5 Custom Publishing Print Techniques to Get You Noticed

Looking to make your new brand identity or print collateral project stand out? Here are our top five custom print techniques to make your project look and feel unique.

Print marketing is no different than digital marketing in that both are a constant game of figuring out how to cut through the noise and grab the attention of over-messaged-to consumers. What’s cool today will be copied tomorrow and will be passé by the next day. While that timeline may be a bit exaggerated, the point stands – print marketers must continue to innovate to get their messages seen.

We’re firmly entrenched in the print marketing business – it’s what we built our business on more than 15 years ago and it remains a core part of what we do, from hotel key cards and spa menus to wedding brochures and full-suite brand identity overhauls. So naturally, we have experienced printing partners who understand our clients’ brands, know the trends, and know how to incorporate materials that will effectively deliver messages. We spoke to a couple of our printers to distill this list of the five most innovative print marketing techniques rolling off their presses right now.

Spot UV

Spot UV is layered on a specific area after the material is printed. Often used for things you want to make stand out, such as a picture or headline, spot UV can give an area an embossed, 3D look. The printer is able to control the thickness of the spot UV, too – anywhere from 20 to 80 microns. In fact, if you were printing on 12-point stock and applied spot UV treatment, the thickness could grow to 16 or 17 points by the time you’re finished. If you want to make something pop, consider spot UV.

Where to Use This Print Technique: Use spot UV to make an area on your project’s front page stand out, like we did with HHh2 Magazine, which features spot UV as a way to place emphasis on the magazine’s title.

White Toner

If you’re printing on dark stock, silver and gold ink are usually opaque enough to be applied effectively, but regular colors aren’t. Graphics or images printed on dark stock won’t show up vividly. Therefore, printers are now using white toner, which they put down first, to print images on top of when using dark stock.

Where to Use This Print Technique: If your brand colors are quite dark but you have an elaborate, colorful logo, this is the technique you’d use to make it show up nicely on printed materials.


In the past, when clients wanted to add foiling to their custom publishing projects, printers had to create a special die – and if the client only ordered a small run, it wasn’t a very practical effect to add because of the cost of the die. Enter “sleeking” – a process by which a laminate foil is applied to a designated area, indicated by a specific black ink. Once the foil has been applied, the document is run through a regular color printer to print out the rest of the colors. It’s a tedious, but doable process, and opens the possibilities of foiling to a new world of projects.

Where to Use This Print Technique: If you’re creating wedding invitations and want to give them a dimension that you don’t get with standard printing, foiling could be the touch you’re looking for.


In destination marketing, in particular, coatings are popular right now. Whether they’re on the cover of a magazine, catalog, or visitor’s guide, coatings – like soft-touch aqueous or a gloss film laminate – are a way to illuminate your project. Some provide a visual effect (you want it to be shinier than your competitors’) or a sensory one (pick it up, and maybe it has a distinct, gritty feel) but the goal is to differentiate yourself from what everyone else is doing, so context matters.

Where to Use This Print Technique: Give your tri-fold brochure a chance to get spotted on the rack by giving the cover a unique coating.

Perfect Binding

Perfect binding, in which the booklet has a flat spine, is now more affordable for projects with smaller page counts. This process, by which the interior pages and cover of catalogs and magazines are strongly glued together at the spine, offers a more professional finished look than saddle-stitch (stapled) binding.

Where to Use this Print Technique: An alternative to the standard stitched brochure for wedding vendors such as photographers, florists, or any other highly visual businesses, a perfect-bound look book delivers a much more sophisticated marketing message.

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