Whether your team is creating a single product that will be customized and implemented across all properties, or you are embarking on a full brand re-imaging, taking the appropriate steps in the beginning can mean the difference between stress-free success or total frustration for your initiative.

In this article, we identify the top five most common mistakes we see brands make when developing property-specific print collateral. Each of these pitfalls can have particularly negative affects on program budgets, timelines and the brand, and we have rated each mistake’s impact in those three important areas. With a bit of awareness and planning, each of these mistakes can be easily avoided.

“The likelihood of a seamless execution of a complex, property-specific print collateral program is determined in its early stages. Careful planning, an experienced print partner and proper communication are the keys to a successful implementation.”
– Linda anderson, A S Hospitality Director, Client Development & Account Services

1. Poor Communication


The number one mistake teams make is poor communication and planning across project contributors. Each party involved tends to address issues in a way that make sense in their own field. When there is no structured dialogue across contributing departments errors will arise.

It is especially important to involve key contributors and experts in the planning stage. This is a time to ensure that each contributing group is aligned in their understanding of budgetary and timeline parameters, as well as their contributions to the project.

A reliable print partner with experience managing multi-property print programs should already have the know-how to coordinate complex projects, maximize the contribution of all team members, and get everyone headed in the same direction from the get-go.

By taking the necessary steps to build a structured flow of communication, you exponentially increase the likelihood of meeting your program goals.

2. Not Leveraging Scale


One normally doesn’t think of volume related cost savings when it comes to custom products. This misperception is where we find mistake #2.

We often think of scale in terms of mass production runs or bulk purchasing of standardized product. What many don’t realize is that with the right approach, scale can be gained in property-specific products as well. Here are a few ways to reach a level of production volume that will result in cost savings.

Fixed Production Runs
Scheduling regular production runs encourages properties to pro-actively manage inventories and order planning for the benefit of cost savings. For example, if you have a high volume property-specific item that is required for daily operational use, lead-time and budget are critical. Establishing a standing “In By” – “Out By” schedule can provide properties the economies of a bulk/group run with the dependability of a defined ship date.

Design To Be Suitable For Custom Short Runs
Work with your print partner to understand the design specifications suitable for short-run equipment. When it comes to custom short-runs, an item’s size and construction requirements dictate the manufacturing equipment utilized. Understanding these nuances can lead to BIG savings.

Imprinted Shells
Finally, a step that can have the greatest impact on your budget is the use of pre-printed shells with property specific imprints. This solution involves building and producing a bulk quantity of base product that will allow for the custom information to be imprinted, some call it “overlay printing”, on top of that pre-printed product. This allows you to build volume, yet provides customization. It is important to note that your design team and print partner will need to collaborate in this effort to ensure the design allows for this process. (See Mistake #5)

3. Focusing On The Product, Not The Program


When a project involves a collection of items, it is easy to fall into that old cliché of not seeing the forest for the trees.

There are so many substrate and finishing options, it is easy for a single product to run away with itself. Without considering the budgetary constraints of the program early on in the process, and how that breaks out across each item, you run the risk of exceeding your budget in the pursuit of one item with extra “wow factor”.

As mentioned earlier, a proper timeline takes into consideration the urgency of the implementation of each item, as well as the lead time needed for design, development, and product. A proper timeline is impossible to develop when items are considered one at a time.

Additionally, without viewing the collection as a whole, you will end up with inconsistencies and not have a cohesive group of items in line with your brand.

If your properties are currently paying an hourly rate for frequent updates to item copy, such as menu pricing, a self serve option can deliver significant savings.

4. Not Utilizing Automation


There are quite a few tools that provide valuable, time-saving automation. Not taking advantage of these tools can not only cost you time, but can mean unnecessary expenses and the opportunity for inconsistencies with your brand standards.

Technology can make large print programs easy to manage, while ensuring consistency across all locations. Brand e-Catalogs and asset platforms make it possible for on-property team members to customize items that traditionally require the expertise of graphic artists. Properties save both time and money when brands integrate customization, proofing, and order placement into a single activity.

Real-time customization works especially well for items such as rack cards, brochures, and menus. These items benefit from frequent updates, are compatible with a standardized format, and often include a combination of fixed + variable copy and/or graphic elements.
A custom e-catalog for your brand can be a valuable tool through which properties can browse and place orders online. Properties can customize products, while remaining within brand standards, through pre-designed templates.

If your print program is currently supported by an e-Catalog, ensure your marketing and graphics teams are up-to-date on the platform’s full range of functionalities related to variable customization. Your print partner will be able to share insights on options and best practices for customizing photography, copy, or both. Integrating these flexibilities into pre-formatted templates will ensure the finished product is on point and on brand. When possible, have this conversation during the development phase, so the available functionality is a consideration during the design of layout.

5. Failing To Connect Experts


It seems very simple, but a common mistake that can have an enormous impact on your budget is failing to connect your design team or agency with your print partner prior to the development of the project.

Connecting these two contributing groups is key to getting the project starting off on the right foot. We recommend communication and collaboration on the following topics:

  • Communicate project vision and desired aesthetics.
  • Identify opportunities for gained efficiencies and cost savings.
  • Explore possibilities regarding substrates, formats and finishing options.
  • Collaborate on specification and design considerations that align with the equipment best suited for your job. This can result in substantial cost savings.

Conclusion


Although properties within a brand typically share fundamental attributes, factors such as property size, location, and core market inevitably drive the need for flexibility within brand standards. Consider variability within a controlled environment to:

  • Deliver a consistent look and feel that stays true to your brand.
  • Allow properties the flexibility to showcase their unique attributes.
  • Leverage the combined scale of your properties.

We recommend building a relationship with one print partner who can handle and understands all of your needs, and acts as an extension of your team. It will be empowering for your team and your brand, and these common mistakes will naturally be avoided.