Paper Matters Blog
How to Spec the Perfect Paper for your Brand

We’ve all heard the buzzwords: omni-channel campaign, content marketing, storytelling…I could go on and on. We’ve all read the blogs and know they are essential considerations for developing (and maintaining) any brand. But one point often left out is the importance of print and paper to any brand. As a creative, you owe your brand the opportunity to get noticed, build engagement and generate loyalty—yet many designers aren’t aware of what to look for in a paper to assure these aspects come to life.


So, how do you select the perfect paper for your brand? Here are four pointers to get you started:


1. Consider the messaging of your brand.

Your medium should enhance your message. Both uncoated and coated papers can lead to professional results; the final choice depends on the feeling you’re trying to convey and the brand standards you’re adhering to. Uncoated paper provides a feel and appearance that comes across as trusted and sincere—and will amplify these messages in your brand instead of detracting from it.

Additionally, think of the type of imagery your brand will feature. Do you need vivid pops of color? A 98 bright white sheet, like Cougar® Smooth or Super Smooth, provides the perfect canvas bright color that commands attention. Looking to provide a feeling of nostalgia or add a trendy Instagram style to your images? Cougar® Natural will deliver a memorable printed piece.


2. Think long term. 

You may only have a need business cards when a brand is initially created, but what sort of printed pieces will you need over the life of the brand? Letterhead, direct mail pieces, envelopes, folders, booklets, posters, catalogs…the list of possibilities can go on and on. Also, consider what printing equipment you will use over the lifetime of your brand. While folders or booklets might be printed offset, a direct mail piece targeting a specific target market might result in quantities where digital printing is the best option. Going further, inkjet printing is a great option for high quantity pieces, such as catalogs or a high quantity direct mail run, where you want to also use variable imaging.

For best results, all the “main” paper needs for a brand should use the same brand of paper. When selecting a paper brand, make sure they carry a variety of weights and finishes, as well as line extensions for a variety of equipment. Cougar’s breadth of line is extensive—available in three finishes, two shades, a variety of weights with accompanying envelopes and options for both digital and inkjet printing.


3. Go with Quality.

Great print quality starts with selecting a high-quality paper that performs well. A common question I get from junior designers is “Does it really matter what paper I chose if it’s plain white paper?” I answer this with another question: “Are you printing images on it? Then yes, definitely!”

In all seriousness, whether you’re printing offset, digital or inkjet, paper choice has a serious impact on the final results of your printed piece. Trying to avoid ink mottle on large solid area? Cougar’s excellent formation is a great start. Don’t have time for a disappointing outcome on your quick-turn digital job? Cougar Digital Color Copy is three-star HP Indigo certified. Have a hard deadline for that important identity project? No worries; part of the reason commercial printers trust Cougar is its excellent runnability and printability, which can help keep jobs on schedule by performing beautifully. Simply put, the printed page is where great ideas unfold and brand stories are told—and Cougar, Lynx Opaque Ultra and many other Domtar brands are stocked and readily available at locations across the United and Canada. So, waiting for paper isn’t something you have to worry about when it comes to meeting your deadline. We make it easy to achieve a consistent look, time after time.


4. Does the product fit your values?

A brand’s reputation matters—a lot. And choosing a provider for any component that doesn’t align with your brand’s values can result in serious damage.

At Domtar, we’ve always held ourselves to the highest standards to be who we say we are. Our values and quality make us the paper company you can trust to reflect your brand’s reputation for excellence. Cougar is made with 10% post-consumer recycled content, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and always sourced through local North American providers. This makes Cougar a brand that’s easy to believe in.


On a final note, print and paper bring joy to the creatives that have worked hard to build and maintain the brand. After all, what designer doesn’t love the feeling of opening a box from your printer, smelling the ink and seeing a physical, tangible proof of your hard work? In many ways, print brings a reward and finality to your labor of love.


Need more information on how print and choosing the right paper can build your brand? Subscribe to our Paper Matters Magazine or visit our blog for more.

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Nicholas Pearson
Marketing Specialist
Meredith Collins
Customer Marketing Manager
John Parke
Customer Marketing Manager
Paige Goff
Vice President of Sustainability
Deborah Corn
Domtar Paper
Roland Basdeo
Graphic Designer
Susan Jones