One of my favorite things about my job is the regular opportunity I have to engage in conversations with marketers and creatives at various tradeshows and events. While looking through our promotions, I often hear the comment: “I’d love to create something like this, but my budget just doesn’t allow for it.”

While it’s no secret that most paper promotions aren’t cheap print production feats, the best ones aren’t great because they incorporate budgeting-busting techniques or are created by a rock star designer. They all begin with a solid creative concept. Once you have a solid concept and messaging that truly resonates with your audience, even a “typical” printed piece can look extraordinary.

The ability to create creative concepts is the result of years of design training and experience. Once a well-executed design concept is defined, it makes working within even the smallest of budgets easier to handle.

Here are 3 things to consider when defining design solutions that works:

  1. Who is your Audience? The most important step in creating a printed piece (or anything, for that matter) is to understand who you’re talking to. What does your audience want to achieve and what are their pain points? If the printed piece is going out to a group of existing customers, you may already have this well-defined but could still benefit from keeping up-to-date on trends and challenges facing your target. If you’re trying to reach a new audience, you may need to do more in-depth research and study the demographics. If you’re speaking to specific zip codes, one fun tool I love is the My Best Segment Zip Code Look-up by Claritas, which defines the people in specific zip codes by demographics and lifestyle.
  2.  How does my brand fit? All too often, I see printed pieces where the only recognizable element of the brand is the logo. Ditching trusted elements and massaging for the sake of doing “something new” will only make you (and the company the piece represents) look unorganized and confuse the recipient at best. At worst, the recipient may see the inconsistency as a change in leadership or product /service quality. And, in general, the brand equity will only help in the success of your printed piece.
  3.  What is the Purpose of this Printed Piece? What message are you trying to convey or what product/service are you trying to announce? How can this be reinforced visually with design elements and from a tactile, interactive perfective with paper?


I recently spied a great example of a creative concept in print in a recent Printing Impressions newsletter. By remembering the audience and the purpose of the printed piece, this design solutions from the USPS made ordinary techniques look innovative:

What are your tips for creating solid design solutions in print?

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