Print production in advertising is the process of turning a creative idea into printed material including magazine or newspaper ads, billboards, brochures, flyers, and direct mail. Though digital media has caused the extent of traditional print media to decline, it is still an effective and popular platform for its wide readership and ability to reach less tech savvy consumers. It is generally targeted by audience type and geography, with costs dependent on the scope, type of media, and circulation.
Newspaper and magazine advertisements offer extensive readership, from local to national, and cover a broad selection of topics, such as business, health, entertainment, sports, and fashion. Magazines can additionally focus on specific industries like marketing or executive publications. Advertisers can choose from different spaces and sizes for their ads, including full pages or double-page spreads. These can feature text only, or include photos, graphics, and illustrations. Billboards and posters can reach a large number of consumers that are on the move. Those in or around shopping malls have the added advantage of reaching people near a purchasing point. Direct mail is used for specific target audiences, and takes the form of letters, flyers, and brochures.
The first step of print media advertising is creative brainstorming, and is where the purpose, function, and audience of your content is determined. Physical features such as size, colour, and material will also be determined here. The production manager will then create a series of blueprints and propose quotes for each. Once one is decided on, the print media can be ordered, press checked, and delivered. Proficient designers and production teams will have an adept understanding of the manual and finishing processes of printing, such as folding and binding. They will also have experience with software such as Adobe Creative Suite or QuarkXpress, the ability to communicate effectively with the printing company, and a good command of overall print production concepts.
When optimising artwork for print, a few key elements need to be communicated effectively with the printing production house in order to ensure the most accurate results. Hiring a graphic designer who is trained in production would also be beneficial, as this reduces final output issues such as design discrepancies, unanticipated delays, or incompatible software.
Software: Some of the industry’s standard applications include Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. These should all be kept up to date, as using a different version may result in compatibility issues - for example, different file types may not store or display the information in the way that was intended. It is a good idea to find out what software your print production house is using to make sure it is compatible with your own.
Layout: File size and proportions must be calculated accurately and sufficient bleed margins should be accounted for. If this is not done properly at the agency, you may incur fees from the print production house for this work to be done externally. Ensuring the layout of your files fit the correct specifications of the job also eliminates unnecessary proofing and design changes.
Font: Make sure the fonts used match the clients’ brands CI. If it is not a standard font supplied with the software used, then request the necessary files from the client and make sure the print house receives them.
Colour: Colours also need to match the brand’s CI. CMYK colouration should be used to create an accurate colour palette. What you see on your monitor may not be exactly what is printed. CMYK helps to avoid this because it calculates the intended colour hues prior to printing.
Once the file is prepared for printing, a PDF proof is created and reviewed for approval. Any necessary changes to the layout, text, images, or colours can be made here. A press check of the hard copy is then carried out for final approval of all materials. The two main methods for printing are offset and digital. Offset is more cost effective for high volumes, while digital is used for smaller scale projects. Depending on the type of product, the final stage involves cutting, trimming, folding, laminating, or binding. It is then packaged and sent for delivery.
Print production is a detailed process, and it is important to make sure that your brand is represented through high quality materials to maximise your return on investment. Its long history in advertising means that it is easily accepted and understood by consumers, and it remains the only type that can appeal to their sense of touch. Print advertising allows you to target specific audiences, offering wide flexibility and choice. For example, advertising in a highly regarded print publication can drastically leverage the credibility of your brand. Many companies use QR codes and other interactive features such as free downloads and social media URLs in their print ads. In this way, consumers are engaging with the printed material and potentially once more online. Marketing strategy that synergises both print and digital advertising presents an attractive solution for today’s leading companies.
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