18 years ago I fell in love with Print.
I can still remember my first day walking into the printshop and hearing the sounds of presses running. Smelling ink, solvent, and paper. That day I spent 8 hours “jogging” paper...and I loved it.
For the next 5 years I worked my way backward through the print process; Bindery, running presses, making plates, and somehow landed in Sales.
Before my first job in print, I had never really thought about print or graphic design. Hadn’t paid attention to it, but shortly after my first few weeks I was paying attention and print was EVERYWHERE.
It’s kind of like when you are thinking of buying a certain car and then you start seeing that exact car everywhere, right?
From those early days in the print game, it's safe to say the world has changed a lot. Not just the print world, but the world world. Eighteen years ago it was flip phones and 20lb laptops. Now its Metaverse and NFTs.
But I’m a guy who would rather buy some land and have chickens instead of owning land in the Metaverse.
This leads me to a question I come across fairly often. With so much fast-growing technology out there, does print still have a place?
The answer: Yes, it does.
Just a couple of days ago I was shocked to receive direct mail from Amazon. Yes…the huge online retailer and software company, Amazon! They are printing things! They could have done a better job and created something cooler, but hey, ink was on paper.
Let me share with you 4 reasons I believe print isn’t going away any time soon.
Are grocery stores on their way out? How about Sephora…think they are going online-only anytime soon? That answer is a big ol’ NOPE.
Grocery stores and retail spaces are prime examples of why packaging is so important. Packaging makes you feel something about a brand or product. It helps to quickly identify the product and creates visual reminders so you can keep going back to that specific brand or product. If done correctly, it offers a great experience for the consumer too.
I can’t see a world where consumers will bring their own containers and fill them up from large bins of products. Packaging is valued.
*Note: I’m definitely aware that there are some operations doing no packaging stores. But it's a pretty small count. Mainly in an effort to reduce plastic in packaging. However, reducing plastic while still producing packaging is totally possible, and happening.
The number of products that can be purchased online and delivered to your door is growing every single day. Those products are mostly delivered to your door in a printed cardboard box. This could be a standard shipping cardboard box or something that is crafted to create a brilliant unboxing experience that then gets shared all over social media.
But the next layer to that is the packaging and print used to create a brand experience with the product inside. It could be cosmetics, nutraceutical products, a teapot cozy, or a single utensil with a spoon, knife, and fork all in one. All of these items will require packaging to be printed to create an experience. Bright colors for branding purposes or a specific paper that says ‘luxury’ to reinforce your purchase.
Print and Packaging sends a message.
As the world moves increasingly digital, it causes this digital fatigue effect. Digital detox vacations are growing in popularity and we are all doing our best to minimize our “screen time”.
The advances in technology have been incredibly helpful for nearly all industries. No doubt there. But people don’t want to let go of the analog world, and I don’t blame them. How many emails do you get a day? How many of them are advertising? It’s pretty easy for businesses to be lost in the inbox. People want to touch things!
If businesses are lost in the inbox, how else can they stand out?
The mailbox - that's a place where you can stand out again. Businesses that target their customers and land in their mailbox consistently have an opportunity to really win. Also, if you are doing direct mail….please use a scented varnish. I can’t wait to open up my mailbox and be delighted with a bacon-scented direct mail piece. C’mon, please!
Note: If your target audience is vegetarians, don’t use the bacon-scented varnish.
Did you know that between March 2021 and March 2022 the Pokemon Company printed 9 billion pokemon cards? That's Billi, with a 'B', 9 Billion.
Hockey Cards, Comic Books, and playing cards are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Many of them are now sought-after assets that people want to buy and hold on to.
Can you really see a world where tangible assets and collectibles like this don’t exist and aren’t being made? I can’t.
I could even stretch this one to other games. Have you heard of Cards Against Humanity, Exploding Kittens, Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, UNO? The list goes on.
So, to sum all of this up, print has staying power. It could be nostalgic items you hang on to for years and years or brilliant packaging that you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of. Yes, print has evolved over the years, but it isn’t going away anytime soon. Every day there are brilliant brand look books being created, tech companies tackling more analog marketing methods like direct mail, and incredible packaging to showcase and sell great products heading out to retailers. All Print.
So let me ask the graphic designers and creatives a question here. Are you designing for print right now? What are you creating?