When it comes to designing marketing campaigns, digital communication has asserted its dominance over its print-based predecessor in the last few years.

The reasoning is simple; alongside the evolution of technology, digital campaigns have become increasingly accessible for consumers in modern times. In fact, it’d be a challenging task these days to go a full 24 hours without seeing a digital advertisement or campaign for a product or service.

While print marketing was historically the best way to appeal to the masses, in newspapers and on billboards for example, nowadays most brands opt to focus their design efforts into connecting with consumers on their smartphones, televisions, laptops and various other devices in order to meet their business objectives.

Does this mean that design for print is dead? Absolutely not. Despite handing the baton over to its digital counterpart, print campaigns still have a massive part to play in marketing, and can in some instances work better than digital campaigns. Whether it’s posters, leaflets, mailers, promotional literature or anything else for that matter, the relevance of print design remains true to this day, and has recently undergone a resurgence amongst the younger generations, especially Gen Z, which we’ll discuss more about later.

But how can this be proven? Does print design really have a part to play in brand development? Well, fortunately, when it comes to relevant and compelling marketing campaigns that have served their purpose and attracted global attention, the print industry is not short of examples.

So, what does print design have over digital? And how has this been proven? Let’s find out…

What are the advantages of print over digital?

Although digital campaigns are more common for brands when it comes to marketing campaigns, there are several strategies for which a print campaign would be more useful to achieve business goals. We’ve listed a few below:

Appealing to local consumers

While digital campaigns are typically more accessible on a broader scale due to the ease of access the internet provides, developing printed forms of communication can help to target a specific group of people based on a number of things.

Printed posters and leaflets, for example, can add credibility to your campaign when directed at a particular market. According to a survey conducted by Tonula, 46% of consumers would be more likely to take action after seeing an advertisement in a printed newspaper or magazine than they would if they saw the same advertisement online.

But why is this? Well, with online security still a very real issue in the digital world, print design poses much less of a threat to the personal information of a consumer, such as their private banking details. In a world where digital marketing changes rapidly, print still acts as a more credible source of information for the masses.

Increased consumer focus

One of the best things about the internet is that you can browse as often and as freely as you like. For example, you can open up as many tabs as you want on your laptop, while scrolling through your smartphone, with Netflix streaming on the television in the background. It’s great, isn’t it? Or is it? Just how effective are digital campaigns in hooking the interest of a consumer when they have so much to digest in front of them? The answer, not very. According to research, the average person now has a shorter attention than a goldfish thanks to smartphones. So, how can brands ensure that they grab the attention of their target audience(s)?

Enter print marketing. With a print designed campaign or advert, a consumer isn’t typically reading other things or focusing on other tasks. Even if they are driving with the radio on while having a conversation, that’s a drop in the ocean compared to having 13 tabs open across several devices. If a printed campaign has managed to interest the consumer, they are much more likely to study it further.

Print campaigns last longer

Similar to grabbing the attention of the modern consumer, a print campaign, a good print campaign, will last in people’s memories longer than a digital one. Nowadays consumers feel like they’re constantly being advertised to online through hard selling methods, which can put them off. A print campaign, however, can act as a more subtle reminder of a brand’s presence.

Take a billboard poster, for example, if done right, it will stick in the mind of the consumer who in turn will tell others about it, who in turn will want to know more about the brand, who in turn may even post on social media about it. And boom, just like that, your print campaign has an online presence without you having to invest a penny to compete in a saturated digital market.

Get it right, and a print design campaign can land you conversions, sales, or whatever it is that you want your business to achieve. Proving this may be a little more difficult, but holistically it is very much proven.

Print campaigns that attracted widespread attention

There have been so many print design campaigns that have gripped consumers over the years; almost too many to narrow down to just a few. We have, however, listed a few of the ones that resonated with us the most:

KFC’s ‘FCK’ newspaper campaign

Credit: Metro

We all remember it, we all lived through it, some might argue it’s still too soon to talk about it. In February of last year, the beloved fast food outlet KFC ran out of the one thing it relies on the most; fried chicken. The fast-food chain was ultimately forced to close the majority of its 900 UK restaurants. An uproar immediately followed, with one woman in particular furious that she had to go to rival outlet Burger King to eat instead.

After the disaster was averted, and KFC began opening outlets again, they managed to turn a disaster into a PR triumph by producing a clever and witty print campaign. Investing in a full-page newspaper advert in the Metro, they rearranged ‘KFC’ to read ‘FCK’ (we don’t need to spell it out for you), along with a heartfelt apology to consumers who had tried to eat at the restaurant over the last week or so. Now, instead of the national crisis that was KFC running out of their main ingredient, consumers will *mostly* look back and see the funny side thanks to the intelligent print campaign.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America – ‘Guess Which One’

Credit: Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America

The British Army – ‘Snowflake’ posters

Credit: MoD

One of the most recent examples of print marketing having as much of an impact as its digital counterpart is The British Army’s latest recruitment drive. In January this year, posters began to appear on the streets which mirrored the infamous Lord Kitchener World War I posters that read ‘Your Country Needs YOU’. With these posters, however, there was a difference. Instead of Lord Kitchener, modern day soldiers graced the posters, with references to millennials written in the text. ‘Me, me, me millennials’, ‘Selfie addicts’ and ‘Binge gamers’ were some of the phrases used by the army to attract young individuals to join.

The recruitment drive was met with widespread criticism, with one Scots Guardsman who was portrayed in one of the posters reportedly quitting the army following the campaign.

Ultimately, however, it was a huge success, as the first quarter of 2019 was the busiest three-month recruitment period since outsourcing giant Capita took over the British Army contract seven years ago.

Going back to its roots with a traditional print campaign has proven to be effective for the army, showing how when done right, print design can still be useful in achieving specific goals.

The rise of print with the younger generations

It’s no secret that the digital age has resonated with the younger generations more than any other. After all, millennials and Gen Z individuals have grown up alongside technology, making the societal transition to digital forms of communication much simpler.

There has, however, been a shift in popularity towards ‘nostalgic’ forms of media and communication in recent years. For example, sales of vinyl records have begun to rise again after a downward spiral, and “old” disposable filters are becoming increasingly popular on social media images posted by the younger generations.

Similarly, due to the demise of print marketing over the past few decades, there are no longer an endless amount of printed campaigns and advertisements lying around. This means that print campaigns have more of an opportunity to resonate with individuals as it’s a tangible product, and something to keep. Compared to the endless flood of digital marketing content, a print design can act as a refreshing piece of art.

While traditional forms of communication appear to gradually be on the rise, it remains to be seen just how long the resurgence of print will continue amongst the younger generations.

To summarise…

In a nutshell, it is dangerous for brands in any industry to rule out the positive impact that print design and print marketing could have in achieving specific goals. Although digital communications and campaigns provide individuals with a quicker and perhaps cheaper access to content and design, as well as being easier to track in terms of conversions, the personalised feel of a print campaign should never be ignored.

When it comes to print marketing, Whether you require a creative design for all marketing collateral including stationery, POS, brochures and displays, or management in print of all types, formats and finishes, our friendly team are always ready to tackle your project. Get in touch now.