Get Onboard with Sustainable, Reusable, and Recyclable Packaging

By | Catalog Design Blogs, Graphic Design Blogs, Packaging Design Blogs, Uncategorized | No Comments

Social pressures are pushing companies to adopt packaging that is sustainable, reusable, and/or recyclable. While most would agree this is a great move, many brands that start down the eco-friendly packaging path end up reverting back to continuing what they have always been doing. We mainly see this happening for three reasons:

1. Lack of understanding about the many ways packaging can be sustainable
2. Sticker shock at the cost of the switch
3. The misconception that sustainable, reusable, and/or recyclable means bland and boring

There are many ways packaging can be eco-friendly. And, using eco-friendly materials does not have to be dull and bland. Progressive packaging designers can employ innovative thinking to re-design your packaging while using eco-friendly materials is one of the most necessary and popular ways to begin selling and distributing your products.

Recyclable Pulp and Papers

One way to develop sustainable packaging is by using folding cartons made from recycled materials. Paper pulp is processed by chemicals that remove all ink and unwanted printing on paper – therefore, making it an extremely popular material for eco-friendly packaging. Using molded paper pulp instead of Styrofoam for cushioning products inside outer containers benefits our environment. Styrofoam is not a recyclable material; however, it is still often used as a cushion for products in many packages. Eliminating Styrofoam as the go-to material for cushioning will successfully be the step towards sustainability the environment is in desperate need of.

Reusable Bottles and Jars

Plastic products are also a huge opportunity for sustainability in packaging design. In the past 10 years, there has been a major trend of reducing plastics in things like water/liquid bottles and plastic rings in canned 6-packs. Many informative websites such as Ban the Bottle have proven that Americans use about 50 million water bottles a year; however, our recycling rate is only about 23% – meaning that about $1 billion worth of water bottles are dumped in landfills each year. Many brands have taken the glass bottle route instead of using plastics which enables their product to be reusable by consumers. There has been a rising awareness of the effect that plastic straws have on the environment and there has been a concerted effort to combat this with innovations like metal straws which are reusable. Certain glass bottles and jars lend themselves more readily to being repurposed by the consumer, so why not give your customers packaging that creatively inspires them to reuse?

Biodegradable Additives

There is a challenge with being “sustainable” because the high cost in packaging often scares brands away; however, consumers will pay a little more to support the environment. Using social media, advisements and packaging content itself is a direct way to communicate your dedication to the environment and justify the higher cost of the product. According to an interview CNBC did with Nestlé chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, there has been a tremendous change in the thought process of the consuming youth. Millennials are on the hunt for affordable prices with the most environmentally friendly option, while 20 years ago the focus was price alone. Nestlé is not alone with this sustainability shift – Deal Design’s client, Reef sandals, has made a significant change in the manufacturing of their products to make them eco-friendly. Reef is now including Eco-One® additives in products to speed biodegradability of sandals in landfills. There is a high chance that recyclable products and packaging will soon become a world-wide norm –so get onboard now before your product is left to drown in our oceans.

Contact Deal Design for a packaging design estimate.

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Photo of press operators studying catalog design press forms as they come off a printing press

Catalog Design: The Art and Science of Press Checks

By | Catalog Design Blogs, Graphic Design Blogs, Uncategorized

Hundreds of hours designing, thousands of miles traveled sourcing, and piles of cash invested into manufacturing, and it all comes down to this: CMYK color on paper that acts as the sales too your sales force uses to drive the bottom line. Does your catalog design deliver what you expected? Here’s how it can, with a photo example below.

Over the 20 years we have been designing catalogs for brands, it never ceases to amaze me hear how often I hear about the critical phase of press checking being neglected by others. I think it’s the nature of digital media taking over and replacing print media as the primary communications vehicle for product marketing.  The art and science of color on press is dying away. There are fewer and fewer quality print companies, but those that are still thriving are doing so because they deliver the highest quality of color you can achieve on paper. Of course, the designer need to be there to help push that catalog across the finish line. Here’s why.

When a catalog design goes to print, and after you have reviewed color proofs of the photography, illustration and catalog designs, those electronic files go through a RIP (Raster Image Processing) and get laser etched to printing plates. Those plates then fall subject to a 100% physical process of transferring inks to those plates and then the plates pass the ink to paper at high speeds. The layering of CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black – yes K stands for Black – don’t ask it doesn’t make much sense) requires an artistic finesse on press to deliver the color you expect. Quality press operators will do an excellent job at matching the color proofs. But then, that may not be enough. You see, CMYK color cannot perfectly match many of the inks, paints and dyes used in manufacturing for most product. Printing can get close, but it takes an artist’s eye to make fine tuned adjustments on press to pull up or down color intensities to more accurately match your actual product. Sadly, many designers and their clients ignore the press check opportunity and just assume the work is done when a job goes to print.

Case in point. We just finished the Summer 2018 Reef sandals and apparel catalog designs and sent them to print. I always supervise press checks for large jobs like this where color is so critical. I think about the teams of designers, sample makers and manufacturers that labor over nailing the perfect colors, textures and stylings. I feel it is our duty to honor their creative work with reproducing it as best we can. So, I always bring real product samples with me to the press check. I try to push the limits of ink on paper to accurately reflect the work of these professionals. During the many page forms I pressed checked for Reef, three of the forms had large color photos of products that were just not close enough to the real thing for my taste. Even after all the proofing and approvals that went on. So, I instructed the press operators to adjust the ink flows for the CMYK color decks in certain zones of the press sheet to bring those photos back to more closely represent the real products. Sometimes, we have to make adjustments 3-4 times to get it right. That’s the art of it. You can see what I mean in the photo below.

Closeup photo of catalog photo of woven shirt with real shirt next to it, and note explaining the two don't match

I know what it’s like to have your creative work turn out looking disappointing on press when color values are not what they should be. Buyers are making decisions for tens of thousands of dollars in many cases based on these catalog photos. I want them to be the best they can be. And, sometimes all it takes is an extra 15 minutes of adjustments on press to deliver that catalog design color that boosts sales through the stratosphere.

catalog design photo of cover from Pearson Farm showing pecans and food packaging designs

Catalog Design: 5 Strategies for Catalogs that Build Relationships with Customers

By | Catalog Design Blogs, Graphic Design Blogs

Make your product catalog do more than deliver sales information. Empower it to build a relationship with customers that, in turn, builds your brand. Here are 5 strategies for getting the most out of your product catalog design.

  1. Create a Brand Personality.

Just like people, brands have personality. If you haven’t thought of your company brand that way, chances are your brand’s personality is coming across as boring or non-existent. Or, you are forcing your personal image onto your brand. Like that waitress at the airport food court restaurant who is too tired, busy and trapped in self-loathing to muster anything that resembles personality during her 20 second interaction with me. And, just like that waitress, we are often too caught up in the frantic pace of running our businesses to stop and consider what our product catalog design says about our brand. In fairness, its often hard to see yourself through an objective perspective and very easy to assume customers “get it” because you “get it” clearly. That’s why relying on an experienced brand designer is so valuable. Creative communications professionals can interpret product brands in visual ways that are engaging, memorable and convert browsers to customers. It’s like getting a personal stylist for your outfit, hair, makeup and resume to help you nail that game changing interview. And every customer that views your product catalog is engaging you in an interview to win their business.

  1. Use Graphic Design to Communicate Your Brand’s Personality

The online shopping experience often lacks the personal touch that face-to-face interactions deliver. Even telephone conversations do at least a respectable job of establishing a personal connection between you (your brand) and your customer. But when so many consumers shop online and make their entire buying decisions void of human contact, the next best thing you can do is inject your brand’s personality into your catalog and communicate that personality through your catalog design. Elements like large lifestyle photography, emotionally-driven text, carefully chosen color and photos of your actual team members helps create a sense of knowing your brand, even without meeting or speaking to anyone. With knowledge comes a sense of trust. And, people tend to buy from who they know and trust. If your brand is fun and outgoing, your catalog design should be presented the same way: lots of colorful backgrounds and playful text layouts. Photos clipped out from boring white backgrounds and interacting with the pages and text. Photos of the products in action or in use by fun people and set in fun environments. You get the gist.

  1. Product Hero Photos

Hero photos are large, detailed and dynamic photos of your product or services in use or action. They are also sometimes referred to as glamor photos or beauty photos. The idea is to give the customer an up-close and personal view of your products where they can appreciate all the details that a thumbnail photo can’t deliver. This includes things like finishes, stitching, color, and controls that have to be examined in detail to be appreciated. Think of it this way. If a customer would hold your product and bring it closer to their face to study its details in person, then you need to deliver that kind of experience through your catalog design. When I say hero photos, I mean big photos. Really big. HUGE. They larger the better. You can usually fit a few products in one photo, or different angles the same products and display it at or near full page size, or as a two-page spread. (A spread means two facing pages are viewed as one wide panoramic page when your catalog is held open. Your products are the heros of your business. Give them hero status in your catalog by making them larger than life!

  1. Quick-Scan Features

In retail environments, packaging design has 3 seconds to deliver your product’s value and “why-to-buy” message. Catalog design needs the same fast-scan capability. Each product should have a quick-scan zone where a customer can see the top features, value and price within 3 seconds. If you accomplish this task, and they connect with your product or service, you earn the next step in their review process: a detailed exploration of your product page. Fail to deliver and they move onto another competitor that knew how to delivery quick scan details, and you’ve lost the sale. Other graphic design elements help drawn and keep attention in quick scan zones such as icons, mini-photos and detail photos that illustrate your features and benefits. Your catalog designer can help you with creative solutions for your quick-scan zones.

  1. Less is More

When it comes to catalog design, less clutter per page delivers more sales. We are so inundated with media information that experiencing a product catalog where the design provides ample areas of clear space, uncluttered pages, and easy-to-read and understand product experiences makes for a great buying experience and helps build your brand’s personality shine through. Catalogs like this also experience higher conversion rates (converting targets to customers) than catalogs that jam as much into each page as possible. It may be hard to accept for some people, but white space is your friend. White space allows out eyes to rest for split seconds that are undetectable to us in the moment, but result in happier, positive experiences for customers. Less clutter equals more sales. Incorporating webchat features into this white space to improve business to customer communication lines could be very beneficial to your business for feedback and complaints, as well as the capability of being personal with existing customers.

Get an estimate for your catalog design


baby's face shocked with text "you named me what?!"

5 Guidelines for Naming Your Brand and Product

By | Catalog Design Blogs, Graphic Design Blogs, Packaging Design Blogs

How to developing winning names that set you up for retail success

Creating a name for your brand and product is the first step to success. As a branding agency with almost two decades of experience in this arena, we are often asked how its done. Once you have the basic things decided, you can look for branding agencies to work with to grow your brand even more. For now, here is Deal Design’s 6 guidelines for naming success:

1. Make a Decision: Personal Brand or a Corporate Brand

There are two basic categories for brands: Personal and Corporate. Personal brands are built around an individual and his or her reputation. Corporate brands are built around a company and its mission. For example: Oprah, Tony Robbins, Martha Stewart are personal brands. Their products adopt the perceived quality and style of their namesakes. Google, Apple, Starbucks and Tide are corporate brands. It doesn’t matter that much who is in what roles within these companies, since the corporate name is what carries the promise of value. Often, we encounter people who are their brands, but don’t perceive the value their name and reputation carry. It may seem arrogant to name your brand after yourself, but if you are the reason for your product’s success, it may be the smart move. The flip side is, if you build your whole brand around you, you can’t sell the company because without you its worthless.

2. Shorter is Better

The shorter and simpler your brand or product name is, the better. Shorter names are easier to remember, make for bold logo designs, and are more flexible in application to product packaging, web sites and social media. We often run into confusion over names vs. tag lines. A Tag line can change as often as needed, based on your market positioning, product offering and market conditions. A name is forever. You never want to change your brand name unless there is significant damage to its value due to law suits, product failures or bad press. It is important to separate the two.

3. Create a Top 10 List

Chances are you will come up with many awesome names only to find out most of them are already being used by competitors. To save yourself from complete frustration, develop a list of at least 10 that you can research and eliminate those that are not usable. You will be left with one or more that still enable trademarking, domain name purchase and set you up for success. At Deal Design, we usually create 30 name options and then narrow list down to the best 10 to present to our clients.

4. Be Unique

While every State will allow you to register a corporate entity name that is the same as names in other states, or around the World, you want to select a name that is unique to your brand and/or product. This is the hardest part of naming: Being unique. Often the best way to be unique is to invent a word that is made up of other root words that say something about your product and brand mission. Here are some real examples along with the product’s description:

MiracleWipes™ – Specialty cleaning products that clean without smearing and are safe for skin

SkinMedica® – Professional skin care product

SniffRelief™ – Healthcare device that relieves sinus pressure and congestion

5. Research for Available Trademark, Domain and Competition

The United States Patent and Trademark Office offers a free online tool (TESS) for searching existing and pending trademark names. Successfully earning a registered trademark means big value for your product brand and protection from other people copying it. After developing your top 10 name possibilities, start here to see if your name is already owned by someone in the same product class.

Google it! Google is the fastest and easiest way to see who else is using your possible names and determine if they are really competitors, or in unrelated categories.

Domain Searches are done through any number of web hosting sites like You can search on your name, or variations of your name to find URLs that might work for you. Often, you will have to add another word or two to get an available domain. Again, this is where creativity and patience comes in.

Narrow your top 10 list down to the candidates that make the cut and then make a decision!

6. Logo Design

The final step in naming is creating a logo design for your product and/or brand. Use an experienced graphic design agency for this. An experienced brand designer will create many designs for you to choose from. We find that 10 is the magic number. Somewhere in those 10 logo designs will be one or more that you love, and will launch your brand into the stratosphere!

catalog design photo of glymed plus on silver background. Two page spread showing skin care products.

Catalog Design Strategies: 3 Keys to Success

By | Catalog Design Blogs

Catalog Design is both art and science and many businesses benefit from it every day, with companies similar to Printivity (see providing services that could help a brand market their business to potential customers. In this blog post, we are going to reveal 3 key elements required for creating a successful catalog-driven product business where the catalog design acts as the primary marketing tactic. The catalog business has experienced 3 major Advancements in evolution since its inception with the legendary Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog of the 1890s. Savvy marketers know how to leverage today’s digital advancements to drive catalog businesses into powerful brands that dominate online sales, which is the key to today’s product sales success. catalog design example with magnified image showing the details of the photography Catalog Design – Advancement 1: High Resolution Digital Color Photography On the surface, stating the importance of color photography may seem elementary. After all, who wouldn’t think of showing their product offering with color photography. You can’t even begin with black and white photography anymore. You must shoot photos in color and then convert to black and white if you want that look. But, that’s not the point of this tip. The advancement that many online catalog businesses don’t take advantage of is the ability to inexpensively capture and deliver large, high resolution color product photos in their printed pages and on their web sites. When I say large, I mean huge. The kind of large where you can magnify the photo and zoom in on the product details to examine surface texture, finishing details, stitching, etc. Can you recall a time when you zoomed-in on a product in this way and how much more confidence it gave you in buying hat product? And, can you recall when you wanted to magnify a product photo and couldn’t? What did that do to your buying confidence? Did you then go back to your Google search to find a better web site? When you give customers the ability to examine the fine details of your products, you draw them into a rich sensory experience that is as close to holding the product in their hands as possible outside of a brick and mortar shopping. The more you draw customers into this kind of shopping experience, the more likely they are to appreciate the quality of your offering and buy. catalog design marketing intelligence flowhart of logic that helps find the right customer prospects Catalog Design – Advancement 2: Big Data Analytics A critical key to a successful catalog business is your customer list. Established businesses can testify to the value of building customers over time that become the foundation for repeat business and drive the long-term success of their businesses. But, every business has to find that first-time customer and successfully convert them buying. In the past, a mailing list broker was your best bet for acquiring customer prospects. Hopefully, their target list works for you. You would specify the demographic makeup that you think matches your ideal customer and hope you were right. Today, big data analytics takes the guessing game out of prospecting. Now that we can use software that helps with marketing intelligence, businesses can now make more accurate and confident decisions when it comes to finding opportunities. For example, your ideal customer may be someone that bought products like yours in the past 90 days in a specific size or quantity, spent a certain amount of money, live in a certain region, etc. Then the marketing intelligence and behavioral analytics digs in deeper to find other prospects that also shop at X number of other online retailers, donated to the same charitable organizations, get their news from these same news outlets and subscribe to these certain blogs to deliver a target-rich environment where many of the same ideal customers can be found. How can they do this? Because our transactional data is stored in shared co-operative databases that thousands of top retailers use and share with one another to enable a collective fine tuning of customer prospecting. This is what Omni-channel marketing is all about: allowing transaction data and behaviors to tell us who our ideal customer is and where to find them. As big data continues to evolve, we will continue seeing more customized offerings appearing in our physical and email boxes. Smart catalog marketers are stepping into a new golden age of catalog design and product sales. Imagine opening a catalog where every single product offering was selected for us based on our design tastes, fashion sensibilities, immediate needs and budget range. It’s coming, and coming fast! Catalog design graphic showing digital marketing icons over several icon person heads which illustrates how each person's journey is unique Catalog Design – Advancement 3: Digital Marketing In the 1890s, the printed page was the only way of delivering advertising messages to customers, other than word of mouth. Today’s catalog businesses still understand the value of putting a beautifully designed catalog into the hands of customers. But, that is just the first step in the customer’s path to purchase. The goal of the printed catalog is to draw the customer prospect into your brand experience and transition them into an online experience with your web site. This is what really drives sales. Once you get them to your web site, they are opened up to your entire product offering and digital marketing tools setup for a Omni-channel (multi-channel) marketing campaign to continue interactions with that customer and dramatically increase conversion rates. In our experience, adding a robust digital marketing campaign of remarketing ads, lead nurturing (drip) emails and social media posts increases new prospect conversion rates by as much as 200% compared to direct mail alone. It can increase total dollar sales with existing customer lists by 25% year-over-year. The secret to this kind of success consists of understanding and leveraging two main factors: Repetition and timing.

Repetition: We all buy from brands we know and trust. After seeing a new brands’ advertising messages multiple times and over a period of time gives us the feeling that we now know that brand. And, since others must be buying from it (because it’s still around), we develop a greater sense of trust. Other factors positively effecting trust levels include the quality of the catalog design, photography, messaging and product details. The combination of these elements and delivering your offerings with repetition delivers the sales conversions that make businesses successful. We see many entrepreneurs venture into the catalog business with the unrealistic expectations that they simple need to “build it and they will come.” And, after the first mailing, when the windfall doesn’t happen, they decide that the catalog game doesn’t work. The reality is, success is found in the long game. And, it keeps building over time. If you can’t support a catalog business with 6-9 months of loss until you hit breakeven, then don’t step on the playing field.

Timing: Timing is about getting your product offering in front of the right person when they are ready to buy. The more your offer is visible to a prospect, the higher the chance they will be ready to buy while seeing your offering. New digital marketing tools within social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are ideal for retailers. You can now “boost” , “promote” or “advertise” your posts to appear in the feeds of people who match your prospect profiles. Lead Nurturing (drip) email marketing sends targeted messages and offerings to prospects over time to increase the chance of converting the sale. The cost-per-thousand (CPM) of these tactics is a fraction of the cost of mailing the physical catalogs so marketers are crazy for not using them. But, the real success stories come from those that do all of it: Print and digital combined. There is a reason mega-retailers like Pier One, Restoration Hardware and Victoria’s Secret still send high-budget catalogs to our homes every year. The multi-channel brand experience breeds success.

catalog design photos that show up inside a web page shopping cart from an online retailer

Catalog Design for Online Retailers

By | Catalog Design Blogs

Catalog design has evolved into online retailing. If you sell products at a retail location, you must to have a strong online product catalog to experience to true potential of your business. Plus, thanks to E-commerce platforms such as Shopify it has never been easier to set up an online store. To learn more check out this blog post that discusses is shopify worth it. I am always amazed when I meet a potential new client for catalog design that operates only from their brick and mortar retail store. With the fast switch to online shopping happening at warp speed, the fact that any brick and mortar retailer can be successful with a physical location only is actually music to my ears. It means their product offering is so good, the haven’t needed to rely on online sales to survive. If your products offering and customer experience is that good, I can’t wait to get your online catalog launched! This article focuses on catalog design for online retailers.

Here are 5 important strategies and “must haves” when creating catalog design for online retailers:

  1. Use Google-Optimized Product Information: Create a simple category structure with category names that are widely used. You want Google search engines to find your products and serve them up to people actively shopping for those items. To do that, you need structure your your product information in a way that is friendly to shoppers, and Google. Cute and original product category types may seem fun and cleaver, but to Google search logic, its confusing and won’t be served up to many people. (i.e. use “Bowls” not “Decorator items”. Use “Bags” not “Fashion Accessories”. Use “Blankets” not “Fuzzy Things”.
  2. Create Rich User Experiences: Google algorithms are so intelligent now that they can detect when you are trying to trick them, and users, into viewing pages that don’t really warrant attention. The best way to drive quality shopper traffic to your site is to build a rich and authentic customer experience. Use high quality color photographs that can be enlarged to show product detail. Use detailed descriptions of your products. Add quality videos that highlight the product quality, details and uniqueness of your offerings. Google sees the combinations of all these things as a quality catalog design that delivers a higher customer experience and ranks these sites higher in search results.
  3. Anchor Linking: The practice of anchor linking is selecting one or two key terms within a product page and making those words links to pages outside of your site that help define or clarify the term and general meaning of that word or phrase. (See, I just gave you one on the term “anchor linking”!) Google sees this as a great user experience and your products will rank higher. Don’t worry about linking people to sites that are not yours. Google wants this feature for users so give it to them.
  4. Leverage Social Media as Backlinks: Post products with ad “boosts” on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. The social sharing of products and back-linking click-throughs are seen a validating a quality experience for users and will result in higher organic ranking. Great catalog design is the fuel. Social media is engine that will drive your business across the finish line.
  5. Ask for Customer Reviews: Google sees authentic customer reviews as an important indicator of your product experience and quality. And Neilsen reports that 70% of users trust reviews. Don’t just hope a beautiful catalog design and good products will earn the reviews. Ask for them! Customers are usually happy to give reviews if they are asked. Otherwise, it’s usually just the angry ones that take the time to deliver a review and those are NOT the ones that help.

Deal Design has spent 17 years growing product businesses through catalog design, online retailing, brand development and SEO optimization of web site content. If you are looking to grow your product sales, ask us how we can help.

Painting by George Seurat titled Sunday Afternoon in the Park

Garbage In – Garbage Out: Understanding Image Types and DPI in Brand Design and How To Avoid Ending Up With Trash

By | Catalog Design Blogs, Graphic Design Blogs, Packaging Design Blogs

Understanding the physical mechanics of image types, file formats and DPI (dots per inch) is very confusing, even for some experienced graphic designers and marketers. In this article, I will attempt to make these topics easier to understand. Through better understanding you will be able to ask for, deliver and evaluate the artwork you buy and manage for your brands.

Comparison of letter e created with vector lines vs. raster artworkNotice the quality difference of the line edges in vector artwork compared to raster artwork.

Vector vs. Raster Art
There are two basic types of artwork. Regardless of what program is used to create them, edit them or place them it all boils down to these two types: Vector and Raster. The differences are significant and important to understand so you ask for the right kind from your agencies and creative resources. And, to ensure you deliver the right kind for the type of graphic application.

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