Trend Knows Their Destination

By Mary Schilling / Published:

Member Innovation Spotlight

Many printers who migrate to high speed inkjet printing miss the mark when utilizing the equipment for their own marketing. Focusing on their customers and not so much themselves. This is certainly not the case for Trend.

Trend Offset Printing is located in Los Alamitos, CA but their roots run deep. Starting as a small, family-owned printing business in Southern California in the 1950’s, Trend has grown to be the largest privately-held printing company in North America employing team of over 1000. Over the years Trend has grown from a single printing facility to a national company of 8 plants across the U.S.

Trend Offset became “digital” in 2016 adding high speed inkjet to its menu by converting a large on-campus paper warehouse into a state-of-the-art digital production facility. Beginning with an Océ ImageStream 2400 high speed roll-to-roll inkjet printer, MBO finishing equipment, and toner based sheet-fed devices from Ricoh, Xerox, and Canon.

Reviewing their Options

“Existing offset customers were looking to add options such as personalized and versioned solutions, and some prospective customer’s projects required it. We needed quality that was comparable to Offset, a cost that would support a customer’s return on investment, and a print speed that would support high quantity print runs and time-sensitive content. Inkjet was the clear solution”, says Rik Hocking, Creative Technologist Extraordinaire for Trend Offset.

Rik Hocking shows inkjet design to print

“We quickly discovered a unique capability in which Trend would thrive… personalized or versioned covers bound with offset (static) interior pages. Utilizing years of offset printing and binding expertise this strategy provided a unique, cost-effective, and high-quality personalized product. We began with financial and lifestyle publications, and soon after moved heavily into the Travel vertical. Today we produce personalized magazines and direct mail campaigns in a variety of formats.”

Setting the Course

Trend takes customer privacy very seriously. Like most, not using paid customer campaigns or publications for demonstration purposes. Rik mentions, “we needed a prototype campaign that would demonstrate the type of work we were already doing for our customers. At the same time Trend Digital would be hosting an OEM event at our facility. We needed a quality piece that would showcase our new Océ ProStream 1000 printer which event attendees would see demonstrated; however, we did not want to produce a static piece that could have been printed on an offset press. We wanted to produce a piece that would not only showcase our inkjet production, but would also showcase the very reasons why a client would print inkjet in the first place.”

Tiered organizations such as franchisors fit well into inkjet solutions, and Trend wanted to produce a piece that would demonstrate this. For example, a financial institution may want to produce a single presorted direct mail product containing unique versions for each of their independent financial advisors. A travel network may want to co-brand and personalize their product for each of their independent travel agents based on recipient data.

“We wanted to show that variable data printing did not have to mean “compromise”. It did not have to mean short print runs, imprinting with shells, restrictive graphics and design, special skills for designers, or costly paper types. Our tools and workflows take all of these factors into consideration, and the Destination Guide would demonstrate it”, says Rik.

Envisioning the Destination

The design started with a concept called The Destination Guide. After determining the format (size, fold, etc) Rik, listed all of the features he requires for his own vacation into the piece and mapped out their implementation. Requirements were:

  • Numerous Destination Options. Each destination has its own prominent photo on the cover (a landmark of the destination).
  • Corporate Marketing. Each agency’s logo is reversed on the cover, and their name is within the body text on the cover and in the loyalty seal (shown above). The agency logo is displayed on the back cover in color along with the agency return address.
  • Customer Target Data. Each recipient was assigned a destination (usually based on their travel history). The recipient’s name, nearest international airport and international airport code (IATA) for that destination were all variable on the cover boarding pass.
  • A Loyalty Aspect. Recipients who have been customers of the mock travel agency for 5 years or more will have a loyalty seal on the cover. The loyalty seal contains the agency name, and the number of years the recipient has been a customer. The seal is not displayed for recipients with less than 5 years of loyalty.
  • Cross Marketing.  The back cover was designed to  advertise the nearest participating Mercedes Benz dealership relative to the recipient’s address. Recipient’s not living near a participating dealership will have a remnant ad for the Tahitian resort – Manava. The resort ad is customized with a spa photo if the recipient is female, and a golf photo for male recipients.
  • And of course, the recipients mailing data

Every feature used in the Destination Guide is either currently being used in live projects at Trend Digital or has previously been used at one time.

Designing the Destination

Next, the graphic layout. Knowing this would be heavily versioned and personalized a design framework was built as a single version using placeholder text and graphics. This enabled the variable content to be formatted independently of any variable-data details.

Once the initial framework was complete, Rik began the process of data layout by determining the data required to drive each of the features in the campaign. Once a data schema was produced containing sample data, a variety of scripts and programs were developed to acquire and format the final data and combine the data, the design framework and the campaign assets.

The original concept was conceived a few years ago by Michelle Ratzlaff,  one of Rik’s marketing and branding colleagues. Rik applied a redesign and utilizing all of the variable production tasks (graphics, data, programming, etc). “The design concept was perfect,” says Rik, “but it needed a value-added component to meet the goals of this project and all of its features.”

For example, adding what Rik refers to as “geo-zoning” to the back-cover advertisement, and  the loyalty seal on the cover.

Also, the original concept of the boarding pass was based on a printed boarding pass. Wanting to draw attention to the fluid nature of a mobile boarding pass, Rik added a simulated mobile boarding pass promoting the technology used to produce the piece.

What was Packed for the Trip

Machine – Océ ProStream 1000™

Ink – Océ ColorGrip, polymer pigment ink set CMYK

Paper – Sappi Opus PS Web Gloss 9pt (231gsm)

Images – Processed in sRGB color mode while adhering

Color Management – Late-binding color management targeting Web Coated SWOP 2006 Grade 3 Paper.

Finishing – Sheeted and folded on MBO equipment.

Post coating  No post coating applied.

All Aboard

Only 5,000 pieces were initially produced during the week of Trend’s open house. This piece continued to be printed on demand for other events and marketing. All mail markings were included in the print run as variable artwork (no post ink jetting or processing). The mail processing was Standard Presorted Mail.

Complete variable 4 color Destination Guide Series from Trend

Trend Digital also included unique data matrix codes on every piece to ensure 100% production and sequential order. The campaign data defined 1,200 unique versions. The Destination Guide approach can be applied to any market requiring versioning or personalization. “The travel theme is relatable to anyone, requiring extremely high-quality graphics and printing. It demonstrates to even non-travel prospects how their campaigns and products could be implemented in similar ways, says Rik.

So Rik How Was the Trip?

think Innovation Award

“Customer interest in the Destination Guide has exceeded our expectations. It has become a source of reference by not only our own organization, but vendors and industry insiders as well”.

For Trend, The Destination Guide has been instrumental in acquiring new customers. Trend continues to use it as a sales tool to demonstrate both capabilities and print quality, since the variety of destinations and imagery provide an array of samples showing variability in color and marketing.

Last year Trend was awarded a 2019 thINK Innovation Award for the Destination Guide at the thINK Ahead conference in Boca Raton Florida. Way to go Trend. You are showing the industry the way and Trending…!

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About the Author

Mary Schilling

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Mary Schilling is the co-owner of InkjetInsight.com, she writes technical inkjet industry articles, provides RIP and workflow training, manages print quality analysis evaluation, ink management and color management for OEM’s and end users for pre and post machine installs. Mary Schilling consults with paper mills, fluid and inkjet machinery suppliers on how to improve color and print quality for high speed and industrial inkjet involving paper, plastics, metal, fabric and glass with UV and aqueous inkjet fluids. This experience led her to receive Innovator of the Year awards from the Flexographic Technical Association and from Xplor International for her efforts in closing the gap between inkjet printing for document, and digital corrugated packaging. She is the owner of Schilling Inkjet Consulting, Published Author and Certified ColorGate Color Trainer and Distributor. Her latest published works can be found www.thinkforum.com/bookstore

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