There are a vast number of people who will always look for the cheapest alternative to everything, and sadly two of the areas that are often sacrificed on the altar of a "good deal," are design and printing.
Good communication is vitally important.
I think you would agree. Yet, we often stop short on that road when we choose to sacrifice the quality of and in our communication.
Many of you know that I am a huge Apple fan. I can still remember the box my first Apple iBook computer came in. And to this day, one of the most exciting things to do is to open a new Apple product. They have quality products, but deeper to their core as a brand is that they have taken care of every detail. From the colors that are used on the white canvas of their products to the very paper, glue, and wrappings covering their products. The information booklets, the apple stickers, everything inside each product's box was meticulously planned, designed, and printed. It is a part of their quality as a brand. If Apple expects people to purchase their products at a higher price, they understand their products must be surrounded by quality.
If we believe our message, our product, or our service is valuable, then why do we sacrifice the design and print quality that is vital in promoting those values?
I will be the first to admit that printing is not the most exciting part of a project. It's not fun finding a good, reliable, and qualified print company. And because of that many have chosen to do their printing in-house on subpar print and copy equipment, or to use some company who offers the lowest rates but offer very little value. We must always remember that when our brand, our name, and our message are contained in any form of communication, it should be viewed from both your side as well as that of the reader/consumer. Take a few extra minutes each project and consider not only how everything will look, but how it will be folded, printed, viewed, and felt. Think of the paper size and thickness. Understand how the color will absorb in certain papers more than others and how that may affect the experience of the consumer.
When it comes to printing, here are some questions you can consider so that you do not waste your time or money on printing costs.
Will this be consumed by dozens, hundreds, or thousands? The higher the number, the higher the quality must be considered.
How important is the information on this printed piece? Concerning the first question above, you could have an important print piece that is being given at an important meeting to a handful of important delegates. In that case, don't print/copy your full-color brochure on a black and white office paper and then handed out by a secretary who was in a hurry when stapling it all together. It shows that it wasn't prepared and that your message doesn't matter.
Does this printer offer any type of discounted rates? If you are a non-profit organization, such as a church, I would ask each printer you do business with if they offer non-profit rates. Many of them do. If they don't, ask them if you print your projects through them if they will give you a loyalty discount and ask how much that could save you over time. If you never ask, you will never know.
Is there an affordable local printer? I am a huge proponent for finding a local printer and investing in that local business. The only exception is if you can save money considerably by getting a higher quality and customer experience for the same or lower price you get from your local vendor. However, local printers could be good because they usually can turn things over quickly and building relationships is a key part of any organization. The longer you know and work with someone, the more it becomes beneficial for both parties.
Keep one thing in mind: Design and printing are relatives. When one is having a bad day, the other can easily be affected. Case in point, you can have an incredible design but choose a bad printer, or you could have a subpar design and it is printed nicely. Either way, people will notice the attention that lacked the design or print choices. If you believe everything should be done decently, in order, with quality and perfection, then consider all aspects of your communication.
Printing is just one facet of your communication, but it is a vital area that is often avoided, dreaded, or completely underrated.
As a design agency, we take very seriously our print partners and vendors that we not only personally use but also recommend to our clients. Listed below we have given you the printers we use or recommend, hopefully, anyone of these would be a good start or continuation of quality printing.
primoprint.com (full-service printer; offers non-profit accounts)
smartpress.com (excellent source for any quantity and sizes)
uprinting.com (best printer we found for custom-size-folded projects)
4over.com (great for consistent printwork)
gotprint.com (good on pricing)
color-banner.com (offers great signage products)
sign4x.com (sister company with color-banner)
sdsign.com (good promotional signage and booths)
printpapa.com (offers larger booklet and bound book printing)
discountmugs.com (promotional products)
4imprint.com (promotional products)
cupprint.com (custom, full-graphic cups)