the first time the USPS has used thermochromic ink in printing stamps. This ink is vulnerable to UV light and, since it is a forever stamp, should not be exposed to direct sunlight to preserve the effect.  For collectors, you can also purchase a special envelope to help protect the stamp pane. On Twitter, follow the hashtag #EclipseStamps.

Remember, the USPS receives no tax dollars for operating expenses. They fund their operations through the sale of postage, products and services.

Using an actual stamp – as opposed to a permit imprint –helps to boost “open rates” for direct mail marketing, providing a personal touch. For a specially targeted mailing of limited size, these textured and innovative forever stamps might prove eye-catching enough to pay for themselves in improved response.

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Personalization – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Using Templates to Design – Print, Promo Products & Signs

 

Designing on templates

Trade show booths, converted envelopes, coffee mugs, die cut folders, POS displays, folded mailpieces… what first step do all these design projects share? In each case, you will want to ask for a template from your printer before you design.

The print, signage and promotional products world continues to diversify with custom branding opportunities that allow you to print on just about any object you could want. Throw in the creative use of die-cuts, spot coatings, textures, and folds and starting your project layout on the right foot becomes all the more important. For the designer, that means working with vendor-supplied templates to make sure your design ends up printing in the right spot with no expensive surprises or added cost.

Vendors are usually glad to supply a pre-press template for your specific project. In fact, many require your files be submitted on their template – and for very good reason. The positioning, size, and bleed area are critical for successful output on projects using various substrates and printing surfaces, and complex bindery or finishing processes. When you submit files that need no adjustments, you save prepress and art department fees that would be needed to correct or modify your files, or perhaps save having to pay for a job that did not print as you hoped.

Often, however, instructions are vague about exactly HOW to work with the template. Here are a few pointers that may help. In MOST cases, the template you will receive is a PDF. If you are using the most common desktop publishing software – anything from Quark Xpress to the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite – the PDF can be used in several ways to guide your layout without getting in the way of your work.

We love Illustrator for many great reasons and it is generally our preferred software for design of promotional products, wide format signage, vehicle wraps, and even some regular print jobs that have complex die cuts or folds. The PDF template can be placed into Illustrator like an object, on its own layer, and used as a guide. But the most helpful way is to begin by choosing File–Open With (rather than just File Open) and pick Illustrator as your app rather than Acrobat. (If, as sometimes happens, the template PDF uses fonts that your computer does not have, just ignore the warnings. While they may not print well on your end, the vendor who made the template will have them, so no problem.)

Trade show booth template

Templates are almost always vector objects that will open and be editable in Illustrator. Of course you don’t want to edit the template, but it can be helpful to have the ability to manipulate it when using many layers or when you need to hide parts of the template in order to proof your project to a customer. You may also need to copy and use curved shapes or other features of the template when creating masks or other design elements.

Layers palette in IllustratorMany PDF templates are very user-friendly in Illustrator. They use specific non-printing colors to designate the layout and help you see the placement of things like folds, edges and dyelines while specifying how much bleed area you need to allow as well. They will generally have the template elements on locked layers so you don’t accidentally edit them. Most have a blank layer already prepared for you to work on. If not, always leave the template on it’s own layer(s) and create a new layer to contain your print elements.

Layers palette in InDesignSometimes, it is preferable to prepare your layout in InDesign or another page layout application. You can simply File–Place the PDF template into your document. It makes sense to create – and lock – a layer just for the template file. You can then turn visibility on and off as needed and move it up or down in the layer order as well. Your document size in InDesign should be the same size as the entire template, including crop marks if applicable. Upon export, you would generally turn all fonts to outlines and create your PDF/X1A with no crops or bleeds other than whats included in the template.

These PDF templates generally include other important information to guide your design. They will specify whether you need to use PMS spot colors or stick to all process. They define needed bleed area. And they usually spell out the resolution, size, and embedding specs for any images you include.

Templates save time, headache, and money throughout the course of your design project. Make it a practice to ask ahead of time for a template, and make the template your friend.

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Personalization – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

The Rebirth of Brutalism – Graphic Design’s Edgy Experiment

Virgile Flores, Art direction, Graphic design

Playful or angry? Radical or bland reproduction? Utilitarian or chaotic? Brutalism in graphic design thrives on uncertainties.

A common goal of design, especially in a print marketing or web commerce environment, is to stand out from the crowd – to grab attention. As a result, the current or hottest trends in the design world are often reactionary… an effort to gain notice by their difference, unique nature or even shock value. While this may not be a good fit for everyone’s brand message, it can convey the spirit of innovation, freshness and creativity that just following the norms can never accomplish.

Brutalism---Just2

The latest trend, according to many experts in the design world, is a current reimagination of the genre of Brutalism. Brutalism is based in the modernist architecture movement of the 1940s-1970s, closely associated with the work of Le Corbusier. The word itself is from the French for “raw,” as in the raw exposed concrete used on much of the buildings’ facades. Think stark, rugged, cold, institutional – much like the architecture that comes to mind when you think of gray cities in eastern Europe during the Cold War era. The structure and utility of the object is shown, not hidden. There is little room for ornamentation. Perhaps the best way to describe Brutalism is to define what it is not: the goal of a brutalist approach is not to appear easy or comfortable. It is not light, fun or friendly.

Brutalism - WildTurtles

Brutalism web design

A great place to get a feel for the range and style of a brutalist aesthetic is the Washington Post’s gallery of Brutalist Websites. The Post describes the genre in this way: “In its ruggedness and lack of concern to look comfortable or easy, Brutalism can be seen as a reaction by a younger generation to the lightness, optimism, and frivolity of today’s web design.” Brutalism - retroOften it bears a resemblance to the images of the early days of digital graphic design and the internet – pixellation, jarring color combos and clunky typography – a partial nod to the retro or nostalgic approach.

Check out the creative work all over the internet now and see if your brand or marketing might benefit. It will mean breaking a lot of rules design school taught you never to attempt – in color choice, font selection, imagery, content and even the coding of webpage development.

(For a humorous take, look at ux.design.cc for their idea of what an imaginary framework for what a brutalist design process might look like.)

Brutalism - roTopo

Brutalism---SportsTragedy

Vitelli website

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Personalization – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.