Barrell Roll Invitation1
One Comment Proves Paper Ain’t Flat!

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Attract, Engage, Respond
The Holy Trinity of Direct Mail Design

The fold names and puns are nearly as much fun as the folds themselves, reminding us of dance steps or card games: Stepped Accordion, Two-way Circular Gate, Roll with Diagonal Die, Angled Roll Fold, Center Stepped Accordion, Pop-Out Accordion, Twist Fold, Box Top, Iron Cross, Layered Corner, Staggered Step, Wrapped Step…. Sounds like a contest from the movie Hair Spray does it not? How can formats with names this fun be anything but fun to put into action for your brand?

You will not get an argument against folding fun from Trish Witkowski, “Chief Folding Fanatic” at As Witkowski told Bruce Rhoads of Deliver Magazine last year, “Why send 100,000 yawns when you can send 30,000 ‘wows?’ It’s wasted money if you’re not getting the attention of your audience…” The goal, she said, is NOT to make it into somebody’s “great idea file,” but to get them to respond to your brand: “[The printed piece] has to have purpose and accomplish a goal — which is response.”

FoldFactory is an online resource and community forum for and about people who love paper folding. It offers a subscription service that provides “production-perfect” folding templates in 85 styles, ranging in cost and complexity. Trish Witkowski is also FoldFactory’s online blog personality, demonstrating over again how design complexity creates print production risks which FoldFactory die lines can mitigate.  Her knowledge and stage presence also have also made her a popular speaker at print and paper gatherings across the nation.

Elevating the Possibility of Design

The award winning folded invitation to last fall’s Unisource Chicago Paper Show (shown above printed on CLASSIC® Linen Papers from Neenah Paper) stands out as a model of pre-production, print and design collaboration by FoldFactory, O’Connor Design (Jim + Debra O’Connor) and Ace Graphics (Rodney Krantz). The designer and printer were asked to share their thoughts on the process and final product, printed on CLASSIC Linen.

Working from Chicagoland (Glen Ellyn,IL) , Jim O’Connor knows how folded paper can capture attention unlike any flat screen digitally displayed design. Says O’Connor, “Folded formats do not translate online. Dimension and tactility allow me to combine creative folding with typography, color and design to create an experience that directly engages recipients. It begs them not only to look at it  — they will touch it, open it, flip it, turn it, play with it. It becomes a personal interaction and that is the name of the game in direct response design and mail.”

O’Connor elaborates:  “The concept for the UniSource invitation involved pairing groups of related words that describe paper and printing. We wanted a fold that would reveal each pairing slowly, one by one. Foldfactory provided the solution with their Nine Panel Reveal format — even its name sounded like the perfect vehicle. Since we knew the die-line could work mechanically, we were free to concentrate on typography, colors and paper, and Ace was not burdened with the task of trying to make our concept into a die-line that would work well with our design. They were free to put their focus on the details that distinguish good printing from extraordinary printing.”


Jim and Debra O’Connor of Chicagoland

Elevating the Possibility of Print

From Rod Kranz’s point of view at Ace Graphics, a ready-to-use guideline such as the Nine Panel Reveal provided by the FoldFactory affords a higher degree of certainty and print precision. “A design of this complexity with this many critical color breaks means that a mere 1/32 inch difference in the die line and the sheet can alter the result — for the worse. Subtlety and accuracy are essential. A ready-to-use die line saves hours of expert, high cost skilled labor necessary to build a die. With the die line in hand, we can turn our focus to specific mechanical adjustments to compensate for the caliper specifications of the selected sheet [CLASSIC Linen] and the mathematical adjustments required by the quirks and nuances of our production equipment.”

From Neenah’s point of view, Witkowski, O’Connor and Kranz reflect and substantiate a core value: print must be a part of any successful brand communication strategy. “We say it all the time, ‘When you print, do it well,’” says Tom Wright, director of advertising and design at Neenah Paper. “FoldFactory’s message coheres with our own. Trish and Janice Reese at the evangelize for highly effective printed and folded communications by encouraging everyone see paper not as a two-dimensional object, but rather a three-dimensional experience.

Meanwhile, Trish Witkowski reminds anyone willing to listen that paper folds, while a whole lot of fun, are also good for business. As she reminded us in Deliver Magazine, don’t perish in the labyrinth of your own creation: let form follow function:

“Sometimes people see a fold and they make a mental note to use that in their next project, but if you force your concept into a cool fold because of the wow factor, you can create confusion. There is a form and function that has to take place in direct mail.”

CLASSIC® Linen is a registered trademark of Neenah Paper, Inc.

Barrell Roll Invitation2

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