The Alchemy of Design: Big Design Challenges for Small Projects

by Kim Rogala 

Branding isn’t just for big business. Branding and design play an equally important role for small businesses of all types. And, for a small business to grow profitably, it has to grow its brand without landing in the proverbial red.

As a designer, that means proposing ideas and tools to your client that will help deliver ROI at every touchpoint. When you’re working on a small business brand project—with an equally small marketing budget—this can mean getting extra creative to make a big impact.

The Alchemy of Design, a new promotion by Neenah, created by Willoughby Design, presents four such branding projects. Each uses thoughtful print design to help brands, and brand initiatives, get noticed.

With a modern twist on alchemy—in which the creative team redefines the “elements” as audience, message, paper and print—Neenah shares 20 pull-out examples that transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

  1. Add Some Lift to Networking Pieces

Every brand, small or large, produces events, attends them or volunteers for them. Your announcement design challenge? Small budget, fast turnaround time, and, oh, can you make it fit in a standard-sized envelope? Try creative diecuts and color. Here, what could have been a flat invitation is transformed into a memorable 3D experience (and that ASTROBRIGHTS® envelope isn’t going unnoticed in the mail pile).

2. Making Brand Image More Tangible

Retail brands today of all sizes are constantly seeking to create a holistic retail brand experience. The challenge is to find that sweet spot between their online brand image and how it translates in-store to tangible “touch points” like hangtags.   

That doesn’t mean the need for a big print budget! And, a small budget doesn’t have to mean giving up on luxurious appeal. Here, the design team artfully mixes and matches paper colors and textures to reflect the featured brand’s modern, planet loving sensibility.

The retail hangtag system is printed with just one color, black. The brochure, digitally printed (on demand means your client only orders what they need when they need it) features the toothy texture of ROYAL SUNDANCE®, 100 PC White, Felt.

3. Dual Purposed Printed Pieces

Have another gala brand system to tackle? While charities often hold special events to raise funds or make money, they also use galas to spread the word about the mission and goals of their organization. How do you strike the right balance of budget and beauty? This system makes a splash with thoughtful paper combinations (Who knew ASTROBRIGHTS® Lunar Blue™ and Blast-Off Blue™ could look so incredibly refined?) and elegant printing. The diecut teardrop from the save-the-date is repurposed as a drink ticket. We’ll clink to that!

4. Go Beyond the Business Card

The number one rule to grow a real estate business or practice is to stay in touch with your clients. A loyal client is a source of referrals as well as a promising source of future business. So, if you’re working on a branding project for your local realtor, go beyond the business card.

Make new homebuyers remember their real estate agencies and agents, with tangible personal touches, such as branded wine bottle tags to adorn that 2012 Malbec to be left in a “Welcome to the Neighborhood” gift basket, along with gift cards for the new home buyer to try some favorite local hangouts.This promo is an idea-starters and conversation starter.

All the above promos are featured in Neenah’s Alchemy of Design, which is about thinking beyond that one swatchbook to create dynamic combinations.