Graphic Jam

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6 super creative printed marketing pieces that use embellishments for maximum impact

Great design + high quality print + embellishments create a tactile experience that a PDF file just can't compete with!

6 super creative printed marketing pieces that use embellishments for maximum impact

ABOVE: Fifi loves a good treat as much as the rest of us. We suspect that when she receives a CannaBiscuit snack, it's a similar feeling we get at Carbon Graphics when seeing the fruits of our labour in the form a high-quality printed label on the CannaBiscuit packaging!

BELOW: CannaBiscuit Canada provides hemp-based supplements and healthy hemp & insect treats to pet stores across Canada. Read more about these tasty treats here.

Carbon Graphics provided the high-quality labels for the packaging. We printed the Hermetia, Hemp & Honey labels with an iridescent effect so the colours change at different angles and lighting, making the packages jump off the shelf at retail!

Cannabiscuit Packaging
Hermetia Hemp And Honey Packaging Labels Cannabiscuit Iridescent Printed Label

What are Embellishments in Printing?

Marketing and design folks know how to create memorable experiences. With its tactile nature, print is a proven method of creating strong connections. One way to take it up a notch, get more attention, and make even stronger connections is to usse what we call embellishments. 

Embellishments are applications typically added after the printing process. Things like die cutting, foiling, embossing/debossing, and applying various coatings.

While these may sound like common processes when it comes to printing, the huge impact they can have is amazing. Think of the feeling you get when unboxing an Apple product. When you run your fingers over an embossed report cover, business card, or direct mail piece, you’re engaging at a deeper neurological level.

Studies in the haptics field have shown that when something feels as good as it looks, a larger portion of our brain is activated and we become more likely to buy. Embellishments can generate a greater ROI.

Back in the day, embellishments were only affordable if you were printing many thousands of copies. With advances in print finishing technology, most embellishments are possible and affordable when printing small quantities on digital presses. 

BELOW: Double-thick Premium Business Cards. These cards are simply beautiful to look at and hold. Fronts and backs are printed separately and then glued together. Soft-touch laminate is applied followed by raised gold foil. The final step is to paint the edges gold! 

Pro: cards are thick enough that chances of a paper cut are virtually eliminated. Con: if thrown carelessly, someone could lose an eye.

Double Thick Business Cards With Gold Painted Edge 1 Copy
Double Thick Business Cards With Gold Painted Edge 5

What Kind of Printing Embellishments are Available?

Die Cutting

One of the more common embellishments is die cutting. Traditionally, the printer would have a die made, mount it on the die cutting machine, and load up thousands of of units to be punched out. While this is still a common manufacturing method, digital die cutters now allow us to die cut in quantities as low as 1.

Not only does digital die cutting allow affordable die cutting on short-run print jobs, it speeds up time to market because several days are removed from the process of making a physical die.

With costs and time removed from the process, die cutting is affordable and possible on even the shortest run print jobs.

Varnish and Coatings 

Varnish and coatings were originally applied to printed pieces to protect them. Products like magazines and direct mail which get handled a lot were usually coated to protect from scratches, smudges, and fingerprints. A glossy coating would not only protect the image but help make the image "pop".

Today, most coatings are aqueous (water-based) which are more environmentally friendly. Finishes are available in matte, gloss, or satin and coatings can be applied to the whole sheet (a flood varnish) or to select areas of the printed sheet (a spot varnish). Soft touch lamination coating makes a printed piece feel silky smooth. A report or proposal cover can have a great impact by using a soft touch laminate matte background with the title in a raised clear spot varnish.

Embossing & Debossing

The embossing process is very similar to die cutting - minus the cutting part. Embossing creates a raised pattern in the substrate by pressing a pattern or image onto the sheet, rather than punching it out. Debossing depresses the image into the substrate, creating a concave impression.

We've all seen (and hopefully received!) fancy embossed invitations or someone has handed us an embossed business card. In either scenario, you just can't help running your fingers over the embossed portion.


If you're looking a high-end printed piece, foiling will add a shiny metallic look and finish. Foil brings a look of luxury and "bling" that’s sure to catch the eye. In addition to wrapping salmon, foil is commonly used on wine labels and packaging products to increase the level of sophistication. Foiling can be applied with heat (hot stamped) or glue (cold stamped).

Many new digital printing presses now have the capability of printing metallic toner which can result in highly impactful pieces without the need for additional embellishment steps after the printing process is complete.

Custom Digital Printing And Laminating Examples

ABOVE: An assortment of high impact marketing pieces. Our own Carbon Graphics recycled notebooks are giveaways for our customers (call if you need some!). The insides are actually scrap blueprints that we cut down to size and use for notepaper. The covers are recycled cover stock with a simple coil binding.

"The Gathering" Invitation is a high-quality personalized piece. The die cut triangle base is printed in bulk, die cut, and scored. Each rectangle insert is unique, customized for each recipient. Gold foiled and hand assembled for maximum impact.

The circular record labels are digitally die cut and kiss cut so the backer can be easily peeled off. 

BELOW: This pocketed folder contains no embellishments beyond the gorgeous Via Felt paper. This high-end paper has a textured finish that you can see clearly in the photos and wish you could touch right now. An absolutely stunning, well designed, and effective marketing piece.

Pocketed Folder Via Felt Paper1 Pocketed Folder Via Felt Paper 2
Pocketed Folder Via Felt Paper 3 Pocketed Folder Via Felt Paper 4
Pocketed Folder Via Felt Paper5

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