why a good printer still matters in a digital age

As a wee marketing agency, our grandfather bounced us ’pon his knee and gave us this pearl of wisdom:

“If you’re going to hire great designers, you’d better have an exceptional printer.”

What was really uncanny about his advice was that it would one day be extremely relevant to a blog we wanted to write. As an agency, we pride ourselves on the strength of our design work. But the unsung hero of much of it is the Faulkenberg Printing Company, who consistently goes above and beyond to make that work shine.

We spoke with company president Jim Faulkenberg, as well as with our director of account service, Melissa Sunsdahl, to learn more about the industry, our partnership, and why print collateral still matters so much in a digital world.

Faulkenberg has become our go-to printer for some of our most challenging projects. But how did that relationship develop? 

JIM: We started working with Well Done through Mindy Ford around 2007. My cousin, Tom Faulkenberg, handled the account at the time, but after he retired, I took over, working with Mindy for about a year before Melissa started. Throughout that time, it’s always been a really good relationship.

MELISSA: My first introduction to Faulkenberg was shortly after I started in 2013. I’d included them while I was gathering quotes on a printing project, but I realized very quickly how special they were. Time and time again, Faulkenberg has come through for us—they’re always willing to meet our deadlines, work with us on budget, and really bring our ideas to life in a way that not every vendor does. It’s that creative partnership that really allows us to deliver high quality pieces on time to our clients.

Printing isn’t just about fulfilling an order, right? There are creative challenges to it, like any art form.

MELISSA: Definitely. One example that jumps to mind is the rebranding we did last year for MJ Insurance. One of the elements we used throughout the design was a plus sign, which we wanted to feature on the cover of a folder in a subtle but striking way—something surprising.

Faulkenberg used a spot varnish to apply that element in a repeating pattern that filled the cover. Getting it right required a lot of care and precision, but they nailed it. The effect is a design that seems to shimmer and change depending on how the light strikes it, but is totally consistent with the overall rebranding.

And that’s just one example of many over the years. We’ve never been able to stump them. No matter what we ask for, they’ve never told us no.

JIM: One of my favorite projects from Well Done was for Ferguson Financial. The collateral featured an embossed chameleon on the cover, with a text treatment inside the embossment on the other side. That was an interesting challenge, and one that resulted in a beautiful piece. I’ve also always enjoyed Well Done’s work for CICF. You guys always pick the best paper for those projects.

On our end, we also try to make sure we’re delivering the intended design. For instance, printing photos on uncoated paper makes those photos print darker, so our vice president of operations, Brad Rund, will do the color correction right off the bat to make sure it looks right. We stay involved at each stage to make sure there won’t be any issues throughout the process.

Why does print collateral still matter? Isn’t everything digital now?

JIM: You know, people have said that for a long time, and it’s something that still tickles my funny bone. In 2008 the print industry really took a hit when the economy went bad. Everyone told me print was going away. But I just chuckled. People want a nice printed piece, something they can hold and look at and take home. If it’s done correctly, it’s such a nicer experience than something presented on a computer screen.

MELISSA: Print and digital actually share some responsibility to serve as the front line of your brand. Much like your website can be the first exposure some people have to your brand, so can a brochure or a direct mail piece.

That’s why it’s so important to have a quality printing vendor who can deliver high-end printed materials without an extravagant cost. That’s what Faulkenberg always delivers. As much as people have gravitated toward digital marketing, there’s still real value in giving people something they can hold. Even now, Well Done is solidly in the print business. Having a partner like Faulkenberg makes us even better.