There is a dirty little secret those in the print industry don’t want you to know. Would you like to know what it is? Stay tuned and we will get to it a bit later. First, let us dive into the glossy versus matte finish debate as it relates to printed promotional materials such as marketing folders.
Glossy or matte finished marketing folders, which is better? As you would guess, it depends who you ask. Oh, I bet you are sick of that one by now. Doesn’t it seem that the answer to everything in life depends? Let us define what each is, go over the advantage/disadvantages, and then we will conclude with the dirty secret and our professional recommendation for your business.
First, we at the Folder Store like to describe our glossy folder stock as cast-coated and our matte folder stock as smooth.
A glossy finish is similar to your typical shiny (highly reflective) photograph. The paper is coated with a smooth and glossy finish leading to a heavy and expensive paper stock. The glossy coating is applied by covering the paper on one side with a pigment mixture that is dried and polished by a heated metal cylinder. Cast-coating works best with heavy paper stock due to the amount of water used in the process. Glossy is often used in 4-color printing to help full color images and graphics appear more vivid, lifelike and appealing.
A matte finish gives a more artistic feel with a textured look. The paper is coated with a dull, no-gloss, no-luster finish. Matte is often used to make colors appear softer and pages easier to read that are text intensive or contain numerical charts.
Our smooth/matte finish is the easiest to maintain. Due to the low sheen, it is very forgiving of scratches, dents, and wear and tear over time. Our SemiGloss finish has some shine and is thus a little more difficult to maintain. It will show scratches, dents, and wear and tear sooner. Our Cast-Coated (High Gloss) finish is the hardest to maintain. It will show everything – dust, dirt, scratches, dents, and wear and tear the quickest.
Dying to get back to that dirty little secret I mentioned earlier? Okay, you twisted my arm. The door to the vault is opening now.
Ever been to a new restaurant and wondered what dish was most popular? You probably asked your waiter or waitress which was most popular or was their personal favorite. Did you know that restaurant managers often tell their staff which dishes to push on a any given night? Whether it is to use up ingredients that will soon go bad or to maximize profits, the practice benefits the restaurant and not you. The same is true for most companies in any industry. As with anything else in life, it pays to get a second opinion; especially from someone with no vested interest in the outcome.
So, which is best? Many print companies will gladly point out their favorites (read: best margin for them or need to reduce inventory) and some will say it is mainly personal preference. Both are just plain awful advice! Remember, the goal of your printer should be to help you market your business successfully, not just take your money and ship you some folders. We pride ourselves on going a little further than that and this blog is proof.
First, you need to pay close attention to how the business folders will be handled, by whom, and in what environment. You wouldn’t send your high gloss ebony Steinway piano to a construction site, would you? Once you know this, you can determine the durability of the material and finish required for your presentation folders to maintain their good shape through normal use. You definitely don’t want your marketing folders all scuffed up when you hand them to a potential client as that will make you appear careless. The most impressive marketing folders are those that you want to keep for a long time, not look at once and pitch.
But, the most critical element of all? Know your audience! You need to understand your target audience through and through; what motivates them, their deepest desires, what they fear most, and their likes and dislikes. Once you understand this, create a folder design that perfectly matches or you will appear foolish and out of touch. Misreading your customer will completely undermine their effectiveness. The recommended shortcut for a small business on a shoestring budget is to mimic the major players in your marketplace. Let the big boys pay for all the market research and do all the testing. Pay attention to the images, colors, sounds, smells, and decor used both in their marketing materials as well as the environments in which they conduct their business. The mantra of the day for you is observe, observe, and observe some more.
These two observations alone will allow you to ultimately determine whether a glossy or matte finish is best suited for your particular project in your particular market. Without this information, it is all a guessing game at best. You don’t want to risk the health of your business on guesswork, do you? Get pocket folders with the correct folder finish for the job.
Image Credit: Tawny Kate-aen