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?
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
These pieces all have one thing in common (besides meeting my recycling bin): they’reboring. 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
“Marketing” is a broad term that embodies a wide range of activities and disciplines that promote and sell a product. It casts a wide net that is open to interpretation; and when you throw alcohol into the equation, well things can get a little crazy.
(Wait, what happened last night?)
First thing’s first. When you are marketing in the alcoholic beverage industry, the same basic marketing rules still apply.
Your 4 P’s: Product, Price, Place, Promotion
So, how exactly do these relate to alcohol beverage marketing? Let’s break it down.
At the risk of stereotyping, there are certain alcohols that appeal to a younger crowd that do not appeal to older folk, and vice versa. My dad loves his tried and true Tito’s (really, Tito’s, my dad is your biggest fan – going on 10 years strong which is some serious brand loyalty). I, on the other hand, the millennial in all of my glory, am more likely to try something different simply because the packaging catches my eye.
It’s no secret that our generations shop differently: my dad has been going to the same mechanic for years, whereas I go wherever the deepest discount is, or wherever the most convenient location is.
A study in Australia determined that adolescents were more likely to gravitate towards ‘alcopops’, a.k.a. booze-y drinks that have very little actual booze in them – malt beverages, wine coolers, etc. – because the packaging is designed to look like a soft drink.
Everyone loves a good discount. It is common knowledge that if we will get a discount on buying more, we will buy more (see Sam’s Club, Costco, etc.) whether we really need it or not. And not to much surprise, when we buy more, we consume more. Shots, shots, shots shots, shots, shots, shots shots…
Price discounts and promotions can have a huge impact on volume of alcohol purchases. They can be a key marketing tool for producers and retailers.
Location, location, location. Anyone who has ever been in a liquor store knows that those places can get pretty crowded. So many brands are trying to promote their products on the shelves or even at the register, so it can be hard to stand out and get the consumer to pay attention and make them want to buy.Did you know that companies pay top dollar for prime shelf space in the stores?
But once you have that spot, how do you stand out among the rest of the bottles of the shelves surrounding it?
Diageo was wondering the same thing, so their agency came to us looking for new ideas of how they could boost sales in stores. This was the first time they have ever done anything like this – and viola, they were so successful, that they have already placed their second order!
How exactly do they work? These case tuckers were tucked in between the shelves in between the bottles, promoting and drawing attention to their products.
Case tuckers are a unique way to sell your customer directly while they are shopping, begging for customers attention. These most certainly trump the Sharpie and neon signs you see on every shelf promoting cheap liquor and practically screaming, “DON’T DRINK ME.”
Alcohol promotions are everywhere. Sponsorships, advertisements, commercials, events, the list goes on. Increasingly, alcohol is being promoted more and more via social media.
Do you need to promote your liquor brand, or unveil a new one? A truly exciting and creative way to do so is to host a PR event. And that’s exactly what Bacardi Brands did with when they came to Structural Graphics to create their Dewar’s Influencer Kit!
The Marketing Arm came to us to develop and design this beautiful Dewar’s influencer kit. The kit was for a PR event unveiling two new brands, Craigellechie and Aberfeldy, and showcases each in a storybook format appropriately titled “The Tale of Two Whiskies”.
To read more about this super cool launch, click here!
It’s no secret that no matter what you’re promoting, you need a way to stand out amongst the crowd. Need to reach your audience? Give yourself some height by adding a little dimension to your brand.
I think we can all strongly agree on one thing: saving money rocks. Whether it’s a 20% off coupon to J. Crew or a few cents off of a gallon of gas, we are all looking to save a little somewhere.
And if you love direct mail as much as we do, we have some extra good news. The first steps towards a rollback of postage pricing began with the USPS posting the new rates for this spring. While it’s still uncertain around the implementation date, this is awesome for mailers. Most commercial mailers will see rates drop around 4.1%, depending upon class of mail and level of sortation. Woo hoo!
We love direct mail, so, naturally, this gets our stamp of approval. To see a breakdown of the proposed postal rates, visit http://pe.usps.com.
The Flapper, one of Structural Graphics’ exclusive patented designs, is kind of like a book you just can’t put down. Kids love it. Adults do, too. What makes it so unique is the way it folds continually into itself, revealing four separate layers of messaging ranging from text, photographs and even QR codes.
Even better? They’re incredibly versatile. Not only can they be distributed as a flat self-mailer, but they range in sizes, too. We’ve produced Flappers that were very small (3” x 3”) as well as ones that are about the size of a standard piece of paper (8” x 11”). Clients have used them as magazine inserts, designed them to look like tablets, and have even included scratch-offs and coupons inside. The possibilities are endless!
But how exactly do you use a Flapper?
Here are a few tips to get you started:
If you’re using our French Door style (i.e. the one with a vertical front opening)…
1. Starting on the front side of the Flapper, fold open until the left and right flaps are folded back to display the second message panel.
2. Continue following the natural folds of the paper until you get back to your original panel.
If you’re using our Dutch Door style (i.e. the one with a horizontal front opening)…
1. Starting on the front side of the Flapper, fold open until the top and bottom flaps are folded back to display the second message panel.
2. Continue following the natural folds of the paper until you get back to your original panel.
Click here to visit our Instagram feed and see the Flapper in action.
Ready to design yours? Take a look at our Flapper How To Guide then let us send you one to play with and inspire you!
You know, sometimes the last kid to be picked for the volley ball team isn’t always the worst.
And lately, a similar thing is being said about healthcare agencies at the ad industry’s top award shows. 4A’s Partner Award has pushed healthcare agencies into the spot light. We love you, healthcare agencies! (We even liked you before you became cool.)
“While not close enough to rub elbows with the Don Drapers and Peggy Olsons of the ad world, at least they’re being invited. This wasn’t always the case.
Even just in 2013, Advertising Age asked: “Are healthcare agencies and their clients the last group in the ad world not to attend the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity (arguably the Oscars of the industry)?”
But times change. And now (drum roll, please) the titular head of the industry itself — the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA or 4A’s), a 98-year old trade association has gone a step further. They’ve added a “Health & Wellness” category to their 2016 Partner Awards.
“And with this year’s Health & Wellness category we have the opportunity to honor the collaboration between agencies and organizations that promote health and wellness. Entries can include campaigns for corporate branding, education and awareness, and OTC, lifestyle, devices and pharmaceutical products.”
It’s a big market. In 2014, healthcare agencies garnered $4.3 billion in revenue up 10.3% from the year before.
Marylyn goes on, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and the rebounded agencies were more innovative and more diverse than ever before. In the interim many shops had changed the dynamics of their traditional deliverables, branching out into areas that emphasized collaboration.”
Essentially, healthcare agencies are the underdog.
All-told, it made for a perfect fit for the new 4As’ Partner Awards. The brainchild of the 4As’ Chief Marketing officer Alison Fahey, the Partner Awards were intended to be a reflection of the times. “We realize there are unique challenges that occur when individuals and companies with different personalities and cultures collaborate to achieve a common goal on behalf of a client,” said Fahey. “We wanted to salute those who put their egos aside for the greater good of creating meaningful work. As evidenced by the 4As Partner Awards 2015 winners, the very act of collaborating can elevate creativity to new levels. The jury did a great job of choosing the best creative collaborations in the marketing and communications industry.”
To enter the 2016 4A’s Partner Awards submit entries by Dec. 18, 2015. Winners will be revealed at the 4A’s Transformation Conference, March 22, 2016, in Miami, FL. For further details, please visit http://partnerawards.aaaa.org/
So, it’s that time of the year again… and even if you don’t love the chaos of the holiday season, there’s one thing we can all agree we love: food! In honor of the upcoming holiday, here are some juicy Thanksgiving food facts to chew on.
At Structural Graphics, we are well known for creating highly visually appealing, dimensional masterpieces out of paper. One of our most popular requests are dimensional houses and buildings, which can be great for making an announcement of a new location (restaurant, business, school, etc.), announcing a renovation, creating a cozy holiday scene – the possibilities are endless!