The Ever-Changing Sign & Graphics Space
When the average person not associated with the print industry hears the term “print” the most likely category that will come to mind will be signage and the general graphics that make up the fabric of daily life. The jobs produced in the sign and graphics space tend to be among the most visible — and the most recognized — portions of print, but while at first glance they seem all-enduring, the reality is that this particular slice of the market is evolving and changing just as much as every other corner of this vibrant industry.
First and foremost, there is no denying that printers, on the whole, are evolving into something new(ish). The most successful shops are no longer focusing on a single type of technology, or even a single type of customer or service offering. Convergence might seem like a buzzword, but in truth it is the heart of the transformation all of print is undergoing. And when you add in the fact that not only are printers expanding into diverse segments, they are also starting to move into areas that traditionally weren’t the purview of printers at all, well, then you have the makings of a transformation that is already spreading rapidly and leaving no corner untouched.
“As speeds and requirements turn to brand strategy, they become larger impact points within our industry,” notes Jason Hamilton, solutions architect, Digital Imaging Segment, Agfa (Booth 8242). “Finishing, color and quality control, brand support, and working to best manage the execution and delivery of their brand standard and finishing standards into the market [are becoming more important to print buyers than cost].”
Brands, marketers, and print buyers of all types are no longer just in the market for who can print their files the fastest or the cheapest. Rather, as print shops evolve and add new services, they are offering new and innovative ideas to those brands, which allows them to become involved far earlier in the process. Printers have begun to brand themselves as marketing solutions providers, or communications providers, and that shift is a profound one, as it speaks to where this industry is going, rather than clinging to where it has come from. This isn’t a new phenomenon, nor one most every print shop owner hasn’t likely heard a dozen times already, but the reality is that the shift in that direction is picking up speed.