The Fight of the Century – Digital v. Offset Printing


Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to tonight’s match which promises to be a classic battle in every sense of the word.

In the magenta corner, weighing in at nearly 34 tons and the undisputed longtime champion of print – the Prince of K/Os, the King of Color, Oscar “Offset” De La Inkay. And in the cyan corner, weighing in at a svelte 4,000 lbs 8 ounces, the Sultan of Speed, the Killer of Cost, Danny “Digital” McShortrun.

And the prize? Glory and a gaudy golden belt, but more importantly, increased dominance in the world of commercial printing.

Okay gentlemen, I want a good clean fight between you two. Nothing below the sheet feeder, no roller butting – good luck to you both!


Round One
The paper chase. If you require or want a special paper stock, finish or unusual printing surface, or a unique size (like much larger), the options are continually increasing for digital, but offset printing still offers the most flexibility.

Round Two
The color of money. Similar to offset, most digital presses use a digital four-color printing process (standard is CMYK, but this is quickly changing). If you need only black ink or one or two ink colors, offset printing may actually offer a more cost-effective solution. If you need basic four-color printing, digital may offer advantages in lower up-front costs; no printing plates are required, there’s no pre-press time and there’s very little clean up.

More on color. If you’re planning to print using the Pantone® Matching System (PMS), offset printing will give you the best match, since it uses actual Pantone inks. Digital printing “simulates” colors using a four-color digital matching formula, so some digital printers may offer less accurate color matching on projects. And metallic inks? Give the point to offset printing.

Round Three
Time to turnaround. If you need it fast, digital usually will offer quicker delivery. Especially at lower quantities. Digital is the speed bag champion.

As mentioned earlier, offset printing has a front-end cost load (plate-making, pre-press, etc.). Consequently, short runs will have a high unit cost. But as quantities increase, the unit cost goes down with offset printing. Very short runs can be much more cost-effective with digital printing; while larger quantities are likely to have a lower unit cost with offset printing.

Round Four
You want the proof, you can’t handle the proof. Technically, digital printing offers more accurate proofs since you see an actual sample of the printed piece. Accurate color proofing for offset printing can be expensive, can be more time consuming and it takes extra quality assurance for offset printing to match the proofs.

Round Five
A right hook and a flurry of jabs by digital. Shorter turnaround. Every print is virtually the same. More accurate counts, less waste, and fewer variations, due to not having to balance ink and water during the press run. Cheaper low-volume printing. While the unit cost of each piece may be higher than with offset printing, when setup costs are included, digital printing provides lower per unit costs for very small print runs. A blockbuster of a hit by digital, variable data printing is a form of customizable digital printing. Using information from a database or external file, text and graphics can be changed on each piece without stopping or slowing down the press. For example, personalized letters can be printed with a different name and address on each letter. Variable data printing is used primarily for direct marketing, customer relationship development and advertising. Ouch!

Round Six
Ahhh, an upper-cut by offset. High image quality. Works on a wider range of paper stocks (sizes, weights and textures). The unit cost goes down as the quantity goes up. Quality and cost-effectiveness in high-volume jobs. While today’s digital presses are close to the cost & benefit ratio of offset for high-quality work, they are not yet able to compete with the volume an offset press can produce. Modern offset presses use computer-to-plate systems as opposed to the older computer-to-film workflow, this further increases the print quality. Pow!

And, the match is over! Gentlemen, back to your corners.

The Decision
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a split decision! Hold the catcalls, please. Each printing job is unique. What may work for digital with one project may not work for another. We find it is always best to consult one-on-one with your commercial print vendor. That way you won’t get sucker-punched.



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Trying to Navigate the Labyrinth That Is Google AdWords? We Can Help.

Google AdWords campaigns are not “set it and forget it” advertising. The magic of pay-per-click advertising is the ability to monitor real-time data and adjust your campaigns as necessary to get the best return on your investment. For a pay-per-click campaign to be successful, it has to not only be set up correctly, but also monitored and adjusted regularly.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising
Instant gratification is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for consumers. They want information now, no matter where they are or what time of day it is. This has become both an opportunity and a challenge for businesses trying to market products and services. The evolution to micro-targeted advertising from mass advertising allows you to better target your consumers, and pay-per-click advertising is a tool that has been invaluable to businesses in their quest to meet consumer demands.

Businesses of all sizes can benefit from the use of pay-per-click advertising campaigns. Some of the key benefits of this type of advertising are:

  • Real-time monitoring allowing for easy adjustment of campaigns without incurring extra costs.
  • Ads and settings can be tailored to specifically reach audiences based on their current search habits.
  • The ability to track traffic and prove ROI with solid data and tie it directly to conversions beyond the click, such as purchases, newsletter sign-ups, etc.
  • Setting and maintaining a budget, allowing for greater cost-control measures.
  • Controlling when you are charged, whether it is by clicks, views, impressions or conversions, so you are more likely to be spending money on potential customers rather than wasting clicks on uninterested parties.

The most commonly used platform for pay-per-click advertising is Google AdWords. The process for ensuring successful Google AdWords campaigns is two-fold. First, it requires a significant amount of due diligence to research targeting methods, audiences and keywords with which to build the campaigns, as well as creating advertising and landing pages that capitalize on the targeting methods. This is a long, winding process that requires an understanding of the end-goals and tactics for achieving those goals, as well as up-to-date knowledge of the AdWords platform.

Next, it requires constant monitoring to ensure the best results. Campaigns need to be reviewed daily, and adjusted as necessary to be sure they are accomplishing goals. But, it’s not as simple as looking at the click-through rate and determining a campaign “successful.” It is crucial to monitor the status of the ads and keywords or other targeting methods being used. It is important to look for trends, successes and failures so that adjustments can be made. There are always ways to improve campaign performance if you know what to look for when monitoring a campaign.

This is where we can help.
Anyone can sign up to implement AdWords campaigns. But it requires research, practice and knowledge of the platform and its latest updates to be able to use the platform effectively.

If you aren’t familiar with the data that AdWords provides, it can quickly become overwhelming. A key part of what we do is staying informed of the most up-to-date information in our industry, which includes any changes or updates to the AdWords platform. We can provide insights and best practices advice for running effective campaigns that meet or exceed your goals with our Google AdWords certified staff and experience running successful AdWords campaigns.

We’re ready to help you implement the best campaign possible for your business. Our goal is always to manage campaigns that meet your business goals. Our processes for doing so begin with substantial research on trends in search for your industry and audiences. We then use those trends to create campaigns that most effectively communicate your messaging and reach your targeted audiences. To ensure your campaigns are as successful as possible, we monitor them closely and make any adjustments necessary based on the data.

You don’t have to go it alone. We are ready to guide you on your journey through Google AdWords advertising.

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Prejean Creative Tells You Why – The Case for Illustration

Imagery is essential in your marketing communications; it can make a notable first impression and influence the perception of your brand. While photography is one of the most commonly used types of imagery, illustration has many benefits, too, and should be considered in some cases.

Your goal is to create a unique and memorable personality for your brand, and illustration can achieve that. Like your brand’s fingerprint, a very distinct illustration style can become instantly recognizable. With an endlessly broad variety of illustration styles to choose from, it’s easy to create a unique and cohesive look with illustration. Furthermore, illustration is used less frequently in advertising and tends to stand out more for that reason.

Some examples of iconic and memorable illustration use. Left to right: Apple Computer, Coca-Cola, Shepard Fairey

Illustrations are also great for representing abstract ideas and concepts. They offer the opportunity to create a visual metaphor more effectively than a photo. A less literal approach can engage the viewer’s mind in clever ways.

Some examples of conceptual illustration. Left to right: Davide Bonazzi, Brian Stauffer, John Holcroft

Compared to photographs, illustrations can convey a broader range of tone or mood – from somber to silly. Extreme ends of the color spectrum, unrealistic proportions, and surreal elements might look out of place in photographs. However, these characteristics are right at home in illustration and can serve to enhance the message. Illustrations allow us to suspend our disbelief.

Some examples of illustrations that convey mood. Left to right: Daniel Stolle, Coca-Cola / Office, Joyce Fan

While photography may be important if you are advertising a physical product, illustration can be useful to represent an intangible one, such as cell phone service, computer software, or Wi-Fi. Mascots, which are used to represent many brands, often employ illustration.

Some examples of mascot illustrations. Left to right: Planter’s, Michelin, Kellogg’s 

Whether you use illustration, photography, or a blend of the two, the imagery you and your marketing team use can be a key element in your brand’s success.


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Spring Cleaning Your Brand

Each spring, we endeavor to clear out the clutter of our closets and desks to start fresh. Why not do the same for your brand? Brands get cluttered over time, which chips away at their identity. To prevent this dilution in brand identity, it becomes essential to eliminate or update assets that are no longer relevant.

Evaluating assets regularly also helps to keep your brand from appearing stale. Freshening up brand assets can have a stop-effect on your audiences, like they are seeing your brand for the first time. It’s the same, but it’s clean and fresh and appears new.

There are a few areas that are ripe for a spring-cleaning effort.

Digital Media
Do your organization’s digital media assets – websites, social media platforms, blogs – have consistent visual identity and messaging?

It is important for brand recognition that all assets follow the brand identity and messaging. As organizations grow and develop more assets, it is common for identity and messaging to get altered, jumbled or even lost. Regularly auditing all digital media platforms is good practice for ensuring consistent brand identity.

Are they still relevant? Do your current marketing efforts serve them?

An organization’s goals and key performance indicators (KPI) are important drivers of marketing efforts. As companies grow and evolve, goals and KPI need to shift to keep pace with that growth.

But, they are often overlooked or forgotten and become irrelevant. Regularly updating the goals is important for validating marketing efforts.

Have your audiences changed? Is your messaging to them still pertinent and does it address their needs?

Like organizations, audiences regularly evolve and their needs change. If you don’t evaluate your audiences, you will miss these changes and your marketing efforts will be less effective.

Evaluate your messaging as well when reviewing your audiences. If your audience has changed, your messaging will need to be adjusted to effectively reach them.

Are you tracking data where possible and reviewing in context of goals and KPI? Are you measuring the correct analytics?

Most organizations have access to more data than they could possibly use, and they are easily overwhelmed. However, if you approach the data in the context of goals and KPI, it can be more easily managed.

Ensure the data you are monitoring and analyzing is significant and is delivering the information you need to know.

Are your campaigns performing to expectations? Do you continue them, or do you scrap those programs and start fresh?

Part of any marketing campaign is the evaluation, but as some campaigns continue to run, the evaluation stage gets forgotten.

To ensure only the most effective campaigns are running, be sure to evaluate performance against goals.

A Breath of Fresh Air
Don’t let your brand go stale. Keep it fresh by taking some time this spring to tidy up any clutter surrounding your brand.


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Maintain Control of Your Brand. Create a Brand Standards Guide.

You worked long and hard to develop your brand and its visual identity. Now you need to protect those assets and ensure design consistency across all collateral created for your brand. What’s the best way to do that? Create a brand standards guide that states explicit rules for using brand elements. Ultimately, the guide becomes a roadmap that gives direction for visual branding without hindering creativity. It is especially important to share the guide with anyone – employees, vendors, advertising agencies, customers – using brand elements to create collateral and marketing materials.

Our art director, Gary LoBue, Jr., stresses the importance of a style guide, “Not having a standards guide would be like building a home without the blueprints. You’re merely guessing as to how to handle a critically important element’s color, size, spatial orientation or proportion in a variety of settings.”

Elements of a Brand Standards Manual
The content and length of a style guide vary by organizational needs. But, the basic elements of the guide are consistent. Every style guide should include:

Brand and/or mission statement – It is important that users of the guide know the brand. The mission statement, brand values or organizational philosophies help others understand the guiding principles of the brand, which should also guide their use of brand assets.

Logo Use – The logo is the key element to the brand identity. This detailed section of the style guide clearly shows different approved versions of the logo, as well as correct and incorrect treatment and uses of the logo.

Color Palette – Color is one of the most recognizable brand elements. This section of the guide gives very specific information regarding the brand’s color palette, including, both primary and secondary, and exact hex code, CMYK and Pantone colors for web, screen and print.

Typeface Guide – Fonts convey certain messages and ideas through their design and are therefore key elements in a brand identity. The details of the fonts and font families used by a brand need to be clearly identified.

Imagery – The use of symbols, graphics, photography or any visual imagery should be clearly defined. Sometimes, imagery is more recognizable than words, making it crucial that any visual elements are recognizable brand assets.

Some organizations that have more complex structures go beyond the basics to include more details guiding the use of visual brand elements in marketing materials. Such sections could include:

Template Designs – For organizations with multiple locations and vendors, it is prudent to include a section that specifies the layout of business templates, such as stationery, business cards, presentations, etc. The details should also include paper specifications for use with materials to be printed.

Social Media Policy – Maintaining control of anything on social media is extremely difficult, but this section of the guide establishes the framework for social media for an organization. It also dictates which platforms the brand will be active on, who has control of the accounts and the visual identity on each platform.

Signage Specifications – Provides users with business sign specifications to ensure that signs across multiple locations are visually consistent. Signage can be indoor or outdoor, and should cover a variety of possibilities, such as stand-alone buildings or shopping center locations. Keep regulatory requirements in mind when developing this section.

Merchandising Applications – Your brand doesn’t belong on everything. That’s why this section of the brand guide is beneficial. Use it to outline what types of products can be branded and how to use the brand elements on them.

Website Design – This section sets out instructions for anyone developing and posting content for an organization’s website(s). Hierarchy of elements and visual assets must be consistent across all pages of a website. This section serves as a guide for keeping a consistent design.

A Worthwhile Investment
No matter the size or the complexity of your organization, it is crucial to have a brand standards guide to ensure visual consistency across all collateral material. Your brand identity must be preserved and protected at all times, and an investment in a style guide is one that will not be wasted.


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