8 Güd Questions
I am often asked for advice on ways to streamline production, and sometimes I offer solutions without being asked. Here are a few simple questions whose answers help to expedite the Güd Marketing creative and production process.
1. What is the intent for the final deliverable—will it be used on the Internet or on a printing press?
From time to time, everyone runs into issues during the prepress stage of a job, of which many could easily be avoided from the start. When first considering creative assets, such as vector-based logos or high-resolution photographic images, one must know the intent for the final deliverable. Will the piece be displayed on the web or a digital display or will the piece be printed on a digital or offset printing press? This question should act as the springboard for additional questions.
2. Are you able to supply files in the correct format?
The confusion comes when we do not know the correct questions to ask of new Güd Marketing clients. If the client does not have direct access to creative assets, many have worked with outside vendors who would likely supply the appropriate creative files to us.
For example: There is a huge difference between a vector-based logo and a raster-based logo. A vector-based logo uses a series of points to build shapes, and contains no pixels. Vector art is scalable to both smaller and larger sizes without losing the integrity of the design. A raster-based logo is similar to a photograph. It contains pixels or bitmapping, is scalable only to smaller sizes and may never be enlarged without losing its quality.
It is important to note that simply asking a client for an “EPS” file is NO guarantee that you will receive a vector-based file. Many raster programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, have the option to save EPS files as well. EPS stands for “encapsulated postscript,” and is a file type as well as a file extension. A file extension of .EPS does not determine the content of the file, but instead remembers the exact information included within it.
3. Do you have an available PROFESSIONAL photo library?
Many of our clients already own an exclusive photography library of professional images and stock photography. Some may have commissioned a photographer for specific imagery for advertisements, pamphlets or other supporting materials. It is always a great practice to ask a new client for a copy of their image library, so that designers know what imagery is already purchased and available to them. Having the client’s image library eliminates unnecessary, time-intensive image searches, which has the potential of using up the entire creative budget. Once in hand, the image library will also help to eliminate back-and-forth correspondence as the production deadline intensifies.
Professional-quality photos are normally at a resolution 300 pixels per inch (ppi). Photos pulled from a website or camera phone are usually of poor quality and are saved or down-sized to a screen resolution of 72 ppi. When converted to 300 ppi, the dimensions of a low-resolution photo will be reduced to approximately 1/3 of its original size. This is why it is important to remember that raster images cannot be enlarged, as mentioned above in question 2.
One easy way to tell whether or not an image will be the correct size for the job is by looking at the file size. Most low-resolution files are under 2MB. Generally, the larger the file size, the higher the resolution. It is always best to work with a high-resolution and size it down to the required specification.
4. Do you have a list of preferred vendors?
Even though a client may be new to our organization, they have likely formed relationships with vendors along the way. It is polite to ask if they prefer to stay with their existing vendors. You may also suggest using some of Güd Marketing’s trusted vendors, who may offer better quality and/or affordability.
5. Are claims made regarding your services/products lawfully verifiable?
All statements made in advertising need to be verified as truthful in order to escape making false claims. The Federal Trade Commission’s website is rich with advice for creating truthful campaigns. At Güd Marketing, we work with legal advisors to verify our work. Copyright law, disclosures, disclaimers, online contests and rules are some examples of information, which must be lawfully verified. Here is a link to learn more at the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
6. Is your company email address able to receive email attachments? If so, what is the largest file size can you receive?
Because most of our business correspondence is done via email, it is necessary to know the size of the client’s email mailbox and whether or not they can receive attachments. Most mailboxes are able to accept files below 10 MB. Some clients may not be able to receive attachments through email, due to employer email security settings and firewalls. This is an important and unavoidable issue.
7. What is the final in-hand due date for your project?
One of the most important questions to ask a client is often the easiest one forgotten, “When do you need it?” The client normally has a date in mind, but until the true information can be extrapolated from the intake conversation, we are forced to work to an arbitrary deadline. Working a job to an arbitrary deadline opens doors for other jobs to take a spot before it in the production queue.
8. How is the final deliverable being delivered? (self-mail, carrier pigeon?)
The work is completed; the job is done. Now what? Is the client picking it up from our office? Does the piece get mailed? Does it get shipped to a conference somewhere? We must know the answers to these questions prior to the concepting stage of the job, in order to meet the printing and mailing specifications, as well as shipping deadlines. It would be catastrophic to realize after the fact that a job was printed or delivered incorrectly.
A Tool of the Trade
One of my personal favorite trade sites for prepress problems or clarification is www.prepressure.com. I know that while most people would never use the site, it does contain a library of terms, visual samples and best practices – from design to prepress – and can be a useful tool to help explain production processes to our clients. If someone needs additional help, simply ask and I will help to get an answer.