November 12th, 2015

We live in a world where high street brands have moved online and marketing is often focussed on digital engagement, a world where assigning budget to printed collateral is spoken about in hushed voices. For good reasons businesses are seemingly more concerned with their website’s user and usage data or social engagement than their print marketing. Digital efforts are easier to track, more fluid and offer far more data upon which a business can then tailor their campaign. In 2015 print is viewed by many as an archaic and inefficient practice. However, in an ever increasingly noisy digital world there are instances where print can have a significant impact when executed exceptionally.

Hint: It’s all about branding

No, a brand is not simply a logo. It is the entire experience that a customer has with a business. It is that feeling that they associate by purchasing a product or working with a company providing a service. As such, it also includes the experience of receiving any printed collateral or correspondence from your business and the accompanying packaging. Unlike a website or social feed where your post or piece of content is competing with multiple others on screen for the user’s attention, when a consumer receives a piece of printed work you have the now seldom luxury of their attention for a few seconds. It may only be brief but it can make the difference. It also has something that digital does not…you can touch it. It has texture and weight. Put simply it can evoke feelings that digital cannot.

For those that deliver physical goods this represents an opportunity to present your consumer with a tangible item that represents the value you place in their custom. It is an opportunity to stand out. We are not talking about the actual product here, we are talking about HOW it is delivered. It shouldn’t make a difference to how the consumer views the product, but it does. Let’s look at a couple of examples:

American Express Gold Card

American express make you pay for the privilege of using their credit cards. Other banks offer a similar sertvice for free and don’t think that AMEX are the only ones that give you air miles in return for every pound spent with their card. This is actually pretty standard in the industry. However, the delivery of the card differentiates them from others, regardless of whether their card is painted gold or not. They have clearly realised that receiving a white envelope with a card unceremoniously stuck to an uninspiring piece of folded A4 gives the most mediocre of brand experiences especially considering that it comes in exactly the same format as any bill you might receive! So they went and did this :

amex

Does this make the card any better? Of course not. In fact the card is less widely accepted in the UK AND you have to pay for it, but the branding is awesome. If it could talk it would probably have a voice purring “welcome to the club” as you open it. AMEX is the credit card equivalent of Berghain nightclub, out of the way and overpriced, but they have somehow managed to create a desirable product and a community around it. Why do they spend budget on such complex packaging? Just because you have ordered a card doesn’t mean that you will use it. Their packaging is simply an extension of their branding, encouraging you to join them.

Graze Boxes

A beautifully crafted blend between easy online usability and great execution of packaging. We have no statistical evidence to back this up, but we think that similar to AMEX, many Graze customers do not just pay for the food. They pay to be in the Graze club. The club that says, “I eat healthily and am affluent enough to pay a company to deliver bespoke food packages to my door”. Probably a slight exaggeration there but you get the point. Graze would not be the success it is now without their packaging. If their food was delivered in sterile yoghurt pot style cartons we doubt they would still be in business. Instead their packaging is raw and unadulterated save for a bit of stylish writing so that you know what you are eating. Their boxes open in such a way that their customers feel like children around the Christmas tree. In addition, their separation of items is just another nod to the fact that you can customise your boxes. Genius. Just another reason why your whole marketing should be cohesive.

So there we have it, print may be on the slide but with the rise of digital it also presents a key opportunity where brands can really differentiate themselves. We believe in it so much that we have sent out bespoke collateral to prospective clients and come up with weird and wonderful alternatives to school prospectuses and other methods of improving brand experience. It might be that you take this into account when looking to send your client’s their Christmas card or even an invoice, there are always ways in which you can stand out and doesn’t always have to be digital.

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