Choosing the Right Signage Substrate

Giving your brand a visual boost doesn’t have to be an afterthought. Whether you’re hosting an event, promoting a product in a retail space, or dressing up the office walls, branding with signage is a must when creating a visual presence for your business.

When it comes to marketing your brand with custom signage, there are several substrate options to consider. What kind of signage material do you want to use (there are many)? What size signage will be most effective in the space you have to work with? Will your sign be mounted or displayed in a stand? And, is your signage for indoor or outdoor use? How do you choose?

To make the decision a little bit easier, we’ve included a breakdown of some of the most common signage materials (substrates) used in today’s business marketing signage.

Types of Signage Substrates:

Poster Paper

Perfect for: A great way to convey messages, promote an event, or educate your audience.

Details: A wide range of stocks, semi-gloss to gloss along with many weights depending on use.

Foam Board

Perfect for: A economical way to showcase your conference or promote a product.

Details: Is lightweight, and great option for a one-time use. Can dent easily.


Perfect for: Use in your sidewalk signs or for outdoor events/ directional messages.

Details: Corrugated plastic is a weather-resistant board making it a great material for outside use.

PVC Board

Perfect for: Excellent for retail signage, menu boards, and conferences.

Details: Is lightweight and has a smooth surface. It is also a rigid foam. comes in a couple thicknesses.

Vinyl Banner

Perfect for: Great for getting your message across in a big way. Incorporate bold and colorful image for a grand opening, promotion, special events, or even warehouses or lobbies.

Details: Can be used indoor and Outdoor. Durable weather-resistant vinyl.

Aluminum Composite

Perfect for: Great when used for outdoor parking signs or building signs.

Details: Are half the weight of solid aluminum and have excellent durability in outdoor applications.


Perfect for: The perfect fit for any lobby and/or interior building signage.

Details: Many sizes and options for printing i.e. white, transparent, frosted or in color.

It’s good to learn and know the basic qualities of popular materials before you have your sign made. The signage material you choose could determine how long your sign will last and look in your space, so choose wisely. Material matters!

Can I Mail This Size Postcard? A Guide to Direct Mail Postcard Sizes.

Direct mail is a great marketing tool to utilize within your marketing strategy, but when it comes to printing a postcard, size does matter!

When you’re looking to utilize direct mail in a marketing campaign or promotion, one of the first things you’ll need to know are the size options for your postcard. The images below will give you the dimensions that are the most common, and that will still allow you to meet all the mailing requirements and get the best USPS rate.


Postcard Sizes

Market Mail and True Postcard Sizes








True postcard sizes (3.5×5 to 4.25×6) are eligible to mail at the USPS First-Class postcard rate.

Oversized postcards (3.5×5 to 6.125×11) qualify for Market Mail (Standard), the Market Mail Nonprofit Rate, or First-Class.


EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) Sizes

EDDM Mailing Sizes









EDDM postcards must exceed one of the following:

10.5″ in length

6.125″ in height

.75″ in thickness

How Can You Mail Your Postcard?

There are three main ways you can mail a postcard: First-Class Mail, Market Mail (standard and nonprofit), and EDDM.


Giving direct mail its moment to shine in a marketing campaign gives you the opportunity to make a powerful first impression with a new or existing target market audience. There are many cost-efficient ways to reach potential customers, but you’ll want to make sure you’ve checked all the boxes. The size and professional design of the postcard are essential in making it stand out. So get those creative juices flowing and make your direct mail piece one to remember!





Prepress Checklist: Preparing Your Design for Print

The best way to ensure a smooth transfer of your print files to a quality finished product is to make sure your files are print ready. As we always say, prepress is the gateway to printing success!

Here are a few of the things you’ll want to do before sending your design file to your printer for your next print project.

The Checklist:

1. Check your size and image resolution
You’ll want to make sure your images meet a minimum image resolution of 300dpi. We get many questions about the quality of images and whether they’ll look good in print. It’s better to start out big when producing a digital image, as you can scale down if necessary. If you need your photo at a higher resolution, it’s best to just rescan or reshoot the image. If you start with a vector image or graphic for logos and line art, these will retain a high resolution at any size.

Resolution comparison 72dpi vs 300dpi









2. Choose the correct color mode
Talk with your print representative first to make sure you know how your job will be printing. Will it print on a full-color press or a traditional press? Knowing this will help you decide what color mode to use–Process (CMYK) or Spot (Pantone) colors. These colors may look the same on screen, but the print process will affect the look of the color. When printing in full color always convert from RGB (what your monitor uses) to CMYK, since there is a color shift when changing modes.

3. Crops and bleeds
Crops and bleeds can be turned on when exporting to a PDF. These marks indicate the edges of your design and where it needs to be cut once printed. Crops indicate where the printed area is and the bleeds are the extended area beyond the actual size. Having the appropriate marks will make sure your print piece is trimmed correctly.


Image with Crop and Bleed marks












4. Proper PDF settings
No matter what program you’re using you will most likely create a PDF to send to your printer. It is important to use the correct settings when making the PDF to get the best end result. For our presses we like to use the Press Quality settings as this will embed all fonts and keep the image resolution as is. Adobe Acrobat defaults to Standard settings that will change all images to 150dpi and will not embed the fonts.

5. Contact our Prepress Department
Any time you have a question it is easier and more time efficient to answer questions as they arise. Fixes and changes after the file is received can cause additional charges and delays that can be avoided by simply talking to one of our technicians. If you’re in Madison, WI or the Dane county area please feel free to contact our Prepress Coordinator at or (608) 845-2855.

These 5 tips will hopefully set you up for prepress success! Once you’ve completed each step a few times they will become part of your prepress routine.

18 Digital and Print Tips: to engage your audience

We all know the importance of a well-planned marketing strategy. But does your strategy include a mix of formats like print, social, and digital? Everyone should be taking full advantage of the many opportunities available to help expand your reach and engage your audience. Marketing is changing–your strategy should too. It’s time to actively seek out your audience and start a conversation!
It all starts with recognizing the importance of integrating print, social, and digital platforms in your marketing. When you utilize a mix of channels, it increases your visibility and elevates your brand and message. Who doesn’t want that??!!!

Whether your organization is a nonprofit running a campaign or a business looking to engage a new audience, you will find the 18 tips below helpful as you begin the process to elevate your digital, social, and print strategies.

Click Here to view a PDF of the tips! 18 Tips to engage your audience

Your work and message are important. Use the tips above as a guide to supplement your marketing plan and get the conversation rolling.

Keep or Toss? Direct Mail They’ll Want to Read

Everyone gets “junk” mail at home and at work. At some point, we sort through the piles and decide to keep it or toss it. Sometimes we’ll keep the direct mail piece because something has intrigued us, while a dull, uninspired design or irrelevant message will quickly land a mail piece in the toss pile.

This leads to the big question of, “How do you get your marketing mail read every time?” It’s an easy answer, but one that isn’t always easy to achieve (queue the large neon light). Print marketing should capture the attention of the consumer instantly!

Sure, it’s easy to say, but what does that look like? Maybe you feel like you’re already doing this, but not getting the response you’re hoping for. Let’s start with your audience. Consumers love when they get something that is just for them. Maybe it has their name on the piece, or maybe it’s a coupon for something they’ve been looking at. Target does this really well. Ever notice that the coupon they sent you happens to be for a product you’ll soon be needing? I’d like to say that Target just gets you, but in reality, they’re catering to you by tracking your buying habits, recent purchases, etc. Which is a whole other post, but you get the gist. So, what can we do if we don’t have all that access to data? We’re all trying to engage with our audience on a personal level, and intrigue them to engage with our brand. So, what can you do on your next direct marketing mailer to get your message read?

  1. Nail the creative.

Impactful, large images, personalization, and minimal text are surefire ways to get your message read. We only have about three seconds to catch the reader’s attention. Intrigue them on the front to engage them to read more on the back.

  1. Target the right group.

Make sure your target group and the product or service you’re offering is the right match. Many times, you have a great target group, but what you’re offering is the wrong fit. Quality over quantity will get you better results in the end.

  1. A call to action that matters.

Your call to action is arguably the most important part of your mailer. This gets your audience to take the desired next step, and leads to improved conversion rates. If your ask is clear and without a lot of complicated steps, they will be more likely to take action.

We all want to see a return on the work we are putting into a marketing piece. So, now it’s time to really hit the mark on your next mailing. You need to master the three steps above to keep your piece out of the recycling bin. If you put the work in, your mailer will definitely land at the top of the keep pile.

The Basics of Wayfinding Signs

Navigating through everyday life is a normal part of how we get from here to there. You are starting here, but how to you get over there? Your experience and perception when exploring a new building or outdoor event comes down to how easily you find your way. Imagine going into to Ikea and not having arrows on the floors or signs to show you where to go. You would be lost in a sea of many things–not always a bad thing!

So what is wayfinding signage? And is this something your need for your business or event? Let’s start with the basics.

The main goal of wayfinding signs (aka directional signage) is to inform people in a particular surrounding to help them get from point A to point B with ease! The main point is to not let anyone get lost in the process.

The basics of making effective wayfinding signage:

Make it easy! Make the message or direction clear and consistent, so your audience knows what to look for around each corner.

Less is more! Show them only the information needed to navigate their path to the right destination.

Clear visual! Simple images create a clear message to the viewer.

Let’s look at a few industries where wayfinding signage is an impactful and needed element in creating a successful overall experience.

Healthcare Whether it’s hospitals, clinics, or medical centers, consistent use of language, imagery, and messaging throughout the space can do more than tell visitors where they are, it can also tell the story of who they’re a part of. Signage gives patients and workers a simple and more direct way of arriving at their destination. Wayfinding signage should enhance the patient’s experience, not create more stress! You’ll consistently see the following signage in healthcare systems: directories, room markers, floor graphics, and wall acrylics. Imagine if you didn’t have any of this, and how much more difficult it would be for the end user.

Manufacturing In manufacturing settings there can be a lot going on at one time, so clear signage for clients and employees is a must! Many facilities will offer tours of their office, so having exterior signage to let people know what door to enter, or where to park, and then signs getting from the parking lot or garage to the right location is crucial. And then there’s safety signage on a manufacturing floor that informs and guides workers. Hardhat area signs, areas of production, safety tape, floor graphics, and wall graphics are ways to direct and inform.

Retail Wayfinding signage makes for easy and fast store navigation, which is important for buyers. Signage and imagery provide the opportunity for the buyer to see the product that they want, help to navigate them to the right section, and ultimately get you closer to making a sale. You should always make it easy and enticing for someone looking at your product.






So, when you’re looking at your own business, think about how wayfinding signage could work for you. What is it that you want your customer or employee to do or go, and what’s the easiest way to accomplish that task?