Beyond Traditional Print: Some Industry Terms Explained

Some of today’s printing companies do more than just print. Take BFC, for example. While printing is our foundation, we also supply technology solutions that automate digital and print communications and increase efficiencies. Combined with our pick-n-pack, warehousing and fulfillment services, BFC is prepared to get your projects out the door.

Whether you’re working with a large-scale printer for the first time or you’ve been around the industry for a while now, you might find yourself confused by this wide breadth of services. To help clear up some questions you might have, we’ve compiled a list of terms associated with today’s printing industry and have broken them down.

Hopefully, this will help you make better, more informed decisions when it comes to any future print projects or print-related technology needs you might have in the future.

Digital Asset Management (DAM) Systems – DAM is the common name for a system used to store digital assets that need to be available for use in the digital environment. These assets include items like images, logos, animations, videos, music or templates.

Your vendor may use a cloud-based DAM system through which you can upload your digital assets that may be used in ordering print and email campaigns, or within digital content. Overall, there are two broader categories of DAM systems you should be aware of. These include:

  • Brand Asset Management – This a subset of a DAM that is only concerned with the digital assets that relate directly to branding and marketing activity. Implementing a brand asset management system is especially beneficial for franchises or organizations with sales associates or offices set up across the country. Using this system, staff can access marketing materials that have been approved by your organization.
  • Library Asset Management – This is more of a cataloging system serving as a library for your organization. Here, all of your organizations infrequently used items such as videos and images are stored for future use and reference. This is especially useful for associations and similar nonprofits who often need to keep track of member and organization histories.

These are just a few classifications for DAM systems. Overall, these systems are here to make your life easier – especially when it comes to managing print jobs and the distribution of your printed materials.

Marketing Asset Manager (MAM) – Essentially, a MAM is an organization’s central marketing platform that contains your DAM, brand asset management and library asset management systems.

BFC’s myResource portal is our in-house developed MAM system, which allows you to complete a wide range of tasks. Below is an image taken from the landing page of our client’s myResource portal:

This portal was customized to meet this clients marketing support needs. As such, the appearance of myResource and its functions will vary from organization to organization, based on the tools and services they require.

In this example, the headers at the top – or modules – represent how this client wanted their information organized. This client requested 1) a separate pathway be created through which their users could access all their marketing assets, 2) another which contained all their non-marketing, informational content, and 3) one for a variety of business-related support documents.

Other organizations may want a separate module to access their imagery, or their marketing collateral separated by product. These separate modules combine various DAM systems, all adding up into one, comprehensive asset manager that helps your business run smoother and more effectively.

Offset Printing – Offset printing uses metal plates to apply ink onto paper. Setting up an offset printing job is generally more time consuming than its cousin, digital printing, and involves the creation and installation of the metal plates used in the process along with the actual printing process. This printing method is best suited for higher volume print jobs where thousands of pieces are needed, and at this higher volume the process becomes much more cost effective.

Digital Printing – Digital printing, on the other hand, uses rollers to apply ink to paper through an electrostatic charge. This method of printing is generally cheaper than offset for jobs with smaller quantities; think 500 copies of a project, for example. If you submit a job to your printer with lower quantities, they will likely choose digital printing to complete the job.

Variable Data Printing (VDP) – VDP is a technique through which documents are personalized to specific contacts by specifying designated areas in your template flagged as a variable field, either in the form of text boxes or images, which are then populated based off information assigned to a specific contact.

Print on Demand (POD) – POD refers to a technology and business process where projects are only printed when there is a demand for them. For example, sales collateral is a common POD item because it becomes obsolete quite often and organizations don’t want to guess at a print quantity and then be forced to throw away inventoried material that is no longer relevant. Therefore, they structure the item to be printed when needed. It is also used when individual personalization of a piece is required. Digital printing is the most cost-effective print method for POD.

Web-to-Print – This is a general term for any web-based software or application which allows organizations to do print business via websites. Typically, an online store with a catalog of items that can be ordered is referred to as Web-to-Print or W2P.

There you have it, a few terms you might come across when interacting with the print industry. If you ever have questions or concerns about any other terms you might come across in the constantly expanding world of print, feel free to reach out to us.

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