Why Print Is Alive & Well

Diane LaPorte

Creative Director

It’s a fact that digital advertising campaigns command the lion’s share of an advertising budget. You only have to look at a few media plans to see that it’s so.

Digital advertising currently boasts high rates of success, and websites are fast making the printed newspaper, magazine, and catalog, and even (block your ears, Dr. Johnson) the printed dictionary, precariously close to extinction. It’s no wonder some say print is dying, if not already dead.

But it isn’t so.

Let’s look up from our screens for a moment and reflect on how print still holds its own in a world gone mad with all things digital.

Creating a sensory experience.

Only with print do the senses truly come into play. The feel of luxurious paper stock. The glint of foil stamping. The scent that can only come from opening a best-selling page-turner, hot off the press. With just a touch, we immediately know the difference between a high-or low-end product. There is a certain feeling you experience when you browse through an upscale brochure or magazine that no on-screen experience can match.

In the print design world, good typography still exists. Precision, accuracy, and high expectations are considered good things. For me, nothing quite compares to watching what was once just a glimmer of an idea come to life in three-dimensional glory. But then, I may be biased. While I embrace all disciplines of design, I am at heart a print designer. I simply love the smell of the ink and the roar of the press.

Print is everywhere, and staying there.

While it’s true print advertising may be on the decline, print is still everywhere, hiding in plain sight. It’s right there, in the label on your drink, that artwork on your favorite T-shirt, the card that made you smile on your birthday, and the coaster under your beer. One glimpse of a bag of Smartfood® White Cheddar Cheese Popcorn and your mouth begins to water. What do all these everyday items have in common? They all fall into the “print” category.

Make no mistake, printing is big business. Printers are working multiple shifts to keep up with the demand. They are constantly breaking new ground to keep ahead of the needs of an ever-changing marketplace.

According to a recent survey of printers, direct mail is the top printed product, followed closely by brochures and catalogs. (Who doesn’t secretly look forward to the arrival of the latest L.L.Bean® catalog?)

The survey also shows that inkjet, wide-format, and digital toner based print processes will continue to grow relatively fast over the next one to two years. What makes these processes so popular? They are more affordable than other print methods, easier to produce, allow for lower print quantities, have faster turn-around time, and produce excellent, high-quality results.

Power to the package—right on.

Packaging is one area that will continue to grow at a higher rate than other print markets.

Companies spend a staggering amount to package their products or services. A national study shows that 72% of consumers agree that packaging design can influence their purchasing decision. Packaging is often the first interaction that shoppers have with a product. It tells a story, sets the tone and provides a tangible experience for consumers.

How granular can it get? Check out the box that arrives directly on your doorstep containing all the ingredients for your dinner. By design, it is intended to be an integral part of the overall consumer experience for the booming meal kit delivery service industry.

Large-format graphics are huge.

No pun intended. What was once considered a niche market has exploded on the urban landscape. Buildings under construction are now wrapped in stunning graphics. Transit bus wraps keep advertising messages on the move. Even interstate truckers are being used as rolling ambassadors of travel and tourism. Wall murals and banner graphics adorn the walls and halls, everywhere from retail stores to museums.

I once had a math teacher who told our class, “Math is everywhere. You all will use math at least once, every single day of your life without realizing it.” (Disconcerting news for us right-brain thinkers, but he was, in fact, absolutely correct.) It doesn’t have to be the “big” math. It could be as simple as adding the tip to your lunch check.

Print has become so much a part of our everyday lives that the same could be said for the printed piece: you will come into contact with at least one printed piece every day. Without even realizing it.

Print is dead? I think not.

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