Psychology and communication experts teach that 80% of interpersonal communication is nonverbal. For example, salespeople are taught to lean forward to convey understanding. Eye contact is important to reaffirm and comfort. Friends naturally mimic as they connect.


Therefore, taking this to print, 20% of any message is the wording and 80% is how you say it.  In part one we focused on paper stock, including color and texture options. So, in this part two, let’s talk about finishes, specifically coating and laminations, and their impact on the messaging.


In the old, old days (the ’90s, when I began in the folder biz), high gloss UV coating was the hottest finish. It fell back, as trends do, particularly as aqueous coating became more efficient. Now UV coating is back as a great way to emphasize bright colors and optimistic messaging. It’s cost-effective and recyclable, making it a good choice for schools and family-friendly brands looking to radiate youthfulness and fun.


Gloss Lamination is another high gloss option, in addition to the shine, it also adds sturdiness, therefore contributing to the visual and tactile effects strengthening the message, and providing better durability of the final piece. Lamination can be wiped clean making it another popular option for schools as well as restaurants and medical groups.


The other two popular lamination finishes are matte and soft touch. The names are descriptive, but what do these looks convey? Matte Lamination conveys a high-end, luxury look. Particularly when complemented with additional effects, like dimensional UV. The contrast creates a visual disruption and a tactile experience, as the matte has a satin feel to the fingertips.


Then there is soft-touch lamination, which continues to be the hottest of tactile finishes. If a company wants to make an impact, or make use of its functionality, soft-touch lamination is the way to go. By adding 1.2mil to the folder or carton project, laminated pieces are sturdy and durable. Also, lamination is easy to write on with an ink pen, making it ideal for hospitals and similar organizations that provide additional important information or records.

NOTE: The sample on the right is printed with no additional coating on the Fuji Press with a Dimensional UV of the loge. The image on the left was printed from the same run/press but added soft touch lamination. Note both the color shift of black by adding a “matte” finish and also how shiny the right image is without any additional coating.

Visually, the printed images, colors, and stock are “softened” by the lamination and therefore project comfort and security. This effect is used by retirement communities and vacation spots, as two examples, to emphasize comfort. If POP and/or glitz are important to the product message, soft-touch also contrasts well with spot effects, like foil or dimensional UV.  


There is plenty of compelling research linking touch to memory and the positive influence of touch on sales, thus linking the importance of brands to maximize the tactile effects of their message. This lamination has been described as velvety. Some say suede. One thing about soft-touch lamination, it’s undeniably…soft. The consumer, client, student, or partner tend to linger over printed items with this finish and these critical seconds create message engagement and positive directives to the brain.




In contrast, the other most common coating at this moment in time is actually…no coating at all. In the age of digital print options, most projects don’t require a coating to seal the ink. For short-run projects, full-color or inkjet representation of spot colors, and full coverage, the ink holds its sheen, giving a nice semigloss to the piece without adding any coating. Plus, no coating is the often most cost-effective option, so this option “evens the playing field” for small businesses and special projects by making full color, customized print at competitive prices. Just as white space is a popular design tool at the moment, no coating can also send positive messages of functionality and purpose, particularly when combined with a sturdy stock choice.


As Trish Witkowski says, “Think Finishing at the beginning.” Consider the key emotional points the brand wants to convey, then investigate each of the “over the top” methods that emphasize their intention. Whether is bright or soft, silky or strong, or a combination of these, each one can make an impact. 


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