Creative print advisers warn against treating print as a cost line on a spreadsheet

Carbon8’s Sydney founders help designers and agencies push the creative envelope with high-end and bespoke print solutions vital to a successful marketing mix.

This article was sponsored by HP to show readers what Carbon8 has been achieving with its HP Indigo 12000 printer.

Carbon8 is one of Sydney’s finest digital printing houses. Founded 12 years ago, its two founders came from different backgrounds but with their complementary skill sets, quickly became trusted advisers in creative printing solutions for brands, corporates and creatives.

Peter Musarra

Peter Musarra, co-founder and director of Carbon8

With Peter Musarra’s background as a designer steeped in knowledge of traditional printing processes and Kenneth Beck’s use of a vast range of software, PDF workflow and RIP management, they’ve been able to produce work others couldn’t, constantly pushing the envelope and yet remaining true to traditional print processes and values.

Where other printers may conduct their businesses in a very transactional model, Musarra and Beck’s unique mindset has enabled them to help clients find solutions, allowing collateral to look refined, more contemporary and ultimately deliver better results for their clients. This approach has been the backbone of the business and, combined with their early decision to entrust its fortunes with the HP Indigo Digital Press technology, has delivered a substantial portfolio of the company’s beautiful, innovative and collaborative pieces.

Having also more recently expanded into sign and packaging, they have found just as much demand in that market as clients strive to stand out from the crowd. Utilising all the digital capabilities of the HP Indigo means the team at Carbon8 are able to produce not only nationwide campaigns, but also bespoke marketing pieces and prototyping with levels of quality and complexity that only a few years ago was considered impossible.

By coupling best in class service with the very latest in print technology, they are able to continue to deliver value in a market that is increasingly ruled by electronic communications. Unlike many of the large print conglomerates, who have built businesses around serving repeatable, recurring volume print, they often work with creative entities and brands that use print more sparingly. This requires another level of engagement and advice, building the campaign or piece through consultation.

Ken Beck

Kenneth Beck, co-founder and director of Carbon8

“We’ve become their trusted advisers because printing is our area of expertise,” recalls Beck, director of Carbon8. “We work in a consultative and collaborative way to develop the best outcome given their specific campaign demands, creative inspiration or target market requirement. After all, we work with print every day and our clients generally don’t. So it’s our responsibility and opportunity to act as their internal print adviser and to teach them about all the possibilities of print available today.”

The capabilities appear limitless.

They’re under no illusions about changing demands for printed products too. “Demand has shrunk for some products, but there are always opportunities to expand the range,” Beck says. “Businesses are certainly printing less, but when they do print, it’s often more targeted and higher value in order to deliver the cut-through that clients are demanding. The market is changing rapidly and that’s no surprise to anyone, but Carbon8 has built a business nimble enough to change as the market moves around them.”

The HP Indigo 12000 Digital Press technology lets Carbon8 generate luxury print products for short runs, often with only hours notice, and also delivers the speed and reliability to do volume runs at competitive prices.

“We’ve bought the top of the range,” says Musarra. “Part of what we’re doing is buying an insurance policy against failure. You’re buying dependability.”

The message

Those of us in marketing know that the way any message is delivered is as important, if not more important, than the message itself. Too many brands today consider print in their campaigns as a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ – something that can be reduced to a price on a spreadsheet. Carbon8 is doing its part to change that by championing print as a valuable method of communication. Just as there are great copywriters and poor ones, printed collaterals can also be excellent or poorly done. Carbon8 ensures that everything it does produces the moment of delight and the tactile joy that is only possible through good quality print. This aims to drive consumer engagement, which is the elusive prize all marketers seek.

“What we try to instil in our customers,” says Beck, “is the philosophy that how you communicate is as important as what you communicate. Our aim is to to have the choice of material, process or embellishment adding another layer to the actual message. Subtle changes in how your message is delivered can really help support the message by reinforcing environmental, creative or brand values.”

It’s true: done well, people get it. It’s just like craft beer, craft gin or fine dining.

For more information and inspiration on the best print can offer, check out the impressive work by Carbon8