Print isn’t dead

Designer Carmel Conway weighs in on the print versus digital debate.

Despite what you may have heard, print isn’t dead. It still has a clear place in today’s digital-first world.
Following on from the ‘bookstagram’ trend we previously explored, where print design literally involves ‘judging a book by its cover’, we can also see customers growing more conscientious about phone and social media addiction. People are looking for other ways to consume the news and inspiration they get online. Just without the dominating glare of the small screen.

With this in mind, we can see a trend of tactile brand messaging coming back as part of wider strategies to engage with customers. For instance, in that crucial in-between space before and after purchase, in which customers are often utterly engrossed in their phones. To compete for these crucial moments of customers’ attention many brands have developed lightweight exposés, adopted from fashion catalogues and look-books, for customers to browse in idle moments – and all with a subtle single brand focus.

Airbnb, the digitally disruptive online platform, launched a print only magazine last year. Airbnbmag is driven by digital insights, using guests’ Airbnb searches to decide which stories to print. While print circulation has taken an overall downturn, online brands are uniquely equipped to produce content that truly speaks to the customer, given the vast amount of online customer data they have access to. “Why a magazine? Well, a good magazine is a journey in itself, it’s a voyage of discovery, You turn the page, and you find something magical you weren’t expecting and it transforms you.” Joanna Coles, Hearst.

As a designer, it’s interesting to see the influence of digital design on print design and watch print trends evolve. For instance, Airbnbmags’ design and content is short, punchy, with bold graphics and visuals. Adopting these cues from the brand’s online presence creates entertaining, aspirational and helpful bites of information to sell experiences. This design approach, coupled with user generated content, mimics online design and customer browsing habits.
As the desire to step back and take a break from our phones grows, there’s more reason for brands to revisit so-called ‘analog’ communication methods for all those in-between moments in peoples’ lives. It’s a clever move to build brand unity, utilising insights effectively and, well, your customers might just be grateful for it!

Images courtesy of Airbnb.

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