I don’t have the best memory. I’ll fully admit it. As marketers, we are challenged with communicating a message in a world full of noise. Lots of noise. Even if you get a consumer’s attention, tickle their funny bone, or make them feel something, will they remember your brand? And, in a land of digital marketing, how do you shine through? The answer used to be printed collateral — perhaps it is again?
Several years ago, the design and marketing industry saw a great shift in how content was delivered. Gone were the days of large, perfect-bound annual reports and catalogs. Suddenly, companies were discovering the power — and cost savings — of the internet. Not only could you reach thousands of customers with a single link, but you could also measure interaction with your brand. It seemed printed collateral pieces were a thing of the past.
When the Great Recession hit in December of 2007, I distinctly remember most of our clients decided that printing was OUT and websites were IN. Digital publishing was a great way to preserve marketing budgets and still have a high level of engagement with customers.
As a graphic designer, I had conflicting feelings about the shift to online design. On the one hand, I embraced the challenging and exciting new design environment of a 1024×768 pixel canvas. On the other hand, I missed working with tactile materials — as a graphic designer, you have the ability to create something so special that someone might save it on a shelf.
Hasn’t this been the goal of printers and publishers for thousands of years?
However, if a customer bookmarks the website you designed, or you have thousands of visitors to a URL, one might argue that this is more important than a “silly” printed piece. I’ve also noticed that the ubiquity of digital media and the overwhelming amount of available online content has made it challenging for brands to stand out. So, what’s the right balance?
I am happy to report that printed collateral is BACK.
I recently attended a luncheon presented by WCP Solutions and Mohawk Paper about some new paper lines available. As a graphic designer, you are tasked with keeping up with the latest online technologies as well as the latest in paper and printing technologies. Neenah and Mohawk, two large manufacturers of paper products, are wonderful resources when it comes to design and printing trends.
Both have robust online tools for specifying and browsing paper selections. But, more importantly, they give designers access to knowledgeable paper reps who provide beautiful physical pieces to take home and add to inspiration libraries. It is no different than looking at art. I am always blown away by the innovative techniques and methods used to produce these gorgeous marketing pieces.
At this particular luncheon, the WCP rep also showed us a promotional book from Sappi that peaked my interest. Entitled “A Communicators Guide to the Neuro Science of Touch,” a group of graphic designers and scientists teamed up to measure the impact that sight and touch have on human memory. It turns out, both are key factors. Haptic perception, the process of recognizing an object through the sense of touch, plays an important role. According to a study by Scientific American , touch elevates a printed message over a digital one. Which is why printed collateral is very valuable in the marketing mix.
There’s no denying we live in a digital world, but I truly believe that printed marketing pieces still play an important part in making a memorable impression on your audience.
ps. – As designers, we must always be conscientious of the effect paper consumption has on our environment. I personally make an effort to use Green Seal Certified or FSC paper when printing a piece. There are many responsible paper choices available in today’s market that do not sacrifice quality.