Times change. We’re all fans of the new convenience store that is Web to Print, aren’t we? It’s so easy, we cry, I just click here, and here, and here, then here, and I’ve ordered exactly what I… oh, wait a minute. How can I cancel my order?
Back in the early years of the 21st century, things were different. We used to have two or three print reps calling at the studio. We drank more coffee and had more time back then. We had the big run guy, the high spec guy and the need-it-yesterday guy. They listened, then came back a couple of days later with a quote. We’d build it into the client billing, and say, OK. Unless we really were pressed like an espresso, in which case we (and the client) would pay through the nose.
The world revolves and the industry evolves. The economy hiccupped, and the clients squeezed us, so we squeezed the printers, and we watched them disappear. We turned to the web. Everything you want, as cheap as you like, if you’re prepared to do the leg-work. You had to trust the site, and pilot the navigation, and never need anything that might involve some guidance, because automation was the point. You need to believe that the job will turn up on time and without the printer’s name on the box.
I don’t know about you, but that’s not how I want it to be. I like a bot as much as the next man, but I miss a face I know and, frankly, some help. I tell myself I know it all, but I don’t. I have no idea, for example, what actually is a Living Logo*. As it happens, I know some chaps who do.
The Print of Whales
And that’s how it should be. You may have heard me evangelising on behalf of print before. I’m not going to change my tune now, but I do want to set out the way print should work for the hard-pressed creative.
Let’s start with what it can do for you. You wouldn’t believe what can be printed. Not just paper and board, not just foil and embossing, but a thousand other things your client can definitely use, and you can give them, even if they’ve never thought of them. Counters, magnetic signs, 3D cut-out logos, letterpress, metallic paper… If you’re ever short of inspiration, let me direct you towards the Exaprint website. There’s a cetacean of a selection to browse, and I guarantee you’ll find things you’ve never thought of before.
The future’s bright, the future’s print
And how should the interface between creative and printer work? I’ve had enough of the faceless online shops. I’ve had enough of ‘thanks for your order, please come again’. Talking to a real person helps, but how often do live chats feel as routine and predictable as a Radio 4 drama?
It should be comfortable, easy and convenient. It should feel like it fits. It should feel like it was made for us. 24/7 accessibility is a given – how else are we going to see the value of those thankless, sleepless nights than rewarding ourselves with instant gratification? We expect transparency – we should know exactly and immediately how much this will cost, and be able to have it in no time at all.
Speaking of which, we should be able to know that our prices are genuinely our prices – for professionals and not for Tom, Dick or Larry. We should be able to see samples, and test a super high-spec item with a short run, before we break the bank with thousands. And whatever we order should appear with our clients with no fuss and in plain packaging, so they know we are the ones to appreciate.
Don’t I know you…
And the print company of the future must have a face. It must have real people, not just on the phones and the email, but willing, ready and able to come to us. And bring the flat whites, and the samples and the advice. They must know exactly what we need, as well as what we want. And if they understand our business, so much the better.
You remember those chaps I mentioned who do that? They’re Exaprint. The preferred supplier of thousands of creative professionals. Online, and offline at the same time. With real people who’ve spent long – sometimes very long – careers in print who are expert and ready to visit you. And, to celebrate our partnership with Creative Review, new customers can use code CRSS50 for £50 off their first order so they can show you exactly how the future of print is shaping up.
*It’s a form made of 19mm thick PVC, hollowed out and filled with natural moss or lichen, which can be cut to any shape of logo or letter. Now we all know.