The Digital vs. Print Color Dilemma

One of the most frequently asked questions we get are about the colors and formats of files. Specifically, the file type easiest to work with and what color profile the file should contain. Our recommendation is: High Resolution PDF with 1/8th inch bleed on each side in CMYK format. However,  even when all the correct steps are taken, there is a chance that the colors on the screen will not match the ones being printed. This is because of the way that colors are created on a screen and on print. It is also why at Kendall Press, we always print out samples for our customers before printing out large batches of product. In this article, we will talk about how to decrease the variation between digital and print as much as possible, and the reasons behind the variations. Why do files look different on screen from when they are printed?

RGB vs. CMYK

Let’s start with some basics. Many people know about the two major color formats: CMYK and RGB. RGB simply stands for Red, Green and Blue, while CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. The two methods however, differ in more than just which colors are used as the base, but also how they are used to create new colors. Specifically, the RGB color wheel is additive and used widely in electronic displays; it uses light and adds RGB values to create different colors. CMYK is subtractive; it creates different colors by removing different CMYK values. This becomes easier to understand when you consider that in CMYK, light is being reflected while in RGB, the light is being created.  If you look at the pictures sampled below, RGB is used in screens to produce colors. This color creator is from Microsoft Word. When creating the color white, notice how RGB all have full output (255).

RGB white

When producing the color black, the screen simply produces 0 colors.RGB black

Comparing that to CMYK; white is the base value with 0,0,0,0, and  CMYK values are added to reflect different colors. Interestingly, in CMYK, there are multiple black colors. One, obviously being just 0,0,0,100. Another, is the black that is created from simply converting RGB black into CMYK (this ends up being 75,68,67,90 in CMYK).

What Does this Mean to Me?

This means that even when switching color formats on your screen, the screen itself can only do its best to imitate what the colors would look like on paper. This has a lot to do with the fact that screens have a back light, while printed material reflects light. There is also the consideration that certain screens have different resolutions and quality which can further impact the difference between what is seen digitally vs. what is printed. A good general rule of thumb to limit this differentiation is to keep your screen brightness at 50%. Avoiding neon, or extremely radiant colors can also help as they generally don’t translate well on paper. However, it is important to note that most of the time, for everyday, personal printing needs, these color changes are unnoticeable. Kendall Press, being a printing company that deals only with excellence, we have to make sure that everything is as close to perfect as possible. This is one of the reasons why we print samples before printing large quantities of product.

The Adobe Suite Color Dilemma

It’s been reported that when opening files that contain Pantone colors, using Adobe, the color values shown can sometimes vary between different Adobe programs. This is because the formula that Adobe Illustrator/InDesign/Photoshop uses, can convert Pantone colors into different CMYK values.

Pantone Colors

The problems comes when Adobe Illustrator, In Design, and Photoshop convert Pantone colors into different CMYK values through Adobe’s own formulas. However, Pantone is the international color standard. this means that all the standard Pantone colors should have the same values throughout the Adobe Creative Suite program. Because we are not just a printing company but also do design work, among other services, we realized that the colors sometimes come out differently. So we reached out to Pantone, purchased and installed the Pantone Color Manager to standardize colors in our software, thus giving us an edge in making sure that the colors we see on our screens, match as much as possible to the ones that will be printed. Of course there also metallic colors that are printed through a printing press. By nature, these colors are near impossible to represent digitally because of how they reflect light.

Hopefully this information is helpful for you as a lot of it is unknown. The knowledge of the Adobe Suite incorrectly translating Pantone colors is one that is uncommon even within the printing industry! As Always, feel free to provide any questions or feedback below.

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The Art of Business Cards

In our previous article, we guided you through the design of Booklets, Brochures and Catalogs. Those are more for when you have people’s attention and generally serve a more in depth purpose. In this article, we are going to be talking about Business Cards. When do you need to have a business card? All the time. I have personally coincidentally met and talked to at least 5 people who are very high in terms of the business ladder and I will never get a chance to exchange business cards with them because I did not have one on me. When you ask someone for a business card, you are expected to have one on you to exchange. With that said, we are to discuss business card designs, if you want to read up more about using business cards, you can do that here. The information on the front of the business card tends to be pretty standard. Here are the essentials you need to include on the business card:

  1. Company Name
  2. Card Holder’s Name and Position
  3. Phone number (company’s, company’s + card holder’s extension, or direct card holder’s number)
  4. E-mail (company’s or card holder’s e-mail)
  5. Address (and P.O. Box if applicable)
  6. Company slogan or what service/product the company offers (NO MORE THAN 3-5 WORDS)

We are going to be looking at 5 different business cards that were printed at Kendall Press for companies in Boston, Winchester and New Jersey. When discussing the business cards, keep in mind that the design of the cards needs to reflect their respective business type. You will see how the design of cards differs depending on the level of formalities and professionalism required by their fields. The sixth step is bolded because it is the least obvious of the steps and is the most overlooked. However, if the person who holds the card is not sure what the contact information on the card can provide them, then the card is ultimately useless!

Business Card Example 1

This business card was created for a law firm; the design is of a professional and simple nature. One thing that is not visible digitally, is that the the characters printed are actually printed using thermography. The effect is more commonly referred to as raised print. If you run your finger across the characters, you can feel the characters. It is an option that some people use to make their cards feel unique. We will see in our next example, how law firms, because of the strict nature of their business, look for different ways to make their business cards stand out. Note: The black border is not part of the card and is there so that the card stands out from the background.

Business Card Example 2

Business Card Example
Business Card Example
There are multiple shades of white used in this guide. The shades of white are caused by the different types of paper and/or processes to produce the paper itself; the paper used in the Ashton card however, is especially unique. The paper used for this card is called “curious touch” paper. It has an extremely soft, leathery touch and tends to be more expensive. Instead of leaving the back empty, the designer choose to have a greyscale picture of the Winchester town hall (Ashton is based in Winchester). Notice that the website was not randomly placed on the top left corner of the back of the card. The photo of the town hall takes up most of the center and bottom right sections; placing the website on the top left balances this out and maintains the elegant presentation of the card.

Business Card Example 3

Business Card Example
Business Card Example
When looking at this card, you can immediately tell that this card does not belong to another law firm. Being a design firm, the dots on the card’s I’s have been switched out for triangles to give the card an edgy look. The 3 words “planning, architecture, interiors” are an example of step #6. It hints at what services the company can offer you. On the backside, you see even more so, how less strict business types can have more freedom in designs. The triangle and orange + greyscale themes, shown in the front side of the card, are continued to create a pleasant, cool design followed by their website at the bottom. Note: The black border shown around the front face of the card is done for the same reason as the black border in example 1.

Business Card Example 4

Business Card Example
Business Card Example
Motiv’s card is a sleek orange card with the card’s top-left and bottom right corners of the card are actually curved and the black around is just to highlight the curves. Curved edges is another special effect offered at Kendall Press. My favorite feature of this card, despite how cool the half curved edges look, is how simple and smart their slogan, “design with reason” is. Just 3 simple words, yet it embodies all the aspects of step #6 in creating a busness card. They are catchy, and make sure you know exactly what the company does while fitting in perfect with their mission statement. On the back of the card, to further exemplify how much more freedom these types of companies have to work with, the owner of the card gets to put some terms to reflect himself, creating a more personal touch between the client and business.

Business Card Example 5

Business Card Example
Business Card Example
Business Card Example
The Scenic card is actually one of the coolest cards I’ve seen,unfortunately the pictures do not quite capture that. This is because this card was printed using gold foil stamping. The technique is another unique feature that is available at Kendall Press. The effect is a really sleek and luxurious look that embodies the services that are offered at Scenic. Once again we have a great example of a 3 letter slogan, “Luxury tours & cruises”. it tells you exactly what the company does. You can see that they used their slogan to make almost a logo for themselves as well, instead of just having it written out in a line. In the back, a simple quote that engages potential customers to go on one of the journeys offered by scenic. Note: The name (which goes above the position), mobile number and e-mail have been edited out at the request of Scenic.

Reaching the end of the article, we hope it helped you come up with some design ideas for your own business cards. If you are still lost, need more assistance or just want to leave a comment or question, feel free to leave one below! In addition, Kendall Press provides both designing and printing services to Boston, Cambridge, Belmont, Somerville and the Greater Boston 128 area. You are welcome to call us or click the button below to send us an e-mail to schedule your free consultation.

Schedule a Free Consultation

 

Acknowledgements

Christopher A. Kozlowski, Rahway NJ

Ashton Law PC, Winchester MA

isgenuity, Boston MA

motiv, Boston MA

Scenic USA

Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs, A Guide for your Business

Whether you are promoting your business, service, product or just an idea, printed material can be an extremely effective tool for you and your business. Wherever you plan on being, research has shown that printed material is more effective than digital. Let’s talk about just some of the few places that you can use printed material:

  • Booths for trade shows or any event where you are making a presence
  • Presentations, whether it is a thesis or a business proposal
  • Real Estate or any picture/art based showing or offer
  • In your store for overviewsproduct offers/specials or full product lines

You can have printed material to be used as a future reference from your customer’s office or just give them out so people can look at them while walking around a conference, the uses for printed material are endless! Generally speaking, for product/service lists, you would want a catalog. If you want to talk about a specific product, idea or briefly introduce your company, brochures should be your go-to. If you want to have in-depth context or display research, a booklet would be the best option.

Catalogs tend to be more straightforward because they are more precise in what they show. They will probably be your best bet for long, undetailed lists in general. If you want to display everything your business has to offer, or a product line or however else you may want to categorize products, you generally want to create a catalog. Most catalogs tend to follow this 3 point checklist for each listing in the catalog.

  1. Picture
  2. Small description
  3. Price

Brochures  tend to vary more in terms of sizes and usage, however they are always extremely short in terms of pages. Our first example is a picture-based brochure which a real estate agent created for a specific unit. On the first page, very clearly labeled, you will see the name of the product at the top, a beautiful picture that they think best captures the most about the product in the center, and at the bottom, all ownership and rights needed for the product. Due to the nature of the product and the marketing that is best for it, only a small explanation is need.

Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs guide
Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs guide
Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs guide
Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs guide

On the first page, you see the product title again with the price, the small explanation, followed by the necessary pictures. Note how the brochure does not seem cluttered due to the spaces in between the pictures and how the back is left vacant of pictures. It is presented very elegantly and does not leave the reader overwhelmed.

Our second example is one of the most common brochure types with a bit of a kick to it. It is a tri-fold brochure, but its front page is cut in half to present a unique look. Immediately you can tell what the color scheme is; gold, blue and white, this remains consistent throughout the entire brochure. A photo is provided of the first page so that you can better see the color. The gold does not look as well in digital files because it is a metallic inc printed offset. Without even opening the brochure, you can clearly see the name of the company, and what it does. Once you open it up, the name of the company is reiterated to the reader while using the term “partner” to signify that the company does not think of itself as just a tool, it is not just doing a job for you, but it wants to help you grow and succeed.

Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs guide
Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs guide
Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs guide
Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs guide
Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs guide

Inside, there is a simple overview of what the company offers. On the back, where it is also readable without opening the brochure, you see a brief biography of what the company does, its logo and its contact information. It is said that the first thing that people will do when picking up a magazine/packet/brochure, is turn and see what’s on the back of it. From the content of the brochure, you can easily tell that the goal of this brochure is to introduce the company and what it can offer to you.

 

Booklets are similair to brochures in that they can also be used in a wide variety of ways, however, booklets allow you to communicate more deeply your thoughts and are lengthier, with more context. Scholars have used them to present their research, business personnel have used them for all types of reports and even students have used them to present their thesises, reports and projects. In our example, BRAC uses a booklet to present their research findings. Even if the nature of the booklet you are trying to create is different from BRAC’s, there are many lessons to be learned from their booklet. Starting off we have a picture of one of the women they worked with in the project. It can not be overstated how it is much more impactful to use your own real pictures instead of generic, stock pictures. Despite the topic being in-depth with research, there are very few pages filled with just text and long paragraphs. There are multiple images and graphics that are used to keep the content engaging. In page 4 (the second image), we see an example of that with a graph that is used as a visual guide to the content.

Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs guide
Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs guide
Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs guide
Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs guide
Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs guide
Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs guide
Brochures, Booklets and Catalogs guide

The picture of Shohiton, followed by her short story, is one of multiple example stories they have in their booklet. The use of their own pictures helps deliver a more personal and deeper connection to their service. In the following image, we see one of the tables that are included in the booklet to help organize their writing and present it in a visually pleasing way. In the last page, there is another example of how they elegantly avoid being overbearing to the reader by using a list for their key research conclusions. Another important note is that there is also a quote significant to their research that is bolded out. This is not the only place they highlight a single quote. Highlighting key quotes, phrases or sentences can be extremely effective whether they are from your own research or from other people. It is also important to note that all the colors and design stay consistent throughout the booklet.

Hopefully, this guide will help you design some print material to improve your effectiveness and presence. If you are still lost, need more assistance or just want to leave a comment or question, feel free to leave one below! In addition, Kendall Press provides both designing and printing services to Boston, Cambridge, Belmont, Somerville and the Greater Boston 128 area, you are welcome to call us or click the button below to send us an e-mail to schedule your free consultation.

Schedule a Free Consultation

 

Acknowledgements:

Julia Kenny, Robert Paul Properties

BRAC’s Ultra Poor Graduation Programme, BRAC USA

  • All design: © Danielle Lee/BRAC
  • All photos: © BRAC
  • Page four graphic: © Amplifier Strategies/BRAC