Marketers know they only get seconds to make an impression. 30 seconds would be a luxury, 3 is more likely. How do you get a consumer to hang on for maybe another 10 seconds to complete the story, the brand image, the company pitch?

To maximize impact, brand designers now key into multiple senses. When it comes to digital advertising, this means an increased use in video to combine sight and sound. With print, smart marketers combine visual and tactile.

In the “old days” the tangibility of paper with the printed message was enough. You know, before we were exposed to 5000 or more ads a day.

In order to keep up, here are three “hot” trends in print that involve touch as a key design element.

Soft Touch and Other Coatings

In my youth, high gloss was all the rage. (This was after bangs and blue eyeshadow, but not much.) Over the years, and with inline aqueous coating becoming the great sealer, a gloss sheen, not necessarily a high gloss, became the mark of class. But now, the look and feel of coating options have expanded to include: gloss, matte, satin, soft touch and even varying levels between these. Many are available in aqueous coating, varnish, and lamination.

The hottest trend in coating over the last few years? Soft Touch.

Why? Because soft touch finishes lure the user to hold the printed piece just those few seconds longer…giving the brand exponentially more time to make a statement. Additionally, the velvety finish, like it (or hate it – some people are “creeped out” by the soft touch feel) prompts a visceral response and therefore leaves a longer imprint in the memory. When we feel something, our brain tucks it in a special place saved for multiple senses.

In the booklet released by Sappi North America, “A Communicator’s Guide to the Neuro Science of Touch,” there are quotes, explanatory graphics, relayed research, and – as you would hope – tactile finishes and effects to complement each point about the power of touch on our brain.

Printers are generally familiar with the research that consistently shows comprehension is better when participants read texts printed on paper. The Sappi booklet confirms that even “digital natives” have better memory for what’s read in print than onscreen. Moreover, and this is where it gets really fascinating, “The Engleman Lab took this one step further and tested the effects of quality, finding that people who read about a (fictitious) company on heavy, high quality coated paper understood and remembered the content significantly better than those who read on either lighter, lower quality uncoated paper or on a computer screen. What’s more, they had more positive feelings about the company.”

Check out this video from Sappi – excellent info to share with your clients and sales staff.

Heavier Stocks


That leads me to the next hot trend. Heavier and heavier stock choices. You’ve probably seen it too. Business cards are a common example. There was a time that a business card was treated as a commodity and ran almost always on an 80# coated or uncoated cover. Now I have business cards of varying thicknesses in my file, not uncommonly heavier than 14 pt. I even have a few that over 24 pt.

Kim Shannon, Commercial Sales Manager at Neenah Paper agreed, telling me “100 is the new 80!” Then she followed up with, “Your business card is your handshake, and who wants a flimsy handshake?!”

In folders, I’ve seen the trending to heavier stocks over the years, too. To me, choosing a sturdy stock for pocket folders is important to not only to the initial impression of a marketing piece, but also for the long-term functionality of a folder. Yes, some folders are a one-off information drop, but more often folders are meant to store important documents. Providing those documents in a pocket folder that can be referenced, stored, and handled over time as needed leaves the long-term impression about the importance and relevance of the documents, the information, and the company supplying all of this. Be it medical, mortgage, or automotive documentation, a folder is the “cover” by which the internal pages are judged.

Giving important documents in a flimsy or “off the shelf” cover diminishes both the importance of the documents and information therein but also the impression of the overall process. Sturdy = Stability.

At Pocket Folders Fast we carry Sappi McCoy Silk in #120 Cover (group 1), 14 pt. C1S as a base stock, and 16 pt. C1S (group 2).  Also, in uncoated we carry several 100# Cover options. We’ll discuss some of those in Part Two.

Dimensional Effects

As the holiday cards and calendars came in at the close of 2017, we saw fun effects chosen by vendors and printers around the country. On our own holiday card we showed dimensional UV effects that included highlighted snowflakes, textured brick fireplace, and little icy snow on the mountaintop. We received good wishes from one envelope company which highlighted gloss water “splashes,” and several calendars this year have a contrast gloss effect to highlight their brand.

The textural aspect of the dimensional UV effects as done by the Scodix are more tactile than conventional spot UV because this technology also allows for actual textured patterns, differing levels of the poly coating, and the featured options of the effects over the top of print or even poly foil. People are often inclined to rub their fingers along the image areas to feel the effect as well. Again, adding that moment to touch the printed work, adds to the memory retention of the piece as well.

While many clients like the cost-effective pop that adding dimensional UV alone creates, others choose to layer the options to get a greater contrast. For example, dimensional gloss effects over a matte coating or matte lamination creates a comparative visual, that is also a tactile experience.  These finishes are best sold with samples, please contact us with any request.

What’s Part Two?

Next on the “Hot to the Touch” series, we’ll talk about textured stock options that are trending up! Check it out here in Part Two.

  – (c) Mardra Sikora most content originally published in NPOA News and Notes Magazine January 2018 Issue.