A beautiful design and a perfect color match are spectacular, but why stop there? There are numerous ways to create printed materials that grab people’s attention and make them notice your brand. You can use inks or foil to make things shine and sparkle. You can use a coating to create pieces that look and feel amazing. Or, for extra flair, you can combine several techniques for a truly unique result. Read on to learn about five options to help you level up your brand. 

#1 – Stand out with Creative Use of Inks

When you send something to print — either to an office printer or a commercial press — the color is created using a CYMK process that blends four inks (cyan, magenta, yellow and black). You can do amazing things with a CMYK process — especially when working with a G7 Certified Printer. But using different or additional inks can take your printed pieces up a notch. 

Spot Colors

Spot colors are solid, premixed colors, usually based on Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors. When you use a spot color, you change or add different inks to the process. If you’re printing a CMYK print job, the Pantone color (or colors) are additional inks. So, instead of a four-color print job, you’ll have a five- or six-color print job.

At other times, spot colors are used without a CMYK process. For example, it’s common to use one or two spot colors on promotional items and not use a CMYK process.

One reason to use spot colors is for a perfect color match. For example, you may use Pantone 186 C to ensure that the tomato in your product logo is the same shade of red every time you send a job to print. Another reason to consider spot colors? You’ll be able to create unique effects that are impossible with an exclusively CMYK process.

Specialty Inks

Metallic inks include reflective metal particles such as copper, bronze, zinc or aluminum. When the ink dries, the metal particles reflect light and create a metallic sheen.

Metallic inks are a great way to add fun to your printed materials — and you’re not limited to traditional silver and gold. These inks also come in blues, purples, reds, coppers, and more. 

When to Use Spot Colors and Specialty Inks

Adding inks adds costs, so spot colors and specialty inks may not be an option for your every print project. But definitely ask about ink options when color accuracy is essential or you’re working on a showcase piece like an annual report, launch kit, or a fine art book.

Cover Image of "Mirror with a Memory," a Fine Art Photography Book.

The stunning cover of MyLinh Trieu Nguyen’s book Mirror with a Memory includes metallic ink. Point B was the U.S. partner on the project.

#2 – Create a Stunning Finish with Coatings

You may wonder what’s so special about coatings. After all, most printed materials pieces have a layer of UV coating, aqueous coating or varnish. Here’s the thing: coatings can also be used as a design element.

Glossy Versus Matte Coatings

Glossy coatings reflect light, creating a shiny finish that adds drama and energy to printed pieces. Matte finishes absorb light, creating a more neutral and natural look. 

Are Glossy or Matte Coatings Better? 

What’s best depends on the application. For example, a gloss coating looks gorgeous on product brochures and other pieces featuring photographs. A matte finish is excellent for materials with a lot of text. UV coating, aqueous coating and varnish are all available in glossy and matte finishes. 

Spot Versus Flood Coatings

You can also apply a coating to some areas and not to others. If the coating is only used on a specific location, it’s called a “spot” coating or finish. If the coating is applied across the entire material, it’s called a flood finish. You can also combine different coatings — for example, you could use a glossy finish in some areas and a matte finish in others.

When to Use a Print Coating

Using coatings makes materials more durable — which is essential for packaging, brochures, mailings and other items that will be handled frequently. Spot finishes can be a subtle way to add pizzazz without a lot of added costs.

#3 – Make it Sizzle with Hot Stamping Foil Printing 

A common reaction to foil printing is, “Oh fancy!” There’s just something about the shiny, smooth surface of foil stamping that makes people think it’s unique and more expensive than the standard printing techniques. When stamping foil appears on a brochure, people may also believe the featured product or service is of higher quality.

There are extensive hot stamping foil options, making it easy to find one that’s right for your project. For starters, there are countless colors in matte, metallic and glossy finishes. Then there are patterns like marble and wood grain for a distinctive look and holographic foils to help create a three-dimensional design.

In most cases, hot foil stamping is used as part of an offset printing process. But we also offer digital foil stamping so your printed materials can shine with hot stamping foil even when printing a much smaller quantity. 

When to Use Foil Stamping

Time for a little history lesson: Leather-bound books were the first items to be foil stamped. Of course, the process was a bit different back then since artisans didn’t use stamping foil. Instead, they used actual gold beaten into flat sheets. After the artisan pounded a design into the texture of the leather, they’d carefully apply the gold. It was hard work but worth it for the stunning results.

Foil stamping makes it possible to get that premium appearance more quickly, on various surfaces, and at a price, you can afford. Foil stamping is still a classy choice in fine art book printing and can help your book binding stand out in a sea of sameness. Another common application is special occasions — gold foil printing on white is such a classic look for wedding stationery.

However, color foil can also look modern or even cutting-edge. It all depends on the application. Stamping foil can be used on plastics, rubber, leather, clothing, wood, glass, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and poster board, making it a stunning choice for product packaging and promotional items like coasters and custom napkins.

#4 – Make an Impression with Embossing and Debossing

Debossing and embossing are closely related printing techniques that can push your designs (and the paper) to different levels.

Embossing Versus Debossing

Embossing raises the surface of the paper so that it bumps out. The process requires two dies — one that pushes the material from the back and the other forms it in the front. The debossing process creates a depression in the paper and only uses one die.

What Are Blind Embossing and Blind Debossing?

If you’re using blind embossing or blind debossing, it means that you’re not using inks or foil where the surface is pressed in or bumped out. In other words, the paper will remain paper-colored. This creates a more subtle impression (pun intended). These “blind” techniques are incredibly stunning on uncoated paper stock.

Is Embossing or Debossing Better? 

It depends on the application. Sometimes, it may make more sense for a design to come out of the page (embossed) instead of pushed in (debossed) or vice versa.

If you’re looking for crisp edges and lots of details, embossing is a better choice. Embossing is also great for providing depth. Say you’re the owner of Chubby Bunny Cafe and making business cards. In this case, embossing would make the rabbits in the logo look more rotund.

Conversely, debossing is very cool when combined with another printing technique. For example, you may deboss leaves over a jungle photograph to give it more texture. Another advantage is that debossing has less set-up cost since you only need one die instead of two.

When to Use Debossing and Embossing

Embossing and debossing works on flat, malleable materials, such as paper, plastic film, metal foil, fabric, basswood, and leather. Typical applications include business stationery, folders, coasters and book covers.

However, these techniques aren’t always a good choice for multi-page documents. Embossing and debossing change the paper surface on both sides. So if you emboss your logo on the cover of a brochure, you’ll be able to see a reversed logo indented on the inside.

Of course, embossed or debossed graphics don’t have to be text, and it can be interesting to incorporate the effect as a design element on both sides of a page. 

Combining embossing or debossing with metallic ink or hot stamping creates a striking appearance. But keep in mind you may not be able to use a flood coating with embossing and embossing. 

#5 – Get the Feels With Raised Ink Printing

Have you ever seen a printing piece that is shiny and textured in certain areas? You may wonder if it’s raised spot UV? Embossing? Debossing?

The answer is thermography printing, a process commonly referred to as raised ink printing. The raised ink appearance is created by putting a special powder on design elements or text. When the powder is heated, it produces a transparent, glossy, raised ink effect. 

The color of the power affects the color of the ink. When using a clear powder, the raised ink is the same as the printed ink. Other powders include white, gold, silver, copper and even glow-in-the-dark.

People often ask, “Is the ink actually raised with raised ink printing?” the answer is yes. Unlike spot UV, raised ink printing can be seen and felt. You can also apply thermography to only certain areas of a sheet, creating a unique effect. 

When to use Thermography Printing? 

Thermography printing can help create business cards that will help you get noticed. Other typical applications include wedding invitations, greeting cards, stationery, report covers, and marketing materials.

Still, thermography has limitations. You can only raise ink on one side of the card. Plus, large solid areas of thermography sometimes blister. 

Ready to Stand Out? 

There are countless ways to take your brand materials to the next level — specialty inks, hot foil, embossing, debossing, and spot finishes are only the start.

Here, at Point B, we’re ready to support you every step of the way – from choosing between offset printing versus digital printing or using variable data printing. And, as always, we’re focused on sustainability. So, you can feel good about working with a vendor that focuses on doing what’s best for you and the planet.

Are you ready to get started?