Penny Ohlman Neiman has been a strong force in Dayton, Ohio for a long time in the advertising, marketing, and communications business. So when they decided to re-brand themselves as The Ohlman Group I was a little surprised……actually not really. Since they hired David Bowman and then Richard Kaiser, I sensed a new commitment to the future. I’d met with David and Richard both recently and I knew they had lots of new ideas and really wanted to move forward.

Now for me to say I knew everything going on behind the scenes would be mis-leading. All I knew was Cindy (in charge of purchasing print, among other things) had contacted Mike Greenabout their new identity, and they had been talking about a few things, including using “Soft Touch” varnish on both sides of their business cards as well as die cutting round corners. So this one scared me just a little…when a high profile client like Penny Ohlman Neiman (PON for short), is doing a project like this for themselves, and they are talking about Soft Touch Varnish (something fairly new)….I’m concerned.


Solid Side of Card
Non Solid Side of Card


Here’s why.  I’m really not comfortable yet with Soft Touch varnish on all of our presses. A few ink people are saying this is the best thing to come along in a while, Soft Touch Varnish is supposed to emulate the feel of “Soft Touch” card stocks like Touché , Starwhite Soft Touch and others. These papers are really cool, but ultra expensive, so we try to get that feel with varnish or a coating.We’ve experimented with the soft touch varnish on a few jobs, but not with documented consistent results, and that’s important….especially with a tight spot color and a  2 sided job with full bleeds (yes, designers like full bleeds on the back of their cards).  So I’m just imagining everything going wrong on a tight deadline…..So I got involved.

Working closely with Cindy (at PON), we determined that 100# McCoy Silk cover, a #1 Stock with a rich silky feel, would be the best candidate. Plus, Mike actually did a couple of tests with the Soft Touch, the McCoy and the designated press…He said it worked, but with a bright solid orange printed on the back (yes, that full bleed) and gassing problems with this varnish in the past….I’m still a little worried.

This re-branding effort contained more than just business cards……there were letterheads, #10 envelopes, note cards, A-2 envelopes and post cards. Seems like a fairly simple job, but I know enough people at PON to be dangerous, and I’m just wanting everything to happen perfect….of course then Cindy calls me and tells me the deadline has been moved up by a week.

Front of 5.5 x 8.5 Post Card

Now in reality, this is a fairly common job for us (except the soft touch, which was new), and we have lots of other projects going on at the same time. So, in the end, everything worked out perfect. But we wanted to recap how we handled it for our “Branding” case studies. Everything other than the business cards were printed first, and allowed us to to set a baseline color for the orange. We got all that done the first day,so we knew what the cards should look like when we started on them the next day. In this case, we wanted to print shells of the cards so we did not have to re-invent the wheel (in our reality, we wanted the solid orange to be consistent, so we printed extras now). The real trick with these was print the solid side, and let it dry, then lay the soft touch on the next day, then repeat this process again. That’s 4 days on press….why?  Because with this varnish, we had experienced what we call “Gassing”  or Gas Ghosting in the past. To be simple, if you were to lay 2 sides with varnish on top of each other, the area under the varnish without ink lets out a gas, which leaves a ghost image on the sheet on top…just does not look good. Then to keep a consistent round corner on all 4 corners, we had the die cut. I don’t care what  anybody says, a round corner machine will show in-consistencies.

Other Pieces of the New Identity Package

Now, I know this is pretty boring story, especially if your not a printer or if this job is not yours. But I wanted to bring up the point about what really goes on in the back room when it comes to making a brand look acceptable…There’s a lot of thought and work put into it, and yes, although rarely seen there are some printers that are still very proud of their work. In this case Steve Harrow(along with a hand-full of other people) did an amazing job of making this brand look Great. And from what I heard, the Ohlman Group was really happy to.