04 May 2020 Print Companies

The new face for print

Society will undoubtedly be changed following the coronavirus pandemic. We cannot say confidently what that change will look like or when it will become established, but printers should be clear and confident on their business's outlook in order to stand apart from the rest.

The printing industry, the country, the world even, are going to be changed by the current Covid-19 pandemic. That much is known. What is not is when the new normal will be in place or what it looks like. We do not know how long social distancing will be necessary or if it will become habitual; we do not know when or if business travel will return to 2019 levels; we do not know if offices, shops and restaurants will ever be what they were. These are all customers of the printing industry, which must in turn be affected by these changes. Printers will need to change.

It makes sense for printers to think of how they are perceived by customers, either existing or potential customers. There is literally no time like the present to reassess any mission statements, customer policies, sustainability stance, commitment to employees and more. In short printers should look at their brand and commit to it. Sustainability for example, must go beyond lip service, it needs to be lived. There are fewer than a dozen carbon balanced printers in the UK currently. That will change. Every company is different, yet few seem to have the confidence to express this. When every printer says it is a high quality printer, with good service and keen prices, there is no value to these claims. Few printers stand out.

Yet that is precisely what will be needed once the crisis abates. The new rules of business will demand closer partnerships because we have all been in this one together; they will demand shorter and more local supply chains, built on absolute trust; they will demand sustainability and ethical ways of working. These are the elements that go into making a brand, ahead of print quality, the machinery that is used, not always the cheapest price (though the first wave of comeback will be led on price). We know the industry is changing, printers must change too.

Gareth Ward