Scents, Coatings, In-Line Foils, Special Embossing Add Pizzazz and Differentiation
The French have a phrase for that indefinable aspect, je ne sais quoi, which literally translates to "I don't know what." Fancy folk like to sprinkle that pearl into occasional conversation whenever they like to reference something or someone that has a certain flair you can't put a finger on, but recognize it when you see it.
Let's be honest...we can be a bit pretentious and maybe superficial when it comes to spotting indefinable aspects. Nature of the beast, right? After all, ours is a society that isn't afraid to plunk down several dollars to purchase bottled water that, in the final analysis, is sold via pretty labels with amazing graphics depicting glaciers or waterfalls. Too bad it was processed in rusting drums.
But who are we to judge that which sells? Your job is to help your client's product or service stand apart from the pack, and the printing industry has been blessed with a number of accoutrements—call them embellishments—to achieve that end. And there are many roads that can be taken to arrive at that destination, including special coatings, scents, foiling, embossing and even glitter. We've canvassed a handful of printers who stray a bit from the beaten path to get their take on the effectiveness of such embellishments.
One of the more comprehensive embellishers we came across is Worthington, MN-based Bedford Industries, which debuted in 1966 as a wire twist-tie manufacturer. The firm has blossomed in a number of different solutions for bundling, identification tags, converting technology, packaging reclosures and its trademark ElastiTag product line.
According to Deb Houseman, creative/marketing manager for Bedford Industries, ElastiTag has really struck a chord with clients. The one-piece solution has a stretchy elastomer loop and a durable tag, which allows it to be stretched around bundled produce, for example. But its uses expand beyond grocery, with strong demand in the health and beauty, spirits and home fragrance verticals.
"Once we started to grow into spirits, health and beauty, home and houseware—markets where more detailed printing and special effects became important—that's when it came into being," Houseman says. "ElastiTag's entire purpose is to draw attention, engage the shopper and motivate a purchase."
One of the attention getters employed by Bedford Industries is Scentisphere's Rub-N-Smell coating, which friction-triggers the release of a desired aroma. The company also uses matte and gloss varnishes, tactile coatings, rotary screen printing, glitter coatings, metallic inks, color shifting inks and foil stamping.
With so many embellishments at its disposal, Bedford Industries relies on the prowess of its marketing division to showcase the many possibilities available for the ElastiTag. The company generates sample tags that incorporate various embellishments, which are sent to current customers and prospects, and to leads resulting from trade shows and conferences. A recent campaign, "What's New Mailer, Bling Edition," was sent to the marketing and brand managers among Bedford's clients.
"Once they have (the tags) in their hands...can smell it or feel the tactile coating, see the way the glitter reflects..that's when the phone really starts ringing," Houseman notes. "We generate a lot of interest that way."
Dealing With Reactive Substrates
Since the ElastiTag is made with a film-based substrate, Bedford worked closely with Scentisphere during testing to devise a coating that would work, as it differs from paper or board stock in how it accepts inks. The company uses roll-to-roll production, so introducing scent, glitter and foil can raise questions regarding how materials release during the process.
Benson Integrated Marketing Solutions of Alpharetta, GA, is another company that falls under the category of printing-plus, with a permanent sign division, temporary signage (using flatbed and roll-to-roll printers), kit packing, e-commerce services, apparel embroidery, promotional products and a 12-member design contingent. According to CEO Brian Benson, about $7 million of its $25+ million in annual revenue is derived from printing.
Benson Integrated produces real estate marketing materials. Nearly 100 percent of its business is geared toward serving publicly traded real estate investment trusts. Armed with a new HP Indigo 10000 digital press, Benson Integrated had a two-fold need for special coatings. It needed the protection afforded by the coatings in the digital printing process to prevent scuffing. Secondly, customers would be drawn to the possibilities that the coatings offered. It helped drum up added clients who had been using smaller printers that did not possess the capability.
Benson Integrated turned to Harris & Bruno for an ExcelCoat ZR off-line coater, which was installed in May of 2014. The machine was up and running within five days and Benson notes that there haven't been any operating issues. In fact, Benson counts his absence from the troubleshooting/challenges conversations as validation that the process has gone off without a hitch.
"Everything from the purchasing process to installation to the training and ongoing support has been one of the best experiences I've had with a manufacturer—right up there with HP and Heidelberg," he states.
A Capability That's Priced to Sell
A quality presentation is important to the real estate niche, which traffics in properties ranging from shopping malls and office buildings to apartment complexes and self-storage units. One of Benson Integrated's pocket folders is used in promotional materials for the HP Indigo 10000 to demonstrate its printing capabilites. The firm also does offbeat hand work projects: One campaign included inserting printed material into Mason jars, which were accentuated with ribbons. So much for stoic and staid.
"In my business, we're seeing a lot of interest in the soft touches, the velvety feel and other coatings. People love that and we're getting a lot of requests for it," Benson remarks.
"I come from a marketing background, and this is an experience for the industry that is different, unexpected," he adds. "From the moment they touch the material, it feels different. That alone captures the attention of the consumer at a cost of a couple pennies; it's such a small, inexpensive embellishment. It's less trendy than the overuse of foil stamping or embossing. That's what I like about the coatings."
Additionally, clients have been pleased with how the process enables Benson Integrated to honor its pledge that "any job in is out in 48 hours." The speed and reliability of the ExcelCoat, in tandem with the strong work performed by the HP Indigo 10000, has made for a stellar combination for the company.
J.S. McCarthy Printers, one of New England's oldest sheetfed printers, produces a variety of materials for ad agencies, the corporate world, higher ed and fine arts, including catalogs, publications, sell sheets, brochures, direct mail, menus, folding cartons, greeting cards and books. In addition to its wide range of printing capabilities, the Augusta, ME-based firm likes to spice things up with glitter, spot aqueous coatings and scented printing.
When your menu is as overflowing as J.S. McCarthy Printers, it helps to have samples of your wares to help customers understand different specialty applications. Bill White, COO, points out that his firm produces a unique calendar each year that showcases some of their printing techniques. Among the embellishments in recent years has been a Scentisphere scented varnish.
"The value-added application of scented varnish for the correct project and client sells itself," White maintains. "The uniqueness of a custom scent applied directly to a client marketing piece provides an opportunity to use one of our scents that is not customarily used in the printing process and defines the marketing of the product on a completely different level."
Sweet Smell of Success
J.S. McCarthy Printers is no rookie when it comes to scented varnish; the company has offered it for 10 years. The printer recently collaborated with a national liquor brand that used the scents to market flavored lines. Three flavors were mocked in the varnish, with a hang tag mailed as a coupon with each of the aromas represented. The campaign was a rousing success, White says.
"The investments are not substantial to utilize this process," White concludes. "What is important is to understand the technology and how it works, which can be done in partnership with the qualified vendor."
A mutually rewarding relationships exists between Multi Packaging Solutions (MPS)—an international provider based in New York City, with locations on three continents—and Eagle Systems, which manufactures the Cold Foiler. Back in 2006, MPS was on the bleeding edge of cold foiling for sheetfed presses, using equipment supplied by a European-based company.
According to John Cote, vice president of global innovation and manufacturing technology for MPS, the package printer was trying to find a solution for a brighter, more dynamic, metallic look with an in-line solution for its sheetfed offset press. While foil seemed to be the best bet from MPS' viewpoint, there wasn't any existing equipment to either add on-press or presses fitted with the cold foilers.
MPS combined with the European company, along with two U.S. engineering firms, to develop a system at its Indianapolis plant. But, when the supplier ran into trouble and MPS found itself in need of technical expertise for the in-line cold foiler, Eagle Systems stepped up to the plate. Thus, when it came time for MPS to invest in a new solution, the choice was easy.
MPS is currently using a pair of Eagle Systems Cold Foilers, one on an eight-color Komori Lithrone press at its Dallas plant, and another in Indianapolis on a 10-color KBA Rapida 105. According to Cote, the in-line solution from Eagle Systems is rich in automation, and its ease of use enables operation for any semi-skilled worker.
At first, the Cold Foiler proved to be a solid solution for multimedia clients—DVDs, CD covers and booklets supporting special packaging, but MPS has also found fertile ground with pharmacy, cosmetics, hair care, confectionary and sports equipment.
"We've marketed both through word-of-mouth and innovation presentations we give to customers that discuss various finishing technologies and decorating techniques—particularly, how to 'bling up' a package," Cote says. "We educate customers about the benefits of FoilKote with design guides, production samples and creative support for enhancing artwork with metallic effects."
Sometimes, the true potential of a new piece of equipment doesn't become fully apparent until it has been installed. That was the case with Exton, PA-based Brilliant Graphics, which excels at producing high-end color products, including view books. Customers were constantly seeking cover enhancements, including UV and embossing, and Brilliant was looking for the most effective way to deliver on those needs. Within the last six months, the printer installed a new Scodix Ultra Digital Enhancement press.
According to Michael Marconi, director of business development for Brilliant Graphics, not only has the press been a plus for cover enhancements, it has bolstered direct mail pieces with added textures. "We were doing UV coatings, aqueous coatings and varnishes," he notes. "In a variable or digital atmosphere, this press enables us to add a texture or coating that can mimic embossing. We can take a conventional ink and hit it with the enhancement to give the effect or appearance of something that's similar to a metallic.
"Whether it's adding a texture to a box or an enhancement to a photo, these enhancements can help our customers drive their product. For us, it's more about hitting the sheet precisely and not having a lot of spread or variance. The Scodix Ultra press has been able to accomplish that."
Brilliant Graphics has also used the press to punch up brochures, flyers, book covers and packaging applications. One recent job was a spot-on piece for a high-end candy manufacturer, which carried a somewhat high degree of difficulty, but Brilliant was able to produce an eye-catching graphic that spoke to the client's requirements. Sometimes, it's as simple as enhancing the customer's logo on a pocket folder or adding a customer's name to a standard, one-color job.
The printer has already built an impressive portfolio that shows off the capabilities of the Scodix press, and Marconi notes that the capabilities will continue to build interest as clients have their imaginations stirred in a process that is relatively inexpensive, especially given the impact such embellishments can have on a product.
3D UV Adds Spark for Customers
One finishing company is so enamored with embellishments that it recently had its own version of 3D UV printing branded. Fort Wayne, IN-based Sipe Inc., a finishing house that serves commercial printers and marketing firms, has a service mark for its Touch Me 3D-UV offering. Sipe has offered the capability for a little more than 18 months and uses a JETvarnish 3D from MGI USA.
Lisa Hill, vice president of sales and marketing for Sipe, notes that the Touch Me 3D-UV has been an easy sell for its commercial printing clients, which are keen to market new capabilities to their own customers. The embellishment can be visually explosive or classically understated, but the results are the same: A remarkable final piece with that added zest.
"It's helped our customers in gaining new clients," she says. "Since we've been establishing these new partnerships, our growth has become exponential. Once we send samples, they can see and feel how our Touch Me 3D-UV can enhance brochures, packaging, mailers, book covers and other items. The 3D-UV can absolutely bring the wow factor, really 'pop' a logo or new product. It can also convey the image of higher quality."
One job done by Sipe entailed jazzing up an auto show press kit for a car manufacturer. A shot of the Touch Me 3D-UV enabled the car logo to have the look and feel of a hood ornament. Boat manufacturers have been early customers, as well, since the 3D-UV can add life and texture to images of water.
"If you have two items sitting on a shelf next to one another, that 3D-UV can absolutely capture and hold one's attention," she says. "It's a great, inexpensive way for customers to differentiate themselves." PI