Category Archives: Digital Printing

Because we can or because we should? Evaluating trends in printing technology.

Famous British mountaineer George Mallory was once asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, an expedition that seemed fated for disaster. Mallory famously replied, “Because it’s there.”

Today’s innovators could very well revise this quote to “Because we can.” Technology has advanced at an exponential rate over the last century, and printing is no different. In fact, at the upcoming drupa 2012 conference, HP Indigo founder Benny Landa plans to announce an all-new process called nanographic printing. This technology promises some impressive results, with abrasion and scratch resistance, the ability to print on any substrate, and images that are only 500 nanometers thick. Landa will introduce a stable of nanographic printers at the conference, and they’ll certainly make a big splash on the industry.

The printing industry has existed for hundreds of years, and offset printing has been around since 1875. During the 20th century, screen printing, laser printing, inkjet printing and thermal printing all burst onto the scene. Digital printing itself is a technology that is less than 20 years old, and the HP Indigo partnership formed about 11 years ago. In the technological industry, those numbers would be considered ancient, especially with new and improved products launching every month, so it should seem natural that an entirely new printing process is about to be unveiled.

Or should it? Should we spend our time wondering what’s next or spend more time trying to answer why we are doing it? Should we be jacks of all trades, masters of none? Changes to the marketplace are always welcome, and inevitable, but it can be easy to get caught up in the current craze and forget everything you’d learned before. And in a society with an increasingly short attention span, it’s easier than ever to fall into this trap.

Sometimes the best way to create a successful business is by marketing a consistent product from a staff of knowledgeable partners with years in one industry. Specialty stores that market to a specific niche – coffee shops, for example – often outlive stores that try to do a bit of everything, like sell everything from batteries and bacon to espresso and earplugs. And jumping on a trend just for the sake of  it can quickly oversaturate the market – the recent gourmet burger trend comes to mind.

Nanotechnology is an exciting prospect, and to be sure many printing companies will stop what they’re doing to get a piece of the new devices. But that will also require a lot of time and money spent learning the new process and perfecting a new craft. It might also lead to a lot of failures and a lot of loss along the way. Vibrant Graphics has always lived on the cutting edge, not the bleeding edge, and we’ll keep an eye on nanotechnology over the next few months. In the meantime, we’ll keep perfecting our own digital printing craft, which we’re still learning new things about each day. We’ve established a solid customer base through our timely, consistent services, and we’ll innovate for the sake of improvement, not solely for the sake of innovating.

It’s easy to feel successful by hitching your wagon to the latest and greatest technology. It’s a lot harder to actually be successful, and that takes years of patience and determination. We’re proud of our work at Vibrant, and if we can continue to innovate in our current craft, then we’ll quietly keep on giving our customers brilliant results – outside of the spotlight.

We’d like to hear from you – is it important to stay on top of new trends, no matter what? Or is there more value in evaluating the marketplace and your customers’ needs before taking the leap?

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Filed under Digital Printing, New Technology, Vibrant Graphics

Digital Makes The Difference

The 21st century has become known as the digital age. Computers are no longer a luxury, but a necessity and considered vital to businesses as well as individuals. Digital is how we communicate, how we take our pictures, how we watch T.V. and at Vibrant Graphics, it is how we print.  Vibrant Graphics has always been a solely digital printer. We are on the forefront of the digital trend and fully aware of the many advantages that digital printing has over traditional flexographic printing.

We also recognize that there are still certain jobs that are more appropriate for flexographic printing and if we feel you are bringing in this type of job, we will definitely tell you that. However, when it comes to printing high-quality customized labels; digital printing is your best option.  If your labels will not be used at the retail level, then high quality is probably not your top priority and flexo may be a better option.  Also, if you need to order in extremely large quantities then flexo may be a better option for you in this case as well.

The difference between flexographic and digital printing can be summed up in one word, plates. Digital printing does not involve any plates; instead it receives its images from a database. This results in lower minimums and a less expensive and quicker turn-around time. It also allows for printing on demand. While the set up time for flexographic takes several hours, the set up time for digital can take as little as several minutes, which means we can turn jobs around in just a few short days.

Digital printing also allows for more customized labels, or variable-data printing. With this technology, every label could be different, seasonal labels could be created easily and deciding to change your brand could be a simple decision. Variable-data printing means that things such as text, colors, images and graphics can be changed from one printed label to the next. Digital printing makes this possible without stopping or slowing down the printing process because it uses information from a database.

The flexibility to have custom labels is among one of the biggest advantages digital printing has over flexographic. Whether you are printing 100 labels or 25,000 labels, each one can be different. This is something that flexo simply cannot offer. When printing digitally, every label could have a different barcode, different name or different date.

Besides flexibility another huge advantage digital has over flexo is quality. Digitally printed labels are produced with a higher line-screen than labels that are printed flexographic. A digital printing press can print 230 lines, whereas a flexographic label press can only print at 133 or 150 lines. This difference in line-screen equates to a big difference in the color, detail and clarity of the label. This is what makes our labels Vibrant.  Digitally printed labels are always produced using a 4-color process. This allows our customers to submit artwork using photos or multiple colors.

Along with these color and photo options, digital printing can give you press proofing and sample proofing directly onto your requested material, so you know in advance exactly how the final product will look. We can also quickly provide small sample prototypes to help you bring your next big idea to life. If you’re unsure of how the photo will look on your product label, we can show you in advance so you don’t have to wonder if you will be happy with the end result.

If you want your labels to stand out and want your product to be a ‘shelf talker,’ then digital printing is your best option. Below is a recap of the advantages digital printing has over flexo.

  • Lower minimums
  • Higher quality
  • Quicker turn-around time
  • Flexibility
  • Variable-data printing
  • Sample proofing
  • Easily handles multiple SKUs

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Filed under Branding, Digital Printing, Vibrant Graphics

Vibrant Graphics is offering a new service and special promotion!

  
With the recent increase of demands, Vibrant Graphics is proud to introduce a new service that will help you connect even closer with your customers! We are now able to create Microsoft Tags (MS Tags) and Quick Response (QR) Codes to be placed within your product labels! For more information on how to ‘read’ MS Tags and how they can help you, click here.
 
 We’ll give you a hint what this says….
Let Vibrant know that you saw this post or mentioned this tag, and receive a special promotion! 
Send us your product label’s logo or artwork, along with material requirements, and we’ll send you customized, digitally printed labels at no cost to you!  For more information or to request a customized label, contact:  
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

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Filed under alternative packaging, Branding, Digital Printing, In-Mold Labeling, Packaging, Uncategorized

Add life to your product label!

Isn’t it funny how many marketers flock to use the terms ‘antioxidant,’ ‘fat free’, and other, similar ubiquitous terms?  Or how so many companies rush to enlist in the latest ‘green’ organization just to put a certified logo on its products’ labels (since over 55% of consumers look for a product with a ‘green connotation’)?  This is especially curious since research has proven that more people are more influenced by the colors and design of packaging versus alleged product claims clearly spelled out on the label.  For instance, more people are influenced and apt to believe a claim based on an earthy design, versus a certifiable emblem.  This brings us to solution number one!

1) Be honest

Be sure not to mislead consumers.  The term ‘unscented’ is a major culprit of this, and often misleading; unscented does NOT always mean that fragrances or perfumes have not been added.   This is very crucial at this time when the government is definitely cracking down on label claims! 

 2)      Don’t clutter your label!

 Less really can be more.  If a company clutters its package with testimonials, reasons to purchase the product, the package looks like a pity plea and sometimes leaves customers running.  Simple equates to elegance.  A customer feels more comfortable in purchasing the product when he or she feels empowered to decide for himself or herself.  The average consumer only glances at your product for 2-3 seconds (and is more frequently enticed initially by the picturesque quality and texture versus the copy).  Make a statement with your design that will intrigue customers in this very short time span. 

 3)      Does your message accurately reflect your campaign? 

Does the tone of the message and product photo match?  All thematic elements of a company, product, slogan, and package graphics should work together harmoniously and be representative of each other. 

 4)      Use a specialty label to set you apart. 

  •  With all of the current regulations surrounded required copy on labels, space is definitely limited.  For an exciting spin on putting advertising copy on your labels, try a QR Code that will link users to additional information! 
  •  Label materials can also set you apart.  Film labels are clear, less expensive, thin substrates.  They are elegant looking and the “no label look” is very striking.  The substrates that Vibrant Graphics prints on are 100% recyclable, which is appealing to customers!  Another specific type of material that definitely sets products apart is the use of holographic material.      
  •  If you have a clear glass or plastic container, two-sided labels look very classy, and are unique.  For example, on the opposite side of the product that the label is adhered to, it is possible to see through the container, and read the other (back) side of the label. 
  • Different shapes of labels are also eye-catching, which is possible by die-cutting!   

 5)      Design with location in mind.

  • It is the age of personalization, after all.  Since digital printing does not require expensive plates and is a web-to-print based printing solution, this is extremely cost efficient way to conduct test-market segmentation.  Digital printing offers increased personalization and allows the product distributor to include different messages on the product distributed in various regions.  This is extremely valuable when different locations require different messages or have different labeling requirements. 
  • Another use of digital printing is when you would like to change the product label color, depending on region;  colors have different connotations in different regions (such as green being correlated with religion in Ireland).  Blue is currently considered the safest global color.

6)      Make the label interactive.

Does your product have a story behind it?  Tell it.  Lots of products have clever and funny quips on the side or even under the cap like Snapple has!  Think of a unique way to position your product or have your consumers interact with your product.  Wheat Thins has a remarkable strategy of tying the consumer to the product!

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Filed under alternative packaging, Digital Printing, In-Mold Labeling, product labels, Vibrant Graphics

Going beyond RFID and QR codes: Augmented Reality

Recently, I attended the “InterACT! Conference” on behalf of Vibrant Graphics, where I was able to listen in on break-out discussions speaking of new, emerging trends and technologies.  Specifically, the focus of the conference was on social media, QR codes, and augmented reality. 

These technologies  have oftentimes proved to be very useful.  However, there are concerns of where this technology is heading.

 I know we’ve all seen it – people driving with not only their cell phones in hand, but also laptops in the passenger seat.  With the anticipated media-saturation of augmented reality, let’s hope this technology stays off the road!

 Augmented reality (AR) is the blending of the physical world with partially virtual computer generated imagery.   Augmented reality is ‘real time.’  For those who have not yet seen examples of augmented reality, here are four examples, each implementing AR in different, useful ways:

 iButterfly: allows users to ‘catch’ butterflies in the ‘air’

hotels.com: (virtual vacation): allows users to have an interactive experience when choosing their vacation destination.  In Los Angeles, you can have your name appear on the “Hollywood sign.”

Lego: allows users to interactively see how ‘the toy in the box’ will function

USPS: allows users to choose which box size is appropriate to ship their object in (the demonstration is at the one-minute mark in the video)

For example, USPS allows a user to print out a ‘marker’, which the user will hold up to his or her computer, and it will simulate which size of package the user will need in order to ship the object.  This also is very helpful for retail shopping, as consumers can virtually try-on the clothing.  Another helpful instance would be during furniture shopping: the user could print a marker, place it on the floor, and point his or her webcam at the marker.  The image would appear on the computer, and the couch would be virtually placed in the room. 

While it may be clearly helpful in several instances, has technology gone to far?   

The ‘privacy issue’ troubles many people.  Will there one day be a way that this will be used as facial recognition software on your iPhone?  How many people will share location data with programs such as Google Latitude (and who will have access these programs–criminals?).  Virtually anything can be scanned and scrutinized.  There is real-estate information available on the augmented iPhone applications, where the user is able to view available condos or apartments for sale or rent.  What if the whole world became a virtual e-bay?  Would someone break into your house to obtain an expensive artifact you were innocently trying to sell on eBay?

 Beyond the privacy concerns, how will children be affected?  In a commercial advertising the iButterfly application, children are shown trying to “catch” virtual butterflies with their iPhones.  In the year 1995 and below, children dreamed of doing something like this, or playing with objects that would “come to life.”  Now the child does not even have to think or utilize his or her imagination, because it is reality to them.  Will this take away imagination or critical thinking skills?

 With the emergence of new technologies such as this, there will once again be an even larger digital divide.  By 2012, 65% of phone owners are projected to own smart phones.  What if this leaves no room for the voice of the ‘have-nots?’

 These are just a few critical components to think about as we emerge into unchartered territory.  I could see a couple of reasons WHY Vibrant Graphics should utilize this technology.  For instance, this would be useful when customers place a personalized order and want to know how labels will look on a particular model.  How would you implement it in your life at or outside of work? What do you think about it?

Here are ten interested augmented-reality iPhone applications:  http://mashable.com/2009/12/05/augmented-reality-iphone/

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Filed under Digital Media, Digital Printing, Packaging, Uncategorized, Vibrant Graphics

Talk about Synergy…

Picture this.  You have just gotten home after picking up a few miscellaneous items from the market and decide to do a load of laundry.  After separating your darks and lights, there is an unexpected visitor at your door.  The ‘doorbell-ringer’ is persistent, and suddenly your laundry box is reverberating.  Panic ensues.

 Hopefully you knew about the recent Omo Laundry detergent promotion before you decided to purchase that particular brand, otherwise you certainly would not have any indication of who is at your door, and that you were in fact a “lucky” winner. 

 Omo, a brand-name detergent in Brazil is implementing a revolutionary advertising campaign: 50 boxes of Omo detergent are disbursed with GPS devices buried inside of the detergent.  Once a box is activated, company employees are sent to track the lucky (in question) customer home.  If the customer is reluctant to answer the door, the team will then activate the GPS which will make a strident noise.  Are you in support of this dirt-demolishing advertising ploy, or is it just plain dirty?  Whatever your thoughts are, tracking and sensory technologies are going to become even more prevalent.

 1)      Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

 Keurig (distributor of a single-serve coffee machine) may add RFID tags to the coffee filters in order for the machine to sense the type of coffee being placed into the device.  This would allow the machine to change temperature, milk type, and any other features. The single-serve coffee machine will essentially remember your order.

 Of course, we cannot forget about the RFID-Tag infiltration at Wal-Mart.  In an effort to put a halt to thievery, Wal-Mart decided to track individual items by installing smart tags that will allow retailers and manufacturers to track items at the unit level.  Specifically, Wal-Mart will track jeans and undergarments in order to improve inventory.  Sure, you could remove the RFID tag once you exit the store, but even before that, markets would have the capability to find out more information about you and your purchase interests on the sales floor.  The smart tags are stirring up controversy regarding privacy concerns.
 

2) Quick Response (QR) Codes

 From garbage trucks to billboard advertisements, QR codes may be the saving grace of print media.  After downloading an app to your phone, you can scan the two-dimensional code, and view the image by photographing an ad, product, or label.  The app/software will launch the URL imbedded in the QR code and streamline the associated video or download the image.  A couple of recent examples of companies using QR codes include the recently publicized (and racy) Calvin Klein billboard.  A QR code image was placed on the billboard with the tagline “Get it Uncensored.”  After viewers took a photo of the image was “unlocked.”  This technology, thus, can be very controversial.

 Following Calvin Klein’s movement, NYC garbage trucks jumped at the chance to use this technology. The code on the garbage truck will transport users to a video show called “The Green Apple: Recycling.”  “Having QR codes all over town will hopefully remove much of the nerd-factor from the QR code scan, and demonstrate to tens of thousands of New Yorkers…the potential rewards of engaging with the codes.” 

The QR codes could also serve as interactive information portals.  For instance, cities could ‘imbed’ historic information on a landmark.  Another advantageous aspect of using QR codes on products is to create a ‘universal language’ by imbedding a photo or incorporating product translations in the code.  The possibilities really are endless.

3)       Stickybits

 ‘Stickybits’ allows users to be connected to a social experience, essentially attaching content to any around you.  For instance, if you scan a product at the store, you can attach a recipe to the sticky bit.  With the current packaging regulation proposals that may come into effect (i.e. Food manufacturers being required to provide nutrition content on the front of the package); the stickybits may be very useful in allowing packaging professionals to convey information despite the decreased space on the packaging.  Consumers and marketers will be able to participate in product-related conversations, offering feedback or incentives.  Although stickybits has been criticized as “graffiti for nerds,” the possibilities of using stickybits are endless: real estate, product packages, personal notes, or business cards.  Attach meaning to any object around you!

 Communications theorists of the late 1900s thought online news was synergistic; these theorists would truly appreciate this! But what do you think, has it gone too far?  How would you implement the aforementioned technology?

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Filed under Digital Printing, product labels, Uncategorized, Vibrant Graphics

A land of new opportunities…

 

Recently, Vibrant Graphics’ CEO, Mike Sewart, embarked on a trip to Tel Aviv, Israel to attend a “Commercial VIP Event,” hosted by HP Indigo Digital Press Headquarters. In light of this trip, I would like to explore aspects of working with another country. In doing so, I recently spoke with an acquaintance that had many clients that produce in Prague, Czech Republic and Yokohama, Japan.  

“Prague is a logistical sweet spot in Europe much like Memphis, Tennessee is in the U.S. Our Yokohama, Japan facility offers our customers an entry into the Asian Market. If customers need full production capabilities in country throughout continental Asia, we have a strategic partnership with other Asian production companies that allow us to produce work for our clients locally.”  

The benefits of producing locally in other countries are numerous:  

• Shipping times are greatly reduced which allows you more time to plan/produce the project (in some cases weeks are saved)
• Much lower customs/other fees
• Greater control over when the product gets delivered
• Localized foreign language translation  

“Some countries are tougher to work in than others but generally speaking – producing locally in that country and having people who know the market coordinate delivery will save time, money and hassle. That’s why we are expanding internationally and a lot of this is driven by savvy customers who understand the benefits of producing in other countries.”  

Some things to consider include thinking logistically about what you wish to accomplish. Be strategic in your expansion efforts. For example, if you are a flexible packaging company that is heavily involved in food packaging production (especially meat) and would like to enter the country Brunei, you might want to think again. Brunei is not suited to produce meat packaging, since it is a largely kosher society. If you wanted to enter the flexible packaging industry, focusing on creating packaging and label components for non-alcoholic beverages, sauces and seasonings, and baked goods, Africa has a strong growth rate in implementing flexible packaging (thus, there will be adequate resources for production and distribution).  Also, you may need to coordinate your efforts by speaking with the World Trade Organization in order to complete international shipping paperwork.    

In addition to the aforementioned strategies, be sure to consider cultural barriers! With this in mind, there are many differences to consider.  I would use cultural guidelines in creating or developing relationships with any sector.  

An example of a few cultural differences in between the U.S. and other countries to consider may include the following:  

  • Different marketing strategies apply in different countries.  In Israel, “Four major and about sixty smaller, Internet service providers serve more than two millions users, including 40% of households and 60% of businesses.”  These percentages are not as high as the U.S., and would be something to keep in mind. 
  • The major religious influence affecting the carrying on of business in Israel related to prohibitions on conducting work on specified days of rest.
  • Online strategies such as Facebook and Twitter may work well in the United States, but it may not ‘spread the message’ as widely in other select countries.
  • There are different intellectual property laws outside of the United States
  • There is a different currency used in other countries – affecting the rate of exchange.
  • Physically backing away from a business partner can be perceived as an insult, especially in Brazil where there is a closer speaking proximity than in the U.S.
  • Oftentimes in other countries that are very family oriented, it is not uncommon to speak about your family during an introduction.
  • Be cautious of packaging guidelines (for instance, do other countries prohibit the use of certain dyes?).

Opportunities in other countries are moving countries across borders more frequently.  As these opportunities arise, it is important to adhere to other countries hierarchy systems when doing business with them!  

If you would like to learn more about our CEO’s trip to Israel, click here to subscribe to our newsletter!

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Filed under alternative packaging, Digital Printing, Global Expansion, Uncategorized, Vibrant Graphics