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Wrangling the Maverick: How to Manage Your Printing Expectations

By Ali Nagy

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I can count the number of times a client has been surprised by a color difference in their collateral pieces on both hands. And feet. And some of the hands and feet of my nearest and dearest. Point being, it is quite common for a person to see their lovely logo on their website, business card, and letterhead and become unsure as to why the color is not 100% consistent on all applications. Aren’t we designers? Don’t we know what we’re doing?

The short answer is yes-we have been trained, prepped and polished to make all of your design dreams come true! What most clients DON’T know is that print is the maverick* of the design world.


Print (being a maverick and all) does not always want to sit around a fire and hold hands with files formatted for digital usage (jpgs, pngs, gifs). These types of files are not for printing purposes.  

Even with the proper file formats, (pdf, eps, tiff) print not necessarily conform to one guaranteed result. Several factors can cause inconsistencies within your brand materials. Some common offenders are files set up for a different color space than that of your printer, varying paper types and finishes, and ordering different quantities of materials.

The four factors that most commonly determine your printing needs are quality, volume, budget, and time. Based on these factors, your printing needs can usually be shelved into one of two categories: digital or offset printing.


For either type of printing you and your brand choose to embark on, there is a specific file that goes through a specific process to create an end result. These files and processes can be similar, but are by no means the same. (You have your mother’s eyes, but you’re not her, are you?) Outlined above are the benefits and sacrifices made with each type of printing.


You can’t. Not fully, anyway. The best way to obtain 90% wranglification is to be aware of what accompanies the type of printing that you’re asking for.