You might not know it, but most print design starts its life in an almost identical way to digital design. Chances are, the only non-digital part of a print project is the paper. In fact, print designers and printing companies have been making use of digital technology for years. So actually, print is digital.

But why might print be so valuable to you?

Happy Birthday!

To find out why, we turn to sending cards. Imagine I’m sending you a birthday card. These days I could do that in one of three ways.

  1. Emailed card
  2. Card from the shop, posted
  3. Hand made card, delivered in person

Let’s assume that the content in all the cards is identical. Now think about which of the three options you’d prefer.

I bet you’ll choose 2 or 3 like most people. And you probably think anyone using option 1 is a bit of a cheapskate. This proves that the value you get from a card isn’t only from the message. If that were true, email would have wiped out the card industry.

But it hasn’t. Why? Because the way a message gets to you really matters. A birthday card is a nice little example of the value in doing things that you don’t have to. And that value is one of the most powerful assets of print.

The things you don’t have to do

You can see this happening everywhere you look in real life. A Mercedes Benz or an expensive handbag is a signal of your status. And an Instagram photo of an exotic holiday location signals your impeccable taste in travel. But like the birthday card I sent to you, the value in all of these things is that you don’t have to do them at all.

You don’t have to buy a Mercedes, get a fancy handbag or go on an amazing holiday. Nobody technically “needs” to get married. But the need to show off who you are is very real, as your interests and passions connect you to other people.

Maybe this explains why people often prefer print books to eReaders. You can’t have a chat on a train about that grey block of plastic you’re reading.

“The firm signals the quality of its product to consumers by its willingness to spend money on advertising,” Michael Spence, Nobel Prize winning economist.

In the same way, brands don’t have to run TV adverts. They don’t have to put billboards in cities. And they don’t have to design nice printed stuff to give to you. But like people, doing these things show that the company is less likely to disappear overnight. In your mind, a well designed piece of promo reduces the chance that a brand will sell you a crappy TV, bad jewellery or a rubbish food processor at the store.

Why print?

Even the tech giants know this. Google sends mail in the post and Uber hands out credit on gift cards. Print has extra value that can’t ever come across in pixels. Print is tangible and it’s real. It feels of something. You can smell it. In the era when almost everything ends up on a screen, printed stuff takes on extra significance. And that could be a real advantage for your business.

These days, print as cost effective as it’s ever been. Even high quality finishes and paper stocks are surprisingly affordable. So with that in mind, you’d be mad not to take advantage of making print an important part of promoting your company. Print shows your customers that you mean business. And that’s because it’s something you don’t have to do at all.

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