August 27, 2014

Mustard’s Creative Director, Lyndon Otten, shares his views on the hotly contested question – “Is print dead?”

The digital world has revolutionised the way we communicate, entertain, express and conduct our lives.

In fact, you don’t need to look far to find statistics about just how much online action has been driven by offline messages, or how many consumers tried new services, bought new products, and engaged with brands as the result of direct mail.

Many argue that in terms of marketing, print has a lot stacked against it. I don’t disagree.

Yes, it can be expensive.

The cost of prepress and printing plates alone can run into the thousands before ink even touches paper.

Yes, it can be very slow.

A return in under a week is considered a speedy turnaround.

And reach of distribution can be limited.

In contrast,  digital can reach countless people across multiple touch points in a matter of seconds.

But nothing beats the intimacy of print.

The more we expect immediacy and rely on digital for everyday use, the more romantic print becomes – and the more attached to it people become. The creative industry as a whole – and the publishing industry in particular, are undergoing mass change, but what we are also seeing is the emergence of  niche markets where consumers are becoming loyal followers of brands who do still use print.

Whilst digital is often quickly consumed, there is something so final about print. Studies even show that readers of printed material spend longer with the content than say, a digital magazine or newspaper. Words and images are literally forged onto meta plates and then replicated onto a choice of countless substrates and finishes that the designer hand selects. It seems like such a primitive process in this digital age, yet print will always appeal to the human senses in ways that digital may never achieve – it’s tactile and enduring.

And whilst many would argue that print is edging closer to extinction, I truly believe print will both remain relevant and gain appreciation as a craft in the same way that vinyl has – despite the slow death of cassettes and CDs.

In an age where creatives are continually seeking to engage and surprise their targeted audiences, and in a world where the more connected we are, the less connected we feel, print is truly priceless.

Lyndon Otten is Creative Director at Mustard | a creative agency.