Paper stock: How picking the right one builds your brand

paper and branding

A unique quality of printed communications is its tactile aspect: it communicates not only by sight, but also by touch. What you touch, of course, is paper.

Paper types

Paper comes in a wide range of styles, each with a different feel. The two big categories are:

  • Coated papers: Magazines, for example, typically use coated paper. The most common finishes are (in order of shininess) gloss, dull and matte
  • Uncoated paper: The interiors of books use an uncoated sheet. Uncoated paper comes in smooth, vellum, and antique (the most textured), as well as many unusual finishes.

Paper and branding

Paper communicates emotion. An intelligent paper choice can support your marketing goals and brand attributes.

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For example, if you are a 75 year old foundation with a mission in human services, you may choose an uncoated paper for an annual report. As the oldest type of paper, uncoated stock conveys the substantial history of your organization. The texture gives a warm feel to graphics. Uncoated sheets absorb ink, so photos feel warmer and less sharp.

If you are a new organization with a focus on technology, selecting a coated paper conveys a bright, clean and modern look. Ink sits up on the surface of the sheet, so crisp photography looks brighter. A coated sheet also reflects more light, so the paper looks whiter and cooler, more like a computer monitor.

On the other hand, choosing paper that contrasts with your branding can create a sense of surprise and novelty — powerful tools in print communication.

Both categories of paper are now made from recycled materials. But since the first recycled paper available was uncoated, the uncoated sheet is most closely associated with sustainability.


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About us

LevinsonBlock is a Brooklyn-based healthcare marketing agency that specializes in mid-sized organizations. Our clients include healthcare providers such as FQHCs, disease foundations, and healthcare technology firms.
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