How to Brief a Print Supplier

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The work your print supplier produces for you will only be as good as the brief you give them. Therefore, it’s important to give them as much information as possible to ensure a great result. It might be worthwhile (and certainly more cost-effective) to have several print jobs done at the same time e.g. brochures, mailers, letterheads, flyers, etc., so have a think about all your printing requirements that could possibly be done at the same time.

Read on for our top tips on getting the best results from your print supplier:

1. Timescales
Your print deadline is probably one of the first things your agency will need to know. Depending on whether you’re starting designs from scratch, or simply need a re-print, your deadline is a very important factor in the briefing stage. Obviously the more notice you can give your print supplier the better; so approach them as soon as you know you have a project coming up. Your print options could be limited if turn-around times are tight.

You will certainly need to factor in extra time for a more complex print job and be prepared to either extend your deadline or consider simpler options if you are considering a complicated print job with a tight deadline!

2. Budget
Let your print supplier know if you have a set budget for your print job and if there’s any flexibility in the amount you have to spend. Many factors can affect what your final costs will be. It is always helpful for a print supplier to know the limitations of your budget and how flexible you are, so they can make the best recommendations.

3. Quantity
Be clear on the quantity of print you require. It is usually more economical to print larger quantities, but do bear in mind the shelf life of your print. If it’s stationery or a brochure, is there a chance that your contact details may change in the near future? Or is your print advertising a time-sensitive offer or event. Obviously in these situations it is probably more appropriate to consider a smaller print run that will give you enough stock but not leave you with lots of leftovers containing old or out of date information.

Do you know how long your last batch of printed stationery lasted? Looking at your last invoice and the quantities you ordered will tell you how much you used over what period of time.

4. Size, Format & Colour
Have a clear idea about what size and format you require. Standard size formats A4, A5 etc. are more common sizes your print supplier will have in stock, which will result in a quicker lead-time. When stock has to be cut to a non-standard size it will have an impact on how long your print job takes.

If your business uses specific corporate colours, it will help your print supplier if you give them the Pantone reference numbers. Pantone produces swatch books that help designers see the different ways colours look when printed on coated, uncoated, and matte stock - their colours are the design industry standard. If you are still trying to decide on colours, it’s a good idea to use their swatch books to choose ones you like as colours seen on a computer screen could look very different when printed. You can read more about Pantone’s Matching System® here.

5. Environmental Requirements
Prior to briefing your print supplier it’s a good idea to check whether your business has a environmental policy in place as this may affect the materials you are able to use.

Regardless of your company’s environmental policy, as the person in charge of a print project you may want to consider environmental options anyway. Many print agencies have a commitment to providing environmental solutions as a matter of course.

Pepper can help you to improve your green credentials and have gone to great lengths to acquire environmental accreditations...

  • Pepper is an FSC® Certified Printer (The Forest Stewardship Council) showing dedication to the responsible management of the world's forests
  • Pepper is ISO 14001 accredited recognising environmental awareness, monitoring and continual improvement
  • We are committed to reducing our Carbon Footprint through effective waste management, recycling, use of environmentally friendly materials and carbon neutral mailings options

Recycled Paper
Pepper only uses FSC® paper unless specified otherwise. Recycled paper is the greenest option overall; it supports UK recycling companies and provides a market for UK paper waste. Its production requires less energy and fewer chemicals, plus it provides a market for paper waste in the UK and encourages more recycling.

Inks
The majority of our inks are vegetable-based as opposed to traditional petroleum-based inks. These are much more environmentally-friendly as they come from a sustainable source and produce far lower levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which helps to reduce air pollution by minimizing toxic emissions.

Polywrap
Pepper offers a number of different biodegradable polywrap options to reduce the environmental impact of direct mail packaging. We offer customers 3 types of polywrap materials which we can discuss with you.

6. Formatting Your Artwork
It is important that any artwork you have designed yourself or had designed for you is formatted correctly for printing with sufficient bleeds, image resolution, embedded fonts etc. A good graphic designer will know exactly how to format artwork for printing. For further guidance you can refer to our guidelines on formatting and submitting artwork.

7. Design (if required)
You may have artwork ready to go, in which case your print supplier will simply quote you for printing and any assembly required.

Some print agencies, like Pepper provide an in-house design service and can work with you to design your marketing materials and literature, or tweak an existing design. When briefing a designer, typically they will want you to supply the following information ...

  • A clear design brief - limited to one key message
  • Guidance on the look, feel and style you’re trying to achieve e.g. retro, modern, futuristic
  • Who is the target audience / demographic for your campaign
  • Do you have samples of designs you like/don’t like

The clearer you can be about these points, the easier it will be for a designer to come up with creative you’re happy with. Being clear from the outset will also speed up the whole process as there will be less chance of having to tweak initial designs.

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Do you have any questions about preparing a marketing campaign that uses print as its core sales driver? Are you tasked with updating your corporate stationery and don’t know where to start? Whether your print job is big or small we’re happy to answer any questions you might have. We look forward to hearing from you.