Materials Matter!

The competition for an audiences’ attention has risen to a fever pitch. Audiences are overwhelmed, bombarded with more-more-more, with less and less impact. What we make needs to matter, to make an impression, to elevate itself from the endless churn of communication.

So, how can you make your work stand out? By making effective things that slow people down, activate their senses and command their attention.

Imagine two lunch spots: a cafeteria and a fine restaurant. The cafeteria serves a purpose, it is convenient and cheap. Produce from cans is served on plastic platters and employees are short on conversation, but masters of efficiency. Menu options are limited and pre-made, but you’re in and out quickly. It’s good for what it is, but you’d never choose it to impress someone.

On the other end of the spectrum, imagine a fine restaurant in which the wait staff helps to select a finely crafted meal and a drink that are perfectly paired. They serve locally-sourced meats and produce harvested that morning. When you leave, you’re eager to return. The restaurant nourishes, inspires, and provides a memorable experience.

So much of digital communication has become fast, efficient, and disposable. By taking advantage of the unique qualities of print and selecting high quality materials, you can create something exceptional, tactile and memorable. When you need to impress, materials matter – they are the essential ingredients of your printed projects.

Materials provide information that our brains (often subconsciously) translate into thoughts and emotions. The way paper feels can be the secret power of a printed piece, and there is often a subtle message communicated through the physical characteristics of touch. Before you read a word, touch communicates and evokes emotions – and sometimes challenges expectations. This documented effect is called embodied cognition. Our brains translate the feeling of touch into distinct emotions and impressions. When an object has physical warmth, we translate that to a feeling of emotional warmth. When an object has physical weight, we connect it with importance and stability. When we touch something with a tactile surface texture, we believe it has substance and is authentic. This revelation that each material contains a distinct message based on touch makes material choice increasingly important. Furthermore, materials are a pillar of effective communication just like copy, design and print, able to elevate or denigrate a brand.

Learning how to harness the diversity of materials is an essential skill for communicators. Mohawk recently introduced A Maker’s Field Guide to Texture and Color, a comprehensive guide designed to underscore the importance of using premium materials as a powerful communication tool. This new resource showcases effective techniques for using texture and color to amplify printed projects, and highlights a wide array of printing techniques including offset, die cut, foil stamping, and embossing processes on 32 distinctive colored and textured papers drawn from nearly every Mohawk paper grade. To get your copy, (visit or contact a representative at Bennett Graphics).

This article is courtesy of Mohawk Papers.

1 reply
  1. Bill Gillespie
    Bill Gillespie says:

    Thank you Dianne. We certainly believe that the emotional impact of a printed piece starts with how it feels. Materials definitely matter. The way you feel in the company of a marketing message suggests how you might feel with the product or service being promoted.

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