September 2016

Navigating the Wild West of Digital Print

navigating digital printDigital print is an evolving terrain of possibilities for brands and packaging executions. On one hand, it can simplify and streamline once-cumbersome tasks; on the other hand, it can leave brands vulnerable in the areas of color accuracy and quality. Like any exciting expedition, one shouldn’t forge into the Wild West of digital print alone. Here is some practical advice for brands and their strategic partners to heed as they blaze new trails in digital print.

Adopt a concept-to-shelf strategy
Your product packaging’s final “moment of truth” (i.e. its appearance on the retail shelf) is dependent on far more than print production; success is determined much farther upstream. Only 10 to 15% of the new packaging systems we test have an immediate (and statistically significant) positive impact on purchase levels from shelf.1 By integrating packaging design with product strategy, versus treating it as an afterthought or final touch, brands can reverse that statistic.

Optimize behind the scenes
Adopting a concept-to-shelf strategy allows brands to scrutinize and optimize behind-the-scenes supply chain processes and workflows. Taking this holistic view and enhancing it with on-demand testing results in quicker, more actionable feedback and versioning in packaging. The result – heightened quality assurance, reduced costs and increased speed to market.

While the words “process,” “discipline” and “practicality” are not often used when describing creative work, designers who embrace the latest innovations in digital printing will not only benefit from supply chain efficiencies but also enjoy a sense of creative freedom that has typically been restricted in conventional print. Templates will be a designer’s best friend, affording faster production times, shorter print runs and highly creative, engaging packaging consumers will enjoy.

Seek out a guide
The move from conventional to digital print may scare brands who have invested several years’ worth of time, energy and talent into crafting and building their brands’ equity and visual identities. No brand wants to risk misrepresentation of its iconic color by transitioning to a different print process. Partnering with color science experts that master true color accuracy across multiple printing and proofing platforms, substrates and production runs diminishes this risk. You may even discover that conventional print resulted in inaccuracies that are no longer factors with digital print.

Fail early, fail fast, fail often
I admire companies that take risks and aren’t afraid to fail. Failing early, fast and often is a symptom of progress and prerequisite for innovation. Going digital expedites the entire packaging development timeline, which allows concept testing and versioning to happen in days (not months). This accelerated process allows small-scale trial of print packaging possibilities to morph into a large-scale reality more fluidly than ever before. And with this flexibility, targeting opportunities – whether regional-market initiatives or content customization – are easily executed.

Making sure you’re armed with the right, fully-integrated partner to help protect your brand is essential for survival in the Wild West of digital print. After all, you’ll be a lot better off on the right wagon with a guide who knows their way around!

Scott Gilbert
Director of Innovation and Commercialization

1Source: Scott Young, President, Perception Research Services International

Phototype is a 4th-generation, family-owned company that provides fully integrated graphic solutions to the consumer packaged goods (CPG), medical/pharma, retail, printing and converting industries. To learn more, contact us.