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Direct Mail Circulars

Project Info

Duration: 2015 – 2018

Client: Harland Clarke, Vericast, Expressionery, iPrint, Checks in the Mail, NDA

Role: Graphic Designer

Mediums: Photography, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign

There are typical design elements to consider from color palette, mood, typography and more. It can be quite the cross-team effort to send one to production.

Kickoff & Research

Direct mail circulars, wraps, coupons, print ads are a marketing strategy tailored to a particular area/location or demographic. They are often combined with many other competitors in the same piece, which makes this method cost-effective, and easy to be a part of. They are usually produced on a very thin/light-weight paper, and is common to see saturated/contrasted colors so the information shows up well. The primary objective is to market a company’s product(s) – typically paired with an offer/coupon, helpful tips or reason to visit the company’s location or website.

I find it vital to have a kick-off meeting with stakeholders / marketing team to identify the intended target audience, discuss inspiration, details, specs and review any precedent pieces from previous campaigns. During this phase, information that conveys the overall emotion, and inspiration is helpful.

Layout & Sketching

I typically begin by laying out all the spec sized pages in Adobe InDesign. Circulars tend to have live areas where coupons on the reverse side may be cut. It is important to refrain from placing too much pertinent information in that area so it is not lost.

Sketch layout with safe areas for vital information.

I tend to mock these areas out on the pages as “unsafe zones” for promo codes, legal lines, etc. Copy is typically established by the time I get to layout, and I begin to block areas out for headlines and subheads. It may not be exact, but it helps me visual the space left over for photography and/or illustrations. I go to the sketchbooks and begin to thumbnail how the layout might work.

Final Deliverables and Lessons Learned

It can be all to easy to take print ads and run with them. I have to remember there are multiple teams involved who each have their own vision, it is vital to maintain communication to minimize revisions and maximize results. By designing circulars and wraps, I have learned the importance of communication, copy writing, and even how to package files up for seamless delivery for production.

Below are a few circulars / wraps I have formatted in the past. There is not a fail proof method to designing these types of layouts, but there some elements of design I pay attention to are call-to-action (CTA), hierarchy, balance, eye-movement, white space, and a basic visual unity for a cohesive look.


Disclaimer: The thoughts shared in this blog are solely my own and do not represent the perspectives of my professional relationships or clientele.


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