Looking Beyond Traditional Print to Build Relationships with Brands and Potential Employees Alike
I recently came across this article taking a closer look at a promotion for an upcoming Disney film, Elemental. The entire premise of the article is about a marketing promotion seen in a mall for the movie, using decals on a wall. In particular, the article calls out the fact that it includes a photo-realistic decal of a fire extinguisher — which is cute and fits with the theme of the movie until you start wondering what happens if there is an emergency and someone tries to grab a fire extinguisher only to discover it’s a very well-done sticker.
And that’s not the only case of marketing or other highly visible print making the news in recent months. Whether it’s an error in the printing, a mistake in the design, or a case like the Disney decals where perhaps an idea is great in concept but needed a bit more thought, print can sometimes magnify when something goes wrong. Unlike a digital mistake that can be quickly corrected and the brand can move on, print is a bit more lasting.
As printers, it is tempting to just take a file or job and run with it. We take the time to preflight to ensure the file itself won’t have any issues on press, but the actual content — and end result — of the piece is beyond the scope of the work. At least, that’s how many think of it.
In a world of value-added services and trying to create deeper relationships with brands and print buyers, however, I would encourage you to approach this a bit differently. Instead of accepting that the creative coming in is not part of your job, this might be a great place to bring in someone dedicated to checking files not for errors that could impact printing, but to proofread, to check for odd design elements that might not be what the client intended, or even to question how the print will be used. It might not catch everything, but it is a service that could go a long way toward making you a hero to your customers — catching just one spelling error on a highly-visible marketing piece, or catching a design element such as the Walmart t-shirt before it actually gets produced could cement you as a true partner to the brand, spending the time and effort to help them protect their brand image beyond just getting the colors right.
You might be saying, but we already can’t hire for open positions, now you want us to consider another? There are a lot of young professionals looking to break into the creative side of the industry — they have graphic design or creative degrees, and print just isn’t on their radar. However, if you have a position in their shop that is focused on the creative side of the process, now you’re exposing them to the industry. You’re allowing them to get a foothold in to see what print is really all about, and talk to their friends and family about print. Perhaps they will even realize they want to try their hand at the print process itself, and you’ve got someone working on the presses that is excited about what you do, and has a background in design and creativity that can only be a benefit to your operation.
It's another way to think about print, about its role in branding and marketing, and about the people we are trying to attract to the industry. Thinking outside of the traditional, proverbial print box might help you grow your business in ways you never imagined.
Toni McQuilken is the senior editor for the printing and packaging group.