What do designers want in print?

One of the benefits to having relationships with the major paper manufacturers is that they often share and give away fantastic samples of various print methods, all of which highlight the various paper products they manufacture and sell.  One of the latest ones to come out, created by the NewPage Corporation, is Ed #15, which is one in a series of books called the “Ed Series”, which have been released over the last few years.  But Ed #15 has been, by far, the one that has garnered the most interest from my clients and prospects.  Not only does it contain interesting press and post-press techniques, but it also uses augmented reality.  And the ones who have been the MOST interested: young designers who have become aware that print still holds value as a marketing tool.


I have commented on other posts that this “print is dead” mantra is false, and that I have friends who are young and see print as something compatible with and augmenting our digital technology.  They are seeking ways to use print, coupled with what smartphones can do, as an integrated means of creating an entire brand experience.  They also are seeking ways to enhance the printed product itself, whether it’s dimensional coating that can be done on a digital press, or special varnishes and aqueous coatings that can be done inline on a litho press.  But they recognize that, as we are becoming more technologically dependent, we NEED that tactile feel.  To feel a wood-grain on a printed piece for a furniture manufacturer, or a soft, almost velvet-like texture on a high-end clothing catalog, only serves to reinforce the experience of the consumer, forever linking that feeling -that emotion – with that specific brand.


Years ago, QR codes were the newest technology to be introduced into our growing mobile-device dependent system.  Now, augmented reality (AR) is becoming even more developed and utilized.  A QR code was static, and highly visible, and could take you to a specific link through the mobile-device’s browser.  Now, with apps like Layar, scanning an AR piece is simple, and as soon as the scanning is completed, the “experience” begins.  No more loading up a YouTube video, or going to a web page (that may or may NOT be mobile-optimized). AR is creating an entirely new way to engage the consumer and viewer, capturing them via their mobile devices, and creating a memorable experience.  And rather than a static QR code, you simply put a small smartphone icon on the page, or a small amount of copy indicating that there is an AR experience awaiting the person viewing the printed piece.


Well, the first thing to do is learn about it.  But it’s not necessary to become an expert in AR to make sure your printed piece engages the viewer.  Something as simple as using a soft-touch aqueous coating, or a special dimensional coating can be effective.  Maybe emboss the cover, or use a spot gloss UV over a dull varnish.  Even a strike-through varnish can be effective, particularly if it’s part of a design over a solid black.  The goal is to create something that engages – that requires the viewer to become involved with the piece, not just simply look and then lay it down again.  Sometimes, even a couple of seconds can make the difference in a casual viewer, or a potential client.

To learn more about the Ed series, visit the Ed Lives Here website.

Connect with John on Google+Twitter and LinkedIn.


About John Prothero

John Prothero is a print professional with over 30 years experience in the print industry. Starting out as a driver delivering jobs, he worked in bindery, proofing, plating, traditional prepress (camera and stripping), scheduling, job planning, job management, account management and digital job production. His skills also run in the area of blog authorship, social media management, and lead generation and qualification of prospective clients. John is also a contributor to Rhode Island Creative Magazine, a digital publication that highlights the creative spirit of the state of Rhode Island. You can read their online issues at www.ricreativemag.com
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