Remember printing? You know, where actual ink is put on paper? Yes, it’s still a thing. There are so many digital marketing options available that we often forget about the effect that printed pieces can have on our audience. Contrary to what you may hear, print is not dead, nor will it be any time soon.
With that said, there have been changes in the printing industry that can affect the way you set up and print your pieces. Printing is not the same as it used to be. If you aren’t in the design and printing industry, these factors may not seem to make any sense. It’s just printing, how hard can it be?
Where should I print my project?
This is a bigger question than you might think. Yes, price plays a part but there are other aspects that can inform this decision as well. Below are some factors that can play into your printing decisions.
The number of pieces that you will be printing will obviously change the pricing. BUT did you also know it may change the type of press your piece is printed on? Offset printing with traditional inks is no longer the automatic choice for a color project. If you have a lower quantity (fewer than 500 to 1,000 pieces), your project is likely to be printed on a digital press instead. So what does that mean for you?
Digital Printing vs. Offset Printing
What the heck is the difference anyway? Without getting too far in the weeds, here is a brief explanation of these two processes.
Offset Printing – when traditional press printing comes to mind, this is what many old-school business people think of. All of the colors that are printed are made up of four inks (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, or CMYK if you’re in the know like us fancy-pants designers). Different colors are created by varying the percentages of each of these colors. Designers can get very specific with color, so we love this kind of control. In other words, if we want a specific shade of green, we can use that particular formula in our files. When it’s printed, it should look exactly as we expect it to. This is handy when you have very specific brand colors that need to be matched on multiple pieces.
Digital Printing – unlike traditional printing that has a mathematical formula attached to colors, a digital press takes your file and converts it based on the printer’s parameters. Then, out it comes – much like printing on your printer at home (but with much better quality). Because this process isn’t based on known ink formulas, color consistency can vary widely among different companies.
Why should you care about how your piece is printing?
Well, part of marketing and design is choosing the right materials and processes for your project. While digital printing can be more inexpensive, it does come with a few trade-offs. If you’re working with a designer, they can and should make recommendations for the production of your project based on all of the parameters necessary. Keep reading for some common considerations when planning a print project.
Paper options for your printed piece
First, paper options may be limited with digital printing. If paper quality, color, or texture is important to your piece, you may want to re-think a digital press. Remember, the type of paper is part of the overall design – don’t underestimate what the right choice can do to elevate your piece. Choosing a paper that doesn’t suit your purposes can bring a great design down.
Print project timelines
Are you a last-minute planner? The timeline can definitely dictate what printer is right for your needs. Typically digital printers require less setup and therefore have shorter timelines to complete your project. If you’re on a tight schedule, an offset press might not be an option for you. Talk to your designer or print vendor – they can give you realistic timelines for production if this issue comes up. It pays to think ahead to maximize your options, but sometimes projects need to be done FAST. Digital printing can take the pressure off for those quicker timelines.
Color matching your printing
As mentioned earlier, offset printing gives you more control over specific color matching. If your brand relies heavily on exact color reproduction (think Tiffany blue or Hermès orange) the ability to dictate color formulas and have a consistent output is key.
Certain colors are more difficult to reproduce digitally than others. Your designer can set up the file for the best possible outcome, but you’ll need to have realistic expectations when printing digitally.
Special features or finishing
If your project is a custom format or size, or it requires a special process like embossing, engraving, foils, die-cuts, etc., these are important to consider when choosing a vendor. While some of the printing itself may be done digitally, you’ll need a vendor that is comfortable handling the extra design touches you need. Print jobs that are more complex will often be handled by multiple vendors to get the finished piece your company wants.
Ready to print your marketing piece?
Yes, all of these factors can be overwhelming. No need to worry! As your design partner, Annatto will handle the whole process—from file set-up to printer management—so that you can sit back, confident that you will receive the marketing piece that you approved.
Have a printed marketing piece in mind? We’re happy to talk with you about your goals to create a strategy that works for you. Remember, printed pieces can often serve a secondary purpose on the digital side of things. At Annatto, we always look for mindful strategies. The potential to convert a print piece into a digital piece for your website or emails helps you to make the most out of your budget and marketing efforts. Send us a quick email to get more insight on how this can work for you.