In the business world, a poorly designed invitation
can easily get lost in the daily pile of junk mail.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure these
pieces stand out from the pack. A good invitation—
and its corresponding event collateral—should make
people excited to mark down another commitment
in their calendars. These three smart strategies
can keep those affirmative RSVPs rolling in and
enhance the event experience itself.
1. Think first, design second
No matter how tight a project’s schedule, Joseph
Nother, the creative director and founder of
that every good invitation starts with a strong concept.
Take the time to think about how a piece is
going to be used and explore the ideas and details
behind the event at hand. If you know what’s driving
your design choices, he observes, you’ll also get
quicker buy-in from clients.
Steve Sikora, creative director of Design Guys
in Minneapolis, echoes
those sentiments. Materials should reflect the event’s
purpose, he says, rather than an aesthetic that the
designer wants to experiment with. “Try to be evocative,”
says Jay Theige, a senior designer who works
with Sikora. “What does it feel like being at that
event in the best possible interpretation?” An invitation
should set the scene accordingly.
2. Be detail-oriented
It’s also key to understand the parameters of a project
as soon as possible. For example, Theige learned
from his client that the invitation for a recent project
would have to fit in a No. 10 envelope, a detail
that determined the invitation’s finished size. A client’s
preference for gathering RSVPs can also affect
design decisions. At IE Design + Communication
in Hermosa Beach, Calif., designers
put together invitations for one client’s company
meeting with the understanding that RSVPs
needed to be returned by fax. As a result, reply
information was presented on a fairly plain 8½ x
11-inch sheet as opposed to a small card or as part
of the invitation itself.
In other cases, a tight budget might force you to
grab attention with outside-the-box creativity. Nother
recommends browsing the aisles of local hardware
and secondhand stores: An affordable accessory just
might be the perfect finishing touch. For one client’s
event, Nother’s team created inexpensive take-aways
from old records that were purchased for pocket
change at the local Goodwill. The record sleeves were
updated with event-related graphics, and guests got a
memento they would be more likely to keep because
they could check it out at home.
The success of many invitations relies on shape,
feel, or unusual touches. Designers at IE address this
issue by taking the time to create detailed mock-ups
of proposed designs. “We’re cutting and folding and
doing everything we can to make it as final as possible,”
says designer Kenny Goldstein. “It really flushes
out a lot of problems.” This approach also means no
surprises for the client, who gets to appraise the look
and feel of the final materials firsthand.
3. Use the right accessories
The first job of event collateral is to make things
clear for attendees—they need to feel welcome and
know where to go. But before you dive into a signage
system, make sure you understand the venue
where things will be displayed. For one client’s
company meeting, IE Design wanted to create eyecatching,
oversized banners. But, ultimately, those
just didn’t work in the rooms. Instead, the team
went with 24 x 36-inch boards that could be set on
easels in the appropriate locations.
When a client looks to you for ideas on what
types of collateral to create, remember that sometimes
the smallest items make the biggest impact.
“Just try to come up with unique solutions,”
Goldstein says. “They don’t have to be costly.” He
suggests items that attendees can take home, such as
coasters. They’ll add energy to the event and keep
people talking after the last guest leaves.
posters to promote
signature event. This
year the firm played
off a highly recognizable
the Riveter—to draw
attention to the community
and sale. After shooting
their own image,
the firm reproduced it
as a duotone (Pantone
123U and 541U) to
stay within budget.
Where yellow and
blue areas are heavy,
a tone close to black
is achieved, giving the
poster the appearance
of three-color printing.
The admission ticket
for the event (middle image)
did double duty for
the raffle door prize,
with space for guests
to write their names in
... another great idea
for tight budgets.
The program at right outlines the evening’s
attendees with a quick
rundown of activities
in a lively vertical
format. Like all of the
it’s emblazoned with a
powerful slogan: “The
Strong and Beautiful.
Then and Now.”
An eclectic mix of
for the campaign
Gothic, Univers and
Rosewood Fill and
Neenah Paper held
events in New York,
Chicago, and Los
Angeles to promote
the launch of new
papers based on the
work of Charles and
Ray Eames. These
foldable “save the
date” cards functioned
as desk toppers and
invited recipients to
touch the elegant textured
Furniture Cover here).
Design Guys created
Design Guys chose
Eames icons, images,
furniture, and colors,
all laid out on a modernist
grid, to portray
the namesake designers
the paper’s capabilities.
the images was the
classic Eames lounge
chair and ottoman;
these were door prizes
at the three receptions
held in association
with the launch.
An invitation by IE Design + Communications
for an Alliance
meeting plays off the
event's Dallas setting with a western theme. Playful graphics add an element of that helped generate interest in the medical
imaging firm’s event.
items—like a note
about the weather or a reminder to bring an umbrella—were emphasized by placing them in colorful circles and icons.
Design on a dime
Special touches don’t
have to break the budget.
A twine tie was
an inexpensive way
to extend the western
theme and capture
attention. “It’s supercheap,”
Kenny Goldstein, commenting
on the twine.
“You can get it at any
hardware store. It’s $2
for a roll.”
Knowing that RSVPs
would be returned by
fax allowed IE Design
to create a low-cost
solution that was still
in keeping with the
style. Printed single
color on colored, textured
stock, the reply
form proved ideal.
Display type used
in the invitation and
other materials recreates
the look of
printing with big,
bold letters and justification. A mix of
Rosewood and Gazz
fonts makes the illusion