Best Print Designs of 2021

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5 Easy Tips for Effective Print Design

Don’t Ignore the Bleed Area

In print design, a bleed area is the excess printed area that will be trimmed off. It often contains design inconsistencies or uneven edges due to the ink, and taking note of the excess space and removing it for a sharper print design is imperative.  

You might notice when your company’s designers are creating collateral, that some of their elements and shapes protrude the edges of the design -- and many times, a smaller secondary dotted line can be seen inside the file. This is because they are anticipating a bleed area and designing with it in mind. When creating physical prints, anticipate removing about three to six millimeters to ensure consistent creations.

Logo Design Program Bleed Area


Bold colors are a major 2018 graphic design trend, and while they are easy to achieve digitally, they can be tougher to reproduce in a physical print design. But one tactic can saturate your designs and eliminate unwanted white space: Overprinting.

Any time you print something, your computer and printer simply utilize one layer of ink. For example, your background won’t be printed underneath your ornate typography -- only the top layer will be produced. However, this can leave unwanted and unforeseen white spaces called ghosting, which tarnishes the overall design -- as seen in Spoon Graphic’s example, right). Utilizing overprinting in reprographics ensures that each layer is printed and the design stays intact -- much like two layers of paint in a home.

Additionally, overprinting can be used to create bold colors and saturated effects by layer the ink on top of one another. Be careful not to overuse overprinting, though -- too much can muddy your design.

Pine Trees Overprinting Print Design Example

Think Outside The Lines

While aspects of graphic design support advertising and marketing initiatives, it also serves to build a strong brand identity. By doing so, you’ll see stronger customer loyalty, better brand awareness and, ultimately, more conversions.

So, if you keep your brand identity and what your consumers want to see in mind, you’ll likely see that thinking outside the box -- and maybe coloring outside the lines a bit, too -- will further this goal. Don’t be afraid to try an edgier concept or implement a new design element, as long as it’s balanced with tried-and-true aspects such as white space and legible typography that keep the design user-friendly.

Graphic designer Alen Lipus’s 3D Typographic Posters are a strong example of this. Instead of settling for a flat design, he created the illusion of depth, incorporated bright hues and capitalized on the major social media trend of oversized font balloons to create unique announcements that break the norm.

Best Print Design Outside The Lines

Typography and Readability

Legible, beautiful typography is intrinsic to effective print designs. They directly influence emotions and conjure memories and associations. And since 65 percent of consumers would rather purchase from a company they have an emotional connection with, typography is an element worth investing in.

But investing in unique fonts doesn’t mean you need to go overboard -- typography can be subtle, like Muni Coffee Co. Their sans-serif type-based logo -- which is found throughout their branding -- is simple yet recognizable. What’s more? “Muni” incorporates a slight speckling, similar to tin coffee cups used during camping trips. This gives every design an air of simplicity and comfort, furthering the brand identity as a whole. 

Muni Coffee Company Print Design Typography

Keep The Grid

If you want to break the rules, first you have to learn them -- and the no. 1 rule in design is to stick to the grid.

Consumers have ingrained patterns and ways in which they best consumer information -- it’s why the F pattern is so popular across the board. They cultivate an organized design that communicates information easily and thus, enables consumers to better retain it -- such as Milton Glaser’s Underground Images. These designs, although intricate and engaging, are incredible symmetrical and follow a clear grid. This allows the political message he wanted to convey to better permeate, ultimately making the design more successful.

It’s not to say that you can’t break the grid now and then. However, before you do, take the time to understand your audience, their likes and dislikes, and the print designs that have done well (and those that have not). This will tell your team whether or not your consumers will appreciate a more abstract layout. But when in doubt, grid it out.

Milton Glaser Subway Print Designs Grid

5 Examples of Incredibly Creative Print Designs

Honda Motorcycle Maze

Geometric patterns are a major 2018 design trend, so it’s no wonder Honda incorporated this mesmerizing design element into their print advertisement.

The ad focuses on the ability to “ride your way.” While a monochromatic maze may not seem to push the message of personality, the intricate maze actually does. The front of Honda cars, buses and trucks morph into gray blocks that create an intricate maze. However, no two vehicles are the same shape, visibly symbolizing unique identities with each automobile.

In this print ad, Honda shows that no matter what traffic you hit or roadblocks come your way, they will be there, able to support your needs -- whatever they are.

Honda Motorcycle Maze Best Print Design

Alzheimer’s Day

The best print designs are able to connect to audiences’ emotions, bringing in 31 percent more revenue. This advertisement from Publicis for the Belgian League of Alzheimer boosts awareness for Alzheimer's Day in a poignant manner.

The most noticeable aspect of this design is the newspaper page, which is almost completely wiped clean. This smudged-like erasing visibly showcases the number of information Belgians with Alzheimer's will forget just hours after reading their own morning paper. Subtle text in the lower left-hand corner describes this, putting the visual into context without distracting the audience.

Overall, this ad is very effective because it is able to put the struggle of Alzheimer’s at the forefront of the design without cluttering the page -- and readers’ attention span -- with unnecessary information. It displays how simple print designs can often be the most effective.

Alzheimer’s Day Best Print Design


It’s no secret that grid-based layouts are often more successful than abstract and free-flowing designs. Users crave structure and organization, and a simple layout gives them that, ensuring that the information is easy to read and retain.

But we’ve never seen a grid layout like CARULLA Knives before.

Their creative print design aimed to showcase the clean precision their product can deliver in the kitchen by utilizing the negative space leftover in classified newspaper ads and bus terminals.

While at first being difficult to discern (especially the classified advertisement) the designers created an incredibly unique graphic without losing any structure. CARULLA Knives catapulted themselves into consumers’ mind by showcasing the product’s value in an extremely creative way.

CARULLA Knives Billboard Ad

Alexander Nedelev

Designer Alexander Nedelev combined minimalism with pop culture to create a moving print design that becomes more emotional the more you look at it.

Each of the three designs resembles an iconic video game -- Pac Man, Space Invaders and Arkanoid -- but features a hunted animal, creating a backdrop for a deeper conversation.

The three prints all have a small amount of text at the bottom, detailing the effects of overfishing, overhunting and general environmental harm. The most important design element, though, is the gray text that reads “it’s not a game anymore.” Certain letters are bolded to read “it’s not me,” showcasing how we are all accountable for our world.

Alexander Nedelev Top Print Design It's Not A Game

El Universo Newspaper - Pins

When it comes down to it, print advertisements are created to showcases a business, product or service and implore people to use it. Designers and advertisers want to tell as much information as possible in the most pleasing way they can.   

Agency Koenig & Partners took this idea and ran with it when they created their Pins ad campaign for El Universo. The designs all promote the same entrepreneurial course, which claims to help business owners spread awareness about their company.

Understanding that people remember information better with the help of images, they played off of the universally understood location symbol but transformed them into adorable storefronts. The elaborate illustrations, sweet color palette and minimal text -- complete with a simple, catchy tagline -- tell the audience everything they need to know.

El Universo Newspaper - Pins Print Design

5 Print Designs That Will Promote Your Business

Business Cards

According to Adobe, business sales increase by 2.5 percent for every 2000 business cards that are handed out. Unfortunately, 88 percent of distributed cards are thrown away within one week. That means only the best of the best live to inspire business growth.

Business cards are imperative for small and advancing companies. Carrying the transportable information around allows entrepreneurs and executives to build brand awareness and foster potential professional partnerships -- and the best way to make sure your card stays in the small percentage of retained cards is to create an informational, beautiful business card.

London-based agency Boundless designed on-brand business cards that maintain functionality while still standing out as a unique design. The bold black and white hues are a chic contrast, while the handwritten type on the front drives home the brand identity and keeps the card recognizable. The business cards also have the option of standing up tall; however, it is still easy to fold and place them in a wallet. These business cards are transportable, unique, legible and functional -- everything a good lead generator needs. 

Corporate Print Design Business Cards

Print Ads

Print ads' overall effectiveness in the digital age dwindling. However, they still bring in billions of dollars in revenue every year. In major cities with billboards -- such as Los Angeles -- or with various printed collateral -- like New York City’s robust subway system -- print ads can reach thousands of unsuspecting audiences with ease.

Print advertising campaigns can achieve several different goals and often couple well with marketing initiatives that signify a new brand identity or product release. They key is to ensure your print ads are modern, captivating and highly targeted.

OkCupid released a series of colorful print designs by Wieden+Kennedy in early 2018 that focused on high-quality dating. The bold colors and abstract ideas portrayed piggy-backed off major national conversations. The designers placed these ads throughout New York City subway cars, grabbing the eyes of singles (and there are over 8 million of them) and ensuring a wide reach on the popular transportation system. 

OKCupid DTF Print Advertisements


While website banners may not technically be a print design, they certainly require a graphic designer to create and are imperative for businesses. In fact, revenue from banner ads is expected to grow to over $27 million.

There are several tips and tricks that will make your banner ad more successful, such as utilizing color psychology to influence consumers’ moods and integrated animated graphics -- a design trend that is exploding in 2018 and can grow companies 49 percent faster.

Website banner layouts should also be strategically designed to effectively capture new consumers. A readable font and negative space allow your call to action to take center stage. What’s more? Take care to make sure every type of banner is perfectly sized -- this way, you’ll avoid pixelation and poor layouts. 

Print Design Website Banner DesignRush


Seventy-seven percent of marketers believe a strong brand identity is crucial for future growth -- and part of that strong branding is reinforced through cohesive visuals on all platforms.

What’s more? A consistent and cohesive brand identity builds credibility -- and clients and business associates want to work with a credible brand. Therefore, branded stationery is a great investment -- particularly for corporate companies that send a great deal of personalized printed information and conduct formal communication.  

Stationery -- such as Gong Vo’s -- is the perfect place to subtly reinforce the brand through small logos, signature color palettes (which studies show make brands more memorable, too) and ultimately ensure that your company is on the forefront of your partners’ minds.

Print Designs Stationery

Graphic Designs

The digital age has transformed traditional print designs, ushering in mediums like email marketing and social media. They’re effective, too -- 59 percent of marketers say email is their most effective marketing channel, and Internet users between 18 and 34 are 95 percent likely to follow a brand on social media.

This means that digital channels see plenty of exposure and have endless conversion potential, and it’s worth your while to channel some of your designers’ time into creating engaging image banners for your email marketing campaigns or designing branded posts for social media -- like Refinery29 and Brita’s motion graphic Instagram promotion.

This colorful design brings Brita’s products to a younger demographic while maintaining the publication’s overall aesthetic, matching the style of their other designs well.

Refinery29 Graphic Designs Social Media Instagram Post

Unexpected Print Designs Your Business Should Utilize


Eye-tracking studies have shown that images that also contain information are more likely to be viewed and remembered. In fact, the more relevant the image, the longer they looked at it.

This means partnering high-value images, graphs and charts with important copy will actually increase brand awareness about your company. While designing a brochure may seem very 2001, it is an easy and effective way to get spread information about your company to people AND ensure they remember it.

Brochures are especially useful for businesses with brick and mortar storefronts and companies that do a lot of corporate events or client-based work. For example, people may not be taking copious notes in a pitch meeting -- but they’ll surely remember your success rate when you arm them with a beautiful brochure as they leave.

Real estate agency Brookhill Properties struck the perfect balance of visuals and information in their property brochure. Emphasis is placed on the rooms within the available home, with small text simple saying the room the image was taken in. This very streamlined information is just enough to intrigue potential buyers to learn more.

Brookhill Properties Brochure Print Design


It’s easy to brush direct mail marketing to the side, but the fact of the matter is that sending physical print designs such as catalogs is still effective. According to the 2017 Data and Marketing Statistical Fact Book, over 100 million people purchased from a catalog.

Several different design strategies have helped direct mail marketing initiatives such as catalogs maintain a reputable ROI -- Neiman Marcus’s latest Christmas Book hits every one. Their annual catalog is high-quality and resembles a stunning magazine or coffee table book more than it does a simple catalog. The Christmas Book maintains a strong brand identity of luxury and style as well.

Perhaps the smartest strategy Neiman Marcus employed when creating their 2017 Christmas Book was integrating a social media aspect into it. Prior to its production, they held a social media contest to create a cover out of 1500 user-generated images. This gave their catalog a modern and trendy feel, and got users excited to see the final product.

Neiman Marcus Christmas Book Catalog Print Design


Eighty-two percent of U.S. adults are loyal to certain brands, and much of this loyalty is fostered through personalization and friendly interaction. Creating stunning invitations for various events -- whether physical print designs or digital -- are an excellent way to drive home that personal connection with consumers.

Everything from internal gatherings (which boost company culture and, ultimately, your bottom line) to pop-up shops can take on a special feel when invitations are issued. What’s more? Although they place more emphasis on brand values and overall experience, millennials, in particular, will also spend up to 21 percent more at a company with strong customer service. This makes something as simple as an invitation to a public pop-up shop of experiential exhibit reach a new level of importance.

Hidden Dinner executes this well with their email campaigns. The traveling restaurant maintains an air of exclusivity with their “password protected” dinners. However, they still foster community and personalization with their beautifully designed email invitations that detail their next location.  

Print Design Business Event Invitation

Fact Sheet

Thirty-seven percent of marketers say that visual marketing is the second most important form, behind content marketing at 38 percent. The good news is that you can double down on blogging and design with the help of a fact sheet.

Similar to the ever-popular infographic, a fact sheet couples quick copy with a beautiful, organized layout to inform readers in a quick snapshot. Despite a digital world, fact sheets are incredibly important -- particularly for large meetings, conferences or even internal company information. Plus, when you branch out from a basic email and give partners, employees and clients something a little more interesting, they are more likely to remember the information.

Fact sheets can be a simple slip of paper or a more robust “book,” like Tricon Capital’s annual report, which outlines the company’s concrete success to business partners in a visually appealing and engaging manner.

Tricon Properties Fact Sheet Print Design Corporate

Brand Book

Maintaining a consistent brand identity is one of the most important things your company should strive for. However, without hard-and-fast guidelines to follow, it’s far too easy to let little style elements slip through the cracks.

This is where a brand book saves the day. A brand book is a hefty long-form design that outlines appropriate branding guidelines for your company, from logos and fonts to mission statements and elevator pitches to acceptable imagery standards.

While it may seem like a lot of work for a mostly internal document,  printing a comprehensive brand book doesn’t just help the design team. It tells the entire company how to pitch the brand, frames ideal professional partnerships and even informs press kits for public relations purposes. It is all-encompassing and will certainly elevate your visual identity in the long run.

Need some inspiration? Digital publishing platform Medium showcases how to create a strong brand identity with room for growth in their complete brand style guide.

Print Design Business Brand Book Medium