Folding Style: Traveling Snake Fold
Subcategory: Snake Folds
Family: Roll Folds
Level: Intermediate
Uses: Events, Marketing, Fundraising, Print Marketing, Product Announcements

This featured format sounds a little creepy, but it’s not. The Traveling Snake Fold is a Roll Fold that unrolls into a unique configuration—“traveling” so-to-speak, in whatever way the designer envisions. It is a great example of creative direct mail. If you’re unfamiliar with Roll Folds, the panels roll into one another, each panel getting a little smaller to tuck into the previous panel. This concept is fairly simple for a classic Roll Fold that unrolls in a linear fashion out to the right. But what if you wanted to unroll over and down and over again and back (maybe like a . . . snake)? Well, now you’re in Traveling Snake Fold territory.

This example of the Traveling Snake Fold was designed by Michele Welsh as a fundraising piece for My Sisters Circle, an organization that mentors at-risk girls. The interior spread builds on the statement “Here. We. Go.” and shares alternating profiles of women who have been helped by their programs. The back of the brochure has one dynamic, full-bleed image. You can see the entire layout in the Marketing Ideas video below.

snake fold

Sample: Michele Welsh for Sisters Circle, creative direct mailers: snake fold

There are endless versions of this format, however, some versions are more practical than others—this can be due to the panel configuration on the sheet (ganging/nesting or not), and potentially the proportion if it’s designed to be rectangular and mail-friendly. Today, I’m focusing on this practical configuration, which you’ll notice occupies a rectangular perimeter shape, and a rectangular panel proportion that can self-mail or fit into a standard envelope:

folded mailers
Traveling Snake Fold: great for print marketing and creative direct mailers

The dieline for this format (in any variation) is tricky, due to the changes in folding direction, the layers of rolling panels, and the subtle shortening of the panels (compensation) that have to be made to accommodate for the dimensionality of the sheet. If you look closely at the dieline image above, you’ll see the subtle shifts in score placement and panel length—but don’t stress out about making it yourself. You can download the dieline for this version of the Traveling Snake for free here. Baseline recommended paper weight for this format is 100 lb Text – 80 lb Cover.

Production Notes: Traveling Snake Folds are always folded by hand—even in large quantities. This is not one of those formats that can be machine folded if the run length is high enough (although maybe, just maybe, somebody in the long run mail business could do it if they tried hard enough). With that said, this is a high impact format, and the fact that it is hand-folded should not discourage you from considering it for the right project.

I’ll also let you in on a little secret: LOTS of folded materials are hand folded (non-specialty formats included), even when they can technically be produced by machine. There are different reasons for this related to scheduling, makeready spoilage, and operator skill, but for example sometimes on lower quantity runs, the machine set up can take longer than just having a couple of people hand fold the product down. So, don’t rule this fold out.

The Traveling Snake Fold Done 7 Ways

The Traveling Snake Fold is not something you see every day, so you may be wondering where it can fit in your marketing mix. Below you’ll find 7 real-world creative ways to use the Traveling Snake Fold, which includes a fun little bonus video featuring 3 additional variations of the format. I thought it would be interesting to give you a feel for how flexible and creative you can get with this design.

2 Traveling Snake Fold Ideas for Marketing:

Sample #1 Michele Welsh for Sisters Circle / #2 ENPOINTE for Healthland

This first design was featured in the photo above. When brought to life on video, you’ll see how nicely the layout flows with the message, and the clever way the full-bleed photo serves as the background for the cover and as a poster-like image when unfolded. In the second sample, I love how the circus theme is played out, with the different illustrations of circus acts that tell a story as you unfold the piece. The concept demonstrates that running a hospital shouldn’t feel like a circus. The last interior panel leads to a specialized hospital workflow software system called Centriq from Healthland.

2 Traveling Snake Fold Ideas for Events:

Sample #1 McGuffin Creative Group for Veritiv / #2 Graphic Visual Solutions

The first sample features a deluxe invitation for the Veritiv Chicago Paper Show—so, of course, gorgeous paper is as much a part of the design as the layout itself. There’s a heavy duplexed cover with fuschia foil stamping detail. The interior features a stitched-in Traveling Snake Fold that unravels to create a poster promotion for the event. The result is very beautiful and unexpected.

The second sample starts in a sleeve in a square proportion. The sleeve has a very exciting UV coating on it called “Motioncoat” which gives the image a sense of movement when the light strikes it. The interior piece is personalized to each recipient. This is a great example of custom direct mail. It’s bold and bright, and it has a wonderful subtle shimmer because it’s printed on a pearlized white cover weight stock.

3 Traveling Snake Fold Variations:

Sample #1 Wilde Agency for Print Art / #2 ENPOINTE for Patterson Dental / #3 Miller Brooks for Kimball Office

Now that we’ve got a good feel for the Traveling Snake, let’s look at a few ways to shake it up a bit. The first example is a simple little piece with a panel configuration that stair-steps over and down, over and down. Simple color blocks and typography help to organize the content. The next sample is a very unique Shaped Traveling Snake that rolls out to the right, then turns a corner and heads back in the other direction. The curved corners create a really interesting shape that’s fun to open. I also like the simple imagery and the subtle shimmer effect of the paper.

The final sample is a true favorite of mine. It’s a very special piece that was designed to promote a new modular line of furniture from Kimball Office, and the Traveling Snake Fold follows the shape of a gorgeous custom sectional sofa. The colors and design choices are truly spectacular.

Love it? Make Your Own Traveling Snake Brochure

So, now that you’ve seen 7 creative ways to use this fold, would you like to try designing your own folded mailers? Good! (You could even print your own invitations.) Design and print your own Traveling Snake Fold here—you can download the template for free and get instant pricing, too.