Grand format printing, also called wide format or large format printing, is the process of printing materials that are too large for most standard commercial printers to produce––anywhere from seventy inches to more than one hundred inches wide.
Grand format printing has become increasingly popular for its high-impact capability and as a critical component of highly visible local and national brand campaigns. Adding “larger than life” brand materials can make a good campaign great. A recent report from WhatTheyThink, a print industry market intelligence provider, found that banners, vehicle wraps, signage, wallcoverings and window graphics represent the top five wide and grand format print applications with the highest MROI. What’s more, the same research found that over 90% of buyers, marketers and procurement teams, will increase their spend on these types of materials in order to better support their brand initiatives.
Since large format printing almost always requires specialty equipment to accommodate the larger dimensions and substrates, finding a print partner that’s not only capable, but an expert in printing these high-impact pieces is critical. Finding a partner who understands how these materials fit within your larger national programs is priceless.
As with any project involving a vendor relationship, it’s important to know what should factor into your decision when choosing a print partner.
This is your guide to doing just that.
We’ve broken down a few important factors specific for partnering with the right large format printing company: capability, quality, and value-adds.
Before we jump in, here’s a brief rundown on why we these three factors are so important to grand format printing in particular:
- Capability. Simply put, your partner needs to be capable of creating the specific types of large format print pieces you and your end-users need––not just for this project, but potential future projects, too. What’s more, finding a partner with deep domain expertise and an understanding of where grand format fits in your larger branding and marketing initiatives is highly preferable – there are real benefits to reap from their knowledge and complementary services and offerings. This is step one!
- Quality. While it can be tempting to let price drive your decision-making at the cost of quality, doing so ignores all the unforeseen costs poor quality can incur. This includes the time and money needed to re-print materials, the relationship costs of poor work, and the effort of correcting design errors (just to name a few). By prioritizing quality from the start, you can make sure your campaign is supported with high-quality materials while avoiding the expenses that come from cut corners.
- Value-adds. Another danger of prioritizing price as the top factor is ignoring all the ways a vendor can actually add value to your print pieces and your marketing program more broadly. More often than not grand format pieces are part of larger marketing and brand strategies. Working with a partner that has expertise in your industry, offers additional production and managed services, has a national footprint, and can easily scale to deliver beautifully branded multichannel campaigns, increases the likelihood that your campaigns will deliver value and ROI. Many times, these advantages can end up saving you money, while making your branded pieces even stronger. Once you’ve narrowed your list of potential grand format partners to those who are both capable and committed to high-quality work, it’s these value-adds that set true solution providers apart from average vendors.
Let’s run through all of these one-by-one.
Can they create the grand format print to fuel my brand campaigns?
In addition to knowing what specific types of large format pieces you need and might need in the future, it’s important to take this question one step further: what specifically do you need from those print pieces? Or in other words, what job do want your print pieces to do in order to be successful marketing tools?
Here’s a quick example to sharpen this point: Imagine you’re a franchise and you need a consistent way to launch big, national campaigns. You need all of your franchisees to have access to all of the promotional and brand materials – menus, offers, brochures, mailers, etc. - including the appropriate mix of grand format materials for their locations. What you need in your grand format pieces is likely different than, say, a sports arena needing to promote their athletes, advertise their sponsors, direct fans and support events and concerts in their venue.
While everyone needs their grand format pieces to attract attention, drive sales, and build brand recognition, the franchiser needs to prioritize brand control, national reach, and allowing franchisees to order and distribute the appropriate mix of grand format pieces along with all of the other promotional materials included in a “new store opening” or national campaign kit. They are less worried about things like the type of material to use for signage based on weather or ensuring signage is easily replaceable to accommodate sponsorship changes in a sports arena.
Consider what specifically you need from your grand format print pieces and create a list of questions to ask potential print partners accordingly. Can they create all of the pieces to fit your specific needs and goals? Do they have experience creating pieces like that? What similar projects can they show you to demonstrate their expertise?
Will their print pieces meet and exceed your - and your consumers’ - expectations?
Grand format displays are a direct reflection of your brand, so their success relies on high-quality colors, images, and materials in order to be eye-catching and compelling.
While the advantages of a high-quality print piece are somewhat obvious, less so are the risks and costs of poor quality. The American Society for Quality offers a very informative deep dive into all the ways poor quality can incur extra costs here, but we summarized the two most relevant concepts below: internal and external failure costs.
- Internal failure costs. These are the additional expenses your business has to face when a poor printing job is detected before displays are shipped. The printer’s ink might not match the graphics or brand guidelines. The lines may be blurred. The cuts may be poor. Whatever the quality issue is, the printer’s mistakes can mean expenses, delays, and unhappy end-users for you.
- External failure costs. These are the costs that arise when poor quality print materials aren’t detected until they’re shipped and implemented. They’re all the woes we just covered above plus the lost opportunity costs that come when an otherwise great campaign is sunk by poorly-executed print piece. They’re also the reputational and financial damages that come from customer complaints and all the frustrating expenses of returns and rework.
All of these extra expenses are preventable by doing proper due diligence from the start and resisting the urge to let price overtake quality as a key factor.
Ask what specific measures potential providers have in place to ensure and guarantee quality work. One of the most basic, yet most important quality measures for grand format printing in particular is the ability to print directly onto the substrate. Use this as your starting point and build a list of questions to evaluate whether or not your vendor puts quality first.
How do they set themselves apart to give you greater value?
Finding the uncommon commercial printer that can also fulfill your grand format needs might seem like an automatic win, but there are some critical value-adds that can help you spot a true partner within your shortlist of potential print vendors. A true partner should understand your business. They should offer not just one kind of print service, but a range of solutions that solve your business challenges – vertical expertise combined with a technology-enabled brand portal, order management, print, production, distribution, payment and reporting capabilities.
Consider the following questions below to identify a provider that can go above and beyond to save you money while increasing the ROI of your marketing efforts:
- Do they understand your business and have best practices to offer? Simply having the equipment to produce grand format print pieces isn’t enough to expect success. Your solution partner should have firsthand experience with businesses like yours and be able to lend best practices to ensure your campaign has everything it needs to be a measurable success.
- Do they have domain expertise, a variety of equipment, and modern technology? Grand format printing requires extreme attention to detail and a mastery of modern equipment and technology. Make sure your print partner isn’t just a printer, but an expert at taking an idea and adapting it to the grand format medium to maximize its power as a part of your overall marketing campaign and customer touch point strategy.
- Do they have an impressive large format portfolio? One of the best ways to evaluate potential partners that look similar on paper is to compare the work they’ve already done. If you’re a national brand, can they show you examples of print pieces they’ve done for similarly-sized companies? Likewise, if you’re marketing at the regional or local level, do they have examples of impressive work that led to marketing successes?
- Are they a one-stop shop? Even more rare than a commercial printer with grand format capabilities is one that can help you eliminate the need for multiple vendors entirely through an end-to-end platform for all of your marketing supply chain needs.
OneTouchPoint can produce Grand Format, full-color custom graphics that are both high impact and high quality to support any business. We can create nearly anything, in any size – based on your brand specifications. Sign up for a free consultation today and order the ultimate print sample box to get a taste of our capabilities and print quality.