By Melissa Donovan
Singularly, any material able to be printed on a digital printer meets a print service provider’s (PSP’s) goals, and by extension their client’s goals as well. Thinking outside of the box by combining multiple substrates to create complementary applications can really make a brand standout. This is especially the case for marketing campaigns in the display and point of purchase (POP) space.
Above: Etobicoke, ON, Canada-based sign maker Minoh Inc used Drytac ReTac Textures Linen embossed film to create a series of striking wall graphics for Marlin Spring, an integrated real estate company, that were part of a wider interior video wall display.
Between rigid board, magnetics, and fabrics as well as vinyl and film, each substrate complements the other in display and POP environments. Utilizing different materials in one marketing campaign creates multiple dimensions of texture and depth.
“Different substrates offer distinct attributes that complement each other and provide functional performance and aesthetics when used together as components in display and POP environments,” shares Jodi Sawyer, strategic business unit manager, FLEXcon Company, Inc.
Sawyer explains that many films can be dyed, brushed, laminated, printed, and applied to foamboard or rigid styrene to help create displays that match the brand colors on the package container or label. A holographic/prismatic pressure-sensitive product or a reflective film can be laminated to a rigid substrate or banner to provide a look and feel that could not be achieved with direct print. Alternatively, they can be embossed, which offers different types of texture and a tactile feel for displays.
Note, multiple substrates also means multiple applications. In retail especially, shoppers are inundated with all types of messaging. “One effective way to achieve top-of-mind awareness is to utilize multiple forms of signage with overhead, shelf level, display cases, and floor graphics. This approach delivers high awareness per shopper with quick repetition of impressions for each graphic in a space that literally grabs their attention,” explains Micah Causey, VP, FloorSignage, LLC.
An example of multiple applications in action, “window films that get the customer’s attention at the door or from the parking lot. This is often unconsciously noticed, but the message is still carried as the customer walks through the store. This is then reinforced with in-store POP graphics,” shares Aaron Vananda, supply chain executive North America, Newlife Magnetics LLC.
“Different substrates such as printed wall graphics paired with channel letters or LED TV screens really complement one other to create an eye-catching experience for the customer. The wall graphics set the overall tone or feeling of a space, while channel letters or TV screens convey additional information and messaging,” says Amanda Lowe, global marketing director, Drytac.
Another illustration is a translucent fabric hanging in front of a rigid or flexible opaque printed image—textiles work well with styrenes, PETG, Gatorfoam products, and others, suggests Hoddy Peck, Southwest sales manager, Fisher Textiles. “In most cases, the complementary nature of the wide format substrates takes advantage of the differences between them, while drawing on the strengths of each. Some feature contrasts might include rigid versus flexible, translucent versus opaque, backlighted versus reflective, shapeable versus geometric, and stretched versus flowing.”
“Combining substrates in display and POP environments offers a compelling advantage by providing visual contrast, customization options, and flexibility,” adds Roy Ritchie, president, DreamScape.
Merging multiple substrates together creates dimension. “Each company’s offerings are unique, so by incorporating different thicknesses, materials, and offerings, you can make a display with multi-level colors and dimensions. The display then doesn’t become one dimensional but more defined and eye appealing,” shares Tim Witucki, senior account manager, Panel Processing, Inc.
“A flat display or a standalone sticker might be enough to get your message across, but mixed media and depth can truly make your promotion stand out. Add to those layers with different print films, mixing matte and gloss, plain and a rainbow holographic material for accents, chalkboard vinyl or dry erase sections for handwritten daily specials,” suggests Jay Kroll, product manager for cut, transit, and wall solutions, General Formulations.
A successful marketing campaign pops in a crowd. “Carefully selecting and combining substrates creates a diverse range of visual effects, textures, and functionalities that produce more engaging and effective displays that leave a lasting impression on customers,” says Aarona Tesch, product marketing manager, GBC, an ACCO Brands Company.
“Combining various substrates and applications within a display or POP can really grab the consumer’s attention, which is the best way for a campaign to provide the desired results. In a crowded retail space, displays that stand out are the key to success,” advises Becky McConnell, marketing manager, Durst Image Technology.
Where You Look
Multi-faceted marketing campaigns with multiple digitally printed substrates are common in certain environments over others. Today, we see them used more often due to advancements in print technology.
Kroll seees these types of campaigns in movie theaters, specialty retail, and high-end brand displays. “There are pockets of popularity with these types of displays, but their complexity for both print and assembly, and the subsequent cost to produce, make them less common for commodity applications. The quantity is likely lower, the cost threshold a little higher, and there is a built-in expectation that the final presentation will create a sense of space with the display of brand messaging.”
Transit advertising also benefits. Also referred to as station domination, “this is when a brand secures all of the advertising inventory at a rail or bus station, which may include display boards, column wraps, and floor graphics,” notes Causey.
Tesch believes more people turn to campaigns in display and POP with multiple substrates because of advancements in digital print technology. “It allows for more cost-effective and efficient production of a variety of substrates. This includes not only paper but fabrics, plastics, and vinyl.”
“Multi-faceted campaigns with multiple digitally printed substrates are growing due to advancements in printing technology, enhanced personalization, flexibility, brand differentiation, and the need for omni-channel marketing. The utilization of multiple substrates allows for brands to be more creative when designing custom environments that align with their unique identity and cater precisely to their target audience,” explains Ritchie.
Sawyer credits growth to the pandemic as well. “The demand for social distancing graphic kits gave PSPs the opportunity to work with multiple substrates and materials they may never have worked with in the past. Narrow format label printers who were accustomed to printing on paper were printing floor and counter graphics on pressure-sensitive film products. PSPs specializing in vehicle wraps and commercial printers, for example, were partnering with metal and plastic fabricators to provide digitally printed hand sanitizer stations or with dye-sublimation (dye-sub) printers for textile banners and soft signage.”
“Most wide format printers that have been routinely printing UV curing rigid or flexible substrates are being asked by clients about textile opportunities. This led to incorporating dye-sub textile printing into their production capability in recent years. This is a reflection of the need for complementary substrates, in addition to the economy of one-stop shopping for the ultimate retailer,” says Peck.
After a brand owner executes a campaign of this nature, it’s hard to go back. “Once a brand or retailer sees results from multi-faceted campaigns, I think it’s fair to say that they take advantage of similar campaigns in the future,” admits McConnell.
“Each brand has an advertising allotment and is unique in how they advertise. Some go out with a splash using extra-large building wraps or lit displays that make a Michael Jordan come alive. There will always be tremendous business for branding using fabrics, PVC, and mesh. Retailers may change, but someone wants the top billing,” attests Steve Weiss, NA sales manager/sign digital, Serge Ferrari.
Big box brands are prime contenders for multi-faceted marketing campaigns that leverage different substrates. However, small- and medium-sized businesses can also benefit from a multi-substrate campaign if it is executed appropriately.
In general, digital print media is advantageous for “a business looking to add flare and eye-catching graphics,” recommends Witucki.
Kevin Duffy, VP, sales and marketing, Vycom, believes “any size business can benefit from multi-faceted campaigns. The beauty of digital print is that there are no makeready minimums, and so many substrates are available now that short runs are within reach for small- and medium-sized stores.”
“Every retailer can take part in their own way. You don’t have to advertise in/like Grand Central Station to get noticed. Smaller can be big if it’s done right and in the customer’s vision/sight,” suggests Weiss.
A multi-faceted approach is used by small- and medium-sized businesses for the same reasons a big box brand would choose to use it—to effectively reach a target audience, differentiate from competitors, and create a memorable experience for the prospective buyer. To be successful, “the key is to understand their audience, tailor the campaign to their specific needs, and utilize the available resources and technologies to create visually appealing and impactful materials,” says Tesch.
“For small- and mid-sized companies without national brand recognition, customer acquisition and the cost to acquire each new customer is very important. This can be done with POP, large and grand format advertisements, along with digital marketing, and we are seeing a resurgence of mail out advertising,” notes Vananda.
According Ritchie, anyone benefits. “Big brands leverage larger budgets to create visually stunning displays and environments, while smaller businesses can also stand out, connect with their audience, and adapt quickly due to accessible wide format digital printing technologies.”
While Causey says that big box brands utilize multi-faceted marketing campaigns with multiple substrates more often, “emerging new brands can strategically implement the approach for big bang impressions that will make consumers aware of their brand and products.”
Examples include “boutique local and regional retailers that offer private label brands for personal care, food, and beverage using multi-faceted campaigns—window graphics, banners, street side menu boards, vehicle graphics, and a host of other visual communications—to engage with consumers on the streets and in their neighborhoods,” cites Sawyer.
Peck doesn’t see business size as a driver. Instead, he notes that it’s all about how the project is implemented. “Effectively using multiple substrates and images in a retail environment requires some design expertise to make it work. Sometimes the merchandizer owns the design inspiration, but sometimes it’s embedded with the print producer who uses it as a selling tool for their team. In the best lasting relationships, the printer and retailer have a design partnership that works. In short, some of the most effective and creative uses of multiple digitally printed substrates have been in chains of less than ten stores.”
“Big box stores and smaller businesses benefit from multi-faceted campaigns as many of the different substrates are obtainable from your traditional PSP. PSPs should educate customers on these applications as a way to upsell their services and offerings,” recommends Lowe.
At the end of the day, Kroll says it’s all about engagement. “There’s an argument to be made that any increase in visibility or mindshare is going to ultimately benefit a business, providing that the message and delivery are done in such a way as to best engage with the audience. This would apply to businesses large and small.”
With the many materials available to PSPs, it can be overwhelming thinking of how to use them best. We asked vendors in this article to share a bit about their products.
DreamScape’s repositionable Wall+Floor Wrap products offer synergy with other materials, delivering efficiency due to ease of installation and removal capabilities on walls, floors, counters, windows, ceilings, and fixtures. Additionally, a three-ply construction ensures durability and effectively conceals imperfections on the applied surface, providing a smooth finish.
Several Drytac media offerings work well with various multi-faceted campaigns. ReTac Textures adds depth and visual appeal to static, flat images with its embossed textured finish. With ReTac ultra-removable adhesive on the back, eye-catching graphics printed on ReTac Textures can easily be removed and repositioned multiple times without the worry of adhesive residue. The film is easily applied, removed, and repositioned without surface damage or loss of adhesion.
Fisher Textiles offers numerous fabric types optimized for digital print. “Softer with better touch and feel; they complement retail apparel products. For example, a photo of women’s apparel in a store looks better and more realistic printed on textiles, then on plastic,” notes Peck.
FLExcon’s pressure-sensitive film products provide several benefits that enhance the look and performance of the finished graphic. Pressure-sensitive film laminations such as metalized polyester/vinyl can be laminated to a rigid plastic or foamboard to create a design component that mimics the look of metal without the cost of using real metal and shipping a heavier display. Products like FLEXcon PRISMcal holographic films and FLEXcon SHIMMERcal glitter films, when laminated to rigid substrates, give displays and POP graphics functionality, light and movement, and aesthetics that stand out.
For large format print media like FloorSignage’s floor graphics materials, Causey suggests using the floor graphic substrate to lead the shopper from the parking lot, down the sidewalk, through the entrance, and directly to the display.
GBC’s media offering provides enhanced durability, protection from the elements, and a professional appearance, according to Tesch. The print media and lamination solutions work well with various types of digital print devices and enable businesses to create a range of laminated products tailored to their specific needs.
General Formulations’ array of adhesive-backed digital print media gives a flexible solution that can bridge multiple surfaces and substrates to bring cohesiveness to a display, tying in floor and wall graphics, or decorative film elements, into the final presentation.
Newlife Magnetics’ magnet is often applied to polystyrene and expanded PVC boards. This is then used to mount the magnet-receptive products as graphics.
Panel Processing’s rigid boards are environmentally friendly. With a wood substrate and water-based coatings the consumer can dispose of the product. It breaks down in the elements and/or landfill, as well as will not leave a footprint. The wood substrate version is available in varying thicknesses and size offerings. “This gives the end user more choice when designing their display,” notes Witucki.
Serge Ferrari produces products for trade show, retail, and events as well as for solar protection, furniture, awnings, and tensile architecture. Trade shows want cost-effective, crease-free fabric. Retail requests brilliant light boxes. Other markets look to technical aspects with warranties. “The application and the expectancy of each are critical to suggest the correct fabric. Further, knowing the theme can be critical when using a fabric with a rigid. Achieving the special effect the customer and audience want is often what we try achieve,” adds Weiss.
Vycom’s Celtec rigid PVC material offers an extensive range of thicknesses, finishes, and colors. Signage specifications for a single retailer may include a lightweight substrate such as Celtec DigiLite PC for sectional signage, Celtec Thick Gauge PVC for display shelving, and Celtec Woodgrain PVC for a rustic appeal in a gardening area. “Rigid PVC is a primary signage material choice for PSPs that outfit large retail chains and big box stores due to its versatility and durability, along with its ability to be printed on two sides,” shares Duffy.
If print providers plan to offer multi-faceted marketing campaigns, they need to confidently output graphics to all media types, ensuring color matching across the different substrates.
It comes down to working with the right combination of hardware, software, media, and ink. “PSPs that have a handle on color matching across substrates and devices have perfected this for years, and as a result, many printer, ink, and software developments certainly changed how and how easily this can be achieved. Relying on recommended and approved inks is a critical component to achieving color matching, and many software tools allow PSPs to take the guessing out of color results,” explains McConnell.
Intelligent printing technologies are helpful here as well. Features like optimizing printheads by arranging the dots in a way to take into account how they look to reduce banding for smoother print images is one example, shares Miguel Gonzalez, director of sales, Mutoh America, Inc. Other tools specific to Mutoh are Local Dimming Control, which allows the user to control the density of the UV LED lights on printers and DropMaster 2, which automates work once completed by visual confirmation and manual print inputs.
With multiple materials at a PSP’s disposal, there are endless possibilities for display and POP campaigns. That being said, it’s important that the PSP’s team is capable of executing this approach.
“It takes savvy design skills combined with a solid knowledge of available materials and substrates to put together a cohesive package that enhances the visual appeal of a POP display,” cautions Kroll.
According to Peck, “the best print salespeople listen to their clients and prospects and use material variability and complementary nature to provide unique and interesting visual solutions for retailers.”
Learn more about multi-faceted marketing campaigns in a recent webinar on digitaloutput.net.
Oct2023, Digital Output