5 Reasons to Love the Vector Version of Your Logo

Yes… you need a vector version of your logo! You may not be able to place or use it in a Word document, but for any high quality printing or output (or for spot or “2-color” printing) you should insist your designer supply you with the vector logo. Preferably, it will be the way your logo was originally created, and you will not have to pay or struggle to convert it from a pixel-based image after it has already become an integral part of your brand. Here are the reasons why:

  • Vector artwork can be scaled to any size needed and maintain its perfect clarity. They have crisp edges at any size as they are based on mathematical formulas rather than a bed of pixels.
  • They maintain a clear, transparent background when placed over other artwork or elements in your design. PNG files also have this ability but are pixel based so… (see reason #1)
  • They can function either in RGB or CMYK color modes as well as carry spot color definitions. You can select exact PMS color matches so that your brand is always reproduced consistently. While there are methods to include spot color information in a pixel-based file (DCS files from PhotoShop with spot color channels) they are, again, not resizeable and do not include easy trap information for printing.
  • You can easily switch a vector logo to a pixel-based file (.TIF, .JPG, .PNG, etc.) for manipulation, web use or other instances… but it is difficult and sometimes impossible to travel from pixel to vector in a satisfactory manner.
  • This last reason can be debatable and I am sure there are exceptions to the rule, but: as most logos need to be clean, vivid and memorable, vector shapes readily lend themselves to these qualities. The logos you know and remember are almost always designed as vector shapes rather than fuzzy, artistic brushstrokes or photographic effects.

WARNING: pixel-based files can be saved as EPS files, but be aware that just because it has an EPS suffix it has not been magically converted to a vector file. Also, pixel images can be placed into vector draw programs like Illustrator and saved as .AI or .EPS files. Again, not vector!

Vector shapes can be resized
both of these images are .EPS files, but the one on the left is pixellated. The one on the right is a true vector logo.
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New to Twitter? Yes, its for marketing but ENJOY it!

Twitter for Social Media and up to the minute news I was skeptical about Twitter at first, having the impression which many do that it’s merely a repository for endless minutiae. How many times have you heard someone (and by someone, I mean one who hasn’t been won over by Twitter yet) say “I don’t understand why anyone would want to read or post online what they had for lunch.” I agree… there is a huge wasteland in the Twitter feed of teenage babble, angry grandstanding, timewasting and somehow an overall pathetic cry for relevance: “Look at me, please… I matter!!” Just like the noise of a crowd, it can seem overwhelming until you hone in on the areas of interest to yourself and your business.

Now as a marketing tool, businesses are increasingly coming to realize the gold mine they have FOR FREE in Twitter. Many businesses already operate solely to TEACH you how to increase your profits through Twitter. That, however, is not the subject of this blogpost. In the course of using Twitter to enhance your bottom line, remember that your Twitter account is a public representation of your self, your company, your brand… have fun and expand your knowledge and contacts. If you are enjoying the interaction, your followers will as well. Your online presence will be more fully rounded and attractive to your audience, and you will also discover a great deal that you would never have been privy to otherwise.

I have found Twitter to be the greatest tool for keeping me informed about up to the minute events. News flashes through the Twitter feed almost simultaneously with actual events… therefore it eclipses television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and even blogposts and websites. Of course the caveat to that is that just like a reporter with numerous incoming sources, some are valid and some are not! You are put in the position of either verifying the information you are seeing or choosing which to trust. One of the first times it dawned on me about the immediacy of the Twitter experience was during the Iran uprising in 2009. Live posts were coming through about events in Teheran long before any news outlet online or otherwise was able to cover them. I found myself wrapped up in the excitement of that upheaval in real time — from people actually experiencing it first hand. I was better informed than I could be from reading even the most current blogposts or network newsites.

On the flip side of this experience you will also discover, for instance, that Twitter is the world’s fastest obituary site… often spreading false news of someone’s demise long before they have left the building, so to speak! So beware.

But perhaps the best and most useful insight that Twitter provides is into your own local community or your own particular interest niche. Following people and businesses in your own town, or even neighborhood, will keep you better informed than any news outlet or nosy neighbor ever could. Being better informed makes you better equipped to effectively market your business.

But don’t forget to share your contribution to this never-ending news stream:  real time information that is relevant to your industry along with interesting daily occurrences, thoughts, observations – whether in a tweet or through linked content in photos, video or other posts. It won’t take you long to figure out the hashtags and Retweets, or discover the many related applications and sites that expand the Twitter experience. Using social media, and specifically Twitter, as a marketing tool may be the goal of course, but in the process I believe you will find it’s benefits extend far beyond a frustratingly hard to define profit bottom line.

Follow us! @maryimagesmith (Print, Design, Technology, Sustainability – Asheville & Western North Carolina)

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8 Good Reasons to Use FSC Certified Paper

FSC – Forest Stewardship Council. This is a global, non-governmental organization that was established in 1993 to oversee responsible forest management to protect both the world’s forests and its forest-dependent communities.

Forest Stewardship Council
Forest Stewardship Council Logo

You see their logo on many products, from paper to building supplies, and there are many good reasons to both look for it on the forest products you purchase and insist on the logo on products you or your company use.

  • It protects the ENVIRONMENT. Forest products coming from FSC certified forests must be grown, managed and harvested in a way that is good for the habitat and the future growth of the forest.
  • It helps indigenous PEOPLE. All local, regional and global laws must be followed in harvesting and transporting FSC products, respecting the health and environment of indigenous people.
  • You are helping EMPLOY local workers. FSC forests must employ a local workforce at a decent salary to run their operations.
  • You are helping EDUCATE. FSC forest owners must support their local communities in many ways, especially in the development of schools.
  • Its for the FUTURE. Forests will be here for generations to come for others to enjoy and use.
  • FSC is the only paper certification ENDORSED by most major environmental groups. These groups include World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and The Woodland Trust.
  • It helps YOU, your business and your bottom line as consumers appreciate a commmitment to green practices and being able to participate in supporting sustainability through their purchases. It is a competitive advantage for you.
  • You can show your own commitment to SUSTAINABILITY. The FSC logo is widely respected and increasingly recognized as the standard in responsible forest management. That reflects on your brand.

ImageSmith is proud to offer FSC papers with Chain of Custody certification. You can use, at no extra cost, these on-product labels on your printed material — a globally trusted mark for businesses and consumers looking for sustainable solutions. Become a part of the chain. Forests, managed correctly, are a truly renewable resource.Sustainability at ImageSmith



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When printed halftone screen angles conflict, THAT’S A “MOIRÉ”!

You have encountered moiré (pronounced ‘more-ray’) patterns many times and perhaps not known the term for what you were witnessing. When a television is photographed or videotaped, those annoying interference patterns and running lines are a moiré effect. If you have ever seen a person on television wearing a striped or patterned piece of clothing and it appears to undulate or move in a strange optical illusion – that is a moiré as well (specifically called “strobing”). The moiré appears whenever two grids are overlaid at a conflicting angle, or if they have differing mesh sizes.

Moiré samples
Left: Overlapping concentric lines create a moiré effect. Center: a scan of an offset printed photo reveals a repeating pattern effect or moiré, rather than a smooth color. Right: The 'rosette' dot pattern created by overlying halftone screen angles.

In the world of offset print and graphics, moiré patterns arise in two main ways. First, and most commonly, when a preprinted image is scanned, interference occurs between the ruling of the dot pattern of the original print and the scanner’s sample pattern. Filters can be used during the scan process to “descreen” the result and minimize the moiré, however it is always best in printing to avoid scans of pre-printed pieces for your artwork. Even descreening results in a less sharp image, and a ‘softer’ or fuzzier appearance.

Second, and less common thanks to Raster Image Processors (RIPs) and their digital control over imaging, are the moiré patterns than can occur when the four screen angles used in offset printing conflict. Each color in 4-color process printing is screened into a pattern of dots, and then angled differently to form a full color image. A standard set of screen angles to avoid a moiré is 105° cyan, 75° magenta, 90° yellow and 45° black, although the visibility of moiré is not always predictable, with some images exhibiting a moiré where others do not.

A great way to see how a moiré pattern works is to check out the demos at mathematik.com and mathworld.com. For a great explanation about screen angles and halftone patterns, be sure and read the Quality in Print blog.

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Innovative Marketing with Pre-Loaded Flash Drives

A great idea to get your own custom marketing information or presentations into the hands of your customers: pre-load flash drives (also called jump drives, USB drives, memory sticks) with your information, imprint your logo onto the drive, and mail them out to your customer base.

Preloaded Jump Drives
Customized USB jump drives carry up to 16GB of information

The drives can carry your digital catalog, detailed product information, marketing videos, instructions on ordering, virtual tours, music, or even other freebies that you might use to entice a new digital-savvy consumer. Whereas in the past you may have invested in the printing of catalogs, and the high cost of mailing these bulky items out to potential customers — now you can brand an attractive jump drive with your logo or message and put it right into the hands of your target consumer through a presorted mailing. These high speed drives maintain a minimum of 10 year data retention and memory capacity goes up to 2GB, 4GB, 8GB and 16GB.

ImageSmith can handle every step of this project for you. We enjoy discovering new innovative ways to integrate technology into the business of making your marketing plans successful.

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.


Rich Blacks – 6 Ways to Define Black in Print

Just as colors vary from the natural world to your monitor to print (see Color Printing 101: the RBG & CMYK Gamuts), black is never JUST black. Rich Black, Cool Black, Warm Black, “Plain” Black, “Designer’s Black”…. each has their own reason for being. It is important to know them all, because on your computer monitor they all appear exactly alike!

Below are the standard compositions for some varieties of black used in the printing world.

How you make Rich Black

Using these wisely will enrich your design and allow you a spectrum of black to use for different effects. While designers use rich black for visual effect, printers occasionally rely on rich black to solve trapping issues when text is printed over a colored background. It can hide slight misregistration of plates that would otherwise result in a small gap in color.

In the RGB world of your monitor’s display, black (um… ‘pure’ black?) is composed of R0, G0, B0 (no light is emitted from any of the three channels). Regardless of how you define black for printing purposes, it will be rendered this way on your monitor and thus appear the same – a fact that has caused many bad results over the years. Photoshop has contributed to this with the fact that the “Fill with Black” command defines black as C100, M100, Y100, K100. The image you are working with may have a black area that will match perfectly onscreen, but once printed you will see the difference in your black and the rich black Photoshop used in the fill areas.

Rich Black vs. Plain BlackLeft: on your monitor, a .jpg logo may appear fine, but Right: once printed you see Plain vs. Rich Black

Many times we have seen, for example, a .jpg or .tif logo with a black background placed onto a larger black background in a page layout program – onscreen the result if fine, but once printed you immediately notice the marked difference between the logo area and the black box onto which it was placed.

The use of rich black or its variants can enrich printed graphics, but remember that too much ink coverage on certain papers can create other unintended problems, especially when used over large areas of coverage:

  • damage to lower quality papers
  • problems with ink drying times
  • ink offsetting onto the sheet above or below
  • increased costs of production.

Always consult your print provider for guidelines or concerns.

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