By Sarah Good
If your company prides itself on its innovation, every element of your brand should support that idea. You might be emphasizing digital marketing efforts to tell that story, but don't forget to give your print materials an innovative spin, too. Those tangible pieces — which are often the items that prospects and clients keep on hand to reference — can help support the idea that your company is energetic and forward thinking.
Here are a few ideas for intriguing design and printing techniques:
1. Bold Business Cards
Nothing is more traditional than a business card. But these are still important reminders of your brand, and they're a valuable opportunity to show that you're a stand-out company. Try thicker paper weights to give your card a more substantial feel, and you can also make yours stand out by using different shapes and looks — rounded corners or square shapes, for example, or brightly colored cores. There are even cards that come with embedded near-field communication chips that can talk to iPhones and Android devices, sending contact details, sharing social media information or promoting your app.
2. Contemporary Colors
Color is perhaps the most emotional element of design. Your logo likely involves modern, fresh tones, and you can bring out those types of colors better than ever with modern printing techniques. You may want to include trendy flourishes, as well. Bold colors, metallics and gradients — in other words, a blend of colors that flow into one another — are up-and-coming looks. You might also take inspiration from Pantone's annual Color of the Year releases, which have featured ultraviolet, rose quartz and "greenery" among recent picks.
3. Responsive Logos
These days, website design typically includes versions optimized for display on handheld mobile devices. Now, forward-thinking companies are applying the same principle to logo design, creating multiple versions in different proportions for different uses — a move that embodies adaptability. Keep signature graphic elements, fonts or colors in place, but try stripping out or rearranging the components of the design. For examples of what responsive logo design can look like, check out the Responsive Logos project, in which graphic designer Joe Harrison imagines the possibilities for some very famous brands.
4. Authentic Photos
Real photos of your workplace and team, as opposed to stock photography, can show your authenticity. Aim for pictures that capture emotion and personality, have some action going on and have more to them than desks and computers. Make sure your photos will reproduce well in print, because an image that looks great on a camera's view screen might come across differently in printed form. Ask your print vendor for help in figuring out what will work best — they should be able to provide advice.
5. Tactile Finishes
Having an unusual finish can add a surprising, intriguing element to your printed pieces. Soft-touch finishes can provide a velvety feel, and a spot-varnish technique can create glossy shapes or patterns within a standard finish. Take your printed pieces and ask your vendor to help experiment with different finishes that play well with your brand.
The core of innovation lies in your company culture, not in your website or business cards. But brand strategies that pay attention to some of these unexpected details can go a long way toward convincing potential customers that you're always looking for what comes next.