Louise discusses how forward-thinking companies are using print to create immersive brand experiences.

Author: Louise Bone

When I first came to work at AD Communications, I had no idea what print was capable of. I was your typical person who thought it was a simple flyer, A3 poster or black and white bank statement received in the post. I didn’t realise just how ‘sexy’ it could be – from vehicle wraps and clever packaging to creative direct mail pieces. Naïve perhaps, but now I know better.

The clients I work with – and the wider industry – have opened my eyes to what is actually possible with print. And it exceeds all my expectations. Even when I’m explaining what is meant by ‘print’ to family or friends, I try to help them visualise it by saying ‘it’s the massive photography posters you see on billboards and all the magazines and newspapers in shops’. That’s the only way that I can really try to capture what we mean by the simple word ‘print’, which encompasses so much more than ‘just paper’. From scanning surfaces and mimicking their 3D effects – it’s amazing what print can achieve.

With the major industry events being cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, brand communications are more important now than ever. And what better way to convey a brand’s messaging than by going back to print, the medium that is so trusted, but is just not used cleverly enough in today’s digital world.

I wanted to share some examples of the cool things companies are doing with print to give you a flavour of what brands could be communicating through using the medium. While everyone is jumping on the ‘virtual’ bandwagon, it’s time to think outside of the box and go back to what we love and trust – and what is the centre of our industry.

Bmoss is one forward-thinking print company that is creating ‘a new generation of interactive print marketing’, using dimensional print with pop-ups and video-activated brochures and books. They give so many inspirational examples on their website to give you an idea of what they can do.

Structural Graphics is another that uses dimensional print marketing to create attention-grabbing print productions, mixing digital technologies like virtual reality and videos within print. They too demonstrate creative ways to use print such as the ‘roundabout fold’ (if you don’t know what this fold is, Google it – it’s great!).

The best thing about these examples is that the brands behind them are combining a traditional medium with digital to create totally new immersive experiences. And clever communication using print means we actually value the content we receive.

Just recently, I received a MAC Cosmetics leaflet with my monthly ASOS clothes order. For those of us who like lipstick, you can never really tell the true shade unless you have a sample in person – no photo does the colour palette justice or represents it truthfully. Within this promotional piece, it cleverly featured a peel-back sticker, featuring the actual lipstick integrated within the print leaflet (see image for this blog as context!)

This made me engage with the piece – giving me an experience in terms of peeling back the self-adhesive to discover what was underneath. What would have been even better was if they had given me a discount code for the lipstick (and it would benefit the brand by being able to track ROI of the printed collateral)!

One company that has done this is Lloyds Pharmacy. Earlier this year I received a door drop that was an exact replica of your standard printed prescription. Again, it captured my attention because it was something I recognised and, without thinking, I made the assumption it was personal to me. The piece was informing readers of digital prescription services if you’re ‘bored of paper prescriptions and queues’. It included a link to sign up to the service so that it could monitor how many people were joining the service as a result of receiving the door drop.

IKEA is another well-known (and a personal favourite) brand that regularly creates interactive print ads – such as encouraging women to urinate on its magazine ads to see if you’re pregnant and, if so, giving them a discount on a baby cot (or crib).

In my opinion, we’re still not taking advantage of the full potential of merging online and offline platforms – there’s still a long way to go. But it’s these innovative companies that are pushing the boundaries of print and using it in unique ways that will ultimately grab our attention and encourage consumers to respond, take action and, ultimately, make a purchase. And, the result of taking this more, what some might call, ‘traditional’ approach is where the potential lies. And commercial benefits for those brands will soon follow.

So, what are you waiting for? Let the print possibilities unfold!

If you have any examples of other companies who are creatively using print, we’d love to hear about them, so please feel free to send any inspiring examples our way!

We support clients every day in producing stand-out marketing and sales enablement content – take a look at some of our most recent projects to get a flavour of our work:




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