From papyrus to the first printing press to today’s marketing materials, paper has had one of the longest runs in history. Printing on paper says a lot about a business, which is why marketers do more than stick with a single color or texture throughout their marketing campaigns. But among the thousands of combinations in stocks, weights, sizes, coatings and folding types, how can you choose the best paper for your printing needs?

When beginning your journey, take a look at what you will use the paper for and follow up with any specialty printing technique you might want. As you finish your project and prepare it for the marketing phase, your brand will continually serve as a guiding light for the project, whether you showcase it on envelopes, invitations or business cards. To achieve this overarching goal, you must follow these steps to select the right paper for your next marketing and branding project.


Selecting a Paper’s Marketing Purpose Prior to Printing

Every printing project has a purpose, depending upon if you are printing stationery or going a direct mail route. Identify that purpose before choosing a paper, not vice versa. However, do not let this part of the process delay your printing needs. Creative Pro points out that you need to inform your printing professional about your project early on:

  • If the paper is to be used on items such as stationery or envelopes, the printer will need one day to get the product in hand.

  • For paper that must be shipped in, such as paper featuring a specialty printing technique, typically from the warehouse or the mill, it can take anywhere from two to five days.

By getting your printing project quote as soon as possible, your printer will be able to secure the correct paper stock in time to keep you on track.

Now, how do you know which paper to choose? Start with its purpose for your marketing and branding campaigns.

For example, when choosing stationery, look for a type of paper that comes with a wide line of text weights, or thickness, of the paper. The more freedom you have to play with the weight of the paper, while keeping the same color, texture and overall feel, the better off your business brand will be. For branding purposes, you want a consistent paper type. Along these lines, look for matching envelopes that will keep with the consistent theme, no matter if you are mailing flyers via direct mail or personal letters to private clients. Here are some possible formats for your choice of paper:

Next up, it’s time to take a look at how you can create a special moment with your selection of paper.

Spice It Up With a Specialty Printing Technique

Once you have chosen a paper line to work with, you have a solid base to use for your overall marketing needs. From brochures to letterhead, every type of printed material geared at marketing and branding your business should be consistent. However, from time to time, marketing goals will require some extra oomph and a little pizzazz.

Here are some special details that can bring a basic sheet of paper out of its plain white wrappings:

  • Pearl adds luxury and depth to paper through its iridescence and shimmer or a shiny or metallic appearance.

  • Uncoated is a popular choice these days for cover weight as it is lighter to mail for direct mail projects. For instance, Eddie Bauer utilizes the uncoated Neenah stock to provide an earthy, laid-back feel for its marketing materials, according to Creative Pro.

  • Plastic is in. Rather than wood-based paper, plastic creates a more modern and even futuristic feel to printing products. It is not going to rip, and it will last as long as your business, which will be forever — you hope. A business card on plastic is a top pick.

  • Cotton paper offers a feeling of luxury. However, it’s best paired with letterpress printing and especially keen for invitations.

  • Metal is a hip replacement for traditional paper. While it isn’t the most cost effective, using metal for printing materials is a sure-fire way for a marketing campaign to stand out from the competition. A business card printed on metal is a prime candidate for marketing materials that won’t be lost in the shuffle.


Money-Saving Matters for Marketing and Branding Campaigns

During your project analysis, the price point should always be at the forefront. You don’t want to cut corners by choosing a lesser quality paper or finish. However, there are ways to make selecting paper a more economical decision:

  • Plan to spend 30 percent of your project budget on the paper. Knowing this ahead of time can help you establish the best paper source for your wallet.

  • If you want to go with a short run, and you are interested in paper ordered from the mill, you are likely to lose money, that is, if the order will be filled at all. Choose a standard paper that is on hand for smaller projects to avoid having to purchase more product than you want.

  • Look through several sample books to get a strong idea of what type of paper you want for your project so you aren’t wasting money, and time, on reruns and reprints.


Finishing the Project

By the time the ink on the paper is dry, you are ready to get your product bound, presented or shipped out as your finished project. At this stage, all that’s left at the printer is the finishing work. Design Shack points out the many types of folding styles used to finish a brochure, card, announcement, invitation or booklet:

  • Accordion fold allows you to fold the material as much as desired, and is typically used for brochures.

  • Tri-fold is another popular method for brochures, when creating six pages for content and graphics.

  • Short fold is another way to fold brochures, although it’s less common.

  • Gate fold creates a window style, and is ideal for announcements and invitations.

  • Half-page fold is typical of greeting cards and also useful for booklets.

Another way to finish a project is to score or bind the paper material. Before choosing one of these, ask the printing professional how well the paper will withstand these methods. For example, certain paper types are known to crack when scored. A sturdier paper is a better choice for scoring a paper product.


Sealing the Deal for Printing Projects

Every project that you take on will have a start and an end, whether you are printing business cards, envelopes, brochures or invitations. The goal is to reach the finish line with a cohesive, marketable project in hand to send out through direct mail. With the right paper for your project, your next printed marketing campaign will be a winner!