Previously I managed to pin down four key aspects that I want the product of my new brand to adhere to:

• Minimal or No Stock
• Not Cheap
Wide Market Marketable
• Fun!

These aren’t “brand values” (I’ll look to create these later and there may be some crossover) but aims for my project as a whole, something to refer back to as it develops and ensure, for my sanity, that I’m sticking to them. Once I’ve settled on what I’m selling they’ll take a back seat to my more defined values.

You’ll spot that cross through my “Wide Market” aim. I’ve thought a little more on this, and it’s an easy thought process to fall into, that I want my product to appeal to loads of people who will buy it. That’s all well and good, but actually I want my product to appeal to the people who are likely to buy it, and that market may actually be within a certain niche. I still don’t want that niche to be really small or specialist, but I want it to be a market that I can understand and sell to, whatever that may be. So I’ve reassigned it as “marketable”.

So I’ve had to stop procrastinating and make some decisions!

There are a few design based things I’ve been flirting with in my spare time, for fun, so it makes sense t develop these, as fun is one of my aims. I’ve got confidence that these can be developed into commercially viable products and form the core of an initial offering.

They’ll be printed products, which will challenge a couple of my aims, namely no stock, and not cheap. There’s no end of places you can purchase perfectly well-designed prints, knock yourself out on Etsy or the mighty Ebay for example. Do I want to compete in this space?

I don’t want to sell cheap prints via a third party platform. I want my prints to stand out, to be head and shoulders above the typical online stuff. This defines a decision, I’ll create a website to sell the prints myself. That’s an extra job, but one I’ve done before for clients and not one I’m totally unprepared to take on. It’ll also be fun, to a point, as I do quite like making websites, but in this instance, all the decisions on look and function will be mine!

It also put the full onus on me to market the site, I won’t be getting a hand up from the marketing power or search algorithms of the likes of Etsy or Ebay.

To ensure that I’m selling high-quality prints I need to ensure they’re produced with a high-quality printing process. There is an obvious solution to that, though it causes issues with the no or low stock aim, that’s using lithographical (litho) printing. Litho printing provides the highest quality finish, its success depends on the press operator, a pretty specialist job these days, and it’s expensive as you need to have plates produced for each of the colours in your print, which is usually a minimum of four, CYMK, that is Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black (printing fact; K stands for ‘Key’ as it’s the first colour to apply and used to match the other colours too, hence the [K]ey plate), but can be many more if you want to add ‘spot’ colours (a single solid ink rather than a creation of a colour from 2 or more inks). You can also get jazzy with special inks, UV, metallic or glosses.

Litho is great, especially when you’ve got loads to print, once you’ve got the plates and the job set, running 1000’s off is a cinch. But running just a few off is expensive, prohibitively so, because litho is front heavy, the preproduction on plates and the like needs to happen if you want 1 print or 1 million prints.

The alternative is digital printing. To say that this has some similarities to the inkjet printer that’s maybe sat on your desk is a little unkind, but it is a bit like that but on a bigger scale and with higher quality inks and papers, plus some professional configuration and calibration. Short runs on digital prints are perfectly possible, there are no plates and much less setup, you print directly from a computer. The quality doesn’t match that of litho, especially in large areas of solid colour which can look patchy, most particularly on saturated colours like red, or dark colours.

So it would be litho for quality but digital for convenience.

There is a digital printing variation that does offer a high-quality end product and can handle short runs, Giclee printing. Usually used by artists and photographers, for exhibition quality fine art and photographic prints and it’s a specialist area.

The core is the same as regular digital printing, using a machine that’s bigger and fancier than a normal inkjet, but a printer used for giclee prints will usually focus not on quantity or speed, but a high-end finish. In reality, giclee is a wide term, if someone refers to it, they usually mean the very highest quality digital printing that can be achieved. It’s not the name of a specific process.

The additional quality isn’t only because of the printer of choice, it’s also down to a good operator who will be better in tune with the end product, with more care and love being given to each individual print over a regular digital press operator who, generalising, focuses on the volume market.

Giclee printing can then perhaps provide the answer I’m looking for, giving me high-quality prints (not cheap) with little or no stock (even maybe allowing a print on demand business model).

Therefore I now have in my control the ability to create a brand of products that is fun to do, solves the stock issue and is high quality. I have to ensure that the final designs are marketable, assuming I can pull that off, all 4 aims are ticked off.