Is Print Dead?

May 26, 2020

LLT Group

Tony: Is print dead?

Mat: I’d have to say no. It’s evolving every day, in tandem with the growth of digital media and, you know, web resources. 

Tony: Okay. So, do you feel it’s, has it always been as integrated as it is now, into this digital, let’s call it, like, ecosystem? Or is this evolution you’re talking about of print is almost, for some companies, for some brands, just as crucial if not more crucial, because of how it’s being used in their whole ecosystem.

Mat: I’d say it can be even more crucial nowadays. It wasn’t always. You know, when digital media and like, computers, computer-generated graphics were really, you know, starting to get places, there was word everywhere that, “Print is dead. Why are you using letterheads or print ads?” But the matter of fact is, print can be so much more personable than a website can, and as you know, really interactive and intuitive as websites can be, it’s not as intimate as a business card or, you know, something that you can hold and feel the weight of. You get that texture and emotion out of a piece of paper. You know, what does a business card say about you? What is the density of the card stock, the type styles? You know, all of it says something. And that becomes a bigger and bigger part of the brand as you, you know, move through marketing. Like sales sheets. I can send you an email PDF, or I can give you a nice white piece of cardstock, you know, well laid-out with your options, you know, point and walk you through it. It can be a lot more personable and passionate.

Tony: I think the irony of it all is, we know as humans, as a society, we go through ebbs and flows, and it’s the headlines, that kind of the surface level, that sweep us, right? And as, being involved in the industry, right, you see these trends and you kind of go, “Well we know that’s not true.” We know that it’s only a fad, right? Because, yes. Print may be a worse investment than many other opportunities. So while it doesn’t mean it’s dead or needs to be, we know it’s going to come back in some shape or form. Because when everyone goes to the right, and only uses digital, well then, the smart players are the ones going back to the left and saying, “You know what? Now we can use print, because consumers are calling for it. But, it’s in that business, in that digital strategy, it’s key, because if you do print the wrong way, well then, yes, it probably should be dead for your business. And it might kill your business, because you’re, you know, spending all this money where you don’t need to be. Bad marketing dollars. No customers. And so that’s where it’s about understanding what that customer wants. Are you attempting to be a lifestyle brand? Are you a manufacturer? Are you . . . so how does print differ for those customer sales bases and then the strategy amongst that?

Mat: Seriously, letterpress, like letterpress is getting more and more popular now, which, you know, to say print media is dead and now we’re reverting to a technology that, you know, started the whole thing.

Tony: I think it’s funny, because when you look. Manufacturing has caught up to an extent with some of our fantasies of print. I don’t think people are considerate, but when I buy just some average brand soap from TJMaxx, it’s on clearance, it’s two dollars and fifteen cents, I pick up that box and I’m just like, “This is amazing.” LIke, ten years ago, it literally would have been wrapped in some, just a white cellophane and had a sticker that had Times New Roman and said like XYZ Soap Company, like two dollars. Now it’s beautiful. And I wonder in my mind, “How did you produce that, for that cheap?” Now, it might not be in a good spot, you know, but for the most part it’s like just crazy how far printing methods, printing techniques, and even old-school things, like you’re saying with business cards, with sales sheets, like, the letterpress. It’s because consumers, I think, of their minds have gone so digital, whether or not it’s actually true, that when they touch something, they go, “Ooh, I’m connecting emotionally to this, even though I might not realize it. So I like this brand, right?” And that’s why, when you open an Apple package, right, they’ve always done their packaging just to the nth degree. Now, there’s honestly a lot of brands that do it. But it’s, what do you expect from Apple, is when you open it, it’s just like, “This is so neat, this is just . . .” and the unboxing experience itself. So.

Mat: Yeah. I mean, the texture that they add, whether it’s a spot cloth, or like, embossment, things like that, really trying to take a standard flat packaging and give it that much more texture and dimension. Whether you see it or feel it, it takes, you know, flat box on the shelf to the left, and it blows it out of the water.

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