Editorial: Call Me Anything

Quick printing started out as a description of a specialized part of the printing industry that could produce stuff quickly. Job shops that used to take their own sweet time printing something didn’t like quick printers and tried to instill a sense of inferiority in them. “They’re not real printers.” That ploy finally worked when the association that represented quick printers decided it was a good move to abandon the name in favor of something modern, upbeat, and sophisticated—PrintImage International. The fact that it didn’t really mean anything was ignored for several years, but folks at last came to their senses and reclaimed the quick printing banner.

So, the question arises, does it make any difference to the world at large what printers call themselves? For some perspective, I turned to Google.
A search for “quick printing” turns up 6.5 million hits while a search for “print image” registers only 989,000. Obviously, quick printing has more clout, right? What about “commercial printing”? Well, it slightly outpolls quick printing at 6.8 million. Some people have hung the tag “quick commercial printing” on the industry, but that only registers 2.6 million hits.

Another area that has caused confusion involves the method used to print stuff. “Offset printing” turns up only 2.7 million references while “digital printing” returns a whopping 28 million. So, digital printing is the clear winner in the name game. Or is it?

I have long insisted that customers who patronize quick and small commercial printers don’t think of them in those terms. They go to their printer who runs a print shop. Need proof? Well, Google turns up 314 million hits for “print shop”—far more than all the other references put together.

But wait! A new era has dawned. Printers are no longer just printers. We are bombarded with the news that traditional printing is dead and to survive printers will have to reinvent themselves as “marketing services providers” or MSPs. There might be something to that since a Google search on “marketing services” brings in a very respectable 173 million references.

It has been my experience that companies, people, and things are recognized far more by what they do or what they are than by what they might be called. A dealer that sells pre-owned cars is still a used car dealer. Right sizing is still firing. Sanitation engineers still collect garbage. A corrections facility is still a prison, and a loss prevention officer is still a guard. Sanitary landfills are garbage dumps and capital punishment is still the death penalty.

As you might imagine, I have been called many things over the years and I have developed a philosophy to handle that. You can call me anything but late for dinner.