The “P” Word Needs Rebranding

In my opinion, the printing/graphic arts industry needs two things:

  1. a new name, and
  2. a futurist.

In the course of an industry’s or organization’s lifecycle, a new “brand” sometimes needs to be developed. For example, what once was the Department of War is now called the Department of Defense. Within the industry sector, name changes have a history as well. A recent switch within the food industry is the name change of its front-of-package (FOP) labeling scheme from “Nutrition Keys” to “Facts Up Front.”

The list can go on and on. Perhaps the print industry needs a new brand, a new name, a new face—a name that reflects the commerce-based nature of print, and the need to align the segment with the other revitalized and emerging industries. I suggest (and I am certainly not the first one to do so) that print from this blog post on be known as Prnt-Commerce. pCommerce has a history and it just sounds too yellow to me.

The term print is aged and being challenged from many quarters.

Have you heard of the Gütenberg Parenthesis? No, well you should. Thomas Pettitt explained the way in which he uses the term the Gütenberg Parenthesis: the idea that oral culture was in a way interrupted by Gütenberg’s invention of the printing press and the roughly 500 years of print dominance; dominance now being challenged in many ways by digital culture and the orality it embraces.

A recent article in the New York Times also posits the need for a New English language, so why can’t print (prnt) lead the way? To me prnt alone does not define the process; no, prnt needs to be directly linked to commerce, for that is a key part of the print model. The goal is not only to print money, but also to allow money to be made, using prnt as the vehicle of choice in this money-making process.

Thad Kubis is an unconventional storyteller, offering a confused marketplace a series of proven, valid, integrated marketing/communication solutions. He designs B2B or B2C experiential stories founded on Omni-Channel applications, featuring demographic/target audience relevance, integration, interaction, and performance analytics and program metrics.

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  • goodidea

    Great post to get the conversation going. Please, please, please post this on Twitter as I think it would get RT a lot as many would discuss. Be sure to add tags such as #print #helpprintthrive #printer

  • Michelle L. Bracali

    Here, here! Good post. I agree. Here’s a thought…perhaps this futurist will be outside our industry. Can’t speak for everyone but in my opinion a lot of people in print is suffering from the Innovators Dilemma. (As so coined by Harvard professor, Clayton Christensen, in his classic business book from 2003.) Not sure what the Innovators Dilemma is? Think Kodak putting the kibosh on the digital camera after inventing it in the late 70’s. They did so as to not cannibalize their bread and butter, film sales. But it was inevitable that another company would introduce the technology. It takes big guts to cannibalize sales today for future growth tomorrow.

    A company that got around the Innovators Dilemma was Apple. Steve Jobs knew the iPhone would impede iPod sales but he moved forward with the technology before anyone else. Sure, iPod sales decreased but iPhone sales exploded. Getting around the Innovators Dilemma is thinking like Apple, not Kodak. For a lot of traditional printers this is really hard to do, especially when many are struggling with large loans for equipment that is no longer worth the value of the bank note. Ditto for buildings and land in depressed areas of the country.

    The future of print is limited. My advice to others in the industry – go for it. Have the guts. Take calculated risks. Now is the time for evolution. We’re doing it now at our company and whether we fail or succeed, at least we tried.

  • rio_longacre

    Thad – great post. I you’re going to attempt rebrand print (which is a good idea, by the way), I think it makes more sense to focus on its ongoing MarCom (Marketing/Communications) relevance, rather than commerce. Down the road, I can foresee a smaller, marketing-focused and more profitable industry. Sure, transactional mail may soon go the way of the dodo, but direct mail should remain alive and strong well into the future. – Rio