The Rise Of Print In A Digital Era

by Jun 28, 2017

Who said print is dead? Nat looks at print vs digital and why print media is important in today’s very technical world.

I admit it… I’m an addict and I’m not even ashamed. I am addicted to print.

Printed design can come in many forms. A little while back I wrote a piece on branding addiction, how I can literally fall for anything with beautifully printed packaging even if I don’t need it. How a product’s appeal is a lot to do with what’s on the outside proving packaging design needs to work hard to capture attention from the desired audience at that critical decision point. Impulse purchasing accounts for 75% of all consumer spending, so it’s clear I’m not the only one. Following on from this I would like to talk about the importance of print media in today’s digital world.

As a child I loved to make things. I stuffed multicoloured papers down the side of my bed so that I could secretly create masterpieces at night time when I was meant to be asleep. Fast forward to my 30 year old self and in today’s world I use machines most of my time – whether that is my Mac at work, laptop at home, or my phone in bed (naughty I know), I am fully immersed in digital life. Spending most of my time using various devices makes me crave a break from the tech world we live in and at these times I turn to print.

For many years people have been predicting the death of print media in the industry due to the prominence of digital in today’s society. However it’s not that print is ‘dying out’, it’s just changed form. Print and branding have risen above the tech chaos to be redefined not as a competitor to digital media, but as a unique and even luxurious product in its own right.  

Over the past 5 years we have seen a steady rise in print culture. In an online world swamped in digital advertising our internet activity can become somewhat cluttered. The print industry have seen this opportunity and offered a sense of clarity, grabbing the attention that digital is losing and using a tactile manner to stand out. Even companies such as Facebook and Google, who have a predominantly online setup, are taking to print to increase their traditional advertising presence realising that the act of physically holding print in certain situations can appeal in a far more positively than viewing it through a screen.

“For online brands, print is a neat way of gaining extra marketing attention and boosting their community, even if there’s no money in it,” says David Rowan, editor of UK Wired. “I like the Vice magazine model – the print publication that started the empire still exists to anchor the brand and define the voice, but the money comes from the TV channels, the brand partnerships, the events, the record label.”

To hold, feel, touch and even smell something that’s been printed can far surpass its digital equivalent, engaging more than one of the senses while delivering a beautifully crafted message. This is apparent not only through media print sales, but also through book publishers. Last year book sales rose for the first time in four years in stark contrast to Ebook sales, which fell by 1.6%. Online blogs created magazines to accompany their digital content, there was a rise in Indie publications, print and creative shops boomed, newspaper sales rose and coffee table books sold out faster than hot cakes (literally). With a younger generation embracing print alongside digital there’s a noticeable shift in our daily pattern to consume content.  

So what is it about print that excites me? Well it’s probably going back to my creative roots – you may be able to look at a magazine on your iPad, but you can’t cut things out, stick it to your wall, create a mood board with different textures, swoon over a good quality stock, touch beautifully embossed artwork, collect foiled typography covers, frame it and put it on your wall or keep it in a scrapbook. Along with all of this (this may be controversial from someone who designs on a computer everyday), there’s a sense of real craftsmanship when you pick up something print based that has been thoughtfully created with every detail considered. Yes I love online content and couldn’t live without the internet, but I would choose a well designed typography book over a technically advanced website any day. To me it seems that print really can anchor the brand and give it a unique voice in a world saturated in overloading content.

To add to this I came across a interesting documentary by Lucas Beaufort in which he has spent the last year putting together a documentary focusing on the importance of print media in skateboarding. One statement that stuck with me from this Q&A with Lucas was “Producing for print vs. digital is a whole different beast, and that’s a fact that often goes overlooked. Once it’s in print, it’s there forever.”

So… who said print is dead? Certainly not me. The print revolution is here and it’s here to stay. Long live print. Hurrah!  


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About Natalie Jahangiry

Natalie is half Persian with a Geordie accent. Although small in stature, she makes up for it with a big personality! As a Graphic Designer you will often find Natalie gushing about her passion for all things creative and sharing her ideas with everyone and anyone who will listen. If she’s not decorating her house you will find her cooking up recipes from her foodie family or propped up in a cocktail bar in town.