It can be a tricky situation – editing copy written by others. Whether your task is to compile and edit the company newsletter, review the boss’s PowerPoint presentation, or prepare the company marketing material, the job of copy editor requires diplomacy and discipline. The diplomacy is necessary to avoid alienating the writer (and losing your editorship); the discipline is required to impose standards and create consistency.
To help with this delicate balancing act, it is useful to have an editor’s toolkit – measuring devices that transform your editing from subjective to objective. Here are our favorites.
When deciding on the paper to use for marketing materials, such as a brochure or sell sheet, many of our customers tell us, “I’d like a shiny paper; it looks so professional.”
We’re not sure how this association with shiny paper – which we printers refer to as coated paper – got started, but we have a theory. Full color printing requires a smooth, uniform paper surface and therefore almost always uses a sheet that has had a coating applied during the manufacturing process. The purpose of the coating is to improve the way the surface of the sheet receives the ink, and it works! Full color printing on a coated sheet looks sharp and bright – in a word, professional.
Decades ago, when there were fewer products and fewer brands, mass marketing made sense. Often one company owned an entire category. When the only coffee sold in supermarkets was ground and in one-pound cans, marketing to all coffee drinkers as an undifferentiated group was easy. The choice was between brands, each making taste claims.
Think how this has changed! Not only has the number of companies selling coffee increased, there are now more brands offered by each company. And at the same time, coffee products have proliferated — regular, decaffeinated, blends, flavored, ground, whole bean, instant, cans, packages, pouches, even individual portions. Clearly mass marketing is not the most effective way to advertise all these choices.
Whether you use them for product identification or shipping, for security or promotion, or for any other use, labels are a part of every business’s inventory of printed items. The earliest use of labels was for product identification; uses now include a wide range of applications across many industries.
Label, Sticker, or Decal?
We’ll begin our discussion of labels with a semantics question: what is the difference between a label, a sticker, and a decal? Since many people use the terms interchangeably, we think there’s no obvious answer beyond common usage.
- When adhered to a product (such as a soup can or a piece of fruit) as a means of identifying or providing information about the product, we most often refer to the item as a label.
- When affixed to something (the bumper of a car, the front of a package, or a voter leaving the polls) in order to call attention to what is written on it, we refer to the item as a sticker.
- When the item can be moved from one surface (the substrate it is printed on) to another (a window, a model airplane), usually with the aid of heat or water, we refer to the item as a decal.
As you would expect, there are some products we typically print for many of our customers. Letterheads, note pads, thank you notes, newsletters, and brochures are common business printing projects for which we print multiple orders each week.
In this issue we’d like to suggest some options for refreshing the look of these printed materials… with a few simple changes.
With literally thousands of typefaces available, it is no small matter to determine which ones to use for a specific document. In this issue we’ll present some guidelines to assist you in narrowing the choices, as well as information about increasing the effectiveness of the type you select.
Defining the Task
Regardless of the document you are preparing – brochure, newsletter, flyer, training manual, or direct mail marketing piece – your first task is to be sure the typeface you select promotes readability and comprehension for your audience. In turn, this requires careful attention to a typeface’s legibility.
Readability refers to how the letters interact when combined into words, sentences, and paragraphs. Legibility refers to the clarity of the type – how easily one letter can be distinguished from another.
Next, think about what you must accomplish with the document. The goal of a brochure is much different compared to the goal of an annual report or newsletter. For instance, a brochure must engage the reader’s interest quickly and tell a convincing story, while an annual report consisting of large blocks of text with charts and financial tables must explain without fatiguing the reader. For a newsletter, eye-catching headlines and an informal look may be the goal.
Then consider the demographics of the intended audience. What is the age range, educational level, attention span, and vocabulary of those you are addressing? Different typefaces appeal to different audiences: seniors look for clarity and legibility; teens are drawn to edgy, unusual type even at the expense of readability; children and beginning readers prefer larger, easy-to-read fonts.
Finally, think about how much reading you are requiring of your audience and what message you want them to take away. The more text your document contains, the more readable the font must be.
The resources your business or organization devotes to sales and marketing is its marketing budget. We purposely use the term resources, because a marketing budget may be time and materials as well as cash. It may be a specific amount based on a written plan, or it may be an informal recognition that some time and money is required to support a sales effort.
So how can you manage your marketing budget to maximize its effectiveness? In this issue we will offer some strategies, ideas, and activities to get the most out of your marketing budget.
A newsletter is a popular and effective way to keep in touch with customers, members, and employees. It helps create top of mind awareness – having your company come to mind whenever a customer needs your product or service. It provides a way to talk about the benefits of new services, products, or equipment. It allows you to showcase your expertise and become a source of useful information or valuable advice. And it definitely can help you find new customers or members.
To be truly effective, a newsletter must be:
- published regularly, whether monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly;
- well designed, eye catching, content-rich; and
- written to keep the audience’s interest.
Each of these elements – regular publication, good design, and good writing – contributes equally to the effectiveness of a newsletter.
Our world is visual. From the images you see on screens to the things you read every day, photographs play an important role in conveying emotion, illustrating a point, or explaining a concept. Photographs improve our comprehension and add to our enjoyment. Because of this, they are an integral part of printed material and web sites.
As camera technology has advanced, the quality of the photography we see every day has reached new levels. Couple that with the ease of using a digital camera, and we now see businesses and organizations becoming comfortable with handling their photographic image needs without the services of a professional photographer.
Our job is to reproduce those photographs in printed brochures, sell sheets, marketing material, newsletters, direct mail pieces, signs and banners, and even business cards. Since we want the photographs to reproduce in the best possible quality, we’re offering some technical tips on the characteristics of digital photo files to use for printing and web applications. These aren’t tips on how to take photographs, but rather what to do once the image is captured and you’re ready to submit the photo file to us.
One of the more difficult tasks we face when reproducing your printed material is to be certain the color is correct. When we are printing your business stationery, it is critical that the color remains consistent for the first and for each subsequent printing. When printing your company brochure or newsletter, the color on the finished piece must conform to your expectations. And, if we are printing in full color – especially photographs of food or people’s skin tones – a good color match may make the document really stand out.
So why is color matching such a problem for us? The answer lies in a combination of how color is created and how the human eye perceives color.