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Business Opportunities

Promotional Printing

Promotional print products are perfect for communicating a business’s brand values. Summer Brooks finds out how printers can offer top quality print, no matter what the medium

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Memorable promotional print plays a vital role in branding such as these thermal bottles

Making a mark

Branding is important. No matter which industry a business serves, in today’s modern world, communicating what your brand does and what it means should be a priority. Using promotional print products is a tangible and memorable way to remain in the customer’s mind. So how can printers help businesses produce a whole range of promotional print products without compromising on quality?

Print with a purpose

Promotional print refers to anything that can be branded using print which could mean a range of mediums. From tote bags and t-shirts to business cards and flyers, brands can put their name to pretty much anything, but it has to be relevant to the audience and it has to be high quality – otherwise it goes in the bin.

Phil McMullin, pro graphics sales manager for Epson, comments: “This [promotional print] is a huge and ever-expanding area. Digital technology has ushered in a new epoch of economic print runs as low as one. From global brands to one-man bands, modern businesses are seeing the potential of bespoke promotional items to drive sales and retain margins. From an Epson perspective, we have always been a ‘digital’ print company, so we have always championed the cause of personalisation to maximise returns.”

MOO, an online printing company, has expanded massively since its inception in 2006. Founder and chief executive officer Richard Moross MBE saw a gap in the business card market, which is such a vital part of communication for many businesses and their clients. 

MOO’s spokesperson says: “The ex-change of a business card is often the first time a potential contact, client or investor will engage with your business or brand, and having a thoughtfully designed, premium business card will help you stand out in a crowded market.”


As with business cards, premium promotional printed products help customers to stand out and tell their story in a variety of ways

“As with business cards, premium promotional printed products help customers to stand out and tell their story in a variety of ways. The multi-purpose range helps customers to build a suite of assets for their brand, business or event.”

And they do it well. MOO appeals to a range of businesses, from kooky start-ups to long-established firms looking to update their print collateral. When it comes to business cards, there just isn’t a viable digital replacement. MOO’s spokesperson adds: “There have been many attempts to replace business cards with digital tools, from QR codes to ‘bumping’ phones together. And yet MOO prints 240 million of them every year, and ships to 190 countries worldwide.

Memorable promotional print plays a vital role in branding including business cards

“Today, MOO sees people spending more money on their cards. When they do hand out a card, they want it to be memorable. That’s because business cards play an important role as a memento of a physical meeting.”

But it is also the quality that can be achieved with printing on every day products that has excelled the promotional printing sector. McMullin adds: “The quality of output onto myriad surfaces is now at an all-time high and offers staggering levels of opportunity to promote a brand. Printed products require no power source and are often very easy and cheap to ship to the customer.”

With hundreds of online printers offering same day service, how can shop-based print service providers compete? “Local print businesses can create an edge against the internet by providing same day service,” says McMullin. “With the investment already made and being made by manufacturers of equipment and media, the cost of print will continue to decline.”

Route 1 Print is seeing success in the promotional print sector. The online printer offers a range of products, from flyers and flags to notebooks and presentation folders which can be used as part of a promotional campaign. Head of the company, Mark Young, comments: “Print has an added level of longevity over purely digital campaigns. If your print is interesting, engaging or tactile, it will be kept and handled, giving your campaign greater depth.

“GDPR taught the world that people do not want intrusive marketing. Instead, they want to choose which brands they engage with and therefore print gives you the opportunity to share your message without causing unnecessary upset.”

Kitted-out

Epson’s range of wide-format printers can be utilised in a range of applications, from the SureColor dye-sublimation range for garments, rigid media, and 3D objects, to the S80600, designed for use in signage, vehicle graphics and décor – whilst the ColorWorks serves the short-run label printing market – an increasingly popular form of promotional print for young brands. By supplying all printed brand requirements, a printing business can lock in a customer, says McMullin.

Epson’s F2100 dye-sublimation printer for printing branded t-shirts

He adds: “If you have the design capability and colour knowledge, it is relatively easy to add an output device that gives you all these solutions. Epson products have low TCOs and we partner with companies who can supply peripherals, training and consumables to run your business.”

With print facilities in Dagenham in East London and Rhode Island in the US, MOO has set itself up to offer a truly worldwide service, whilst avoiding scrimping on print quality. Kitted out with three HP Indigo presses and an MGI JetVarnish inkjet spot UV coater, the firm can print and send items to customers in 190 countries.

MOO has recently started offering more special finishing options to its print products, including gold foil, spot gloss and raised spot gloss. These kinds of finishes are popular with those working in the creative industries and businesses that have a very clear branding that they want to communicate through impressive promotional print products. Last year, the firm also added soft and hardback notebooks to its offering, allowing businesses to expand their range of promotional products.

OKI has also developed a range of printers to suit a number of different applications. Rob Brown, head of speciality print for north west Europe at OKI, says that the nature of promotional print often requires a quick turnaround and so consistency must be key.

The Pro8432WT from OKI, which uses a white toner, serves the garment printing and giftware sector

He comments: “A short run, high quality yet versatile media handing machine is critical – promotional printing tends to be needed quickly, needs to be high quality to represent a brand name or logo colour accurately and needs to be able to print onto the widest range of media from very heavyweight to various finishes or types, such as waterproof or tear proof materials.”

The future of brands

YR is a concept that brings live, customised print for the event and retail industries. Using Epson printers, the organisers aim to create immersive experiences for customers of big fashion brands such as Topshop, Nike and Liberty. By offering promotional print products through an organised event, YR manages to bring the customer into the process of designing and customising their own products – whilst still keeping the brand at the heart of it all.

For creative businesses in particular, the look of print means everything in reflecting the message

With offices in London, the USA and Japan, YR is unique in that it can bring its printing services anywhere to help a brand strengthen its position and offer customers a chance to own a one-off piece of promotional print. Whilst these are often paid-for promotional items, the event, combined with the freedom of design, keeps the brand in people’s minds long after the print has dried.

Print gets people excited. It is a rewarding way to celebrate a brand – whether the person is a long-standing customer or completely new to a business – an everyday printed product that gently reminds them each day of the brand is an invaluable way of marketing.


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Factoid: According to a 2016 study by the Advertising Specialty Institute, consumers are nearly 2.5 times more likely to have a positive opinion of promotional products compared to internet ads. O


“Brand visibility, accuracy of communication and brand consistency is key, but also print is still quick, relatively cheap and easy to install, so it plays a big part in promo,” says Brown. “Promotional print which is personalised, presents the largest growth opportunity for print companies, retailers and in-house print for use organisations.”

So where does the future of promotional print lie? It still has a very important part to play – and thanks to developments in print technology – it should play a part in every brand and businesses’ promotion.

Whether it is for a one-off campaign or a new-look business card, promotional printing often makes up the bulk of everyday work for printers. But it must have stand-out appeal and it must make an impression. Adding branding to an everyday item like a pen or a tote bag also keeps the brand in the consumer’s mind here – whilst also advertising the business for free.

Live printing events can help to create a lasting impression on a customer whilst allowing them to take part in the process
 
“Business always has been about relationships and always will be,” says MOO. “Those relationships rely on personal contact and emotional connections – and physical objects reflect those better than digital ones.”

McMullin concludes: “We aim to provide the print technology that sets free a designer’s imagination. Epson products have always been renowned for the quality of output and with $1.5m spent per day on research and development we are confident in keeping our standards exceptionally high in the future.”

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