15 March 2013

Library Presentation Pocket Folder Design

Design of a new pocket folder incorporated elements taken from the recognizable past 
(watercolour image of Headquarters Library) and recently emphasized (mission statement 
language used in a bold corporate colour scheme) for a more dynamic marketing tool.
Want a way to keep yourself organized and be remembered at the same time? Consider a pocket folder, the relatively inexpensive stationery tool that can carry your essentials while also delivering your organizational image and branded message at the same time.

Pocket folders are a great way to present a collection of otherwise separate, loose documents together all in one convenient manner. They also offer an excellent opportunity to act as a "leave behind" product that can extend your organization's visibility well beyond the event at which they are first received. Use the folder to present information to people at meetings and events. Once the event is over and the shelf life of the information contained within expires, the pocket folder could potentially live on to remain useful by both containing new information and by continuing to keep your image in view. 

When I had the opportunity to redesign the corporate pocket folder for the Alachua County Library District, I reviewed the existing folder. It was about as minimal in design concept and material use as you could possibly imagine. It literally only printed its logo in one colour on the cover and inside pocket, and the paper choice appeared to be a flimsy, 8 point coated cover stock. Any thinner and it would have been a piece of writing paper. The message it presented was that the library, while getting kudos for being thrifty, was also being exceptionally cheap and unimaginative. 

I wanted to redesign the folder do some work for the library. I felt it was important to maximize the opportunity to be not only a practical tool, but also one that brought two existing and easily identifiable branding visual elements that had yet to be seen together into the presentation. The folder could act as "a bridge" by bringing together these two visual components of the library's visual branding elements: an old watercolour image and a new graphic presentation style dominated by bold colours, typographic styling and a newly refined logo treatment.

One of the library's long-standing and most recognizable images was use of a watercolour painting of its Headquarters building. It was the image that appeared on every personal library card, so it would be easily identified on the folder. You can see how the library card looks here:

Another more recently developed branding piece the library was beginning to use was its new welcome brochure. It utilized a bold colour scheme and prominently featured three important words identified in its mission statement: "participate, connect and discover." You can see how the welcome brochure looks here:

The watercolour image of Headquarters Library had been used for years, but it was both small in dimension and low in resolution too. It wouldn't scale up to a 10x14 inch pocket folder size without becoming noticeably pixilated, so I requested the Library Foundation—which had the original artwork—to allow me to photograph the painting. That way, I could start with a much larger, higher resolution image and save it for future projects as well. Once I received the original painting, I discovered that I couldn't remove it from its glass covered frame without tearing off a backing paper that sealed the painting to the frame. I had hoped to avoid shooting through glass because of the potential for light reflections and mirroring. Nevertheless, I managed to shoot the painting at an angle to avoid those things, then used Photoshop to correct the slightly perspective-distorted digital image created from shooting the watercolour at an angle.

The library also had two versions of its logos: one with its name under a book, and one with its name and a tag line to the side of a book. I recently updated both of these logos so they could seen better when displayed small. I had removed portions of the original book rendering and increased line weights for greater visibility so they would reduce instances of lines disappearing when displayed small. 

I wanted the redesigned pocket folder to have a colourful and bold quality like the recently created welcome brochure. To achieve that, I used big, diagonally placed bands of the same primary and secondary corporate colours to contain the mission statement words. The words were set using the library's corporate bold italic Arial font style. I angled the colour bands upwards from the back (where the words would be seen) to cross over the upper left of the front (where one of the bands would contain the corporate logo + tagline). This would allow me to utilize the space well and in an energetic manner, and to visually connect the front to the back of the folder. I duplicated and flipped the watercolour image so that it created a continual, seamless background image behind the diagonal text bands. This also allowed the roof of the building to poke up from behind the colour bands which was important for when the folder was viewed only on the back side.

Inside, the two, five inch pocket flaps would use the two primary corporate colours, display the primary corporate logo (the one that doesn't use the tagline), and offer a place for inserting a business card into die cut slits. 

For paper, I chose a heavier 12 point coated cover stock to make the folder sturdier and to appear more luxurious. Because the paper stock was already coated, I could leave one side unprinted to save on printing cost, knowing that the unprinted side would still present nicely due to its already coated sheen. The inked side was coated with an additional aqueous clear coat after printing to help reduce fingerprint smudging and to protect the printed surface.

Hopefully, this design example shows that although the pocket folder may be just paper, when used well it can go a long way to deliver not only your news, but how you want to be remembered too.

Before and after: the redesigned pocket folder (top three items)
along with the older pocket folder (bottom two white items).