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Decorative covers: 5 minutes with… Steve Middleton

In an increasingly frenetic media world, how do magazines stand out from the crowd and win reader loyalty? One way is to make the front cover extra special. We grab five minutes with Steve Middleton, sales director at Celloglas, to find out what interesting things publishers are doing with their covers.

By Steve Middleton

Decorative covers: 5 minutes with… Steve Middleton

Q: What are the trends in decorative print finishing?

A: There is a definite trend towards quality and luxury within print finishing. In the past, brands like Lidl or Aldi would have had a simple stitched product without any finishes on the cover, but in recent years, we have seen these brands opt for a soft touch (velvet feel varnish) with a gold foil block which elevates the brand in the eyes of the consumer.

Q: What are publishers trying to achieve with decorative covers?

A: Publishers are looking to differentiate themselves from the competition with different cover finish combinations. You see publications like Wallpaper and Wired going for a contemporary gritty matt UV which works for their customer base whilst other publications opt for foiling on the mast heads etc. Ultimately, publishers are trying to build a brand, a relationship with the consumer, a familiarity which leads to trust and decorative finishes help to establish the ultimate feel of the publication. Keeping abreast of innovations in decorative finishes is essential for all publishers.

Q: Is decorative finishing for consumer titles only, or can B2B titles get involved too?

A: Decorative finishes are for both consumer and B2B titles. Innovations in machinery about ten years ago enabled decorative finishers to apply two varnishes at the same time, so B2B publications which had previously had a one-process finish, such as an overall gloss UV, can now combine a matt and gloss in the same pass. But you’re not just limited to matt and gloss – there are other combinations that can be applied such as soft touch varnish, rough matt UV, textured varnish, fragrance varnish and pearlescent varnish. All of these can be combined with another varnish to make a unique and cost-effective impact to a publication.

Q: How do you see decorative finishing evolving over the next couple of years?

A: I foresee a growth in decorative finishes as brands come to realise how the packaging of their content is perceived by the consumer. There are lots of choices; for example, using uncoated stock (to look urban and streetwise), gritty matt UV (contemporary feel) or velvet lamination and foil (luxurious). For the planet conscious, there are also eco-friendly films and varnishes. There is a decorative finish for all types of publications – it’s just a question of understanding the range of finishes and the different effect each has on the publication.

Q: What tips would you give publishers to help them get the best out of their decorative covers strategy?

A: A few suggestions when formulating a strategy for using decorative finishes include: think about applying decorative finishes to just the subscriber copies and monitor feedback; try applying special finishes to inserts for added advertising revenue; consider one of the multitude of different folded front covers such as barn door, gatefold and even a zip perforation which enables customers to essentially unzip the front cover. This is very interactive and adds “stand out”. In short, there are finishes for every budget…

Q: Over the past twelve months, do any particular covers stand out?

A: There are quite a few! One of them is Love magazine for its use of a combination of faceted foil and soft touch varnish. Boat International uses uncoated stock but they have created a hand taped spine effect by simply embossing the differently colour printed spine, and this has proved very effective. Olive magazine regularly picks up Front Cover of the Year at the PPA Awards and they spend a lot of time getting their cover just right; last year, they used Magenta foil with a textured mast head (in the foil) and high build silk screen varnish simulating the sauce running down the food product. Planet Rock launched their new magazine about three years ago and used Mirriboard for their front and back covers which enabled them to have a multicoloured foil look with just the use of four-colour print.

About us

Celloglas is an established supplier of decorative print finishes to the magazine publishing sector and offers an extensive range of creative solutions. Setting specialist high-end titles apart with elegant effects, adding interactive innovations and making large run seasonal editions extra festive are just some of what Celloglas offers.

0116 2631010