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Matters of Precision

It’s not often that I feel compelled to share parts of my workday with the population at large. It’s even less often that I feel compelled to make public something incredibly pedestrian. However, every once in a great while the planets align, both sides of the Senate are in agreement with each other, cats get along with dogs and some boring part of my day that is normally so unnoteworthy becomes worth sharing. That happened today. Are you ready to learn what it is? I’ll bet you can’t stand the suspense! Okay, okay here it is. Today I prepared business cards for a new employee here at eLynxx Solutions!

If we were all in a room together I suspect the reaction to that announcement would amount to crickets and one guy way in the back yelling “whooptie-freaking-ding-dong!”

So why in tarnation would I even consider wasting your time with tales of such unimportant sub-mediocrity? Because it was during this very mechanical, basically uncreative task involving what might very well be the bottom of the printed marketing material food chain that I realized it was the perfect example of how much precision detail matters.

Other than during the creation of the initial design business cards aren’t often given much thought. Aside from the obvious differences in names, positions and contact information business cards are supposed to be uniform, or consistent, from one person to the next across an organization. Once the master design is finalized no one wants to put too much effort into them. While the means may be different, the quest to automate the process of preparing business cards for different individuals seems fairly universal. By locking down the designs and specifications of business cards, or any other printed material for that matter, organizations can make the process convenient and efficient while ensuring consistency. And let’s face it, where branded marketing communications are concerned, consistency definitely matters.

Of course the design side of that equation always seems to get the spotlight. After all, without a design, the printer has nothing to print. But precision specifications are equally, if not more, important in ensuring consistency. If there is a problem with a design file your vendor will probably tell you. If a color build is off, a font is incorrect or a logo is misplaced, you will see it in proofing. But if the specifications are not precise and, for instance, the vendor has only a vague or generic outline of your paper stock expectations, you could be looking at big disappointment and a breakdown in consistency.

For example, we print our business cards on a particular brand of 100 pound bright white silk cover stock. Consequently, 100 pound bright white silk cover is not an uncommon stock. A number of manufacturers can provide a stock that fits that generic description. They will all be quality materials however they will all be different. Pulling a few different manufacturers’ versions of this stock from our sample library I can see differences in whiteness, brightness, grain and finish. I can feel differences when I touch them. That doesn’t mean that one is better than the other. But it does mean the differences could result in inks absorbing differently, colors taking on different tones or hues and the finished product feeling different to the touch.

We selected the particular 100 pound bright white silk cover that we use because it made the colors in our design stand out nicely and it had a good feel in the hands. If we had selected stock of the same generic description from another manufacturer, the final product wouldn’t look or feel bad, but it would look and feel different. If we did not clearly and precisely outline every detail in the specifications we would run the highly-probable risk of having each new batch of business cards look and feel different from the last.

The fact that I took care of business cards for a new employee today is not what’s important. What is important is that I know that across-the-board consistency will not be compromised because of a small detail. What is important is that I know that this one, seemingly inconsequential part will contribute to, and not take away from, the sum total that is our brand and I didn’t even have to think about it. What is important is that precision specifications mean that I can worry less and focus more on the fun, exciting and really meaningful parts of my job.

I hope you can say the same.

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