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5 Tips for Using Images in Direct Mail

As a direct mail and printing company, we have the opportunity to see a lot of flyer and postcard designs on a regular basis. Not only do we print pizza flyers, but we also print postcards and promotions for variety of other businesses. Our team of 30+ graphic designers is constantly producing high quality designs and preparing them for print.

Not all our printed products are created by our in-house design team. There are many instances where clients send us their artwork which they designed themselves or worked with a graphic artist that they have an existing relationship with.

We are always looking for ways to help our customers with their marketing. This week we are focusing on graphic design, and specifically, the use of images within a postcard or direct mail design layout.

We polled our graphic design team and developed the following 5 tips for using images in your direct mail pieces. This article is geared to help you make sure your next direct mail campaign has as much impact as possible. The following tips also address mistakes that we see on a regular basis.

Busy Background Colors1.) Choice of background image
A common technique for graphic designers is to use a background image. Let’s face it, most of us are looking for something more exciting than standard white as our background color. The key is to choose your background image wisely. A background image that is too colorful and too busy will make it difficult for the viewer to read your message.

Design Team Power Tip: Lower the opacity of your background image so that it does not compete with your message and branding.

2.) Utilize an image grid
Random placement of photos is not encouraged when designing your mail piece. There needs to be a method to the madness and more often than not, designers are utilizing grid layouts to place their photos and images into a design. More information on image grids can be found on Zach Kitschke’s design blog.

Text over images3.) Too much text over images
One of the most common mistakes is to put too much text over an image. There is no set rule that states how much text should be placed over images, we simply advise to be cautious when doing so. You never want your graphic to become so busy that the viewer can’t focus on any one part of your postcard or flyer. Your design will become unreadable and you will lose the impact of your message.

4.) Use high resolution images
The use of low resolution images will destroy your design. Most images you snag from a Google search will be compressed to a low resolution format. Remember, what you see on screen is not necessarily what you get once your piece has been printed. Screen resolution is only 72 dpi (dots per inch) where as most commercial printers require images to be at least 300 dpi or more.

Design Team Power Tip: Take your own images. If you have a newer smartphone, chances are you have a digital camera that is fully capable of taking high resolution images right inside your pocket.

watermarked image5.) Purchase stock photography
Many business owners are designing on a budget and using Google searches to locate images. Artwork copyright infringement is a huge concern on the web and many providers are starting to crack down. While it may be tempting to simply copy the image and use it, we recommend purchasing the photo from the stock photography provider (or artist) so that you have a clean, high resolution version of the image and know you have the rights to use it as you feel fit.

Design Team Power Tip: Stock photography prices have increased over the years. At one time stock images cost around $3 – $5 per image, but these days you should expect to pay at least $10 for a decent high resolution stock photo that is 300 dpi and ready for print.

Quality graphic design is crucial to the success of your next direct mail campaign. Using the design tips above will help ensure that your images and photos compliment your design and do not get you in trouble later down the road.

At Mail Shark, we offer free graphic design and stock photography with all of our print products. Our team of graphic artists is readily available to design your next direct mail piece at no additional cost!

If you’re looking to produce a direct mail campaign for your business and want to save money on the design phase, simply contact Mail Shark today for more information.