How Relevant are Industry Standards to Print Buyers?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to rain on industry efforts to better define quality expectations in printing. Certainly industry standards, such as SWOP, GRACoL, SNAP and Bridges, are noble and important. These standards seek to help buyers and their print solution providers communicate quality issues more effectively. And when used properly, they are effective. But with the exception of perhaps SNAP, print buyers for the most part aren’t paying that much attention to industry standards. And some print buyers don’t even know what they are.

In a Print Buyers survey of over 62 top print buyers, buyers were asked “How relevant are industry print standards such as SWOP, GRACoL, SNAP and Bridges to you as a print buyer?” Respondents stated the following:

21% — “Very relevant. I find them useful guides when working with my print suppliers.”

48% — “Somewhat relevant. I find them somewhat helpful, but I don’t rely on them often.”

18% — “Not relevant at all. I really don’t think they are very practical or useful for what my company produces.”

13% — “I don’t really know what these industry print standards are.”

Only 21% of respondents said that our industry standards are very relevant. While that’s great, consider the 31% who either aren’t familiar with those standards or do not feel that they are helpful. Those clients may require extra communication to make sure that you are both talking the same language on quality expectations.

Why aren’t industry standards more meaningful to print buyers? Is it a marketing problem? Perhaps our industry has to do a better job of getting the word out. Or is it because print buyers just don’t find the standards that useful? Share your opinion by posting a comment below.


Print Oasis 2008 Print Buyers Conference & Exhibit
February 9-12, 2008
Amelia Island Plantation, Amelia Island, FL

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  • http://BruceMcCurley Bruce McCurley

    15 years ago, we were producing the inflight magazine for a large national airline. On the very first one, we were, of course, very anxious to demonstrate our expertise and attention to detail. After many color corrections and re-proofing to make certain everything was up to SWOP standards and passed the color-booth tests, I delivered the final proofs to the publisher, whose production people spread everything out on their conference table for review. <br />
    I was called out of the room for a few minutes, and when I returned I found them looking at the proofs under flourescent overhead lighting (two different colors of flourescent whiteness), while holding various color slides up to the window for comparison. The day was overcast with clouds passing by occasionally, changing the appearance of the slides from full sunlight to whitish. <br />
    When I asked (as diplomatically as possible) why they didn’t have a viewing booth for this, the production guy said, "We like to see the color the same way a person sitting on the airplane would see it, and they wouldn’t have a viewing booth either." <br />
    True story, and I still cannot believe the publisher would hire someone that ignorant about the printing process.

  • http://RichardSohanchyk Richard Sohanchyk

    Nothing wrong with viewing proofs under same conditions as a reader of printed piece will. Low tech method but valid. Sometimes you have to aim for the middle and hope for the best.