Print Isn’t Dead! And It's More Exciting Than You Might Think

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  • 7/31/2018

    In an ever-evolving, connected world, many marketers and clients alike might believe print is merely a dinosaur of a service facing the inevitable destruction of an oncoming meteor. Sorry, T-rex. Too soon?

    But we, however, disagree. Print media still holds a special appeal to audiences—more than they think—and we actually see it back on the upswing. In a world of increasing digital brand presence where screens are in your face practically everywhere, a physical object you can hold in your hand is now something really special again.

    At thunder::tech, we’ve seen an increase in print projects over the past couple of years, and while we’ve completed our fair share of traditional print work, we’ve also had the opportunity to work on some really fun print projects. One of most exciting aspects of our jobs as graphic designers is really elegant print work that uses custom features. Those enhancements are what can distinguish a piece from one worthy of being picked up and read rather than ignored or tossed into the trash.

    Let’s dive into some of these special print considerations that can help your next print piece become something incredibly memorable. Some are pretty common, while others are much more unusual and noteworthy.


    Stock is one of the first considerations for a print project. Custom stock adds a great extra touch, and the variety of paper types out there is mindboggling. The way the ink sits on and is absorbed into the paper is reflective of the texture and can give a clean look or rough look to your print project.

    Smooth stocks with a special finish, such as a soft-touch, gives a piece a pleasant and almost delicate feeling in your hands. This would be great for a consulting institution or insurance provider. On the other end of the spectrum, an uncoated stock with a rougher texture provides a distinctive touch that’s more unexpected. Think of how effective rum labels printed on rough-textured stock would be on a distillery’s bottles.

    When it comes to paper, weight also goes a long way. Using different weights beyond standard printer paper and card stock can make a huge difference in the quality of your project. How much better would a business card be when it’s on a stock that’s twice as thick as a normal card? That thicker, more durable card is going to stand out from the other same-old boring cards people encounter. And remember, you don’t always need to print on paper. If you haven’t seen our metal business cards, you’re missing out.


    Sure, you could go with standard four-color printing in CMYK and your print project could turn out great. But you could add even more jazz using spot colors. If your brand uses a specific color that needs to be exact or perhaps doesn’t look as strong in CMYK, a spot ink will certainly give your brand the visual recognition it needs. But spot inks can go even further.

    Fluorescent or neon inks will give your print piece a really eye-opening look and feel. This will significantly brighten colors and images, making them seem to jump off the page. Lastly, there are metallic inks. Imagine how well a metallic ink would work for a machine shop’s print materials. The extra detail of a soft yet reflective material would really emphasize the visual brand and its services.

    Embossing and Debossing

    Sometimes when you’re looking to highlight an important part of your brand like your logo or tagline, adding some dimensionality to it can really help. Embossing creates a raised area in a print piece while debossing creates recessed areas. Keep in mind it will affect the opposite side of the page, so it is important to be mindful with content placement if using these effects.

    Varnishes, Aqueous Coating and Sculpted UV

    Printed materials don’t necessarily need to be to be a flat experience with just ink on paper. Raised surfaces and dimensionality can be incorporated into the finishing portion of the print process to provide an additional touch to specific design elements.

    Varnishes or aqueous applications add a nice extra shine to specific areas to draw attention to them. Sculpted UV does the same but can also be applied in multiple layers to act as an embossment, providing a 3D effect without impacting the opposite side of the stock. These finishing techniques can look exceptionally sharp when incorporated in a logo or dynamic text treatment.

    Foil Stamps

    When a metallic ink just isn’t enough, a foil stamp provides a next-level appearance with an extra shiny and reflective look. This striking application is perfect for print projects that require a high-end look and feel. For example, an exclusive, downtown, luxury apartment would benefit from a foil stamp on its print materials to ensure it presents itself in a high-end fashion.


    Who ever said paper had to be rectangular? Custom shapes can be one of the biggest differences in a print piece to help it truly stand out from the expected and ordinary. Sometimes, this only means changing one edge of the page, but the entire shape of the piece can be made custom.

    While diecutting used to be expensive due to the creation of the die, many printshops use laser cutting to create custom shapes, which has made the process much more cost-effective. Diecutting doesn’t always need to be crazy custom to be unique. Sometimes, a simple and small diecut, such as a logo on a business card, is enough to create something eye-catching.

    If price is something that’s holding you back, consider this: In the past, many of these methods (foil stamping, sculpted UV, spot varnish, aqueous coating and diecuts) were expensive. But thanks to new digital technology, these are rather cost-effective and can easily be incorporated into a print project. Even if you just utilize one of the methods listed above, it will make a difference.

    If you’re looking to take your printing to the next level, consider one or more of these techniques and talk to our creative team at thunder::tech.
    About the author::Ashley Bojc is a Graphic Designer at thunder::tech. She works on projects ranging from logos to print design to websites. She especially enjoys projects where she can use sharp typography, illustration and even hand lettering on occasion! Outside work you can find her hanging with her dog, boating on Lake Erie or at home with some wine and her sketchbook.

    Joe Cola, who sadly has no connection to the world famous brand, Coca-Cola, is an Art Director at thunder::tech. When he isn't designing, Joe loves going to the zoo or the metroparks. He also considers himself a "dinosaur expert."
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