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Why print still has a place in the marketing mix

Even in the face of digital innovation, the reports of print's death are greatly exaggerated... Our lead designer weighs in.

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Rob M
Posted by Rob M
16 December 2015
   

There was a time, early on in my career, when headlines and articles proclaiming the death of print worried me. Much of my graphic design skillset was focused around print as the finished medium and I wondered if I’d taken the wrong path. Nearly 15 years on, I look back and laugh. This is why.

Digitisation has made things quicker, cheaper, more agile, more transferable. It has opened up entirely new industries. Businesses and retailers have strived to simplify things, maximise conversion rates, increase profits, and strip away all that is considered unnecessary or superfluous. But there is an inevitable return-to-earth where the bubbles burst, the fads fade and we realise the things we have been missing.

When people say they prefer holding the artwork and hearing "the warmth" of vinyl over digital music, or "the feel" of a physical book over a digital device, it’s exactly that: the appreciation of time, effort and expertise in the production of something to hold in your hand, to physically interact with and use. Instead of streamlined experiences, sometimes, people want to feel more immersed. That’s why I love print.

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Print appeals to all human senses; the changes with age in the smell of ink on paper, the tactile feel of a business card on quality stock, real colour that isn’t backlit and reacts naturally according to its environment, the sound of flicking stiff corners or turning leaves in a book, and even the effect on your taste buds when reading a restaurant menu; our appetite doesn’t wane and we aren’t going to give these things up.

At Splitpixel we are absolutely married to digital - we use the best of what it has to offer - but sometimes, it just doesn’t do the business. We never recommend a solution that is lavish or unnecessary, but in the right circumstances, nothing beats print.

The issue of circulation cost holds water, that’s true, and it’s much easier to update a webpage, e-shot or PDF than a newspaper, flyer or brochure, but I’d argue that people appreciate the boldness and risk a business takes in producing something real for their customers or readership to touch and take home. And the feeling you get from opening up the box from the printers never fails to reinvigorate your enthusiasm for your own brand.

So, far from being worried about the future of print, I’ve become, over the years, its biggest advocate. Less than 30 years of digitisation simply isn’t going to replace our innate relationship with print.

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