Open for Business: Circle Locked Gate Fold Brochures, Invites & Cards
| Posted on 8/21/23

Open for Business: Circle Locked Gate Fold Brochures, Invites & Cards

For customers to connect with marketing, your message has to be open and accessible. And while Circle Locked Gates may sound counterintuitive, these gate fold brochures do just that. With a circle locking mechanism that opens to reveal your content in full focus, they’re the kind of direct mail that provides a gateway to serious success. See why our clients and Foldfactory founder Trish Witkowski say this small format packs a big design punch on brochures, invites, cards and more.

Six circle locked gate folds laying open and closed with holiday designs, open house information and meeting details.


Two hands holding three fanned-out gate fold brochures printed with marketing messaging and event details.

Keyless Entry

Part of our exclusive Designer Folds collection, the Circle Locked Gate kicks traditional print marketing to the curb. Coming together with an always-intriguing gate fold, it secures with interlocking cutouts that form a circle and add unexpected dimension to any message.


That circle is the perfect place for a graphic or logo. And as for the reveal, you get to play around with a center panel for your main content and two short gate panels that are ideal for details, supplemental imagery and more branding.


When you use Smartpress for your business printing services, you get premium paper stocks, vibrant full-color options and protective UV coatings, plus convenient features like Versions, which lets you create multiple locked gate folds with different designs and content but the same printing specs like quantity, stock, size, etc. (We love that one for saving time and saving your budget!)

And while the Circle Locked Gate stands out among the direct mail crowd, it’s versatile enough to fit right in with industries of all kinds. Think creative brochures for retail products and services, custom announcements for events, personalized invitations for nonprofit fundraisers or church celebrations, even gate fold cards for your business – small, corporate or otherwise.


Just remember to slip your Circle Locked Gates into envelopes. We offer four different A2 envelopes, and if you need help with your mailing – things like list acquisition, list processing and addressing – we’re the online printer that can do that, too (just reach out with a Custom Quote).


Hint: Our Designer Folds can be more than just gate fold brochures. Check out our other custom printing services with Designer Folds FAQ.



“The objective was to design a unique, die-cut invitation that surpassed the conventional flat card style.”


Two hands securing a custom invite with a gate fold and a circle die cut printed with Santa Clause and North Pole.


A holiday invitation with a gate fold printed with party details on the inside and illustrations of Santa and reindeer.

Beyond the Conventional

A truly multipurpose marketing tool, the Circle Locked Gate easily converts to your business’ needs. For Celeste Creative’s Celeste Czaicki, it was charming custom invites for a client’s annual holiday party.


“The objective was to design a unique, die-cut invitation that surpassed the conventional flat card style,” said Czaicki. “Plus, there was a need for a swift turnaround to meet the timeline requirements.”

Opting for invitation printing on 80# cover stock and a sophisticated flat matte UV coating – plus whimsical North Pole graphics – Czaicki’s final impression was a good one.


“The communication throughout the process was exceptional, with prompt and clear responses,” she said. “I found the pricing to be reasonable and [was] highly impressed with both the print product and the experience with Smartpress.”



“It needed to capture the guests’ attention and encourage engagement.”


Two hands holding a circle locked gate brochure printed with Above & Beyond and a blue and yellow cloud design.


Two hands holding open a gate fold brochure printed with Above & Beyond and 2022 Annual Meeting.

Capture Attention

As the marketing and communications manager for Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Mark Maliskey’s objective was big: send more than 1,000 gate fold invitations for an annual EDC meeting with regional leaders.


“This invitation was something that would be remembered by our guests and provide them not just an invitation to the event, but also an experience,” said Maliskey. “[It needed to] capture the guests’ attention and encourage engagement, leading to higher attendance and RSVP response rates.”

With an unexpected vertical orientation and cloud-themed design, “the Circle Locked Gate was a perfect format for our theme and imagery. It felt like you were opening the gates to the beyond,” said Maliskey.


With a specialty fold – along with Smartpress’ high-quality print – Maliskey’s custom invitations had the event flying high. “[We] received many compliments about the invite, and it set a high standard for future invitations,” he said. “Luckily, Smartpress has a wide variety of Designer Folds for us to dream up something amazing.”


Hint: Intrigued by the circle? Go beyond gate fold brochures with another creative direct mail option that goes round and round: The Shape of Success: An Accordion Fold Comes Full Circle.




Q&A with Trish

Now that you’ve got the basic specs and the first-hand feel, let’s get into the expert advice. Foldfactory founder Trish Witkowski shared her insider tips and tricks for how to design gate fold brochures that are exciting and effective – even in an envelope.


What do you like most about the Circle Locked Gate? What makes custom brochures like this so impactful?
“The Circle Locked Gate is a classic gate fold with two panels folding in toward each other to meet in the middle. However, it features a special modification: Each panel has a die cut (in this case, a half circle) with a vertical slit in opposing directions. When the panels meet, you cross and slide the half shapes together so they lock and form one complete circle.


“What I love about it is the ability to stylishly lock the cover closed and the forced interaction that the locking mechanism creates. It’s fun to slide the pieces apart, and from a design perspective, it’s a nice challenge both visually and conceptually.”


What are some ideas for how to use it? What type of content works most effectively for brochure printing like this?
“The Circle Locked Gate is a smaller format, which makes it great for announcements, events, trade shows, reminders, self-promotion and holiday greetings. This is not a format for heavy text. I love these smaller formats because sometimes your message is simple, and if you’ve ever tried to stretch your content to fill a large brochure, it can be really refreshing to work small.”

What advice or tips do you have for designing Circle Locked Gates for online printing?
“It’s all about the circle – that’s the focal point. To make this one work, you really need to do something interesting with the shape. Place a logo in the middle, a fun graphic, a geometric color pattern, a message that perfectly breaks between the locking panels – there are so many ways to work with it.


“With that said, be sure to mock it up and test your design before you print online, because any misalignment in text or graphics on the circle will be magnified, and you’ll never forgive yourself for the error.”


What’s the coolest way you’ve seen it used?
“I’ve seen lots of smart, creative uses for this format, but my favorite is a design for a 20th anniversary capital campaign, where they used the locking circle as a zero in the year 2020. Then they used circular photo frames on the interior panels. The design really worked both visually and typographically.”



“Think of direct mail as a way of slowing down the recipient and getting them to focus in on your message.”



This fold must be mailed in an envelope. Do you have any tips for stress-free mailing?
“The Circle Locked Gate is designed to fit perfectly into an A2-sized envelope, so any issues with enclosure size just float away. However, depending upon what you envision for your envelope color and design, the biggest piece of advice I can give is to start early with the envelope.


“Designers often think about the envelope at the end, but some envelopes are special order in certain colors, or if you need color printing or print effects, these things can take time. Also, some envelopes have order minimums, which may force you to search for alternatives. If your vision of a cool colored envelope has ever turned into a classic white wove, poor planning might be the reason.”

How can using this fold as part of a marketing strategy impact a business?
“Think of direct mail as a way of slowing down the recipient and getting them to focus in on your message. For example, the Circle Locked Gate could be combined with a digital campaign announcing a software launch at an upcoming trade show.


“The mailer could feature a special code or offer for people who visit the booth or view a demo. A targeted email tells people to watch their mail for a special show offer, then the Circle Locked Gate arrives and invites them to go online and register for a demo at the show and to bring the mailer with their unique code for a chance to win a prize.”

A collection of gate fold brochures lined up in rows and printed with various marketing messaging.

Open for More

With so much direct mail competition, having the right format with the right design has never been more important. And whether you design them in our online print shop as custom announcements, event invitations or gate fold brochures, the Circle Locked Gate format has your campaign success on lockdown.

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