Here, guest contributor Sheila Donnelly, head of Operations at Precise Continental, an award-winning specialty printer located in Harrison, NJ, reveals five proven ways to get noticed in a crowded market – and on a crowded store shelf.
For any brand, be it emerging or established, the first and most dire mission is to get noticed. Since store shelves are crowded with the latest, the greatest, and the old standbys, a brand has about 5 seconds to catch the eye of a potential customer. So how does a brand make that initial impression and draw that customer in? In a word, design. Design stands out on a shelf. Whether introducing a new brand, or redesigning a familiar mark, there are five key areas that will help a brand elevate its presence and draw in those sales.
- Be distinguished. Let’s face it, consumers today are flooded with choices in almost every market. To distinguish itself as unique or memorable, a brand must consider its identity as a whole – from website, printed materials and packaging, to product or service. Does the identity present authenticity? Does the visual align with the brand message? Will the product be perceived as valuable? Does the experience create a lasting impression? For a brand to maintain its distinction and be continually recognized as a strong player in its market, it must consistently convey its messages throughout all touchpoints. To a consumer, a consistent brand means a consistent quality of product or service, and thus, a consistent sale.
- Use added touches. As you enter the design process, it can be helpful to first consider all the ways customers might engage with the brand. What is the initial touchpoint before customer interaction? What item first gets their attention? Is it signage? Direct mail? Now that you have drawn them in, consider their experience of picking the product up off the shelf, or utilizing your service. What are the visual and tactile elements that will engage them? Then there’s the “afterglow.” What touchpoints will customers continue to see or experience after they’ve interacted with your brand?
There will undoubtedly be an online presence, but while studies show that web pages are typically skimmed, printed materials lead to longer-lasting impressions and stronger brand recognition. So, consider all those print touchpoints – will there be invoices, brochures, invitations, folders? An holistic approach to branding can ensure consistency along the way.
- Be consistent. When it comes to brand presence, a brand that has visual consistency is perceived to have operational consistency as well. Consistency of colour, type or texture instills trust in those who engage with the brand. The signature Tiffany blue, Coca-Cola red and Home Depot orange are colours that are instantly recognized – which quickly translates in the customer’s head into a trusted brand story. For the sake of consistency, it can be advantageous for clients to print and store masters of items that they go through quickly or might need at a moment’s notice – such as business cards, letterhead or direct mailers. Producing and storing templates can help avoid the chance that an unexpected deadline might supersede the mission for consistency.
- Understand screen versus print brand colours. In today’s screen-focused Internet world, it might seem natural to start presenting a new brand on your website. This strategy, however, can become problematic when it’s time to print business collateral. For instance, a colour’s shade can vary greatly from screen to print. Similar to the variance you see between coated and uncoated PMS chips, you’ll also see a shift when moving from RGB colour (screen) to CMYK colour (print).
If a client is first accustomed to seeing his or her logo on a computer screen, this experience will frame their visual reference of the brand’s colours. Though a designer may have specified PMS 540 when creating the identity, viewing that colour on a screen might make it look more like PMS 287. This can create a discrepancy for print projects, and therefore brand consistency. At Precise Continental, we always recommend specifying colours by how they look in print, before specifying them for the screen. If a particularly tricky colour or mark had been first designed for the screen, rather than adjust the design, you could introduce complementary colours into the branding. In this way, materials can look deliberately coordinated rather than appear to have inconsistent colour matching.
- Be a trusted partner
Collaborating with and creating an in-person connection with a printer is always a valuable asset for designers and brands. Print providers want to be thought of as part of the team. It’s the printer’s job to transform their clients’ visions into reality, with as little complications along the way as possible. If you’re working with clients to help them establish their brand, it’s in their own best interest to protect that brand’s specific guidelines. You can also be a helpful aid for file prep, tips for laying out complicated projects, assessing the most cost-effective printing process, suggesting ways to resolve challenges, or even generating production ideas to elevate the design for stronger visual impact. Here, as with most successful business relationships, communication is the key.
About the author
In June of 1996, Sheila Donnelly scheduled a two-week visit to her father’s company, Precise Continental, to explore career options in the graphic arts industry. On the second day, the prepress department manager quit. Flash forward 21 years. Today Donnelly oversees operations at Precise. She learned the ins and outs of the printing industry the old fashioned way – diving in head-on – while still maintaining an ability to step back and see the big picture. This focus has helped her to streamline operations and assists her in working with clients to integrate specialty processes into their projects.
Precise Continental is an award-winning specialty printer located just outside New York City in Harrison, NJ. The company has always taken a visionary approach. The team at Precise keeps a consistent eye on clients’ needs and the direction of their businesses, while maintaining a focus on the industry’s evolution and its emerging new products and technology.