Print Content Serves Up Emotional "Brand Moments" for Marketers

Is print ready for its official comeback?

By Andy Seibert

November 6, 2023
Use the psychology behind print to build emotional “brand moments.”

Engagement rate, views, downloads, impressions…dog-eared pages?

Today’s marketers can track content’s performance in real-time (or close to it), and in a nation where the average home has 22 connected devices, these results are abundant. This immediacy is satisfying, and it can be irresistible to double down on digital tactics — particularly when magazine readershipnewspapers subscriptions, and virtually everything analog appears to be in steady decline — however, digital isn’t everything.

It may not be a popular perspective, but in 25+ years of creating custom communications programs, I’ve seen the power of print rise, fall, and be steady. The truth is, print marketing is a valuable medium. Yes, I mean now, as we close in on 2024. It’s tactile, it’s experiential, and studies have shown that print methods:

  • Demand consumer attention
  • Are popular with ever-coveted millennials
  • Can result in increased spend, when paired with other methods.

So why is there often hesitation towards print marketing? The answer is simple: impatience. Measuring the success of print content requires control group testing — which takes longer and, admittedly, is a bigger investment before knowing the return. However, regardless of the effort involved to ensure its worth, brands today are proving the value of print marketing and are seeing returns on these investments. Full magazines and catalogs, in particular, are enjoying a branded content moment and are proving that they are as much about products as they are about holistic communication.

For many brands, the key to driving sales is more complex than simply offering coupons or special offers. Instead, it’s about going beyond the commercial experience to aligning your brand with an ethos that drives a consumer towards your product.

Know who your real audience is.

If you’re like me, you received a glossy “Holiday Dash” catalog on hefty stock paper from Amazon recently. Why would Amazon go to the trouble of designing a print catalog when it has direct access to you via phone notifications, email, social and programmatic advertising, and television spots? Because you’re not the audience. Your children are. The kids are the ones begging for gifts, and what better way to capture their undivided attention than to send them 100+ pages of entertaining content — just for them?

Use psychology to your advantage.

Put simply, print does things that digital cannot. A study by Canada Post showed participants an assortment of digital and print ads, then asked them to recall what they’d seen. Almost 80% remembered the print ads, while only 44% remembered the digital. Researchers attributed the disparity to the staggering difference in cognitive load, which measures the mental effort required to comprehend a stimulus. According to another study by Millward Brown, print also activates the brain’s emotion centers in a way digital does not. Some savvy senior marketers are recognizing this potential for emotion and turning to print to build “brand moments.”

Leverage print’s luxury and premium appeal.

Digital users are under a deluge of messaging and content recommendations. It’s critical for luxury brands to distinguish themselves and separate from the chaff. For the same reasons Amazon created a fun-filled catalog for kids, a high-quality publication stands out instantly against a pile of junk mail and bills. Véronique Louise, global branding and media director at Moët Hennessy said it best: “Print is a natural place to belong for luxury brands – they share similar values. In a world of fake news and superficial images, where time is lacking, print publications stand for substance and meaning.”

Think outside the herd.

Whenever an idea or trend seems to have the industry’s unanimous approval, somewhere a new opportunity is sprouting. Branded print publications are not always the answer. Many brands are highly successful with other formats; but for some, print content can offer a tactile and deeply experiential engagement with a brand’s message. Print can certainly be worth the effort involved — even if ROI isn’t immediately apparent.

Let’s talk about your print strategy. We would love to learn about what you’re doing and offer some ideas for how we can help.




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