By Chemory Gunko
MD & Creative Director
Dsignhaus (Pty) Ltd
Let’s face it, with the economy’s lacklustre performance over the past few years – and the subsequent budgetary constraints that have followed – we’ve all found ourselves cutting cost-corners and taking on tasks that we know should actually be handed over to the professionals. So if you have to delve into the world of DIY marketing, here’s what you really should look out for.
Typefaces, typefaces, typefaces
Balancing and matching typefaces (or fonts) is never an easy thing to do. Truthfully, even in the world of design, not everyone masters this field. So the very first rule of thumb when it comes to typefaces is keep it simple – as simple as possible in fact.
You have a much better chance of your layout looking neat if you stick to one typeface – and if you aren’t sure which one to use, then default to Arial.
A simple, clean typeface, available freely to anyone who would like to own it, Arial is one of the original web-standard fonts, which means that everyone should have it on their machine already. In addition, Arial also looks slightly different at different sizes, which will give your design the variety and balance it needs to make it easy to read.
If you’re really stuck, open up a Word document and take your sizing guidelines from Word – that way it will be easy for you to differentiate between headlines, sub-headlines and body copy in a way that is neat and presentable.
On the same note, whatever typeface you do choose to use, don’t assume that the publication house receiving your layout has that typeface on file.
If they don’t have it on file, then when they open your document to prep it for print, the type will revert to another typeface – whatever the default is for their machine.
This doesn’t sound like it would be too much of a train smash, until you consider that different typefaces of the same size (e.g. Arial and Calibri both at size 12) will take up a different amount of space.
Effectively, this means that your carefully laid-out copy, that wraps perfectly around that image you so painstakingly placed will move completely out of alignment – affecting everything below it.
This could result in part of your text getting cut off and your copy ending mid-sentence – before you even reach your call to action or point.
Sizing, gutters & bleeds
When a print or publication house gives you a document final size, it’s always worthwhile to go back and check it with them. The main things you’re worried about here are gutters and bleeds.
A bleed is the amount of space that the document is larger than it’s final size i.e. the bleed would make the document 5 to 50mm bigger all the way around to allow for printing offsets. This is how designers manage to give you a document that is printed all the way to the very edge of the page.
The gutter is the size within the document that all the text and content has to fit into. The gutter serves to balance the bleed offset i.e. if your printing is 3mm off, the bleed will ensure that you don’t land up with a white strip down the one side of your final print, while the gutter will ensure that none of your text or content gets cut off in case of a printing offset.
So what you’d need to know in this case is if the final size they’ve given you includes bleed, and how much of a gutter you’d need to leave around the edge of your content.
Ignore this at your peril!
The error that happens most often here is that the person doing the layout designs to fill the page including the bleed size, so when it’s resized, the aspect ratio lands up being off, and then the bottom part of your design gets cut off – and this is usually where the contact and website info will land.
What good is a piece of marketing if people don’t know how to contact you?
Image quality and resolution
Images loaded online for digital use are of a much lower quality and a different colour standard than those used in print. So, when you’re downloading images off the web for use in a piece of print collateral, you’re really looking for images that are about 4 times the size of what you want your final output image to be.
The ideal of course is to use a graphic design program to change the resolution and colour standard of the image you want to use. If that is not an option for you, then enquire about layout costs at the publication you’re advertising with.
Very often, for a small additional fee, the publication will be happy to do a layout for you if you provide the elements and information.
Likewise, most publication houses are happy to send you a proof. Even if they charge you an additional fee for the proof – pay it. Once you have the proof, you’ll be able to clearly see any potential errors in the piece you’ve created – and fix them before you go to print. That extra few Rands is really about buying your peace of mind.
Don’t ever assume that the publication will be checking these elements for you!
Even if the publication is that organized, or you luck into a designer who is very fastidious about their work, that person still does not know the vision you had inside your head, or what you meant to include.
This means that they are not able to notice the elements that are missing if they are missing – and you are just one of a 100 clients who is going into that publication that month or week.
Your marketing is the face of your company and creating marketing on a tight budget doesn’t have to mean that your marketing looks homemade.
What you need to be able to objectively ask yourself is: if I saw this piece of marketing, would I feel confident in the company and would it prompt me to make contact or buy?
If you can answer yes – then go ahead with what you have.
If your answer is no, then refine, refine and refine some more. Once it’s out there, it’s out there – and you cannot take it back.