Introducing SG Unfolded

Each year, businesses throughout North America choose Structural Graphics to produce thousands of dimensional projects customized to fit their individual needs. But what about the multitude of other designs our paper engineers have created but have never been produced?

Now, you can find them here.

SG Unfolded, which launched this week, is intended to showcase one-of-a-kind inventions born of innovative thinking and precision engineering. We have such a large library of designs, that we wanted to shine a spotlight on some of the amazing work our paper engineers think up behind the scenes, which may have never made it into a client’s hands.

Our hope is not only to show off these designs, but also to help you get to know our paper engineers and their approach to crafting novel pieces for marketing professionals, Fortune 500 companies, universities and the like. Perhaps these pieces will even inspire you!

Currently, we have 16 designs on SG Unfolded (and our related Instagram account, with more queued up and ready to be posted for you to enjoy every week. Multiple images are posted for each design, including a short video to showcase how the mechanism works.

We hope you enjoy!

The Continued Rise of VR in 2017 – And What it Means for You

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If you haven’t heard about VR by now, there’s a good chance you’re living under a rock.

The new technology seemed to really gain traction in 2016 with videos of Lil Wayne and LeBron James wearing Samsung’s Gear VR headsets and this emotional video released by Excedrin, which shows how it feels to experience a migraine — in real time.

But as VR and AR technology continue to gain traction in the new year, what are the implications of these products on marketers, businesses and the public?

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-11-58-02-amHow are Virtual Reality Headsets Different Today?

Many of you might consider VR headsets to be the latest breakthrough in modern technology. Not exactly. Rather, it’s more like an upgraded gaming system with its 360-degree views and human-like avatars.

And while the original headsets were extremely clunky and not exactly wireless, they also carried a hefty price tag. This had two implications: 1. Developers had no desire to create headsets outside of gaming and 2. They didn’t make sense for businesses or consumers.

Now, nearly two decades later, these bulky, expensive products have evolved. Companies like Samsung and Google now offer their own versions of VR headsets and, here at Structural Graphics, we’ve created cost-effective versions called SleekPeeks that you’re able to customize to fit your business’ logo, color scheme and unique messaging. Plus they ship flat.

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So, How Exactly are Businesses Using VR to Market Their Products?

For everything from virtual product demonstrations and 360 video tours to training and prototyping. Here are a few examples:

  • Psychiatrists at the University of Louisville use VR to treat patients with social anxieties or phobias during cognitive behavior therapy. Because the patients are in a controlled environment, doctors are able to simulate the patient’s fear of, say, flying, and direct them on how to cope with that fear.
  • Ford currently uses VR in its Immersion Lab to get a better sense of how their customers experience their cars. Using headsets, they view high-def renderings of the interiors and exteriors of the cars before a prototype has been made available. To make this even more realistic, the company has developed prop-like tools like a flashlight that help their employees’ experience feel natural.
  • In an effort to increase bookings, Marriott Hotels created a “teleporter” which encouraged users to step inside a booth, put on a VR headset and visit a dream location. Not only could the wearer see a beach in Hawaii or the London Eye, but they could also feel the wind in their hair and the sun on their faces.
  • The US Postal Service used our SleekPeeks for their “Emerging & Advanced Technology” discount incentive program at the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) “Masters of Marketing” Conference. This piece delivered a powerful, yet lightweight virtual reality experience to conference attendees.

Interested in discovering how virtual reality can work for your business? Click here to request your FREE SleekPeeks sample.

Why Video in Print Can Work for Your Brand

“If a picture paints 1,000 words then one minute of video is worth 1.8 million.”
– Dr James McQuivey, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research

Within the last decade or so, the marketing landscape has changed tremendously. Traditional outreach in the form of catalogues and printed post cards has given way to email blasts and digital ads as consumers increasingly spend their time online.

This change in consumer behavior means that we, as marketers, must also alter the way in which we produce content for the companies and the brands we represent. Not only do we need to be more intentional with the stories we tell, but we must become more strategic in how we tell them.

Research shows that printed collateral continues to be a compelling and successful way to capture the attention of your target audience. However, when coupled with video, print has the capability to not only gain consumers’ attention, but also to hold it.

The statistics are there:

  • 70% of marketing professionals report that video converts better than any other medium (CodeFuel)
  • 90% of customers report that product videos help them make purchasing decisions (HubSpot)
  • On Facebook, video posts have 135% greater organic reach than photo posts (Social Media Examiner)
  • 76% of companies who have used videos in the past year report a direct business impact (AdWeek)

With the blurring pace of modern society, video is one of the few types of mediums that caters to the consumers of today, while still providing the value, relevance and trackable metrics marketing professionals are after. But how can we merge the strengths of print with those of video to create a singular high-impact marketing tool?

Our video-in-print brochures offer an effective option when it comes to getting your company noticed. One of the biggest advantages of combining these two mediums is the ability to enhance your brand messaging through engaging and supporting content. Video is highly visual and auditory, which means it’s easier for people to remember than text-based content. When consumers remember your video content, they, in turn, remember your brand. This can translate into better brand loyalty as well as more sales and leads.

Aetna used this dynamic video brochure to send information about its “smarter” healthcare solutions to consumers. The inside of the brochure featured a video screen with 6 buttons underneath it. By pressing each button, consumers could watch a video and learn more about each of the different solutions offered by Aetna.

T-CAAN is one of Canada’s oldest and most extensive networks of independent advertising, marketing and communication agencies. Information Packaging of Canada used this video handout at a recent T-CAAN event in Calgary. The mechanism they used was the Extendo. When you pull out the bottom panel, another panel automatically slides out from the top featuring a video about Information Packaging.

Nationwide Financial went “all out” and used this video invitation for its 2016 Nationwide Sales Invitational, a high-end event that rewards an elite group of advisors for their life and annuity sales volume and sales potential with Nationwide. The inside of this elegant mailer featured a video about the event complete with play/pause and volume controls.

What are you waiting for? Get in touch and let’s figure out how to take your marketing to the next level.

What it Means to Say I’m A Creative: Isabel Uria

This is the second installment in our “What it Means to Say I’m a Creative” series, meant to focus on the inspiration and drive behind each one of our paper engineers. To read Part 1 of the series, click here.

  1. How did you know you wanted to create (in a professional sense)?
    I think at an unconscious level I always knew I was going to work in the arts. I played piano for five years, and was involved in the school choir, theater, musicals and extracurricular art classes since middle school. Back then, I loved colors and painting, primarily.However, my journey with paper probably goes back to when I was 6 or 7 years old. My older brother had been given origami books for Christmas. I saw how he would make all these little creatures out of paper and neatly display them on his shelf. As any little sister, I idolized my brother. I wanted to be just like him! But he wouldn’t lend me his origami books!So one day, when he wasn’t looking or wasn’t around, I snuck into his room, took the books and started to try to follow the instructions on how to make all these little creatures through increasingly difficult pleats and folds. I succeeded on the beginner’s book but I failed miserably on all the more advanced ones. It took a while before I would understand and successfully accomplish complex paper folding like that. But if I have to look back at where I began with paper, I think that might have been my first experience with this amazing material.
  2. What advice would you give to others who want to work in a creative industry/ position? 
    Work Hard. Work smart.Be true to your passions.

    Be consistent.

    Be persistent (without being stubborn).

    Be confident, but not cocky.

    Dream big, but also keep your feet grounded in reality (or at least keep a toe or two on the ground).

    Stay confident, even when you think you’re wavering at every turn. (We often think we’re not doing well enough, but sometimes that’s a good thing; it keeps us humble.)

    Go forth doing your thing (whatever that may be) with constancy and fortitude!

    I guess much of this “advice” can really apply to any profession. At the end of the day, whatever you do, practice your craft passionately. Wouldn’t that make for a happier you?

  3. What does creativity mean to you?
    Being creative is inside all of us. Creativity is looking at a world of possibilities and acknowledging all the ways a problem can be brought to light and all the ways it could be solved. Creativity opens your mind. It is a path to visualize the past, the present and the future. Creativity is the opposite of war. It is the future. Evolution has happened because human beings have been curious to know and understand how things work and take that understanding to CREATE new developments and innovative things that serve our needs and help us. Creativity makes the world go around!
  4. How do you feel when you tell others you’re a paper engineer?
    It’s always fun to explain what I do. Unless you’re “in” the industry or closely linked to it, people don’t automatically know what a “paper engineer” is.First of all, we have not necessarily studied engineering in school, yet we work with paper as our material of choice in the same way an engineer does. We use the material —cut, fold, and paste it—to create an entirely new construct. The thing about paper engineers is that we can toggle that blurry line between being an artist and being a designer. We can be both! And sometimes, some of us are.Personally, I feel that’s awesome! I also feel very fortunate to be one of the people who makes a living in this profession. There are only so many people that do, and I think we all know each other! Or at least we know of each other.
  5. What does it mean to say that you’re a “creative”?
    There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with being a designer because you’re the one that has to visualize the results, and make sure it works for the purpose that it is needed. As a creative I have to come up with a compelling, grand, aesthetically pleasing solution to the problem at hand. I have to design an eloquent way to express a message in 3D paper shapes and forms. I have to make things unique and innovative. Sometimes that comes easy, but sometimes it doesn’t. And criticism will always be there. Those are the struggles you deal with on a regular basis as a designer, as an artist and as a creative.

To learn more about Isabel, please click here.

Innovation At Work

Paper currency. Chocolate chip cookies. The Smartphone.

What do all of these things have in common, you might ask? Well, they all started as an idea that turned into a life-altering innovation.
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But, an innovation doesn’t have to be something as complex as creating Samsung’s Galaxy, or coming up with a way to maintain monetary policy; it can be as easy as baking a batch of homemade cookies.

At Structural Graphics we recognize that innovation is a major component to the success of a business, not only to provide our clients with new and creative solutions to their marketing challenges, but to provide solutions to the challenges we face internally in our company as well. Thus, the Structural Graphics “Innovation Team” was born. CEO Michael Maguire selected 10 employees, from all different backgrounds and departments, to form this Team whose sole purpose is to “create anything new that has impact”. For our company, innovation could take place in the form of a product or service, a process, or the way in which we interact with our customers.

The first task for the Innovation Team was to “think outside the box” and come up with an innovative way to re-organize an open space that wasn’t being used. After some brainstorming and collaborating, the Team transformed a dull, closed-off area into a terrific space with lots of natural light and places to display creative work. The “Innovation Space” became an area where employees can hold meetings, collaborate on projects and, most importantly, share projects (personal and professional) with their colleagues. You may not have known it; but we have lots of artists here, painters, poets, musicians and more.

The Innovation Team has some exciting projects they’re working on now. Members have split up into groups to take on projects the Team sees as having the greatest opportunity for innovation in our company right now. Projects include new and exciting updates to our company website, a company-wide recycling project for employees to become more environmentally conscious, and a plan to alleviate bottlenecks in our current internal prepress process workflow.

This is just the beginning. The Innovation Team holds lively and interactive meetings twice a month where all ideas are welcome, and usually a tasty dessert is shared among co-workers. This Team will act to provide Structural Graphics with innovative solutions to our current challenges. Keep a look out for some of our upcoming projects, and remember that innovation can be found anywhere; all you need is a great idea and the ability to “think next” (chocolate chip cookies definitely help too).

Picture: the Innovation Team in our newly redesigned innovation space.
(Front Row) Michael Maguire, Jenna Paternostro, David Komorowski, Karen Signor, Warren Yamakoshi
(Back Row) Darlene Ferris, Jeff Nixon, Joe Migliaccio, Shin Wakabayashi and Edmund Wu

Taking it Personally: How Brands Affect Customer Experience

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Many of us grew up in small towns or small close-knit communities. In those everyone-knows-everyone towns, familiarity was the currency of business. When you walked into a store, you were greeted by name (and often asked how your family was doing). Shopping lists were kept on file. If Mrs. Moretti’s son was caught cutting class, you could be sure his mother would hear about it from one of the shopkeepers.

But, today, as corporations and communities seem to be getting less personal, there are a few companies looking to revive this small-town feeling — and infuse it into their business.

snickers_hungerbars15Across industries, global marketers are tapping into the psychology of personal branding and the benefits it offers when trying to reach consumers. This year, alone, companies like Coca-Cola, Snickers, Lays and Budweiser have all tinkered with adding song lyrics, team logos, names in an effort to forge a deeper connection with their customers. It’s as if they’re trying to say, “We ‘get’ you.”

According to a report by Responsys, 61 percent of U.S. customers feel more positive about a brand with a personalized message. And to millennials, who have overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest living generation, this couldn’t be more apparent. Instead of blindly supporting trendy companies, they’re looking for products and services that specifically fit THEM.

“I want to buy something that’s my style, that someone looks at and says, ‘Wow! That’s perfect for Elizabeth’. I want my brands to say something about me, so that I am proud to say I use them.” – Ideastogo.com

It worked for Nike, which allows customers to design their own sneakers, and for Coca-Cola, too. After wrapping up its “Share a Coke” campaign in September, the company reported a 2.5 percent gain in sales, which they’ve attributed to the customized cans. For Snickers, the launch of their “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign, meant swapping their logo for 21 different symptoms people experience when they’re hungry. In its first full year, the campaign helped increase global sales of Snickers by 15.9% and grew market share in 56 of the 58 markets in which it ran.

And this idea isn’t lost on us, either. Here, at Structural Graphics, we’re constantly looking for ways to improve how print can help businesses connect with their audiences in a personal way. We design amazing print pieces with video that allow you to share a reel, recruitment video or a personalized message. Furthermore, our virtual reality viewers are making things very personal and can be customized to fit your business’ needs.

The currency of business today is to be relevant, targeted and, of course, personal.


Feeling insanely creative? Give us a call at 860-767-2661 or shoot us an email. Together we can make your marketing really pop.

What it Means to Say I’m a Creative: Shin Wakabayashi

This is the first installment in our “What it Means to Say I’m a Creative” series, meant to focus on the inspiration and drive behind each one of our paper engineers.
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  1. How did you know you wanted to create (in a professional sense)?
    I remember since I was around 5 growing up watching cartoons, playing with legos, and drawing especially. My father inspired me since he drew often as a hobby, and I became more interested in pursuing a profession related to art and design during college after learning about its diverse opportunities.
  2. What advice would you give to others who want to work in a creative industry/ position?
    My advice would be to show your work to different people especially those whose work you admire and listen to their critique on your pieces. It’s good to be open to constructive criticism to figure out why some aspects work and why some don’t.
  3. What does creativity mean to you?
    To me, creativity means looking at things in a different perspective or doing something in a different way. It might help to try different hobbies, jobs, sports or artforms to inspire other methods of thinking or finding something relatable to your primary creative activity. I can relate dancing to design in that both forms allow the person to take certain existing moves or elements and his or her own spin on them.
  4. How do you feel when you tell others you’re a paper engineer?
    I feel fortunate when I tell people about my job as a paper engineer because I don’t think there are many companies that have such positions.
  5. What does it mean to say that you’re a “creative”?
    I feel more secure calling myself a production artist or paper engineer because creatives can be seen in most professions or positions in a company. Creativity lives in art, design, education, scientific research and development, politics, etc.

To learn more about Shin, please click here.

8 Stats that Prove Print is Anything but Dead

For years we’ve been hearing it: print is dead. With more and more people heading online to get their news, research products and read reviews, it may seem that way to some. But, not according to savvy marketers. Businesses and marketers should continue investing in printed collateral, viewing it as a worthy and profitable way to promote a brand and stay top-of-mind.

Here’s why:

  • 66 % of millennials are more likely to remember to use a voucher if they have a physical copy to carry around.
  • 23% of millennials bought or ordered something as a result of receiving direct mail in the last year.
  • Retailers have seen a $21 million dollar difference in online sales per million site visitors between those who had received a catalog at their home address and those that had not.
  • 92% of shoppers say they prefer direct mail for making purchasing decisions.
  • Direct mail household response rate is at 3.7% (compared to .2% mobile, .1% email, .1% social media, and .02% internet display).
  • 91% of mail is picked up by the same person each day; 80% of them are women.
  • Bobonos customers who received a catalog spend 1.5 times more than new shoppers who didn’t receive a catalog first.
  • Boden customers spend up to 15 to 20 minutes with their catalog, vs. an average of 8 seconds for an email and 5 minutes with their iPad app.

Statistics were compiled by Compu-Mail. To view their entire list, please click here.

Thinking Outside the Inbox: Direct Mail for the Holidays

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I always get excited when I receive mail.

One glimpse of the mail carrier, donning his USPS garb, and I wait anxiously to see whether there’s anything addressed to me. But on those days when I’ve got more than bills or credit card offers stuffed in my mailbox, that childlike excitement I felt earlier all too quickly disintegrates into something else: disappointment.

There are the flat mailers that have my name incorrectly printed on them. There are the catalogs with promo codes so buried I get exhausted from flipping through before even finding them. And there are the dreaded cards and the postcards that I barely even look at before throwing away.

Sound familiar?

These pieces all have one thing in common (besides meeting my recycling bin): they’re boring. And as businesses increase their efforts to vie for your attention this holiday season, as marketers you want to be anything but. So, if you’re not currently creating (or, at the very least, brainstorming) some ways to set your direct mail apart, you’re already missing out on the opportunity to make a memorable impression.

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But don’t worry, it’s not too late to get your company or your products noticed in time for the holidays. Here, we’ve curated some of our most helpful tips on how to bring back that “wow factor” during the most magical time of the year.

      1. Go dimensional. Perhaps the easiest way to make a real impact with little-to-no-effort? Incorporate dimension. By incorporating pieces like our 3″ pop-up cube into your marketing, it’s easy to put forth your messaging in a way that takes advantage of 3D (but still ships flat).
      2. Embrace technology. For better or for worse, we live in a digital world and it’s just going to get that much more – er – digitaler. Instead of rejecting this characteristic of modern life, we say embrace it! Want your print advertising to play your jingle? Want to incorporate virtual reality or LED lights into your messaging? Make your customers feel like a kid around the holidays by sending them something shiny AND bright in the mail.
      3. Video is your friend. Did you know that videos increase people’s understanding of a product or service by 74%? In case you’ve been living under a rock, video is super trendy right now. Combine video with one of our high-impact print solutions and you’ve got a powerful marketing tool.
      4. Surprise them. If a consumer is able to predict how a promotional piece is going to look or feel before they even get their hands on it, you can almost bet that it will get lost and maybe even thrown away. Make your brand as exciting as you are – that unexpected element will not only set you apart from your competitors, but it’ll leave a lasting impression in your recipients’ minds.
      5. Think Interactive. Print plays to the human senses in ways that digital tech is hard-pressed to match. By delivering a direct mail piece that recipients can engage with, you’re not only getting their attention, but you’re strengthening your brand’s longevity, too.

Feeling inspired? Have an idea for how your business can target the next generation of purchasers? Contact us to get started.