D.C. branding agency insights on the importance of touch with tactile designs
Brand Strategy / 09.25.2017

Tactile design in the digital age

Touch has memory
-John Keats

My father loved books. Our home was filled with them. My picture books were over-sized art books and my bedtime stories were The Highwayman, The Charge of the Light Brigade, or (my favorite) The Raven. What I never realized, until I inherited his library, was that my father had amassed a tidy sum of old books and first editions. One in particular took me a while to figure out: a first edition of Edmund Burke’s seminal A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. Burke isn’t even listed on the title page, the publication date is in roman numerals, and the cost is written as [Price Bound Three Shillings.] I assumed it must have been purchased in England but once the roman numerals were deciphered as 1757, I was then reminded that America wasn’t America yet. Upon further examination, someone had penned his name in beautiful script on the first leaf. It appears to read Henry Evans. Could this be the Methodist minister, Henry Evans, born a freeman in Virginia in the 1700s? So much history, all in one book that is older than our country. To hold it in your hands is a profound and singular experience.

On the unconscious level, touch seems to impart a subliminal sense of caring and connection.
—Leonard Mlodinow

The greatest temptation an old book invites is to run one’s fingers across the thick, cotton-heavy pages and swivel the book in the light to watch the shadows play across the letterpress words. Touch generates communication at a near subliminal level. It creates a mood and establishes a connection instantly. A crucial part of our sensory experience, touch has been receiving increased attention in recent years following the findings in Hertenstein & Keltner’s 2006 study “Touch Communicates Distinct Emotions” that humans can communicate discrete emotions through touch. The power of touch is why haptics plays such a significant role in computer applications; and it’s something that is built directly into paper and ink. Printed material can be touched, savored, and treasured.

Everything you touch touches you.

Digital printing offers a cost-savings and convenience that can not be ignored. Unfortunately, most digital presses are little more than glorified office printers. They are powder-based and heavy coverage yields a waxy, unpleasant texture. Luckily, there’s HP’s patented ElectroInk which produces coverage and resolution remarkably similar to offset printing. And, as the HP Indigo presses keep getting bigger (both the HP 10000 and 12000 are 29-inch presses), it is possible to utilize this unique technology for a wider range of print projects. Because of its offset-like capabilities, the convenience and flexibility of Indigo printing can be combined with specialty finishing elements for impressive and tactilely satisfying results.

We leave traces of ourselves wherever we go, on whatever we touch.
—Lewis Thomas

One of the most practical applications for combining new technology and old technology is your company’s business card strategy. Business cards have enjoyed a recent surge in popularity because of the connection they create. Fabricating a gorgeous business card, that feels as distinct as it looks, instills your brand with intimacy. Fortunately, combining the cost-savings and flexibility of digital printing with the impact of artisan-crafted finishing is, from a production standpoint, a piece of cake. Shells can be specialty printed on fine, or boutique, paper with letterpress (“hot type,” like my father’s revolutionary book), foil stamping, emboss, and/or deboss to be stored and later married to digitally printed “on-demand” sheets to create an effective—and expressive—calling card.

D.C. branding company provides insights on business card strategy like these Waldron cardsBranding agency insights on how to leverage touch for your company's business card

Waldron Private Wealth: The backs of the cards are 2-color foil-stamped on Classic Crest, Patriot Blue, Smooth, 100C. Blue foil on blue paper creates the subtle background pattern. The fronts of the cards are 2-color letterpress printed on Classic Crest, Solar White, Smooth, 130C. The two sheets/sides are married to create a custom duplex that also hides the bruising from the letterpress.

D.C. branding firm provides insight on business card strategyD.C. branding firm collateral on business card stragey

Summit Trail Advisors: The backs/shells of the cards are 1-color foil-stamped on Mohawk Loop Vellum, Urban Gray 110 DTC. The fronts of the cards are 2-color letterpress printed on Classic Crest Antique Gray 100C. Once both sheets/sides are printed, they are married and trimmed creating a custom duplex paper.

I have just one superstition. Whenever I hit a home run, I make certain I touch all four bases.
—Babe Ruth

In today’s communications marketplace, there are many platforms available for a brand to be built upon. Utilize all of them, new school and old school, in your tactile designs to make sure that your message hits home.

DC branding firm production director
Regina Esposito

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