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What we can print

We print almost anything!

What we can print

We’re often asked if we print particular items, for example, “Do you print NCR sets?” … “Can you overprint envelopes” … “Do you do packaging” and so on. Well, the good news is that our answer is nearly always “Yes!” We can print any kind of stationery item, virtually any item of sales and marketing collateral and almost any type of large format graphics. However, it goes way beyond those simple categories — take a look:

Stationery

We regularly print:

  • Business & personal stationery
  • Letterheads
  • Continuation sheets
  • Compliments slips
  • Business cards
  • Corporate envelopes

Sales & Marketing Collateral

The following are no problem at all:

  • Brochures & booklets
  • Catalogues
  • Manuals
  • Flyers & leaflets
  • Newsletters
  • Folders
  • Annual reports
  • Labels and stickers
  • Variable data mail shots
  • Direct mailers
  • Pop-ups & cardboard engineering
  • Overprinted envelopes
  • Programmes
  • Postcards
  • Name tags
  • Point-of-sale signs
  • Point-of-sale flyers
  • Corporate manuals
  • NCR sets
  • Forms

Packaging

If it’s printed digitally or via litho printing, then packaging is also no problem here at Firstpoint Print. For example:

  • Cartons
  • Pillow packs
  • Sleeves
  • Header cards
  • Hanging packs
  • Labels
  • Swing tags
  • CD and DVD inserts and covers
  • Printed dust jackets for books;
  • Sample packs and swatch packs etc.

Large format printing

Need something printed large? No problem — we can produce all this and more: Read more

Brochure size & format options

Brochure Formats: Stand Out from the Crowd!

Brochure size & format options

Size matters!

When it comes to choosing a size for your corporate brochure, first impressions really do count, especially if it’s a brochure to promote your organisation, services or products. This is true not only in respect to the graphics and design used but also to the size and format of the brochure, which is what we’ll focus in on in this particular post — because it really does make a difference.

Choosing a brochure size

The size you choose for your brochure may be partly governed by the volume of content it needs to contain. If it’s substantial then clearly you may have to choose one of the larger sizes, although choosing a smaller size with more pages is also a viable option. If you’re not dealing with an enormous volume of content, then straight away you have a much wider choice of sizes and formats from which to choose. But which is the best?

Should you go for A4 portrait?

Well … yes, you could, and most people do. It’s the obvious choice and it’s an economical size to print because it fits in well with commonly available sheet sizes – so there is little or no paper wastage once the job is complete. A4 portrait also fits in well with most printing presses, including the more common digital ones.

However, being the ‘obvious choice’ does rather mean that your brochure is going to be the same size and format as millions of other brochures out there. So, graphics aside, it’s not going to stand out from the crowd – even literally. For example, if a coffee table or reception desk has a few brochures on it, it’ll get rather lost if they’re all A4 or thereabouts, as is likely to be the case. This standardisation of brochures sizes circulating can, though, be used to your advantage!

So what other size should you choose?

With all other factors being equal, your final choice may come down to four main factors:

  • Is the size/format economical to print?
  • Is the size/format going to have any additional ‘impact’ compared to A4?
  • Is the size/format unusual in any way?
  • Could the size/format be described as ‘more appealing‘ than A4?

Being an economical size to print speaks mostly for itself. Factors include Read more

A guide to online marketing (Part 2)

A Guide to Online Marketing: Part 2

A guide to online marketing (Part 2)

In Part 1 of our Guide to Online Marketing we outlined how to set up the right foundations before actively engaging in online marketing activities. Those good foundations will really pay off in the long run. Now, in Part 2, we explain how to engage with your target audience. This is the real key to online marketing success, both directly as it encourages prospects to become customers and indirectly because of the positive knock-on benefits to search engine rankings.

Engage Customers on Your Website

Rather than assuming that the building of your core website is a one-time activity which is finished after you’ve added content about your company, products and services, go a step further and think of it from a potential customer’s point of view. What else would they like to see when they arrive at your site? As well as showing decent product/service photographs and detailed text content and specifications etc., one of the best things you can add to your site is ‘Social Proof’ which, as the name suggests, is visible proof that you offer a good service and that your products or services are liked by people who have bought from you before.

Social Proof Improves Trust

Many online purchasing decisions come down to one word — trust. So — on your website add some genuine testimonials, recommendations, reviews and quotations from happy customers who have tried, and liked, your product or service in the past. Testimonials will naturally come to you if you offer a good product or service and communicate well with those who have ordered or enquired. However, if you’re just starting out, you may not have any testimonials or reviews yet. So, be proactive and simply ask a few early customers for their thoughts on your offering and, of course, for their permission for you to publish them and then you can get the ‘trust’ ball rolling. Publishing testimonials, reviews and displaying genuine ‘star ratings’ on your website can be the difference between whether someone orders from you – and whether they go elsewhere. This is known as ‘social proof’ and is like gold dust when it comes to online marketing. Indeed the likes of Amazon and eBay have whole Social Proof systems built into their sites so that visitors can check out the vendor and their feedback history, as well as a star rating for many of the products, although you do not need to go this far when you’re starting out — more sophisticated social proof systems can come later.

Fast, Responsive Feedback

Live Chat is another feature which can be seamlessly and easily added to your website, particularly if Firstpoint Print has built your website for you. This feature allows customers to interact with you via a live messaging system, right there on your website. The system allows site visitors to tap out a query which you can instantly respond to. Again, a quick response of the right nature can be the difference between the prospect ordering from you and becoming a customer, or going elsewhere. Many prospects actually prefer live chat on a website to calling by phone, however it should only be used if you have someone at the ready at all times when the system is live because there is nothing more infuriating than being ignored, particularly when you’re a customer who is virtually ready to buy. So if you add Live Chat to your site, make sure it is used well and, for example, deactivated when nobody is around to deal with the incoming enquiries. Another tip for Live Chat is *not* to bug site visitors by forcing a pop-up message onto their screens asking them if they would like to chat. If they want to message a query, they will click the appropriate live chat button on your site and do not need to be prompted. Moreover prompting them the moment they arrive may well scare them off — people do not like the feeling that they are being watched.

Feedback forms & contact telephone numbers and other means of communication are, of course, an absolute necessity on websites and they should be easy to find. At all times you simply must give your potential customers the chance to ask questions, after all they’re likely to spend good money and therefore need to be sure they’re making the right decision by buying from you. You should also make your physical address easily found on your site. If you don’t, you will immediately lose trust from your visitor, who should be able to find out where you or your organisation are based. Many in the UK, including myself, will be looking to buy from a UK-based business so don’t fail this simple test of trust.  Tell them where you are on a contact page or perhaps in a ‘footer’ area on every page.

Customer Satisfaction is Paramount

Customer satisfaction usually comes down to: Read more

3 new branch sites & blogs for Firstpoint Print

New Branch Websites for Clerkenwell, London Bridge & Victoria Centres

3 new branch sites & blogs for Firstpoint Print

The Firstpoint Print group are pleased to announce that each of the 3 Central London branches now has its own separate website and blog. These will run in parallel to the ‘Group’ site and blog which you’re looking at right now. So if you are located close to one branch in particular, you can now find out the latest services, printing news and special offers for that one location — so it’s much more focused on work produced for companies and organisations in your own particular neighbourhood.

So the good news is that we’ll now be publishing four times the content, four times the news and probably four times the special offers!

We invite customers to bookmark their most local branch Firstpoint Print Clerkenwell's new website & blogsite, as detailed below:

Clerkenwell EC1 Branch:

Firstpoint Print Clerkenwell’s site can be seen at www.firstpointprintec1.london and their blog is here. As you may notice the Clerkenwell branch site is differentiated from the others with magenta/pink detailing.

Firstpoint Print London Bridge's new website & blogLondon Bridge SE1 Branch:

Firstpoint Print London Bridge’s website can be found at www.firstpointprintse1.london and their blog can be seen here. The London Bridge branch site is differentiated using green detailing.

Victoria SW1 Branch:

Firstpoint Print Victoria's new website & blogFirstpoint Print Victoria’s website is at www.firstpointprintsw1.london and their news blog can be seen here. The Victoria branch site is differentiated from the other branches using cyan (sky blue) detailing.

Each individual branch blog will feature Read more

Historical images of printing works

Historical Printers & Printing, in Pictures (pt. 2)

Historical images of printing works

In part 2 of our pictorial look back at historical printing works, machinery, tools and the printers themselves, we now bring you the second batch of ten vintage illustrations. This time there is even a dog which appears twice – see if you can spot it. Of course if you missed the first ten, click here — they’re well worth a look and are a fascinating look into how the industry used to be.

Vintage-printing-10

Fig 11* (above): Believed to be a rotary lithographic printing machine, tended by workmen, some wearing paper hats (date unknown).

Vintage-printing-11

Fig 12 (above): Printers at work, circa 1770.
Scan courtesy of Daniel Chodowiecki.

Vintage-printing-12

Fig 13 (above): Engraving of a printing press by Heinrich Zeising and Hieronymus Megiser (1627). Photo courtesy of Wolfgang Sauber. Licensed via GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0.

Vintage-printing-13

Fig 14 (above): Printer, screw press & letterpress components – and, we think, a dog! (1613). Image by Hieronymus Megiser, scan courtesy of FotothekBot.

Vintage-printing-14

Fig 15 (above): Fresco of the first printing press opened in the Bavarian countryside, printing the first German book (1461). Image by Ferdinand Rothbarth. Scan courtesy of Mattes.
Read more

Spot colour printing

Printing With Spot Colours

Spot colour printing

Spot colour printing refers to the use of inks which are physically mixed to the right colour in liquid form, before being used on the printing press. So, for example, the spot colour ‘Pantone 328C’ can be printed in a single pass of the printing press, using a single printing plate. This is in contrast to printing a similar colour, although not as accurately, by overlapping the tiny dots of the four ‘process’ colours of Cyan (‘C’), Magenta (‘M’), Yellow (‘Y’) and Black (‘K’), otherwise known as “CMYK” and “four colour process” printing. That, of course, necessitates 4 passes of the press, using four printing plates instead of just one. More information about ‘process’ printing can be found in our previous blog post but, for this article, we will concentrate on only spot colour, its uses and benefits.

So why use spot colour?

In essence, using spot colours will generally give you the very best match possible to the exact colour you have in mind. While ‘process’ (CMYK) colours can get a pretty decent match, spot colours can get an exact match. Spot colours are also the only way to print colours such as metallic inks, some pastels, super-saturated and particularly bright colours like fluorescents and even some colours that you might think were fairly standard, for example some blues, which can be troublesome using CMYK. Spot colours compared to CMYK 'process' printingAlso it’s worth bearing in mind that if you are printing a 2 colour job, you can literally print it using 2 spot colour inks (with 2 plates and 2 passes of the press) whereas with ‘process’ printing you’d need 4 of each. (This matters less with Firstpoint Print’s digital printing process, because it is a plateless process, but it potentially makes a significant difference to pricing and colour accuracy on their litho printing presses).

To illustrate the difference in colour accuracy using ‘spot’ vs. ‘process’ printing, here are a few examples showing a representation of the same Pantone colours using both colour models (N.B. slightly exaggerated for illustrative purposes). On the left is the ‘spot’ colour version where the ink is pre-mixed before going onto the printing press. On the right is the same Pantone colour generated using the ‘four colour process’ (CMYK) model. You can see that there is quite a difference for the particular Pantone colours we’ve selected, with the spot colours being more saturated and bright, while the CMYK equivalents tending to be a little less so.

We should point out that the difference is less pronounced for many other colours in the Pantone range. Read more

Print vs Pixel - the rebirth of printing

Print vs. Pixel – The re-birth of printing

Print vs Pixel - the rebirth of printing

In a world which is becoming increasingly digital, it is encouraging to know that physical printing is enjoying renewed popularity — and in no small way. Not long ago, with the arrival of electronic literature in the form of Acrobat PDFs, e-shots, ‘page-turning’ browser app’s and even the one time massive growth of e-books, one could have been forgiven for thinking that ‘traditional’ printing was well and truly on its way out. However statistics now show that there has been a reversal in the fortunes of physical printing and, unlike the music industry, it is bucking the digital trend and is growing in popularity. Meanwhile its electronic equivalent, which seemed for a while almost ready to take its place, is losing ground drastically.

Take e-books as a ‘print vs. pixel’ barometer

Many predicted that printed books would soon be a thing of the past when e-book readers like the Kindle arrived on the scene. Indeed the sale of printed books did drop radically while e-book sales grew enormously for a couple of years (a 1260% sales increase between 2008 and 2010). However this trend is now reversing. We are now seeing a mass migration back to the printed word. Forrester Research reports that last year sales of e-readers were 40% lower than in their heyday back in 2011 and the sale of e-books accounted for only a fifth of book sales in the entire U.S. The Association of American Publishers also reports that paperback sales are increasing — sharply. So the predicted print revolution, in the form of digitisation which affected digital music so profoundly, never actually came to fruition for the printed word. Some surveys also suggest that young readers prefer reading printing on paper, despite being ‘digital’ down to their DNA. The American Booksellers Association says that they’re now in a healthier position than they’ve been for years. Printed matter matters again and major publishers are indeed radically expanding warehouse storage to cope with the re-born demand for physical, printed products.

So what has helped printing to prevail, despite the odds?

Again using printed books vs. digitised books as a good example, I for one tried a few e-books on my new Kindle and, for the first couple it seemed fantastic. But this feeling was short-lived as I found it difficult to obtain particular books that I’d had in mind, while also tiring of the cold, sanitised feel of the electronic e-book reader. I missed the comforting intimacy of the paper, the rustle of the turning page, the feel and even smell of the book and, of course, the full colour, graphically printed cover with its notes, review extracts and ancillary information. I also missed owning something physical and tangible. In contrast to the real thing, e-books felt intangible and sterile. ‘Sterilised’ really sums it up.

Printed paper has a character and an identity

Printed paper has a feel, it has a texture, it has an identity and it even has a smell. They combine to form the character of the printed piece in question. Try accomplishing that with a digital version of the same thing — it’s simply not possible. Digitally reading what should have been printed matter is rather akin to viewing the world with one eye closed. Things look kind of similar but something is missing. Everything is two-dimensional, soulless and that word again — sterile. Read more

Top 10 Tips for Typography

Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Typeface

Top 10 Tips for Typography

If you’re not a graphic designer by trade, knowing how to choose the most appropriate typeface for your in-house design or artwork can be confusing. With the shear number of fonts available, both on desktop computers and on-line, the decision as to which fonts to use in your leaflet, brochure, flyer or other sales and marketing literature can be overwhelming.

So — where do you start?

1. Check the corporate identity (‘ID’) guidelines.

First check whether the organisation concerned has a set of corporate identity guidelines. Many of the bigger or more brand-aware organisations have a formal corporate manual in which you’ll usually find a section which tells you exactly which typeface(s) you should be using. This is so that the organisation’s brand remains consistent wherever it appears. Many corporate ID manuals even include finer detail such as the usual size you should use fonts in ‘body text’ or in headings and sub-headings, whether they should be ranged left, right, centred or justified, what Pantone colours they should be and so on. If you have not been supplied a corporate ID manual of this kind, ask the organisation’s marketing or brand manager for a copy.

2. No corporate identity guidelines?

In the absence of formal corporate guidelines, request and try to gather together printed examples of the existing corporate sales and marketing collateral. If you’re in luck this will allow you to see the kind of typefaces which should be used and how they should be used including ranging, size and colour.

3. No Corporate ID guide NOR printed examples?

In the absence of corporate identity guidelines AND existing examples of any kind, if your prospective piece is to contain a company logo or corporate graphic of some kind then that might instead be the most obvious place to start looking at typefaces. If it contains a font, you could first consider whether you can match* that font family — or alternatively find one* which complements it visually.

* 4. No way to compare what fonts look like?

If none of your applications incorporate a way to preview and compare what fonts look like, you could do worse than installing something like ‘Free&Easy Font Viewer’ by Alexander G. Styopkin which, as the name suggests, is both free and easy to use and allows you to see, at a glance, what every font on your PC’s system looks like.

Be careful where you download any 3rd party software** from and always keep your anti-virus software up to date – and switched on – when downloading and installing applications from the internet (particularly free ones!). Carefully check any application file(s) using the anti-virus software before executing and installing them. Also, of course, make sure you have the correct system requirements before downloading anything in the first place.

5. Using Serif fonts

Serif font detailSo what’s a serif? Well, Read more

Print management services

Top 10 Reasons To Use A Print Management Service

Print management services

So — what is print management?

Well, basically Print Management means that the organisation, ordering and delivery of your entire printing requirements are taken on by one supplier, who manages the whole process for you. So whether you have a small, occasional requirements for simple stationery items or require a huge array of sales and marketing collateral on a regular basis, it’s all handled for you seamlessly. Print management is, however, of particular benefit to the latter category, for example companies or organisations who need a whole suite of printed literature like brochures, stationery, mailers, leaflets, flyers, forms, catalogues, manuals and so on. Here we’ll take a look at those benefits.

Benefits of having your printing managed:

 

1). It’s convenient

Sourcing your printing from just one supplier makes life easy! With all your printing needs managed for you, every item of sales, marketing or training collateral is ready and supplied ‘on tap’ as and whenever required. When handled well, there is no reason why you will ever need to run out of a particular printed piece ever again. Using a centrally managed print service means you also never have to wonder who printed what and who has the artwork files — they’ll always be in one place.

2). It saves space

With our print management service there is no need for you to take delivery of thousands upon thousands of printed pieces, until the moment you need them. You can order in smaller batches on an ad hoc basis or get us to set up a regular drip-fed supply, as preferred.

3). It frees up your time

Think of the time you’ll save leaving all the work, worry, organisation, inventory and supply to us. That’s time you can spend doing something else!

4). It saves you money

Because we can potentially manage all your printed matter, we can identify areas where savings are ripe for the picking. We can spot instances where a small technical or size change can save you money or even print more than one job at the same time (so there are less printing plates to pay for) without necessarily needing to take delivery of them all together. So you get the cost savings, without needing to find a home for the stock — until the moment you need it of course!

5). It helps cash-flow

Read more

Corporate Identity

The Benefits of a Great Corporate Identity

Corporate Identity

A professionally designed, up-to-date corporate identity is incredibly important to any business or organisation as it passes on both instant and long-term benefits:

  • It creates a great first impression (this is priceless);
  • It leaves the prospect or customer with a good, lasting impression;
  • It conveys the feel of your company or organisation in an instant;
  • In some instances it can visually impart something about your organisation’s values;
  • When used consistently it creates that all-important brand recognition which again is priceless and feeds directly to your bottom line;
  • More than anything it makes your company or organisation look professional and capable, sorting ‘the men from the boys’ in just a fraction of a second.

The make-up of a corporate identity

A corporate identity (or ‘ID’ for short) represents the ‘image’ of a company or organisation and usually has three essential ingredients:

  • The logo or ‘name style’ (a name style is the equivalent of a logo but consists only of styled words or letters rather than including an actual symbol);
  • The supporting corporate colours, fonts and graphical styles which complement, and work in tandem with, the logo or name style.
  • A set of style guidelines governing the usage and presentation of all of the above.

Which brings us to …

The Corporate (or Visual Identity) Manual

It is essential for any decent corporate identity to have rules in place governing how that identity should be applied and presented to the world. This is so that it remains consistent at all times thereby helping brand recognition to grow into the future. Usually such guidelines take the form of a ‘Corporate Manual’ or ‘Visual Identity Manual’ in which detailed brand guidelines specify the correct and incorrect use of the logo, brand, trademark or symbol, any ‘strapline’ (e.g. Nike – just do it … McDonald’s – I’m lovin’ it etc.) the correct corporate fonts to use, the approved colour palette, graphical styles, proportions and even the recommended layout of corporate literature, signs, large format display and any other marketing collateral. So even if the organisation is a global one, personnel and sub-contractors anywhere will be able to consult the manual and know exactly how the brand identity should be presented.

The guidelines can even go a step further to cover corporate ‘values’ and a corporate ‘Mission Statement’. They are also a useful place to let people know whether the company or organisation is a ‘singular’ or ‘plural’ entity. For example, when writing a corporate brochure, should staff write ‘The National Trust is a charity‘ or ‘The National Trust are a charity‘? (For those who are interested, in that example, the former is correct). A good corporate manual will include such detail resulting in a very consistent presentation of the organisation’s identity to the world.

With a high quality and consistently presented corporate identity, your organisation’s success, reputation and bottom line will directly benefit.

Does your organisation have an identity crisis?

Whether you’re starting afresh or need to revamp an existing logo, brand or full corporate identity, Read more