A day on the river with some special people

The annual Print & Design Awards never fails to bring out the sunshine. I don’t know how it happens but this event has always been blessed with a sunny day.  As I sat on a bench on the Embankment waiting to board the Silver Sturgeon I watched all the lovely people in the printing industry, sunglasses on, chatting to colleagues and friends - all getting ready for a fun day out on the river. Cheerful optimism was tangible.  Its always a jolly occasion but there is a definite uplift in mood in the industry – and its good to see. There is no doubt we have been through difficult times - thankfully we are now seeing growing confidence in suppliers and printers alike. 

Having worked in the industry for a few years I have watched the trends and the disastrous effects market forces have had on some special people and their businesses. The influences brought about by the ‘digital age’ (or whatever you want to call it) have resulted in a sink or swim situation for many printers and some have had few choices and little control. Others have fought on, re-worked their business models and are stronger for it. We have all had to face the facts - print has a significant part to play in the future but it has become a part of something bigger. James Bridle, writer and newspaper columnist recently wrote in the Guardian, “Digital is now both the infrastructure and the mode of our daily communication. It shapes our culture at every level. In most of the developed world it is the foundation on which our personal lives are built and multinational corporations operate. It underpins global communications. It is in essence in everything.”  

Personally I find it all very exciting – so many new things to learn and build upon and it was great to be at the awards and welcomed by the Whitmar team. The Silver Sturgeon cruiser is a pretty impressive venue and the trip on the River Thames from the Embankment to Greenwich is very enjoyable and an interesting experience in itself passing many famous landmarks and historic buildings. It was a grand turnout with suppliers and their customers all out together for an excellent lunch, convivial conversation and tiptop networking. As the boat made its way up the River Thames Rob Mulligan, publisher at Whitmar welcomed us all and introduced Andy Knaggs, Editor of Digital Printer and Cross Media magazine to present the prizes.

There were thirteen awards in all including Best Website, Best use of Social Media and Best use of Recycled Paper as well as Large Format, Finishing and Environmental awards. Notably Best Cross Media campaign sponsored by Ricoh went to a printer - Wellington Press for their Vodafone Video Book - the judges said it was a keenly contested category and the winner showed a great example of ‘print in the mix’.  For the second year running the Pureprint Group won the Direct Mail award for a piece called ‘Memories Alumni’ for Kings College London. The DM award was sponsored by Konica Minolta.  The winner of the Supreme Award was Hampton Printing who also won the Books and Booklets award for their Chic Luxury Consumer Brochure - the prize was presented to Managing Director Chris Cooper by Peter Jolly of Duplo. Commenting on the winning piece the judges said, ‘Simply an outstanding piece of print and finishing with beautiful imagery. The judges couldn’t find fault with it.’

What a wonderful day for the printing industry! 

Annie Hotton



P.S. More information and pix at: http://www.paperandprint.com/print-design-and-marketing-awards.aspx

An encounter with the rising importance of digital at SINposium, June 2014, Paris

There is no denial in the fact that every day digital printing is on the rise in all areas of printed communication. Whatever the sector of activity you are active in, it is slowly eating away at the market share of traditional printing processes, even if the latter are also obviously adapting to the current market changes. This is partly due to the economic environment we are living in but also in a more general way, to the change of habits in the consumers. Smaller print runs and fragmented orders are just the visible part of the iceberg of this new challenging context. As such, we see digital printing taking over areas that used to be totally dedicated in the past to offset such as commercial printing and to screen such as visual communication and large format printing.

This growing printing technology also builds its strength through close industry partnerships and this was exactly the theme of the 14th edition of the SIN (Symposium de l’Impression Numérique) that took place in Paris last month.

More than 170 participants turned up to listen to the five pairs of printers and suppliers who had teamed up to present some innovative and ground-breaking applications on the following topics: cross-media at the heart of 3D printing, the role of IT in the development of digital printing, web-to-print or when tailor-made solutions are made easy, how to create a link between printed advertising and web content, the relationship between digital print service provider and paper supplier.

The companies provided insight on the success of their business models and on what makes them stand out from the competition. A striking example of this success was presented by Ricoh and Bell & Ross. The renowned Swiss watch-maker is using Ricoh’s innovative clickable paper technology, a powerful, interactive print solution that bridges the online and offline worlds. It has the ability to provide immediate one-touch access to up to six different online resources such as video/multimedia, web sites, e-commerce portals and social networks.

Additionally, four experts also shared their vision on the future of print and the evolution of the various communication channels. Among the key topics discussed were print & cross-media, print & augmented reality, the position of print in your corporate strategy, print and 3D or print and web

In partnership with 20 companies such as Canon, HP, Konica Minolta, Ricoh, Chili Publish…., the 14th edition of the SIN really showed the many facets of the world of printing, its latest innovations and technological advancements, and the growing importance of digital in today’s print environment.

Ingrid Van Loocke



Proud communication partner of Belgian Homeless Cup - courageaboveall

In principle, duomedia is a Content PR agency, working from Belgium with a Pan-European reach and a strong focus on technical B2B-markets. But from time to time we like to take on a challenge, an opportunity to work from a different angle, to reach a larger widespread audience and to put our creative caps on. Through a good friend of mine I heard about a great social organisation called the Belgian Homeless Cup (BHC). 


Allow me to briefly enlighten you on what these guys are doing: the Belgian Homeless Cup believes in the power of football & people and is a social-sportive football competition for the homeless. The idea behind the Belgian Homeless Cup is not so much to get those who are homeless or who have fallen through the cracks of society to play football but rather to give these people back a sense of commitment, social awareness, friendship and structure in their lives. Values picked up by going to weekly football trainings and various events where volunteers assist them and lend a listening ear. This social structure ensures that nothing can bring a person down, not if he or she has something to go for. The tagline is very clear about this: “Courage above all”.

At the very beginning of the organisation, the Belgian Homeless Cup worked together with a former Anderlecht and Belgian international football player. This was excellent in terms of building brand awareness and reaching a large audience, but now it was time to go a little deeper. Within the BHC, football is regarded as a means to an end. The real work is being done every week ‘behind the scenes’ by volunteers, sponsors and organisers.


The BHC teams are locally linked to the largest football clubs in Belgium. In these days of World Cup euphoria, a time when national teams and international football stars are being collected on stickers and all sorts of memorabilia, we saw an excellent opportunity to make digital collectables of the players from the Belgian Homeless Cup.

duomedia designed the visual with pictures and identity kit of BHC players.These BHC heroes, who are maybe unknown within the official teams in the Belgian national leagues, have a very special and often inspiring story to tell. To do so, we needed the internal cooperation of every BHC team. The result was a proud collection of digital collector cards being shared on social media by people who sympathise with the organisation (including a tweet from Belgian football captain Vincent Kompany - thank you!). These cards were being shared as a teaser for the annual Belgian Homeless Cup tournament organised in Brussels. Through the duomedia news releases being distributed throughout all channels we reached the national television broadcast channels in prime time, radio and news-sites, resulting in a nice coverage of the event and more importantly a great opportunity for follow up stories in the near future. We @duomediapr are a proud Communication partner of the Belgian Homeless Cup and we will continue to cheer along!

Louis De Nolf


Please go and check out the complete album on the Belgian Homeless Cup’s Facebook


How do you measure the value of a conference?

Two conferences stand out for me this year so far – first the BAPC in January which was great fun and second, the IPIA event held last week  11th June at Puckrup Hall in Tewkesbury. I truly believe the 2014 IPIA conference was the best yet. It’s always a sign of a good time when the day whizzes by and before you know its time to go home. One minute it was 10 in the morning and we were all laughing our heads off with Erica Grant from the Kataria School of Laughter Yoga – she was hilarious - and suddenly it was 5pm and time to leave. The day went by in a flash. I took loads of notes, sent out a few tweets and heard some interesting comments and conversations in the audience. I also had an excellent networking lunch! The IPIA has put on some great events in past years but the speaker programme this year was ‘spot-on’ - really captivating – from laughter medicine to electronic printing – from ‘user-experience architecture’ to the power of video marketing -  the day just rolled by.  The crowd that started were there at the finish – that tells you something! The conference title - “Download this to your Neck Top” - was indeed fresh thinking for print and marketing professionals! If you missed the conference this time I would highly recommend you regularly check out their website for future events and activity http://www.ipia.org.uk

Patrick Collister, Head of Google Design – his discussion was a surprise and not one I would expect from an online guru – Patrick believes that Print will be around for a long time as it is one of the most personal ways to communicate with others. He believes the printed word has a magic and will keep its place in the digital mix. He quoted an amusing experiment following the cry for a ‘paperless office’. A company that tried this out noted that all the workers’ cars in the car park were full of paper and the workers were popping out regularly during the day to check printed copy so they could operate successfully.’ Patrick has some interesting stats and unique examples on utilizing print in different ways to enhance customer experience.  One is a QR code is being used in Australia as a postal stamp using strawberry flavour glue - ‘Tasty Stamps’

Jonathan Tame of Print Power and Two Sides – Jonathan endlessly travels on his mission to change consumers’ perceptions and the challenging myth that paper is an enemy of the environment.  A good example of Print Power activity is the U turn made recently by HSBC who had made erroneous claims that print on paper was associated with forest loss.   You can check out the Myths and Facts page on  the Two Sides website http://www.twosides.info/myths-and-facts

Helen Tonetti, Make Digital Work and John Allard, Video Expression – This forward thinking team combine their expertise and strongly advocate that the role of video and social media in the marketing and PR campaigns of the future is sure to grow exponentially.  The potential for business of this mix of digital and video marketing strategy is already proving to be a winner.  John specializes in corporate video news and PR and has created an innovative and affordable service for SME’s.  Helen brings her experience in Social Media to this offering, helping businesses achieve impressive results and ROI.

Annie Hotton





Successful FINAT congress in Monaco features ‘Battle for Shelf Appeal: Winning Strategies for the Label Industry’

FINAT’s long-standing PR partner duomedia attended the yearly congress in Monaco, 8-9 June 2014, after a supportive PR & social media campaign.  At the event, Lutt Willems from duomedia interviewed attendees, tweeted, blogged and now reports back on a successful event.

For more than 50 years, FINAT has promoted the use of self-adhesive labels and offered a networking platform for the label community with its yearly congress.   It is quite  amazing how FINAT manages year after year to build a programme with interesting presentations. This year, the theme was the ‘Battle for Shelf Appeal: Winning Strategies for the Label Industry.’

It all comes down to catching the eye of the consumer in the shop.This moment is often referred to as the ‘Moment of Truth.’  According to Mike Ferrari, President of Ferrari Innovation Solutions, LLC, though, it is important to look beyond shelf appeal. Ferrari has identified four moments of truth:

  • The zero moment when the consumer is approached digitally,
  • The first moment of truth, when the consumer enters a retail shop and is seduced by a packaging design to stop for a moment,
  • The second moment of truth, when consumers are pleased with the product and repurpose it, and finally,
  • The real moment of truth when consumers need to dispose of the product after consumption, an important moment as suppliers need to ensure the consumer that the disposal of waste is minimal.  

To go beyond the shelf appeal moment, companies must begin by communicating with the consumer on an individual level using personalised messaging.  This individualised communication can even extend to the packaging as demonstrated by the Coca Cola campaign, a very successful campaign that carried customised  communication to the limits of today’s technologies.

Dr. Bertrand Piccard, keynote speaker, adventurer, psychiatrist and visionary, closed this edition of the FINAT congress, He was the first to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the globe. Now he wants to do the same in a specially constructed solar-powered aircraft, circling the globe in a non-stop flight.  

Through his adventurous endeavors, Dr. Piccard followed three basic strategies:

  • In order to succeed, you need to be creative;
  • change altitude from time to time; and
  • drop ballast to keep the balance right.

These strategies can easily be applied on a personal level as well as at a company level. Dr. Piccard offered attendees a challenge: find motivation in what seems impossible. He certainly inspired the FINAT attendees!

Trevor Smith, Managing Director from Amberley Adhesive Labels Ltd, got significant value from the event, saying, “I will be taking home three game changers for my business: The first is building a sustainable business. We have been talking about this for years, but we will make a real start tomorrow. The second is our digital investment.  We had a plan to go 100% digital but hit a brick wall.  We can now take that wall down.  And thirdly, we will expand our adhesive labels business by adding digital packaging.  Thanks to the FINAT congress, we have found the inspiration to take our business to the next level.”

FINAT can certainly be proud that it is providing members with the knowledge, networking and information that is key to the strategic success of international label businesses.

Mission accomplished, and already looking forward to the next FINAT event, taking place in Amsterdam. Count me in!

Lutt Willems

Are you ready to change?

The Centro Studi Grafici in Milan, representatives from Hyndra, a consultancy and coaching agency in Milan, recently started a very interesting discussion on the problems of generational exchange of businesses. What happens when a business is passed from one generation to the next, from the mothers and fathers to the daughters and sons? It is a story about families, of course, but really, it is a story about the ability to change.

Let’s start with the data:  In Italy, only 33% of businesses go beyond the first handover; 50% disappear after the second generation, and only 15% survive to the third. Generally speaking, for 80% of the entrepreneurs, leaving their business to their heirs is very difficult.

In any company, there is a lifecycle that begins with the start-up, then expansion, decline, crisis, reorganization and consequently turnaround and again expansion with value creation. In each of these cycles, the real issue is about being able to change, because the economic scenery keeps changing, and there are rich opportunities that are ready to be caught, but only if we do not feel them as threats.

Changes relating to demography are concrete and cannot be denied.  On an international demographic level, we see that in 2011, China took first place, but if we look forward, in 2050 India will replace China as the demographic heavyweight. From an economical point of view, USA took first position in 2011, whereas China will be at the top in  2030.

In such a context, micro-businesses – which now make up about 90% of businesses - can’t survive. The big change is obvious. Companies need to move from self-centeredness to acting collectively, passing from single business activity to a new logic that foresees a system, a net, built by many small enterprises.

And this choice isn’t just an option for companies, but a must if they are to survive. The benefits are clear: reduced costs create a better financial rating; better knowledge sharing, which is not accessible when you are all alone; and competitive advantage created by collaboration. The magic word is TRUST.

You can find good ideas and understand the trust concept better by reading a book by Stephen Covey entitled Smart Trust. The actions that Smart Trust  champions consistently perform are the following : choose to believe in trust; start with yourself; declare intent, and assume positive intent in others; do what you say you’re going to do; lead out in extending trust to others.

Let’s go back to business in its strict sense. Hyndra representatives presented the “Marco Polo” form of leadership which is exploration-oriented. The form of leadership allows employees to make new choices that add value by searching new international markets or niches and realizing an enriched product, not short term results.

So in the end, the new words for the smart entrepreneur are not only trust, but also humility. Because when you trust, you are aware that you need someone to change and that you also need to change yourself.

To schematize, we could say that there is a spectrum of possibilities, ranging from:

  • crisis > opportunity to act
  • I don’t know what to do > I must follow a new way
  • I don’t trust anybody > my trust is responsible
  • I feel isolated > I am a world citizen
  • Only negative thoughts > millions of solutions are out there
  • I’m so lonely > I involve all my entourage and beyond in my dream > the widened and structured team wins always

Take your pick.

Barbara Bernardi

Fespa – sign o’the times

This Fespa edition was a busy one for duomedia with two major press conferences on day 1 and nearly 20 press interviews for clients such as Mimaki, Esko, Xeikon and ESMA. Busy schedule, so en route on Monday to make sure nothing was left to chance. It was intriguing to arrive at the showground on the final set-up day. You could feel the tension rising as the atmosphere builds up towards opening day. Final tweaks on the media kits, signage safely stored in the press room, double check attendance lists and a short night because of the nerves. (We’re not the ones giving the presentation to the international press, but that doesn’t make us any less nervous).

But you could feel it when the doors finally opened – this was going to be good.  The sun was shining, the weather was sweet, make you want to move your fespafeet. And move our feet we did. Press conferences first, interviews inbetween. Off to the Fespa Daily to communicate on Eleni winning the Mimaki Europe internship thanks to the Young Designer Award. To the press office to stock up on press kits and catch the journalists on their way to the next interview. Take some pictures for tweeting.  Securing every last detail that might help contribute to a client’s overall communication. Multitasking to the fullest to get the message across.

And yet the atmosphere in general was aloof. Sure, pressure was on to perform well, but there was room to absorb new information. We’re no longer just surviving anymore in the graphic industry, we’re evolving. People were not just looking around, they were again talking to one another. Exhibitors exchanging experiences in terms of hall location, booth circulation, customer experiences and press outreach options. A subtle change that has been recognized and anticipated by Fespa. A feasible and flexible conference program, lounge seats outside to network in the sunshine, loads of Fespa people visibly walking the premises and eager to help. It all resulted in smiling visitors, excited exhibitors and well-informed press.

Needless to say such an uplifting atmosphere called for a celebration. And Mimaki delivered - their party on Wednesday evening was the frosting on the cake. 10 years of Mimaki Europe had to be celebrated in a big way, which is exactly what they did. In a villa, dedicated solely to the Mimaki invitees. The theme was to let the good times roll and rolling we did indeed. From one room to the next, bumping into industry peers, press and colleagues. And as it so often happens, the best idea-generating conversations happen in the wee hours of the night.

Lots of inspiration, so watch the duomedia space. This was the Fespa of circulation, inspiration and interaction. Thanks for having me Fespa, see you next time!

Maya Staels

P.S. Check out our pictures on Fespa on Facebook. And thanks for the like while you’re there!

Interpack 2014, Disneyland for packaging & labelling

One could not help but feel impressed when walking past hall after hall, filled to the brim with all kinds of stands & machinery, at the 2014 edition of Interpack @Messe Düsseldorf.


(photo take from www.interpack.com)

If you tried to write down the various sectors connected to the packaging and labelling industry you would need a very large sheet of paper. Think how much longer that sheet would have to be when adding all the various services and products that are imbedded to each sector then you can get an idea of how diverse Interpack was.

Interpack can say with a certain pride that they are the largest Packaging & Labelling trade fair in Europe, and as a venue Messe Düsseldorf is a perfect host. The fair ground is vast and more than once I regretted not having brought some kind of two-wheeled transportation with me.

It quickly became apparent to the players in the P&L markets that being present at Interpack was the place to be. Those who had been reluctant with their budget and presence at the fair must have quickly regretted not having done more. Often we hear that the general trend at fairs is that companies spend less and less on stands and are leaving the heavy machinery at home. This at any rate was not the case at Interpack. Conveyer belts were running, automated arms were moving, and packages of all magnitudes were being wrapped, moulded, labelled, scanned, stored and much more.

Many stands were often very visual and left a lasting impression. I believe that one of the main reasons of this positive vibe was the angle the exhibitors took towards the actual end-results of their products or services. The n°1 question from the visitors at a fair like Interpack is still ‘what can you do for me?’ It comes down to deciding what story you as a business or supplier want to tell.

Bringing the focus towards the finished product or production process, leaves visitors with a very clear idea of what a certain product or service could do for their own business. A focus and perception that is too often neglected or even forgotten by many businesses, who are in my opinion too focused on a specific technical aspect of their product or process, instead of making clients & prospects dream of its applications.

A particularly interesting feature @ the Sappi stand was the use of Sharingbox. This customized digital photo-booth added a nice extra dimension to their stand. The tool allowed visitors to snap a picture of themselves, send the image to their mailbox, print it on paper (which ties nicely into Sappi’s activities) and share it on facebook. A perfect balance between gathering information on your visitors and leaving people with a lasting impression. 


And with an end result like this, who could possibly complain?


Louis De Nolf

Blurred Lines at Sign & Digital UK

Robin Thicke may have been misguided in his MTV twerking antics with Miley Cyrus but he wasn’t wrong when he alluded to the increased blurring of lines.

Granted he didn’t mean the printing industry per se, but I definitely think there is significant sector merging as operations look to use their strengths to serve a greater audience base.

There is also a lot more cross-over today as companies  seek ways to expand their portfolio of services to the customers they already have. This approach was evident at Sign & Digital UK.

Ricoh - there to showcase its wide format latex printer the Ricoh Pro L4100 - also presented its cut sheet digital production engine the Pro C751 digital production press which received a lot of interest. And while Mimaki launched a ‘traditional’ sign and digital solution, the JFX200-2513 UV LED flatbed printer, and announced its first order for the large format signage system by Romford firm Graphic Stations Ltd minutes after doors opened, it had a number of more creative solutions, too. One drawing a lot of attention was the new optional Kebab addition to the Mimaki UJF-3042 flatbed desktop printer. It is capable of printing on cylindrical shapes and at the show Mimaki chose candles with beautiful intricate fine detail print.

It was also interesting to see how companies and suppliers are expanding their offering with hardware and software solutions to help businesses develop in array of directions.

Of course creativity is all well and good, but essential to profitability are ways to efficiently and cost-effectively manage the numerous short run jobs. For this purpose Esko showcased software solutions including the latest i-cut Layout in both Macintosh and PC versions. It helps customers create the most efficient flow of jobs from pre to post press. Esko also presented two digital cutting tables for the first time at the show - the highly popular Kongsberg XP24 and the versatile Kongsberg XN24.

I think we can all take a leaf out of Robin’s book and take time to assess how the lines between markets can be blurred – hot pants optional. 

Catherine Carter

ETS combines science and art at ISSA/INTERCLEAN in Amsterdam

The world’s leading trade fair for cleaning professionals celebrated its 25th edition at the RAI in Amsterdam last week drawing over 29,400 industry professionals - with 72% of these visitors and 90% of the 700 exhibitors coming from outside the Netherlands.

duomedia prepared and attended the show for our customer ETS, the European tissue paper industry association. ETS represents over 90 % of the tissue producers across Europe. And primarily promotes the use of paper tissue for optimal hand hygiene in the public washroom - so no wonder that its members were all gathered in the ‘washroom product’ halls of the show.

Promoting hand hygiene and hand drying

ETS conveys the benefits of the use of paper tissue for proper hand drying via two channels. Independent scientific research on the one hand delivers the irrefutable proof. On the other hand , cartoons are submitted by art students from across the globe to capture and reflect the findings of the research in a more accessible, artistic and fun manner which results in reaching a broad audience. Nicely nested between two major exhibition halls, both the ETS booth and the 2013 cartoon contest exhibition in the ‘transit’ corridor drew great interest. 

Integrated communication

We pre-announced the show earlier this year, launched the new cartoon contest 2014 on Facebook, created a promotional leaflet as hand-out during the fair, helped put up the 2013 cartoon contest exhibition at the fair , invited the cleaning trade press to the ETS seminar and secured an informative press kit for the 100 journalists who attended the event. 

Hygiene first

The seminar brought about new insights on air contamination in the washroom when using warm air dryers. Already in favour of paper tissue, I have now become a converted user as it not only contributes to my health but also to that of the other washroom users.

Working for our clients introduces us to many exciting, interesting places and industries. The fact that it takes more than three times the construction cost to maintain a building, it is obvious that ISSA/INTERCLEAN remains a huge shop window onto the world for cleaning  necessities. I could never have imaged how big, international and innovative the world of cleaning and hygiene actually is. Europe and ISSA/INTERCLEAN Amsterdam are by far ‘leading’ and trendsetting in the world of cleaning. According to an American journalist I spoke to at the show, it lies some five years ahead of what is happening in USA. 

Lut Verschueren, duomedia


P.S.  Pictures can be found on facebook. Have a look!





InPrint 2014 – great expectations, no illusions

Industrial printing has been the concept du jour for quite some time now. We’re flooded with 3D print and everybody seems to be seeing such great potential in printed electronics. But what is it? And who’s doing it? And how does it affect the graphics industry? Because although the usual suspects are developing the technology, there are quite a lot of newcomers entering the field. And they’re doing good.

Needless to say this changes the playing field in the graphics sector. A vision the InPrint organisers understood but too well. Which is why they decided to dedicate a whole new trade show to it.  It’s not a graphics show. No siree, it truly was industrial. Staging the event at the outskirts of one of the biggest technology shows on the planet – Hannover Messe – was a smart decision. The goal was to introduce new people to the possibilities of print. And to pop the big question - did they deliver? 

Hall 21 was the stage of the event. A bit desolate location, but the shuttle service and red carpet made yours truly and duomedia partner Christoph Naucke from naucke_kommunikation feel like a star upon arrival.  And while there was not that much traffic on the Messe grounds, Hall 21 was pretty well visited.

There was a good vibe. Everywhere you looked you saw networking, sales, a bit of heavy machinery making magic happen and practical examples. 3D printed shoes, direct print on cups, bottle caps and so much more. High end technology competition between screen printing, inkjet and digital printing would demonstrate how versatile and at which quality level today’s printing industry is contributing to industrial production processes.

duomedia clients present included Mimaki Europe and Esma. Mimaki was one of the InPrint ambassadors, their faith was rewarded with a very busy stand. Esma has been on the forefront of industrial innovation, counting many industrial print players among their members. Many of them participated in the on site conference program, a mix of informative tech talk and inspiring marketing sales.

Media interest in the show was peaking, that was clearly reflected in blogs like the one from Akif Tatlisu from Matbaa & Teknik. Or the video made by Grafisch Geheugen (Ed Boogaard and Leon Van Velzen) – it very well reflects the vibe that could be felt throughout the show.

So did they deliver? Yes, quality of the visitors was excellent. Good exhibitor presence for a first time. And even the biggest critics had to admit it just felt right.

And although expectations were raised from the very beginning, no illusions were generated. Just cold hard sales leads. Right timing, right show.

Maya Staels

P.S.  Check out our Facebook album and tag if you’re in it: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.731938620181693.1073741839.158221694220058&type=1

Trends and innovations – start with the why before venturing on the how

Experience in the graphics industry counts by how many drupa’s and ipex’s you have engaged in. You’ve seen the industry evolve, technologies adjust and people coming and going. Right now we’re seeing economic progress and investments picking up, so what trends should we be looking into to make sure we can catch the upwards wave?

Eddy Hagen, director and trendwatcher at the VIGC, could not have picked a better timing for this ‘trends and innovations’ course. Eddy takes you on a trip through innovation, guiding you through the Gartner hype cycle, illustrating how disruptive technology is the instigator of innovation and how time - or better still, timing - is of the essence.

Theory is alternated with practical examples. No dreary introduction of the first printing press here, within the first 15 mins you’re challenged on e-books, appification and why things happened when they happened.

I was astonished at the graphs shown on e-books. Latest research shows that the youngsters are turning to printed books again. And the older your age group, the less likely you are to believe in digital advertising. Flipboard could turn out to be the disruptive technology to the publishing world. And moving into packaging might not be as easy as industry consultants would have you believe, dealing with all the regulations and legal implications can be challenging. So it’s not as simple as deciding you will be innovative, you need to make a well-informed decision.

Innovation should be simple and it should solve a problem. The why is always imperative to the how of it. People need to have a need for it, or it will not catch on. Does that always mean you have to turn to new technology and/or new markets? Not necessarily.

Digital has been on the rise for many years now. Year after year we read about short turnaround, less waste and declining margins. But what if existing technology could do the same? A recent drupa report clearly showed how offset has not rested on its laurels during the digital demarche. Inline control ensures less waste and less set-up time. Big printing companies have upscaled their offset equipment and are now reaping the benefits. A smaller investment with a similar outcome. That too is innovation, albeit not entirely new.

Eddy also foresees a further growth path for designing skills, software development and all special tricks that make print more attractive. There is even a (granted high-end and pricy) desktop printer with white toner or UV spot varnish, which is an interesting tool for designers to show the effect of UV spot varnish to customers thus trying to sell more expensive and more effective print jobs.

This is not surprising, print has slowly been infiltrating new vertical markets.  (check out the upcoming InPrint blog to learn more) Car wrapping, personalized wallpaper and tiles – all potential growth markets for printers with a vision, mind, heart and output set on quality.  

So where will this exploration takes us in the future?

Alas, Eddy did not have a magic ball to answer that one. But his pragmatic and analytical approach did put our perception to the test as to keep in mind why things are evolving the way they do. And we all know perception is reality.

Maya Staels

 P.S. VIGC hosts this seminar on a regular basis. The sessions are usually in Dutch (more info: http://www.vigc.be/waargaanweheen), but can also be given in English.

My epic journey from label printer to label service provider

When I received a recent invitation from Stratus Packaging, a FINAT member, I jumped at the opportunity to attend the event, not only because I have supported FINAT for the last 4 years but above all because I knew it would bring me into the heart of the label converting industry.

March 28th turned out to be a glorious sunny day for the 100 guests who  turned up to the official opening of the Stratus Group’s newly-expanded manufacturing unit in Lille (France). As one of Europe’s larger label converters, the Stratus Group also has plants in Bourg-en-Bresse and Limoges and employs a staff of 225 for a turnover of 37 million euro. The company also has plans for a fourth plant in early May.

The expansion of an additional 1000 m² in Lille will allow for extra storage capacity (both raw materials and finished labels) and the site now boasts a new, additional entry for employees to enter the manufacturing area – which was one of the many prerequisites to become BRC IOP certified. As a result, the Stratus Group will become the first label printer in France to receive BRC IOP certification.

We were warmly welcomed and received a 360° tour that gave us full insight on the Group’s automated back-office support, prepress, printing processes and warehousing  capabilities.

Host and managing director Isidore Leiser introduced Stratus Packaging experts who took us through the newest developments and initiatives taken to stay abreast of the latest technologies, regulatory requirements and customer demands.

"The label printing industry has become a ‘service business’," said Mr. Leiser. "In the past, label converters were primarily printers. Today, they have had to evolve to become full service providers. It has become crucial to provide additional, more efficient and flexible services that can help to differentiate us as a mid-sized player on what remains a very competitive market."

I learned that to support and drive growth, the Stratus Group opts for long-term strategy and initiatives including:

  • a strong ERP backbone to streamline the business processes
  • a lean manufacturing approach to optimise costs
  • state-of-the art prepress processes and printing equipment that guarantee quality and speed
  • certification programmes to meet ongoing regulatory, qualitative or environmental requirements, in particular in the food hygiene sector

These strategic initiatives have resulted in being able to produce high-quality labels, offer sharper prices and fulfill orders faster. Additional benefits include delivering and storing on demand, providing better service and increasing customer satisfaction.

One visitor, looking at some sample labels on display, expressed how impressed he was with the level of quality and even asked to what extent and at what cost could the boundaries of perfection be pushed further in this industry. It clearly demonstrated that the Stratus Group is not a multiple FINAT label award winner by sheer luck!

Upon my return a couple of days later, I was happily surprised to receive a personalised thank you note with a brief satisfaction survey. For me, it showed the Group’s continuous engagement in expanding and improving the quality of its services, and definitely an initiative that helps improve customer loyalty.

Attending trade fairs is one thing, receiving a personal tour on the actual ‘printing’ floor and adjacent facilities of a company certainly ticked all my boxes and made this label visit a very rewarding experience.

Lut Verschueren - duomedia





Ipex 2014 - a fresh perspective

Having joined duomedia since November last year, this edition of Ipex was the first one I ever experienced. Then again this Ipex had a first time feeling for a lot of people since the event took place in London instead of Birmingham. As an event location I have to say that ExCel, located in the Docklands, is a beauty to behold and its accessibility certainly is a big advantage.

(photo from www.excel-london.co.uk)

To begin with, a big elephant in the room @Ipex 2014 was the absence of some of the well-known hall fillers within the Graphic Arts industry such as Heidelberg, Canon, Kodak, HP. On top of that it was a public secret that some of them held off-site customer events during the course of Ipex. The absence of some of the industries heavyweights made it challenging to attract a vast international crowd. The free attendance still managed to attract many visitors, mostly from UK but also Asia and other countries.

As some of the biggest fishes were not present, it opened up a place in the spotlights for other interesting exhibitors. One of the first stands to notice at Ipex was Xeikon. The company announced their very first Trillium order and also promoted the ease of use of the folding carton toy box application, which they presented together with CHILI Publish.

When talking to Patrick Van Baelen, VP Marketing at Xeikon he commented that“Ipex 2014 provided an ideal platform for UK printing companies to explore our product portfolio, especially the enhancements to our Xeikon Folding Carton Suite. The in majority UK visitors experienced that with Xeikon’s technologies, digital printing is ready to convince the packaging industry of its potential and benefits. We were happy to see that the announcement of our first Trillium customer - TagG Informatique in France - had a tremendous resonance thanks to Ipex 2014.”

And of course there was CHILI Publish, as one of the fresh up-and-coming companies, who showed a contagious eagerness at the fair. Their online document editor CHILI Publisher managed to attract a lot of attention. As Cindy Van Luyck, Marketing Manager at CHILI Publish states it:

“We had a really successful event. Ipex provided CHILI Publish with a great opportunity to demonstrate our online editing solutions alongside our partners and effectively show how they can integrate across the production workflow. Visitor engagement was high, and this was reflected in the number of sales that we have made.”

During the course of Ipex I had the chance to meet up with some other clients in the duomedia portfolio: Esko, Enfocus and VideoJet. duomedia hosted a press conference for Xeikon and Alwan, attended by a vast number of international journalists. Which was an excellent occasion for me to catch up with media and associations, to share some duomedia chocolates and to meet some new friendly faces.

From my publisher background it was interesting to see how many diverse titles are available in the UK and internationally covering news and features in print, packaging, labeling, industrial & sign markets.  Some of them branching out to digital platforms, offering also video services and engaging more in social media channels.

Compared to other events, a lot of the attendees at Ipex have discovered a variety of companies with products and services that otherwise get too easily discarded. Ipex was a great networking platform for many printers, suppliers and media -proving once again the importance of face2face contact in B2B environments. But I can’t help to add to this that in order to truly represent the Graphics industries, you still need more of the market leaders. I hope they’ll reconsider next time.

Louis De Nolf

Behind the scenes: lessons learned on our journey to Belarus

Increasingly, online video is playing a bigger role in the way businesses communicate. The reason for this growth is that it works; video gives companies an interactive and compelling way to share their story with a wide audience.

So when Esko wanted to showcase the work of one of their long-term clients, they asked duomedia to create a video to tell the story. I thought it would be a new and exciting challenge, and we set out to create a video about JV Uniflex, one of the biggest flexo packaging and self-adhesive label specialists in the region. .

What we didn’t know at the start was that what made it such a great story – the Belarus location – would also add complexity to the process of creating the video.

For those of us who live in the European Union, it’s easy to forget about country boarders. So at first, we had had to get used to the local life in Belarus. For example, the process of getting a visa was a complex challenge, requiring countless emails between Uniflex and duomedia to get visa confirmations. Money was another challenge for us - 1 euro equals 13,500 Belarusian rubles; imagine calculating the budget needed for the trip!

But soon we had all of the logistics sorted out and traveled to Belarus to begin shooting at the Uniflex office. The Uniflex staff are true experts in their field, so they were very comfortable being interviewed in the video.  They answered our pre-prepared questions quickly and accurately, and were wonderful to work with. We changed locations often to make the film more dynamic and to highlight Uniflex’s extensive range of equipment and offerings. In all, the filming process took six hours.

In post production, Richard got slightly lost in translation. But together we managed to find our way!. As the shooting was done in Russian but the final video needed to include English subtitling, we had to ensure the content was correct and not wrongly edited. Luckily, the combination of my translating skills from Russian into English, and Richard’s video editing expertise - worked out just perfectly!

The end result is an interesting, compelling video that successfully tells the story of the excellent work being done by an innovative Esko customer. And, we are especially proud of the fact that it is in Russian!

The groundwork that goes on behind the scenes – what the viewer doesn’t see – is what ended up making this project successful. This video could never have happened without the professional help and friendly countenance of my colleague, Nancy Vermeulen and experience and advice of our partner and videographer and editor, Richard.

We’re looking forward to seeing where our next video project will take us. In the meantime,

enjoy the video!

Elena Bondarenko