I am privileged and grateful to work for a company that is constantly inquisitive regarding all aspects of the graphic arts industry, not just paper per se. Everyone at all levels of the organization is constantly engaged in some level of research. What I most respect is that we aren't trying to validate something we think we already know, but rather that we go through due diligence seeking out all resources as well as retaining experts for their assistance. Case in point is the amazing research that went into our new Print & publication. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, you can read about it on our website here. There is an extra-ordinary wealth of information, data and insights contained within. The research is meant to be accessible and shared hence the various Quick Response codes throughout the publication especially the one on the inside back gate-fold cover that leads you to numerous articles and research papers. It is a thought provoking accumulation of excellent graphic arts information, neuroscientific research studies, print data, facts and statistics that build a case not only for Print, but rather the inter-relationship of Print & Digital media in the evolving world of communications and integrated marketing.
One subject that we discuss with optimism throughout our organization is “The Flight to Quality.” Originally, a term coined in the financial market, its application in the Graphic Arts is the observation that quality makes a difference. Printing will continue to evolve but what is still being used can have higher impact. In terms of ROI, you get back what you put in. After nearly a decade of declining marketing and design budgets - with the case made for efficiency, and lower production values: print went through a period when is was used less purposely. This can be very frustrating for designers and printers, because as corners are cut, it in turn diminishes their ability to realize their fullest creative potential as well as the power and effectiveness of the medium. As an industry, we should strive for creating original, evocative, and aesthetically engaging work. We should fight for better printing with multiple colors and specialty inks, better grades of papers, special effects and finishing techniques—all effectively demonstrated in Sappi’s The Standard 5 publication. Today, if designers decide to produce high-quality printed work, it is a more than a conscious choice. It’s collectible, memorable and makes a statement. Investing in beautifully designed collateral, not only expresses craftsmanship and imagination, but reaffirms the level of quality associated with the brand being marketed. Our primary task as designers and marketers is to differentiate our companies and/or clients from their competition in the markets. That implies understanding both the customer’s and the competition’s mission and the ability to strategically create unique and memorable pieces that will capture attention, set a tone, and establish positive associations for a brand. We are a sensual and tactile species and love to have all of our senses stimulated. Print can offer numerous options. And it truly is not as costly as one may think, given how print runs are now shorter, more focused and micro-targeted. More importantly, the challenge is getting the decision and policy makers to migrate away from a cost per unit mentality in favor of a cost per response (or cost per sale) point of view. That truly implements the essence of “The Flight to Quality.” Does that make sense?
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