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I had an email from a print rep the other day, saying he was coming to town and hoped to meet with me to show off some new samples.

He was shocked when I replied and told him I was no longer buying printing, but was now a copywriter for the web.

We emailed back and forth about some of the changes in the printing industry. He mentioned that the large, highly regarded company where he works had sold off a couple of its large presses and reduced capacity. I told him about my tour last year of an all-digital plant that didn’t have a prepress department, but did have an HP Indigo web press, one of the first installed on the west coast.

Read more of my perspectives on the future of printing →

Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story…

Quality check of finished banners before they shipped to Squeaky Green Organics

In part 1 of my trade show displays crash course, I discussed vendor and manufacturer considerations.

In Part 2, I will share with you the many questions that I’ve discovered are crucial to ask before designing or producing a display that will work well for the user and for the trade show.

Read more about trade show displays →

Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story…

When I was a novice print production manager, a few highly experienced print reps took me under their wings and  gave me offset printing crash courses. This on-the-job print education helped me make my agency and our clients look good—and kept my feet from landing in the poop more times than I can count.

Lately I’ve been producing portable trade show displays for my clients, and although I’ve produced them before, I’m finding that the many considerations and materials choices available today make producing these displays quite complex.

If you’re in the young pup stage of this kind of production management, you may find this trade show displays crash course useful.

Read more about print management for trade show displays →

Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story…

I think I’m pretty good at writing instructions. Not long ago when I ordered some items online, I wrote these:

Seems simple, right? But here’s what the shipper wrote on the carton:

Ha ha! Not exactly what I thought I had asked for (but admittedly, it was BIG).

As I recycled the box, I mused about how easy it is to think we’re giving clear instructions when, really, we’re not. And in this electronic era when people communicate face-to-face or voice-to-voice much less often, more weight than ever falls on clearly asking in writing for what we want.

Read more about clear instructions →

Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story…

Is that schedule padded?

In my book, a slightly padded project schedule is a good thing. If the client changes her mind, a new solution can be created. If the carton of paper is damaged, the ink won’t dry, or there’s a back-up in bindery, the deadline can still be met.

As an added bonus, studios look good to clients when the product still delivers on time, or even delivers sooner than promised.

Read more about scheduling →

Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story…

Imagine my excitement

A design and strategy firm’s e-newsletter caught my attention this week. It featured an annual report the firm had produced for a client in both print and interactive form.

In describing the project, the strategist’s number one point was, “Print is not dead.” It went on to tout how print’s tangibility effectively supports brand communication.

Print is Still Integral

I am excited to see a design firm pitching the stance I’ve been promoting for over a year: Print is (still!) an important, integral aspect to any brand’s strategy.*

Granted, print design was not where the new business was to be found over the past two recessionary years, and hungry creative firms had to be responsive to what prospective clients were willing to buy.

But I’m happy to see this evidence that the pendulum is swinging back toward design and brand strategy professionals regarding print as a critical brand communication vehicle.

Hot tip

If your design firm has dropped print design from your sales pitch, I suggest that you add it back in—before the other guys beat you to it.

* See my blog articles, Brand Learning Styles and the Place of Printand “…People crave color and texture, the tangible and the real.”

© 2010 Nani Paape

Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story…

In a past job, I planned and coordinated the installation of artworks in public spaces. On the days leading up to an installation, my mind would be full of worst-case scenarios as I mentally walked backwards and forward through the installation steps: “What if that cable breaks?” “What if those fasteners won’t work on that wall?” “What if that hand-painted silk fabric gets torn?”

My answer to these questions came in the form of my Just-In-Case bag, a huge canvas bag into which I would toss that reel of extra cable, alternate fasteners, bits of silk and thread, and any other solutions I thought up as those worries crossed my mind.

Sure enough, the installation team almost always needed one or more of the items I brought along in that bag on installation day.

Takeaways for project planning

Pre-planning for any project is like that, whether it’s an offset print project or a content plan for a website.

It involves walking through the project steps and milestones to figure out what extras should be tossed into the Just-In-Case bag.

If you’re the kind of person who notices whether the condiment bar at Starbucks is in a logical place in the store’s layout (yes, I do!), this kind of thinking process will come naturally. I think of it as good flow.

I have thought about that old canvas bag this week as I’ve worked on finalizing specifications for a complex casebound book project. I have pored over the design PDF and have mentally walked through all of the production steps. I have explored the final, crucial steps of custom binding and finishing for answers to: “How should the gatefold pages be set up?” “Will these folds work right?” “How will a single flyleaf page be attached?” “What size should endpages be in relation to the text and cover?”

I have been putting the answers in the bag, answers the designers will need to incorporate so the book will move smoothly through every production step along the way to becoming an exquisite finished product.

Projects in the bag

Contrary to myth, project planning can’t eliminate every obstacle. But thinking a project through from end to beginning to end is like filling a virtual Just-In-Case bag. This process anticipates and sidesteps as many obstacles as possible and ensures a more nimble response to those unavoidable surprises.

© 2010 Nani Paape

Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story…

In the previous article, I discussed designers’ challenges of maintaining consistent brand color. This topic stirred my curiosity, so I contacted Jim Raffel, a color expert I’d connected with on Twitter, to learn more.

Introducing Jim Raffel, color measurement pro

Jim is co-founder of ColorMetrix Technologies, LLC, a company that develops color verification and process control solutions for the printing and consumer packaged goods industries. Jim explained that these customers adopt color measurement systems to help them deliver consistent color in printed products.

Read more about brand color management →

Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story…

I’ve been observing changes in the the traditional logo design process.

Logos are now being developed for web use first—both as static marks and ones that incorporate motion graphics. Secondarily the logo designs are extended to the print medium and two-dimensional uses.

By reversing the more traditional design process order, this new paradigm presents greater complexity and challenges, including accurate translaton of RGB color to Spot or CMYK inks.

Read more about brand color challenges →

Another Printing Disasters—and How to Avoid Them story… fourth in a series of tips on how to save money on printing.

Tip #4: be buttoned up

Back in my ad agency days, one of the highest compliments you could pay someone was to call them buttoned up. Buttoned-up people are organized. Together. On top of things. No missed details. No “oops!” moments.

You will save money on printing by being buttoned up—both when you place your printing order and at every stage of the print production cycle.

Buttoned-up jobs go more smoothly than disorganized, scattered ones. And printers like jobs to go smoothly just as much as you do!

Read more about how to be buttoned up →

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© 2009-2015 Nani Paape & Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material in any form without express and written permission from Nani Paape is strictly prohibited. Are you aggregating my copyrighted content onto your website? If so, it's polite to at least ASK instead of just waltzing off with it. WITH my permission, SHORT excerpts and links may be used, provided that full, clear credit is given to Nani Paape and, with appropriate and specific direction and link(s) to the original content.