20 May The Ins and Outs of Sign Print Companies and Commercial Printers
The market for the sign and commercial printing has shrunk over the last decade despite steady
economic growth. As UV ink, high-speed finishing equipment and digital presses become the new
substrates, commercial printers are restructuring their business models to suit the current markets.
Unlike other industries where technology has rendered some systems redundant, in the printing
industry, 100-year old techniques such as screen printing are still in use.
While this is true, technological disruptions will continue to bring an enormity of changes to the
printing industry as clients demand for fast turnaround times, high-quality prints, personalization and
just-in-time production. The shift to e-commerce and preference for online transactions has forced
sign and commercial printers to forge up ways that accelerate print and digital media convergence.
Printers face the ongoing challenge of maintaining and developing their businesses to stay relevant
and counter morphing market dynamics. While these realities impact types of printed products and
services, they push different segments of the industry to evolve differently. This article provides
unique insights about the sign print and commercial printing industry, their market share in the
industry and their benefits.
Printed signage is mostly used for advertising and marketing and involves the design of ad materials
used in billboards, banners, posters, signs and marketing displays. Sign printers have to ensure that
the signage they produce meet the market needs.
Signs are ubiquitous forms of advertisements for retail businesses. They promote the business brand
and indicate a business location. Signage is paramount in promoting a product, identifying something,
providing useful information, showing directions and raising safety awareness.
The evolution of wide format printing has made it possible for signs to be installed almost anywhere.
Businesses can choose advertisement hoardings, building wraps, or outdoor signage to promote their
brands. Signs options such as window displays are invaluable in attracting potential customers while
pop-up displays are ideal for seasonal businesses.
Regardless of the type of signage, sign printing is essential for small, medium-sized and large
businesses that want to attract clients and penetrate to new markets. Most commercial printers
provide custom sign printing services for indoor and outdoor advertisements. Enterprises and
organizations utilize printed signage for marketing purposes across lobbies, points of sale,
tradeshows, retail locations, event venues and showrooms.
Sign print is used for promotional, educational and operational needs. They are invaluable in creating
large visuals for advertisement and marketing. Signs are also useful in instructional settings where
they are used in business presentations, corporate training, seminars. More so, signage is vital in
designing visible wayfinding and directional signs to provide direction and identification.
Commercial printers leverage both prepress and post-press print technologies comprising of offset
and digital printing systems to create prints in high volumes. Typical commercial printing services
include direct mailing, fulfilment and design. Alone, this industry generates nearly $900 billion annual
revenue globally, providing several growth opportunities for printers.
A 2019 commercial printers market report indicates that direct mail forms 83.3% of the commercial
printing market. Direct mailing involves using offset printing for long runs and digital printing for short
runs. From postcards to brochure mailers, printers can design all forms of marketing collateral
depending on the customer’s needs. Since direct mailing has proven over the years to be an
affordable and most effective way of creating personalized ad copies, the sector has enjoyed growth
despite the rise of digital marketing.
Enterprises that want to avoid inventory costs take advantage of the fulfilment services provided by
commercial printers. Fulfilment involves package printing and direct mailing, thus saving the customer
logistical burden relating to the delivery of finished prints. Some printers distribute brochures,
displays, samples, order forms, contracts, etc. to dispersed teams. Commercial printers can also
supply crucial documentation, training manuals, and other valuable documents to franchise
Printing companies utilize offset lithography, gravure, vinyl printing and digital printing flexography for
general printing purposes. In some instances, processes such as pad printing, flock printing, intaglio,
letterpress and thermography are used for particular applications. Whatever the type of printing
technology in use, printers ensure that they meet the expectations of their customer.
Commercial Printing Market
Commercial printing is the largest segment in the printing industry. It has four major target markets
which are book printers, publication printers, advertising and financial printers.
The book printing is a big and old industry that has survived the technological revolution that led to e-
books. According to Global Outlook and Forecast 2019-2024 Report, worldwide book printing market
is projected to reach a market value of US dollars 49 billion by 2024. This anticipated growth is
backed by both a rise in adoption of large and small-scale digital printing capabilities and a growing
preference for offset printers globally. Demand for shorter-run printing jobs is due to the rising print-
on-demand orders and self-publishing over the recent years. The anticipated growth in book printing
indicates a growing market opportunity for commercial printers.
Publishing is an art production exercise that involves preparing, producing and distributing graphical
material, newspapers, magazines and books. Publication began as an activity undertaken in
publishing houses in Europe in the 16th century but later evolved into printer-publishers in the 17th
century as their output increased as well as the growing need for the financial and technical provision
of production. Currently, printing publishers are involved in the production of periodicals, annual
organization reports, catalog, greeting cards and database.
Despite the emergence of electronic advertising, print advertising is still a prevalent form of
advertising. Print advertisements appear on magazines and newspapers or sometimes included as
fliers or brochures, and anything else written in print media to grab the attention of target audience.
Print advertising is, however, useful only when they are attractive to capture readers’ interest. This
means that the advertising team should creatively develop images and wordings to capture the
attention of the reader. Thus, print advertising creates an opportunity for printers that can employ
Financial printers are printing firms that specialize in printing of financial documents. Examples of
financial records include pitch books, fund prospectuses, information memoranda, financial
statements, banknotes, tax return forms, and cheques, among others. Commercial printing requires a
secure environment to ensure there is no unauthorized access by third parties. Providing financial
printing involves winning tenders from potential customers that include corporate entities that
outsource financial document printing, and also government agencies that need such services.
Sign Print Target Market
Sign print is the second largest segment in the printing industry. The demand for sign print cuts
across various needs that include promotional, educational, and operational. Given the versatility of
sign print, commercial printers target a vast market.
Instructional settings such as seminar rooms, classrooms, corporate training rooms, and business
presentation centers use large charts, diagrams and maps to facilitate learning. Sign printers produce
large format prints that can be used for multiple purposes. About 65% of sign print products are
tailored for this market, making educational institutions the most popular markets for sign printing
Corporate entities are facing fierce competition from rivals, and the only way to survive is to set their
business apart to stay unique. 3D sign printers are venturing in this area to create intricate detailing
combined with different lighting styles, effects and colors to set apart the corporate brands from
Construction professionals, engineers and architects need large format plotters and signs to deliver
value to their clients. Sign print helps the professionals in the construction industry to highlight image
details in a building project design so that it is easy to replicate plans on-site.
Restaurants and eating establishments require sign print to a large extent. Signage is required to
display food preparation procedures and also the kitchen safety signs. Sign print enables restaurants
to display prices, menu options, and hours of operation. To entice potential customers, eating
establishments also need signage to promote, advertise and direct the customers into their premises.
Therefore, food services provide a great target market for sign printers.
Apart from the above major target markets for sign printers, there are many other small but significant
consumers for signage services. These include retail businesses, nonprofits organizations, in-store
displays, trade shows and museum graphics. Most common signage products include banners,
posters, electric signs, digital billboards, LED signs, backlit displays, neon signs, wood signs,
environmental signage, vehicle graphics and sign and bus shelters among others.
Benefits of Commercial Printing
Crafty businesses know the benefits of using sign print and commercial printers to attract clients,
promote their brands and create a lasting impression in the market. Here is a rundown of the
advantages small and large corporations can get by outsourcing printing services from commercial
Commercial printers have a swath of design options that are available for the market, whether it is
direct mailing, POP displays, book printing, brochures, or customized forms. Professional printers are
experts and use various technologies to come up with quality finished prints. While in-house
equipment can handle the printing of a few documents, brochures and displays, professional printers
can design prints in bulk and undertake fulfilment services.
Premium Quality Prints
Outsourcing printing services allows corporations to leave technicalities of printing to the experts.
Professional printers provide top quality products and services, especially for businesses requiring
projects in long runs and large quantities. Design specialists will iron out issues that non-professionals
could easily overlook. Final prints are passed through several quality assurance checks ensuring that
are the design details have been met.
In addition to printing quality copies at an affordable price, commercial printers provide dependable
warehousing services, assembling, kitting, and direct shipping services. With strict control procedures
and high levels of security, professional printers ensure that customers’ critical documents are safe.
Outsourcing printing and fulfilment services can not only save money but also save departmental
heads from the headaches of using complicated and expensive in-house equipment. Commercial
printers manage projects right from the idea phase, through operational to the fulfilment phase.
Carefully and tactfully crafted displays with intricate images and colors can bolster traffic into a store.
Promotional signs create an impression in the customers who eventually visit the business premise to
buy products or make inquiries.
Signs are commonly designed to help people identify or recognize a brand or a place. Corporate
brands use sign prints to help customers identify their brand. Also, they are great retail advertising
tools for creating impulse sales. For instance, through high street signs, Coca-cola has ensured that
consumers recognize its brand. Also, Coca-cola uses franchises and chains throughout the world
which use similar shop fronts and displays to establish an easily recognizable brand throughout their
Sign and commercial printers save companies both time and money. Since they can handle large
volumes, printing firms enjoy economies of scale, leading to low-priced end products. By outsourcing
printing services, small businesses can get adequate time to concentrate on their core business.
In the short run, it might seem feasible to consider DIY options. However, as the business grows, it
will become expensive and inefficient to manage production and distribution of both small and large
format prints. Considering the services of commercial printers allows enterprises to streamline their in-
house processes while allowing professional printers to design and fulfil print orders.