Progressive Annual Report – How Nesnadny + Schwartz Uses Paper Specification to Create Award Winning Annual Reports

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There are just some projects that are iconic, and the Progressive Annual Report is at the top of the list. Mark Schwartz, the late founder of Nesnadny + Schwartz, built his career on bold moves – and the boldest had to be in 1982, when he called up the CEO of Progressive and offered to take photos for their annual report. Since then Nesnadny + Schwartz’s annual reports for Progressive have won more than 500 national awards. And one look at this year’s report, it’s easy to see why. But there is a tremendous amount of work that goes into producing such an amazing finished piece. We ought to know, Parse & Parcel constructed the paper dummies for the project. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing the progression of a project from concept to production.

An Annual Report with No Ink

They don’t get produced the way they once did, but annual report design has not lost its creativity.  In this bold annual report for Noble Development created by Farmgroup – the piece was produced without one drop of ink. The creative team let the paper be the star of the show, employing strong print techniques like embossing, die-cutting and unique binding to carry the company’s message: “be different. be noble.”  I have to give as much credit to the AE on this one as the creative. I can’t think of too many CEO’s that would opt for such a daring statement – but more really should.

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The secret to producing such incredible results lies within the paper stock.  With all the folding going on in the bindery, if you use too heavy a basis weight you run the risk of cracking, but with such few pages you need the piece to have some heft to it reinforcing the messaging.  This is where samples play a critical role in the process. To insure you’ll get the kind of results you’d expect, order a mock-up on the actual paper stock you’ll be using.  In this case, the annual is on three different stocks in very bold, yet corporate colors: white, black and gray. The paper has a simple, raw surface allowing the tactile feel of the sheet to be the textural backdrop for the heavy embossing and die-cutting techniques. To learn more about mock-ups and what’s in the sample studio – join Parse & Parcel .

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Spring Cleaning

Neenah_waterfallI don’t know about you but I have been loving the weather over the past week. It’s finally warm enough to open up the windows, let the fresh air in and blow off the dust left behind by winter. This is when I am super-motivated to organize everything in site, and when I look around my office I realize I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Lucky for me Neenah has the perfect promotion to keep busy creatives organized and help stay focused on the task at hand – not to mention demonstrating some pretty amazing print techniques in the process. Neenah’s newest paper promotion, COLOR CODED, was designed by the creative team at Design Army and features Neenah’s flagship Classic brand of papers in a classic organizational tool – the folder.

The promotion is meant to inspire creatives by showcasing the papers in a fresh way, while conveying the hardworking spirit behind the brand. If you are familiar with this family of papers, you know they may be classic – but are anything but boring – and this promotion follows suit. There are six color coded folders in the piece, each one calling out different way the busy designer can utilize this classic element in a different aspect of their work.

Each folder is color coded with a message on the front, either in words or print technique, conveying its organizational usefulness: Now, $, Print Techniques, Score, The Competition and the Black Hole. My favorites are the Print Techniques folder and the Score. The Print Techniques folder pulls out a ton of bells and whistles, featuring silver metallic ink on the cover creating a pattern out of print registration and print slur icons. Printed on Classic Laid (gasp) Patriot Blue, that’s right a laid finish – trust me it’s anything but boring. The piece is a great example of how to utilize a darker color paper to make a big impact.folder_layoutThe Score folder is a great example of using a heavyweight cover to gain maximum effect. Printed on Classic Crest 165# double thick cover, the front features an x-pattern score – giving the piece a quilted, dimensional quality. The interior provides some scoring 101 tips, and as a bonus for all those designers who are crafters as well, a giveaway for a handy scoring tool.

A couple of things are clear with this promotion. Number one – the team at Neenah has been quite busy developing an amazing tool for helping creatives to stay on task with their projects. Number two – it’s easier than some would have you believe to print on beautiful colored, textured papers. Don’t take our word for it, see for yourself and sign up to receive THE PARCEL.