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DIY personalisation

Rob Brown explains how personalisation is helping small premium brands stand out from the competition

‘We’re only at the beginning of the personalisation revolution’ exclaimed a headline in one of the big packaging publications late last year.

Rob Brown

These words certainly rang true at Label&Print 2018 at the NEC Birmingham. ‘Personalisation’ appeared to be on everyone’s lips and was one of the main topics visitors to the OKI stand wanted to discuss, prompted in part by our growing capability in this area.

This includes a new colour label printer launched at the event. Putting an individual, professionally customised label on a product is clearly one way to personalise it, and was the defining feature of the now famous Share-a-Coke campaign, seen as a watershed moment in personal branding, albeit at the ‘mass customisation’ end of the spectrum.

We were also showing our ground-breaking Pro9541 and Pro9542 A3+ printers targeted at specialist print markets. These attracted more than our fair share of creatives and designers eager to investigate how the devices could be used in-house to reduce outsourcing costs.

As ever, our customers had used their imagination and were already ahead of the game. Several of them pointed out that, thanks to the ability of our devices to print onto a wide range of print media, they could print an SRA3-sized sheet of flat, thick card and then fold it into shape to create packaging mockups or bespoke, yet affordable, personalised boxes. In fact, one of our customers, a small premium cosmetics company, is doing exactly that – using OKI printers to create sophisticated and original packages that set themselves apart from mass-produced products.

These Pro Series devices are industry firsts in that they let you print in CMYK plus a fifth spot colour in white or clear gloss, or print white under CMYK in a single pass, which makes colours stand out on black and dark coloured paper and card. Because of their flexible media handling they can also print onto thick metallic card for a rich, luxurious effect.

Designed for short runs without a lengthy set-up, they are ideal for luxury brands or others wanting to personalise either individual packaging or small batches to hold make-up, chocolates or jewellery, for example.

Envelope printer
Adding to this impressive functionality was our Pro Series Envelope Print System. As well as its value for direct mail purposes, the system’s ability to handle a great variety of media via its straight paper path enables it to be used for more unusual applications. One of our customers is currently using the envelope feeder to print directly onto simple brown paper bags for flour and grains. These are printed on the front with white toner, giving the packaging a wholesome farm-shop appeal.

Because the handles come folded inside the bags, they go easily through the straight paper path, opening up a range of possibilities. For example, party planners or professional wedding organisers could print directly onto gift bags or children’s party bags to add an extra-special personal touch. For a relatively affordable investment, event organisers could start to produce their own personalised merchandise, as well as invitations, thank you cards, place settings, personalised banners and more.

It’s clear that personalisation is also ideal for ‘boutique’ brands trying to differentiate themselves from the mainstream. Bringing printing in-house can enable them to experiment and produce the perfect personalised packaging in an affordable way.

We may only be at the beginning of the ‘personalisation revolution’. But already, it’s not just the CocaColas of this world that can turn the trend to their advantage.

Rob Brown is head of graphic arts and industry print at OKI Europe – UK & Ireland.

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