business card

Insight into the design process

We have just recently completed designing and printing new business cards, flyers, with compliment slips and stickers for a direct marketing campaign for our business directed at real estates. Whilst we find it relatively easy to design for our customers it took us some time for ourselves, being in print and design we had to make sure that it was spot on and we remembered the importance of proofs. I designed the campaign with the assistance of our wonderful designer Chi Chi who is fantastic at bringing ideas to life and it was a bit of journey but the end results made it all worth it.

Starting with the business cards, for the background I always love a bit of texture. The last cards background was from a close up photo that I took of brown paper with chocolate brown text. This time around I wanted to try a background from a photo of a crumpled metallic black/silver envelope. We went ahead with it, slightly updating the logo by tilting the logo and giving the business name a more corporate lay out with white text. I changed the back of the card by using a cascading logo with Spot UV applied to it to make it pop. We also promoted our Instagram gallery to invite potential clients to take a look at our creativity easily.

The DL sized flyer proved more vexing, the idea being to promote a new cello glaze that we offer called velvet cello as well as the business and what we offer. I knew I wanted images featured so people could get an idea of what we are about without having to look us up online if they chose. We had the same background as the business card for uniformity, including white text and 6 images on the front in circle frames for something different. For the back I mimicked the business card with the cascading logo. We did a proof to be sure and it’s just as well that we did. The font size for the text was too big and I wasn’t sure about the clearness of the white text. The back of the flyer looked pretty empty with the logos too big and not to scale. When providing digital proofs online, what you see on the screen is not necessarily how it will print. We always recommend printing it on your home or work printer, not for colour but for the size of text and margins etc. We also offer hard copy digital proofs and these give you more of an idea colour wise of how it will work out when we go to print.

When we compared the business card and the flyer proof, I realised we had to ditch the background idea as it just didn’t work with the flyer. The back of the business card we decided just wasn’t good enough, with the cascading logos too big. If we were going to re-print the cards we may as well do it right. We know our target audience is predominately male so I wanted something grunge and dark to make the logo stand out. I recommend iStock or Shutterstock for excellent images to purchase and I settled on an industrial background of grey concrete. The second proof came out much better with the different background but it still needed some final tweaking by reducing the size of the logo on the back so that it wasn’t as in your face and adjusting some text including out lining the text and it’s layout. We were now ready to print them with the lovely velvet cello glaze and a design we were proud to promote and the finished product looking and feeling great.

Now that we were happy with the flyer, the new business card needed to be tweaked to marry with the flyer. The text was outlined and the background changed, logo rescaled and an image and tag line Measure twice cut once added. Spot UV was also applied to the image and text as well as the logo for extra zing. Next up was the with compliment slip, which was pretty easy as it just needed to match what we had done. We didn’t want it to be like every other one out there and used good quality paper with a little texture to keep in theme with the other marketing items. And lastly was the sticker that we wanted to use for complimentary sweets and to seal the luxury envelopes as an extra special touch. I personally addressed and wrote every single with comp slip and the envelopes were personalised with gold pen. Put it this way, I’m not used to writing with typing all day long so there were quite a few mistakes made and a very sore hand but got it done. Once they were all put together they looked fantastic!

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Getting to know me and why I believe customer service is so important

In the world of print we are a service industry as much as a manufacturing industry, yet sometimes I think we forget this.

Customer service is the one constant in these ever-changing, fast-moving times, not only in our industry but all industries.

Our industry is unforgiving in that we can quote and quote and quote and still not win the job. We are allowed to get a little frustrated when we realise we have been doing dummy quotes for a competitor or an arts student, but we can’t let it jade us.

We are all madly looking for added value to add to our businesses such as online stores and what not, but are we forgetting about good old-fashioned service?

While many customers love ordering online, there are many customers that don’t like it; they want a human voice and the chance to ask questions.

Some may refrain from asking necessary questions because they are put off by some of our jargon, resulting in a job that isn’t what they were after. Rather than come back, they just go elsewhere, where it will probably happen again, leaving them with a bad taste in their mouth.

If we take the time to explain such things as the difference between digital and offset printing we actually make it easier to deal with them the next time.

One customer in particular comes to mind when I think of customer service. She came to me in 2011 wanting a logo and a card designed. The design process dragged on forever and there were times I wanted to tell her to go elsewhere. But I persisted and I came to realise that the problem wasn’t with the client it was me.

I had started out in print that year as an absolute novice; I did not even know what CMYK was! I’m a quick learner, but printing involves so many different elements, as does design, which was also new to me.

I made it my mission to learn as much as possible about every aspect of our craft, for example foiling. The lovely boys at Goldcraft Embossing were very generous with their time, answering questions about everything I was unsure of.

I then moved onto stocks, machinery and everything to do with printing and design. I have been lucky to learn the old-school way of doing things and the new-school way. Personally, I think a mix is good.

I get very disappointed when talking to sales people in our trade who don’t actually know what they are selling. Yes, they know the names of the products, but they may not the stock or the difference between Pantone colours and CMYK – and we all know how horribly wrong that can go.

Once I’d mastered the technical aspects of the trade, my next challenge was learning how to explain these things to customers in layman’s terms.

If we flash forward to 2013, that customer I mentioned earlier has just ordered another business card with a completely different design.

Do you know what reminds me of why I do this? During a meeting to discuss her budget and finishing options, she took the opportunity to show off her knowledge by saying that she definitely wanted matt celloglaze. I was tickled pink as I listened to her tell me that she had had to explain the samples to her web developer.

I know time is a precious commodity these days, but if we make a little time and go that extra mile, word gets around. And isn’t that the best form of advertising?

The design process doesn’t have to be so tedious if we really listen and educate a little from the beginning. Of course, there will always be those who, ahem, test us. Every customer demands our best service, whether it’s their very first business card or the juicy ones that make us a lot of money.

You just never know with the little ones. They may become big one day. If they do, they won’t forget that little bit of time you gave them when they were starting out.