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.

Structural Graphics Celebrates 40 Years of Innovation in the Interactive Print Marketing Industry

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Structural Graphics, the pioneer of the dimensional print marketing industry is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The company introduced the world to dimensional print marketing in 1976 and continues to lead the interactive print marketing industry today.

Over the years, Structural Graphics has created more than 40,000 interactive paper designs for clients in almost every industry and holds many U.S. Patents. For more than four decades, the company has helped some of the world’s most influential brands reach their audiences with high-impact and multisensory marketing campaigns. Brands such as Samsung, Google, Whirlpool, Coca Cola, Lincoln, Land Rover, UPS, American Express, Nationwide, Victoria’s Secret, Calvin Klein, Leading Hotels of the WorldNabisco, AstraZeneca, The Hartford and Prudential, just to name a few.

As the world changes, Structural Graphics’ capabilities and service offerings have continued to evolve. Building on the company’s success in the insurance sector, The Lift Factor was established to deliver fully integrated marketing solutions utilizing print and digital executions for the nation’s top insurers. The Red Paper Plane division was created to provide a fast turnaround, do-it-yourself platform to buy Structural Graphics’ top selling formats online.

“The vast majority of companies never make it to see their 40th anniversary. The fact that we are celebrating this milestone here at Structural Graphics is a testament to the innovative products and services we offer, and our wonderful clients and suppliers. But most importantly, it’s a reflection of the creative, hardworking and talented employees that have walked through our doors over the past 40 years. Our people are truly our greatest asset,” stated Mike Maguire, CEO.

Structural Graphics markets its products and services nationally and in Canada, with its design and paper engineering, production management, marketing and administrative offices operating from the corporate headquarters in Essex, Connecticut. The company has sales and production operations throughout the U.S. and Mexico.

For more information or to view some of Structural Graphics’ work, please visit www.structuralgraphics.com.

The Simpsons Uses VR to Celebrate 600 Episodes

Recently Fox’s The Simpson celebrated their 600th episode. It’s fascinating that a cartoon show about a silly family in a crazy town has managed to stay on the air so long. No doubt, it’s due to the shows innovative writers which parody current events, create satirical story lines and stay on top of pop culture.

simposons1To help celebrate this achievement the show released a great VR experience with the help of Google Cardboard. Unfortunately, I don’t get to watch The Simpsons anymore, but checking out the VR experience provided a hefty dose of nostalgic relief and a few laughs too.

You don’t have to use Google Cardboard, any VR viewer will work. I used my SleekPeeks® VR Viewer, download the app, then downloaded The Simpson’s “Planet of The Couches”. The experience provides six different fully-immersive scenes with 360 degrees of things to look at. Check it out!

10 Commandments of Direct Mail Marketing

For your pleasure, 10 Commandments of Direct Marketing set in proverbial stone.

  1. Thou shalt include clear calls to action.
    Just as its name implies, it’s important to be extremely direct with direct mail marketing. As a business, your job is to motivate people to do something: visit your company website, request a free sample or even purchase a product you’re trying to sell. It’s important for your call to action to be concise and to the point.
  2. Know thy target like thy know thyself.
    The better you know your prospects – who they are and what they want – the more likely your message will resonate with them effectively. Not only will this help you better tailor your direct mail pieces, but you’ll also increase the likelihood of encouraging your prospects to react to your call to action (see point 1 above).
  3. Thou shalt use responsive design.
    Research indicates that nearly half of mobile phone users feel frustrated when they visit a site that’s not mobile-friendly – and who could blame them? In this day and age mobile phones, e-readers and tablets are the preferred way to access websites and email. So, if you and your business can’t keep up, you’ll probably be left behind.
  4. Thou shalt not fear staying true to thyself.
    How do you make your product or company stand out from the rest? Don’t be afraid to take inspiration from others and to make each direct mail piece your own. Use color schemes and logos unique to who you are. iBeacons, virtual reality headsets, LED lighting and pop-up books are a few ways our clients have set themselves apart in their marketing.
  5. Thou shalt track.
    In order to know which pieces get the best response, it’s essential to track the results from each and every direct mail marketing campaign. Not only will you be able to send your mailers with confidence, but you’ll also know who responds to your marketing and have an opportunity to follow up.
  6. Honor thy needs of thy customer.
    No matter how you spin it, the customer/ prospect’s needs always come first. Are they looking for a new heart medication or an organic make-up line? As a marketer, your job is to solve a problem that your customer has. Remember that.
  7. Thou shalt provide value.
    Can your direct mail piece be multi-functional? A great example of this is our pop-up cube pencil holder. Not only does the piece provide information of what a company is trying to sell or promote, but it also has longevity – recipients have kept these pieces on their desks for weeks or months because of their value. It’s a win for both.
  8. Remember to make mailers creative.
    Here at Structural Graphics and our online offering, Red Paper Plane, we use dimensional print to get people’s attention whether it’s a DIY snowman or an origami gift card holder. No matter what you’re looking to promote, we’ve got a fun, effective and creative way to do it.
  9. Thou shalt use proven techniques.
    Perhaps it’s a unique selling proposition. Or maybe it’s a web key that encourages recipients to visit your website. Whatever has worked for you in the past, use it.
  10. Thou shalt always tell a good, compelling and powerful story.
    Enough said.

Ready to get your direct mail on? Give us a call at 860-767-2661 or shoot us an email. Together we can make your direct marketing really pop.