5 Common Print Design Myths

Richard Stockdale - Rebus Design Richard Stockdale 23rd February 2021

Print design is an enduring discipline that is still a vibrant industry but now has a more traditional image. And yet, in terms of carrying a strong message it is a medium that still packs a punch and is perhaps more widely used than you realise. This is a popular misconception and brings us neatly onto the first of our common myths about print design.

1. Print is dead

Nope, sorry, print design is here to stay. Many small businesses survive on printed literature and they are the fundamental basis of our economy. Business cards, letters, newsletters, flyers, leaflets and posters are still prominent in offices, cafes, shops and bars, even beer mats are a form of print design. And recent surveys have shown that people prefer to be communicated to by print, rather than digital. The 18-24 age group are the second most responsive demographic to direct mail communications, and whilst that might be sparked by young people being attracted by a kind of retro charm, print design and the joy of owning something you can hold and collect will always remain, such as books, vinyl records and printed artwork.

2. Print design isn’t eco-friendly

You might feel guilty about print design when you are throwing junk mail in your recycle bin, but most paper used is recycled now anyway, and even uses inks that are Green in every sense. A lot of paper is produced in tree farms where trees are specifically planted to make paper and are then re-planted to produce more. So arguably, the paper industry is having a positive carbon effect, because it is adding more oxygen to the eco system and taking more CO2 away. But fundamentally, the paper industry is such an obvious target for eco criticism that almost all organisations within it are very active in offsetting their carbon emissions and having a positive environmental impact.

3. Print marketing is ineffective

It is believed that 73% of consumers prefer a printed communication to a digital one, such as an email. It depends on what is being communicated of course, but a more direct and more personal communication is more likely to make you pay attention. The digital format can be very ‘throwaway’ in that we are surrounded by it, it can be very fleeting and we can very easily scroll past something on our phones or tablets. Print design is more direct, more permanent and can be personalised too. There are ways to change text, fonts and colours to make direct mail personal to each person receiving it.

4. Print design is expensive

Of course the print design industry is as competitive as any other, but by its very nature, bulk printing can offer amazing value for money. Technology has also evolved in recent years to offer better quality printing at much better prices too, and in terms of budgeting a design format, it is much easier to quantify what you are spending on print design – and how many people will see it – than it is for digital formats. And as we mentioned earlier, small businesses survive on leaflets, stickers and brochures, and these are not big costs for them.

5. Print design is all about cutting edge trends

Again, nope. Of course there are hot trends in fonts, colours and textures, but the essence of design is tailoring what you produce to the market you hope to ‘sell’ it to, so what works for one business might not work for another, and therefore that largely ignores what is trendy and what isn’t. Print design is about knowing what will work, so you can incorporate current trends, but it shouldn’t be the focus and it can distract you from the main point of the printed medium. And don’t forget that trends change, and something printed can quickly go out of fashion and remain ‘un-trendy’ forever, so timeless print design is the best, and is so-named for a reason.

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