Microtype: Because One Size Typography Does Not Fit All

MicrotypeSeeing something enlarged to a great size can reveal unseen tiny flaws – think of that bad selfie in harsh lighting. But by the same token, greatly reducing an image can create it’s own problems with recognition and readability. That’s where microtype and optical sizing can create better design.

Microtype of product labelGreat typography is a pleasure to read. But the requirements for that readability change with a font’s size. Today the need for easy-to-read small or “micro” type sizes is increasing in both print and digital applications. Why now more than before? E-books, smart watches, phones, and other devices with small screens require fonts with quick readability at a small size and resolution. On the print side, prescription bottles with dosage directions, food packaging with nutritional info, and almost all product packaging that includes ingredients or warnings need a readable font at small point sizes to clearly impart information.

Type size limits in InDesignIn general, most fonts were designed for the average reading environment – as in comfortably reading a book or newspaper – in the 8 point to 14 point range, and for a viewer with 20/20 vision. Being vector-based – they can scale both tiny or huge with no loss of detail. The assumption is generally that “one size fits all.” Yet the human eye definitely has different requirements. 

When fonts are scaled up larger – think billboards or wide format signage – small imbalances that were unnoticeable at 10 point become very noticeable. Designers usually adjust tracking and kerning to compensate, which works well as there are usually a relatively small number of words on most really large displays. 

Microtypography deals with type generally below 8 point in size. Certain letterforms at small sizes tend to blend together or become indistinguishable from other similarly shaped letters. Loosening kerning and tracking to give the type more “air” is a quick fix, but definitely not an ideal solution. The great type foundries and classic font designers are now addressing this need for easily legible microfonts.

Monotype's Helvetica NowOne great example is Monotype’s Helevetica Now. They have redesigned all 40,000+ characters in the font for the 21st century and its demands. Designers can choose from three optical  masters: Micro for small point sizes, Text for what we consider normal print applications, and Display for large, wide format designs. Each is designed to perform most effectively at its own size, taking into account all the visual nuances and needs the human eye demands for a comfortable reading experience.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication, design, and teamwork. 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.

 

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.

Marketing Plan: Get More from Your Print Flyers

Marketing flyers

The humble flyer – a staple of print marketing, remains one of the most familiar print pieces through the years. In a digital world, it is easy to under appreciate their impact. But flyers are as successful and versatile in marketing today as at any previous time, especially when you create them with multi-purpose uses in mind.

We often think of flyers in a limited way:  they announce the band playing this weekend on the corner, or the 20% off Back-to-School sale. Those get the job done but are temporary and single-use. They are also easy chances to go “off brand” in design and tone, which is not helpful. To get more for your money when printing flyers, consider ways to develop multipurpose content within a broader vision for your message. You may want to distribute a thousand flyers in a targeted mailing by a certain date, but with a content tweak or two, that same piece can do more work.  You can print extra in the same run to use as collateral in sales outreach or distribution in-store, without incurring extra print costs in production. If you need a flyer to announce a new product, for example, the same piece can also be used as:

  • a stand alone direct mail piece
  • an insert into a company overview folder
  • an in-store handout
  • a sales call leave-behind piece
  • and also as a print advertisement or digital ad

Catering flyersPlanning a strategy to your market outreach, rather than just looking from event to event, is a game-changer for small and medium sized businesses. Just as a restaurant might develop different menus for lunch, dinner, take-out, or catering, you can create a series of flyers that target different types of customers with the specific products or services that would appeal most to them.  The more targeted you craft your message, the greater your chance of success – just like online. The trick to making that work is the upfront planning.

Folded flyersThe flyer does not have to just be a boring sheet of paper. Consider die-cuts, folds and perf, attachments, special spot coatings, or foil metallics are some of the options you can try. Placing that flyer within a smart marketing plan will make your print more successful and cost efficient. Consistent branding across multiple creative projects will supercharge flyers. 

Print and direct mail get proven results. They are at the core of a successful marketing mix, no matter what size business you have. Developing a marketing plan to drive it all is the key to powerful print and cost efficiency.

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication, design, and teamwork. 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.

 

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.

5 Ways to Care for Our Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Asheville Skyline Working Together to face COVID-19

Here in Asheville and around the nation, we are still in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and are struggling to understand its impact on our community. Times are stressful to say the least. One of the best ways to alleviate anxiety during uncertain times is to look for ways to be of help and service to others. Many people and businesses in our local community will be heavily impacted by this disease in the weeks to come – here are 5 quick ideas how we can all easily help out right now:

BUY LOCAL – more than ever, community businesses and their employees will need our support to stay open. Shop local, and consider buying gift cards for later use from your favorite shops.

ORDER TAKE OUT – local restuarants have been hit first and hardest in this new world of “social distancing.” If you want to help your favorites and their employees, order take out and let them know you’re on their side.

CHECK ON YOUR NEIGHBOR – the elderly and others at high risk are espcially vulnerable now. Offer to do shopping or run errands for those you know who may fear being in public.

Severe Blood ShortageBE GENEROUS – donate to food banks, churches, animal shelters, or your favorite charity. The needs they work to meet are more critical now than ever. Donating blood is also safe and urgently needed.

POST POSITIVE – we are all inundated with frightening facts and negative speculation about the future. Help others to remember that we will get through this together – your words online can be just what someone else needs to feel stronger!

Of course, follow all the advice from the CDC and your health professionals about how to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy during this time. The official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 website is here. For an easy recap, the White House and CDC have released official Coronavirus Guidelines for America as of March 18, 2020, which you can see below.

Official Coronavirus Guidelines for America

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication, design, and teamwork. 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.

 

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.

RGB, CMYK, and Why Did My Blue Print as Purple?!

Blue Printed as Purple

“My perfect new reflex blue brand color printed PURPLE!”

Whether you are a designer or business owner who hired a designer,  you expect your color choices to look the same on paper as they did on your desktop monitor — and also the same on your boss’ cellphone where he viewed your proof, on your website where a coworker converted your design into a webpage, on signage, on packaging, and on all your marketing tools that will reach your audience. What sounds deceptively simple at first is actually a VERY tall order in a world where color reproduction and color perception are influenced by so many factors. 

That’s where the collaboration between a  trustworthy printer and experienced designer come to the rescue! Technology makes the creation, production, and sharing of amazing designs incredibly easy. And while color management is now standardized and more affordable than in comparison to “the old days,” it is NOT a given and requires more understanding and communication up front to avoid any pitfalls and nasty surprises at print time.  Digital speed has still not changed some basic, unalterable facts of the science of color and how our eyes perceive it. Your blue came out purple because of the divide between RGB and CMYK color gamuts.

Color spectrum - RGB & CMYK gamuts
Color Gamut Comparison

In simplest terms, the colors available in the RGB color gamut (what you can see on your screen) are much greater than the colors available in the CMYK gamut (what can be printed). There are many ways print professionals try to minimize the color shift in the conversion from RGB to CMYK, but they are not all perfect solutions and some colors reveal much more visible differences than others. While the RGB gamut can display a large number of shades and nuances in darker blues, the CMYK gamut is more limited. In trying to reproduce those faint differences, the cyan and magenta used to create the blue with ultimately blend toward purple. Understanding this way back at the point of inspiration and design is essential to avoiding disappointment at the point of print.

One of the most standard ways to guard against unwanted results (like purplish blues) is to base designs in the Pantone® Matching System library of colors. If you define the blue in your design as a specific PMS blue, then your printer will know, and then be able to take steps to match the color against this “universal” standard. You will both have a standard against which to measure your blue. It is like a built-in instruction of how the color should be rendered.

Reflex Blue Swatch v. ProcessDefining a “spot blue” in your work does not mean you must always print offset, using the spot ink. Still, it gives your printer a marker of what you intend that blue to be at output. Now here comes the next hurdle – you will need to take into account the color shift that will happen when printing a PMS-defined color in CMYK. Again, we can thank the differences in color gamuts for that. For many colors, the shift is slight – for others it can be significant. Designers and printers should be able to show you both color swatches of the PMS color you chose, and of any color shift that will occur from switching to the CMYK equivalent of that color.

And not to make things seem even harder, but color perception is also influenced by a host of other issues. The type, color and material of substrate you are printing on can vastly alter certain colors. Specialty finishes like gloss overlaminates or UV coating can as well. Screen calibrations of monitors used in the design and proofing process can influence how colors appear, and the lighting where any screen or print is viewed is also a factor.

One more interesting phenomenon: metamerism. Without getting into the science behind the term, some colors that are actually different will appear identical to the human eye under certain lighting conditions and different under others. There are at least 12 conditions that can create this metamerism: light, angle of view, size, distance, time, scenery, gloss… even differences in the human eye itself. 

So what about that problem with dark blues? If you are using blue in your logo or designs, and are concerned about a color shift toward purple, be certain that the cyan and magenta values in the CMYK definition of your blue color vary by at least 30% (some recommend 40%). Anything less than that, especially with dark colors, and the blue and red will mix to render purple – it is just a fact of physics. 

Knowing these types of technical color issues is important if you choose to buy your print online from a large, bulk print provider. They will print exactly what you sign off on when you submit your file. When you work with your local printshop, a good relationship between you, your designer, and your printer will bring you a team approach to getting the exact color you want on all your valuable marketing.  

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication, design, and teamwork. 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.

 

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.