For over a decade, we have seen the incredible creative potential of digital printing. Unprecedented agility, coupled with the ability to create ‘limitless’ variations, have led to packaging that is more real-time, more tactical, more customisable – and ultimately more engaging for consumers.
For marketing leaders, these capabilities have reinvented the level of campaign sophistication possible at the point of sale. With campaigns like ‘Share a Coke‘, brands have realised significant commercial success blending recognisable iconography with timely, personal and competitive variations.
Until now, however, the software to create vibrant, engaging designs from variable data has been in the hands of print service providers (PSPs), not designers. No more – this month marks the beginning of a creative revolution.
We have introduced SmartStream Designer for Designers (D4D), building on the strength of our PSP-exclusive SmartStream software, allowing designers to get hands on creating files, previewing of up to 20 variations on any design, and taking significantly more creative control of the process.
I truly believe we are at the start of a new era, as the best and brightest of the creative community directly grapple with the incredible possibilities of mass customisation and personalisation.
In an initial beta period of three months starting in November, we are sharing D4D with up to 500 designers in the UK who will receive direct support from HP – and have the opportunity to provide feedback for further product development.
Believing it’s best for designers to teach designers, we invited the Yarza Twins to take a first spin with D4D on a ground-breaking campaign for Smirnoff.
Working with the Smirnoff No 21 brand, the twins have designed 21 characters along with 21 hats and 21 bodies, leveraging D4D to ‘shuffle’ the design content and create near limitless character variations. These unique designs have been used across shrink sleeved bottles, standard bottle labels, corrugate boxes and display, chairs, wallpaper, T-shirts and posters.
As vibrant, personal and effective variations, these character designs all support Smirnoff’s ethos towards diversity and inclusivity. Using the training videos available online, 500 D4D beta testers can trace the steps of this campaign to grasp the full capabilities and designer-focused interface of SmartStream D4D.
We will see better ideas, stronger designs and bigger leaps of imagination in a medium still very much in its creative infancy. Campaigns that shift by unit, week or city, empowering agencies to work more closely with trusted creative talent in bringing innovation to life. What is more, brands can ensure their product stands out on the shelf through the use of HP’s special inks including Fluorescent Pink, ElectroInk including the new Premium White ElectroInk, and through digital embellishments like foil, varnish and other special effects.
And, in leveraging HP digital printing, products have security baked into their very design, with Link Technology enabling easy verification of authenticity, and instant tracking anywhere across the supply chain. Additionally, agencies can have confidence they are utilising among the most sustainable printing systems on the market today. Through our closed-loop recycling program, HP has manufactured more than three billion ink and toner cartridges using more than £177m of recycled plastic. In doing so, we have kept 682 million cartridges, 50 million coat hangers, and 3.3 billion plastic bottles out of landfills.
While the dynamic possibilities of digital printing are nothing new, the ability for our best and brightest creative minds to engage directly with immense potential of variable data certainly is. Artistic freedom, creative scale and an opportunity to push design towards a new era. Starting in the UK and soon to be found across the world, our creative community can now push the boundaries of what is possible like never before.
The new software will be trialled among 500 UK-based designers. From 6 November for a three-month period, designers will be able to register to be part of the beta programme by visiting here.
Nancy Janes is global head of brand innovation for imaging and printing at HP.