A close-up of someone flicking through a magazine.

How to design for print in an increasingly digital world

By Ben Walker on 27 June 2018

Print advertising appears to have been elbowed out of the way by its newer, trendier relative – online advertising. But for every person that wants to proclaim print is dead, we’re ready to tell them no, it most certainly is not.

All you have to do is glance back at the many magazines, brochures, reports and exhibition stands in our portfolio, which have successfully connected with our client’s target audiences and helped them secure business, to see that print still has an important place in the marketing mix.

However, designing for digital and designing for print are two very different beasts. Each has their own tools, terminology and processes, and it can take years to become an expert in either field. Print runs can be expensive too, which is another important reason to get a professional designer to help with your print advertising campaigns.

In a world where digital advertising is a hot topic, how can you make sure your print advertising campaigns are equally as effective? Here are some of our top tips for designing for print…

Make it feel good

A close-up of a stack of magazines open.

One of the advantages print has over online advertising is that your potential customers physically interact with it. In other words, they pick up that brochure, magazine or leaflet and (hopefully!) have a flick through – it’s a tactile medium.

We can guide you on the best type of paper to use for any print advertising, depending on the general impression you want to make and how you want it to tie in with the rest of your branding. The weight of the paper will also depend on the type of ink your advert will be printed with and if it’s double-sided or not. We can also advise on DPI (dots per inch) which affects the quality of your print.

Stand out from the crowd

While online advertising offers the ability to be highly targeted in who sees your campaign messages, print advertising reaches a far wider demographic. Whether you’re placing an ad in a newspaper or putting a poster up somewhere new, there’s no way of guaranteeing exactly who is going to see your print ad. This is why it’s so essential to make sure your print ad stands out.

We know what it takes to make your newspaper ad jump off the paper, or a poster to stop commuters in their tracks. It takes an experienced designer, who is well-versed in the principles of print design, to create something that makes an impact.

Double check everything

Remember, once your design goes to the printers there’s no turning back. It’s not as simple as fixing a typo online. We recommend using a professional copywriter to create the written content or proofread your ad. Spelling mistakes can be a big turn-off for potential customers. Make sure you are 100% happy with the look and layout of your ad before it gets final sign-off off too. We are always on hand when you need a second opinion.

Follow best practice design guidelines

Just like web design, print design has its own set of design principles based on tried and tested theories. At Firefly, our formal training as designers combined with vast experience in producing ads for a variety of different companies, helps us see really clearly what works and what doesn’t.

When designing a print ad, we understand there are more constraints than designing for the web, and we work around these requirements. We take into account margins and bleed, and also where the eye is naturally drawn to on a page.

In print design, we often work with particularly small spaces too – especially for projects like business cards or letterheads. So it’s important we use the space effectively to get your key messages across in a visually appealing way.

Use a designer who can come up with the goods

A close-up of two people at a desk, reviewing a magazine spread and design on a laptop.

We’ve honed our print design process down to a fine art. We find it incredibly important and useful to have a full conversation around the print artwork you’d like us to design. We ask plenty of questions and make sure we have a complete understanding of who you want the print ad to appeal to and where it’s going to appear. It’s also imperative we understand exactly what you want to achieve with your print ad. We can use our years of experience to offer you the very best advice on achieving your print ad goals.

Once we’ve had an initial chat, we’ll go off and let those creative juices flow. Taking into account everything you’ve told us, we’ll create an ad that we think you (and your customers!) will love. Sometimes we’ll come up with a couple of ideas and let you pick your favourite. At this stage you can give us feedback, since feedback is an essential part of the design process. Then we’ll present your final design to you. Cue lots of high fives and jumping for joy.

One study estimates we are exposed to up to 362 ads per day on average – yet only 3 per cent of these ads actually make an impression on us. Are you ready to join the 3 per cent? Talk to us today.

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“Firefly has been an absolute joy to work with. We commissioned them to create a promotional animation for us and on seeing the storyboard, we were so impressed with the work they did that we ended up contracting them to design a series of printed materials too.

Creative, friendly and responsive, they’ve truly delivered on what we asked for and more. We had a very tight turnaround on our project and they made it all happen in good time. I wouldn’t hesitate to use them again.”

Steph Wright
Project Development Manager
Cancer Innovation Challenge

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