How to Design a Business Card

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Your business card is a visual representation of you and your brand, so it’s important to design a business card that provides the reflection you crave. Many people are handed business cards every day, so it pays to make sure yours stands out. With the right design, you can leave a lasting impression on someone who could become your next customer. Follow these steps to design the business card perfect for your business.

Decide on a Message

Think about what message you are wanting to send with your business card. Do you want to appear unique? Creative? Professional? What are you hoping your brand communicates about you? Reflect on your personal brand identity so that you can share this messaging with your designer.

Consider a Different Shape

In a world full of the same rectangular cards, one easy way to stand out is to use a different shape. Technology is available today through new printing techniques that allow you to cut your card in any shape you want while still allowing you to print in bulk. You might prefer rounded corners, a card in the shape of your product, a shape that mimics your logo, or cards that have a portion of the card cut out for artistic purposes.

Add Your Logo and Other Graphics

Next, add your logo and other desired graphics on the card. You can work the text around these visual elements. Ensure that your logo has its own place to shine as this is what most people will associate with your brand. Some designers prefer to use one side of the card for your logo and the other for your information and other graphics. Additional graphics can fill the space on a business card. These graphics allow you to provide a more creative look to your card. You can showcase pictures of your staff, products, small and big logos or other images or graphics that reflect your business.

Decide on Text

This is an important consideration because it is what you explicitly communicate to your customer. Consider adding the following information to your card, as needed:

  • Your business name
  • Your name
  • Phone number
  • Business address
  • Job title
  • Email address
  • Fax number
  • Website URL
  • Social media contact information
  • Business slogan
  • QR code

Select Your Typography

Now that you have narrowed down your graphics and text, you will need to think about how you want your card to look. Consider the size of each block of text on your card. Everything needs to be 8 pts. minimum for people to read. However, you might want certain text to stand out more by making it larger, such as your name or the name of your business. You may also want to retain some white space for a more professional look. Choose a font that mirrors your personality. Use a color scheme that reflect your branding. Stick to colors that provide a nice contrast on the card but that are also easy to read.

Add Special Touches

There are many more ways that you can make your card stand out. One option is to use embossing, which creates a three-dimensional image and emphasizes certain areas of your card. Or, you can choose the reverse with letterpressing in which the printer presses the paper down while it inks it, making it look engraved. Foil stamping makes your text shiny. Spot UV coating provides a sheen to certain parts of a card. Another way to make your card stand out is to make it wider and thicker. You can also consider alternative materials like metal or rubber or use scented inks. Finally, transparent cards create a modern, sleek design.

After you take the steps to design the perfect card for your business, reach out to a designer at Pel Hughes to make your vision a reality.

DPI for Printing: What Is It and What Works Best?

One of the most important factors to consider when printing is DPI, or dots per inch. Basically, DPI is a measure of special printing dot density which consists of the number of individual dots that can be placed in a line within the span of 1 inch. When choosing a resolution, it’s all about determining the point at which you can no longer see the dots in an image. The more dots, the higher the quality of print.

It’s also helpful to point out that many resources, including the Android developer guide, use the term pixels per inch, or PPI, interchangeably with DPI. While these terms are similar in nature, PPI is technically the term used for monitors. (Monitors have pixels, not dots.) When discussing printing, DPI is the correct term and it can make a big difference in the sharpness of your printed work.

So with that brief overview, the question remains: What DPI should I use for my particular print job? As you may have guessed, the correct answer is, it depends. Below are some tips to consider when deciding on a DPI, as well as some suggestions for specific printing designs.

It’s (Mostly) About Viewing Distance

As mentioned above, the main focus (no pun intended) when choosing the correct DPI centers on the point at which you can no longer see the individual dots on a page. While the method of printing and the material may have a slight impact on the resolution, the viewing distance can be the difference between 300dpi and 1dpi. If you think about it, that makes sense.

Consider looking at a billboard on the side of the road. It’s rarely viewed closely, so a resolution of 20-50dpi is probably sufficient. However, when viewing a printed image on a menu for example, you’ll want a higher DPI so the print doesn’t look grainy or blurred. The key when considering DPI is to consider how far your viewer will be.

Choosing the Correct Material and Methods

In addition to contemplating the audiences viewing distance of an image, the printing method and material also have an impact when determining the correct DPI. The method and material will affect how sharp an image will be; the higher DPI used, the sharper the image. For example, the Print Handbook is printed using a stochastic screen which produces a finer detail than a halftone screen. The different material will produce a print that looks different when using 300dpi and 400dpi.

Conversely, there are other instances when the limiting factor is the paper/material or printing method and as a result, there is no need for 300dpi. One such example of this would be printing on coated vs. uncoated paper. Coated paper tends to hold detail much better than uncoated paper, and because of this limiting factor, you can likely get away with using 200-250dpi on uncoated paper whereas the same DPI would not be suitable for print on coated paper.

Choosing the correct DPI can indeed be the difference between a good and a great print. It is important to understand what DPI is and which DPI should be used for your specific print job. It’s also important to consider the distance at which the print will be viewed, as well as the print material and methods used. However, given all this, it’s typically better to err on the side of a larger DPI. You can rarely make the mistake of having too high a resolution. But it is very easy to use a low DPI and have your final result come out pixelated. In the end, go for too much detail as opposed to not enough. 

Contact Pel Hughes if you have more questions!

 

Everything You Need To Know About Vinyl Banners

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With today’s fast paced environments, you need something that can grab attention and convey information quickly. Vinyl banners are a must. Vinyl banners are great for promoting products, conferences, sporting events, corporate gatherings, or even personal events such as birthday or graduation parties. They are most effective if you incorporate large, bright images as they easily get attention.  People usually special promotion, event, team or school.

 

Designing a vinyl banner

For the most part, designing files for banner printing requires the same procedures as any other products. However, are a few designer tips for this product that you can take into account. They are as follows:

  • When designing files for larger banners, there tends to be more flexibility in terms of resolution for vector-based elements. One would be able to get away with submitting files that have a 150 dpi. Keep in mind that this does not apply to image based elements. Images such as logos and photographs should always be at 300 dpi.

72 dpi vs 300 dpi

  • Banners that have the grommet option selected should always account for this in the bleed. For instance, the normal recommended bleed is .125 inches. On banners with grommets, bleeds are recommended to go up to a square inch on all corners.

vinyl banners pel print

  • Remember that all files are always converted to CMYK before printing. Any neon’s and Pantones cannot be printed on banners. Be sure that when designing files for the banners, you are doing so in CMYK. This will ensure that you get a clearer idea of the color densities on your banner piece.  Keep in mind that different screens produce different colors; final prints will not be able to match 100% what is seen on the screen.

rgb vs cmyk

 

Design tips:

  • The type of vinyl matters depending on the occasion. Glossy banners work best when you are hanging them inside, away from natural light. Matte banners are perfect for outdoor advertising. If you hang glossy banners outside it can sometimes be difficult to read the words due to the glare during the daytime.

  • If you are looking to reuse your banner, don’t include information that could easily change such as a price point or date. It’s better to advertise saying “Everything 50% Off Regular Price–This Friday, Saturday and Sunday” instead of “All Meals Just $5.99 on Saturday, May 12”. This way you’ll end up with banners that can be reused time and time again. The best part–banners can be rolled up, folded, etc., making them extremely convenient to store for later use.

  • Determine the space you need to hang your banners carefully; take measurements of the space(s) when possible. Consider how you could be mounting the banners. They can be set up with grommets that allow for roping the banners, or pockets to slip poles through. If you are using ropes to tighten the banner corners, then consider the room you would need to stretch the banner.

What is a print signature?

A signature is a group of pages that are printed, most likely on both sides of a single sheet of paper that once folded, trimmed, bound and cut, become a specific number of pages. The number of pages on a signature depends on your page size and the size of the press sheet they fit on.

print signature

Another term associated with a print signature is a less common term that is known as imposition.This is the placement and direction of pages that are in a signature. Some pages may appear upside down or backwards, but once the sheet is folded and cut, the pages will be in their proper position and sequence. It is the printer’s job to setup a signature’s imposition.

Printers will often speak of two kinds of spreads: reader spreads and printer spreads. When you open a brochure, page two is opposite from page three. This is a reader’s spread; it’s what the reader sees. If you take the brochure apart, you’ll see that page two is actually connected, through the binding, to another page near the back of the brochure. This is a printer spread; it’s what a printer prints.

 

How to create brilliant designs on a budget?

As a print designer you should take full advantage of working with print signatures to achieve maximum effect for your design concept and learn how to maximize the printing budget.

Instead of using the same paper stock for the whole brochure, you can use different papers and different combination of inks for each individual print signatures. The possibilities are endless for creating amazing brochures.

Each signature is a print run and for each print run, you have to choose a paper stock and the number of inks to be used. The number of inks you print per signature on a specific paper will not only affect your design concept, but the print budget directly.

When designing with print signatures, you also have to take into account from the start, your binding type. Your binding type always depends on the total amount of pages your brochure has, your design concept and the printing budget. By selecting different binding types, it will change the order in which print signatures are assembled in the final brochure, therefore giving you the ability to manage the order in which different papers are presented.

For example, when you use ‘saddle stitching’, first page will go with last page, second page with before last page and so on. If you use a ‘perfect bound’, signatures are stacked one after the other. In the case of a ‘spiral bound’, signatures are also stacked one after the other, but you can insert a single sheet pretty much anywhere and the brochure will lay flat when open. Understanding how different binding types work, is essential to get the most out of designing with print signatures. The ‘pull out’ is another, different type of signature. It could be considered a loose sheet, even though it’s folded, depending on where it’s inserted in the binding. But most pull outs are commonly inserted between two signatures, during the binding process.

The important thing to remember is that when it is bound together, when a job is laid out correctly, the right pages will almost magically turn up next to each other. The more the number of pages in a job, the tougher it is to lay it out correctly. A proof is always sent out before any printing is actually done and one of the things to check for is that all the pages have ended up in the correct order.

 

Avoid these common mistakes when creating artwork files for print

When creating your print design, there are some simple yet common mistakes we want to help you avoid. These errors can make an otherwise smooth printing job a complete pain. Here at Pel Hughes we want to make sure your printing experience is altogether flawless – just like your final product. Read on to find out which mistakes you can easily avoid.

1. Using a Low Resolution Image

Though you might not believe it, we are not miracle workers. We have moments, but on the whole, we can’t do too much to fix a poor quality image and ready it for high resolution printing. While a file may look fine while on your screen, it can very easily turn out blurry if the correct resolution is not set. The quality of your printout will be determined by the dots per inch (dpi) and the resolution. An image with 300dpi will be of much better quality compared to the one with 72dpi, which is why 300dpi is recommended.

Another way to work around the issues low resolution images present is to save all of your images as vectors. What is a vector, you ask? Unlike images created from pixels, vector images are made up of a series of corners and curves that allow them to be enlarged and maintain high resolution. We’re big fans of vectors.

2. Failing to add Bleed

You will notice that at times the document layout will extend to the edges of your design. In this instance, it is important to use “bleed,” which will extend your colors past the edges of your document. After printing the design, you can trim off this extension, ensuring that there is no white edge on the finished product.

3. Setting the Incorrect Size

Before sending the design for printing, you should confirm that it matches your desired size. You should also ensure that the design is positioned correctly and has the right proportions. If you intend to have a have a 25 x 25mm sticker, you should set the layout at 31 x 31mm so as to include the bleed area. After setting your document correctly, you should send it to the printer without making further changes. There are many pre-set templates which can be downloaded online including PDF versions with step-to-step guides on how to set your design’s proportions correctly.

 

4. Using Incompatible Software

Help us help you by saving your work in the version of software we’re working in. This might require you to pick up the old phone and give us a ring, but we’ll all appreciate being on the same page when it comes time to print! Once you know what version to work in, you’ll need to backdate the file by saving it as an EPS and then picking the correct version of Illustrator.

 

5. Making Simple Spelling Errors

Last but MOST DEFINITELY not least is the fatal error of including spelling and grammar errors in your piece ready for printing. While we’ll do our best to catch any obvious mistakes, please make sure to be double, triple, and quadruple checking your materials. The very last thing you want to discover on the 600th copy of your gorgeous new mailer is a silly and avoidable spelling error.

 

Avoid these headaches, and always feel free to give the team at Pel Hughes a call with any questions! We can’t wait to hear from you.

What is paper scoring and how does it work?

Did you know there is a professional way of folding paper? Yes. There is a correct way to make those crisp lines, and if you don’t believe us, go grab a cereal box and do a little experiment.

Take said cereal box and disassemble. Now take a square section of the box and fold it in half to create a clean, sharp line.

How’s it looking over there? We’re going to guess it’s looking neither clean nor sharp.

That’s why “scoring” exists in the great wide world of paper products. In short, scoring is the creation of a crease in a piece of paper that will allow it to fold easier and result in a better looking line.

This is achieved by creating a ridge in the paper with an indentation device, and that ridge is where the fold line will occur. Typically this line is made by using a piece of metal to compress the fibers of the paper in one small area in order to create a dip in the paper where it can easily fold.

You can score paper as it goes through the printing press (inline scoring) or you can score the paper after it is finished printing (offline scoring). We recommend offline paper scoring as it tends to be more precise and offer the printer greater control over the process.

 

So why score paper?

It’s all about looks. Scored paper is less likely to “buckle” or “crack” while being folded, and it decreases the chance that the folding process will hurt the ink that is delicately placed on the surface of the paper.

 

When should you score?

Scoring is most effective when used upon heavyweight papers like cardstock and cardboard. It makes sense that these varieties would be more resistant to our manipulations as they are thicker and more stubborn. Generally, the thicker the paper, the wider the score.

 

Tips for scoring paper:

  • Only use new paper. Old paper tends to be dryer and less receptive to a successful score
  • Always score with the grain of the paper, never against
  • Score one practice piece before scoring an entire batch
  • Once scored, fold the paper so the hinge is on the inside of the fold

 

If you have any additional questions about paper Scoring or any other printing or finishing operation, give Pel Hughes a call. We’re always happy to answer your printing related questions.

4 examples of clever interactive print ads

Business card tips: Make yours the right way

First impressions last. You’ve got seconds to ensure that first and lasting impression is positive. A well designed, unique business card is a fantastic way to make a strong impression.

Business cards are they key to presenting yourself in a good light and impressing important people. If you think of designing your first business cards soon, or changing the design of those you already have, here are some tips to keep in mind.

 

Decide on a concept

Do this by thinking about the customer you’re trying to impress, and deciding what would tell the story of your business for that customer. Your images (if you use any), colors and textures should all be consistent with your existing marketing materials, and all of those should be right in line with the brand values that distinguish your business from everyone else.

 

Decide on specifications

  • Size: The most common business card size is 84 mm by 55 mm, or 3.5 inches by 2 inches. You can go bigger, but if you do your cards are less likely to be kept. In recent years, mini and circular business cards are becoming more popular.

 

  • Orientation:
  • Landscape format is more traditional and still the most common orientation. It is easy to read, works well in card holders and can be handled by any printer. However, it is very common, and not as unique as other options.
  • Portrait is a clean and elegant look that’s become more common in recent years (but still stands out).

 

 

Use high quality paper

Nothing says “I don’t care about you, and I don’t deserve your business” like using cheap paper on your business card. At the very minimum use 16pt gloss or 100lb matte — anything lighter will feel flimsy and cheap. Also, never — ever — print them out at home. There are many professional shops (like ours) who offer business cards at a reasonable price.

Put the right information on the card

  • Name
  • Name of organization or business
  • Job title
  • Your contact information—any that people might want. We suggest e-mail and phone number at a minimum, social media profiles and website unless you really have no presence at all, and a work address if that seems relevant.
  • Your logo
  • Check your file settings

 

The file for your cards should be saved correctly—not just for today, but for when you might need reprints later on. Make sure your designer has the file just right:

File size, type and resolution

Any images, like your logo, must be at least 300dpi to have a high enough resolution to look crisp and clean.

For best quality and a crisp look, your design should be saved as a vector-based PDF, not JPEG or PNG. You should also make sure you get an editable file (usually an Illustrator, Photoshop file or editable PDF) so that you can make changes later.

 

Bleed

The bleed refers to highlighting an area 3 mm or about 1/10 of an inch thick surrounding the document with the same color as the background to prevent border strips from showing. The background color should go all the way to the edge. All text should stay within the safe area.

Fonts and color settings

All text should be embedded and you should have the correct font licenses. Use CMYK color mode for anything that will be printed, including business cards. Do not use RGB.

Are you ready to show off your brand? Contact Pel Hughes today to get started!

The positive impact of thank you cards in business

Do you think handwritten notes are a thing of the past? Think again.

Just like interviews and first time meetings, the thank you note contributes to your overall impression. While you might not see many these days, the cards you do send will mean more than you’d ever think. Handwritten notes are a powerful way to to thank your customers for doing business with your company. Taking an extra 5 minutes to write a thank you note will help your company to stand out among others.

 

What keeps businesses from writing thank you notes?

There are two common reasons business don’t write thank-you notes. The biggest excuse is not having the materials at hand. Note cards or stationary, a roll of stamps, pens and an address book – all it takes is one trip to the store and you’re all set!

The second excuse is not having time. A handwritten thank you is often as short as three sentences, just like an email. The thank-you note is special; it’s to express your appreciation, so keep the focus there.

Does it take longer to address and stamp an envelope than to click “Send”? Yes, but can’t you spare one minute to give your business a boost?

At the end of the day, computer screens simply do not have the same personality and warmth of physical notes.

 

How can your business benefit from thank you notes?

The fact that it takes longer to write out a personal note speaks volumes to the customers – you took valuable time from your busy day to write a note just for them.

Thank you notes to a customer can have many benefits:

  • Strengthen customer relations
  • Set yourself apart from competitors
  • A handwritten note provides a personal touch in an increasingly digital world.
  • A note card is an extension of your style and brand. Sending a thank-you note to someone in a creative industry is an opportunity to show your unique personality. A personal monogram, artwork, quality of card stock and an eye-catching stamp can make a favorable impact.

 

Keep it simple

A thank you note sent in a business context doesn’t have to be lengthy. In fact, keeping it short is ideal, but make sure to describe in a little detail why you’re sending the note (e.g., “Thanks so much for your hard work on the fundraiser. Your attention to detail really saved the day.”).

You may want to custom-print blank cards with your company’s logo, or you could choose a pre-made design of some sort; whichever option you choose, keep in mind that your grateful client may put the card out for public display.

 

Will the thank you notes be worth it?

You can’t track a handwritten thank you note the way you can an email. You can’t include a clickable call to action. You can’t track if they opened it, clicked it, liked it, shared it. Hell, you might not even know if they received it. The ROI you receive won’t fit nicely on a spreadsheet. You won’t measure and optimize based on data. These all, perhaps, are reasons the thank you note has fallen out of style in modern companies.

These are also great reasons you should be writing your customers thank you notes. You should do things that don’t scale, you should be wowing your customers with service and creating remarkable experiences. Karma isn’t always clean and organized. The ROI won’t be immediate. It will be messy and nebulous. But your customers will care. They’ll remember you. All it takes is a pen and some stamps.

If you’re ready to get started, contact PelHughes for all of your printing needs!

5 ways to get the most out of your store signage

Signs are important. They’ve always been important. They’re never not going to be important.

They act as simple visuals to grab the attention of your customer, but like most things in the marketing and advertising space, they can be done wrong.

That’s why the team at Pel Hughes has put together five ways to get the most out of your store signage:

 

 

  1. Monitor Condition

 

If you’ve used the same sign for several years, it’s more than likely looking a little worse for wear. The edges might be tattered, the coloring could have faded, there might be a stain that just won’t go away.

So what do you do about it?

Get a new one.

Nothing makes a business appear more apathetic than displaying its name and services on a trashed sign. Customers know you see it, and they’ll simply assume that you don’t feel the need to make a change.

Even though this might sound dramatic, they’ll take that personally. They’ll see it as a reflection of how you see them and your business – undeserving of the best.

 

  1. Change it Up

Everyone and their mother wants to be clever these days. Advertising is a game of wit and relevance, and that means the landscape (and your messaging) must constantly evolve.

There’s a chance you had a brilliant sales promotion idea last year. Or maybe you thought of a clever little blip to post on a sign to entice your customers to enter.

But how long ago was that? How many people have passed once, twice, three times, and have gone from thinking “that’s clever” to “wow that’s been there a while….”

You must never give your customers the impression that you just don’t care, and a dated or passe sign will do just that.

Keep it fresh, change it up, and show that no one else cares about your brand more than you.

 

  1. Pay Attention to the Basics

We love clever. We love cute. We love….customers who know the name of your store, how to contact you, and when your doors are open.

This rule is pretty simple: don’t let the art of a gorgeous sign overwhelm the necessity of basic business information.

Do you have a sign that lists business hours? Do you have a phone number on display?

If not, fix it. At the end of the day, your customers need to walk away knowing when they can come back and find the door unlocked.

 

  1. Use High Quality Images

If you want a sign that is image-heavy, you better have some high quality files and a printer with the technology to print them the right way (we know a place).

There is nothing that says “amateaur” more than a pixelated image blown up in a storefront window. Customers will see the image, notice its low quality, and assume that you are what you display – low quality.

Don’t let them think that. Print better images.

 

  1. Watch the Pronouns

Last but not least, language is important. When trying to establish a degree of empathy with your customer, it is important to use “you, your, and you’re” to help them visualize using your product or service.

You want to create a dialogue with your customer, and you can do that by speaking directly to them.

 

Have questions about how to create the most compelling signate for your store? A Pel Hughes, we take this stuff pretty seriously, and we would love to have a chat to talk sign strategy. Give us a call today.