Posted by Nixon
10 September, 2018

Despite the dwindling readership figures of mainstream newspapers, and the demise of magazines such as NME, it’s certainly not all bad news in the world of print.

Brands have used print to promote themselves for centuries, and in recent years there’s been a resurgence in its use, with notable ‘new’ print publishers including tech giants Facebook and Google, who have commissioned print publications as a means of connecting with their customers. 

But why? What does print offer that digital assets don’t? And how could print marketing benefit your business?

In short, there are three reasons:

In the world of marketing and branding, trust is king. Consumers must trust the information that they are being told, and believe in the brand - otherwise they simply won’t buy. The tangible and physical attributes of print make it stand out as a medium, but also exude a sense of trust.  According to media buyers Magnetic, 70% of magazine readers trust the content they’re reading, whereas only 30% of people trust what they read online and on social media. 

The connection that readers have with a print publication gives the content credibility, and it acts as an unrivalled medium for displaying information. For example, after Facebook’s controversial uses of personal data became front-page news, they used print as a means to apologise. Their motive for this is simple: people trust print.

The feeling of holding a well-crafted book or magazine quite literally connects the reader with the content at hand. The weight and the texture of the paper, combined with the smell of printing ink, make reading a print publication a sensory experience. Especially when compared with reading text from a screen, print is a far more effective means of delivering content. Readers take it in, and they remember it. 

The tangibility of print is why tech businesses such as Facebook, Google and Net-a-Porter have all commissioned print magazines of their own, on the side of their digital operations. Print allows brands to express their key narratives and values in an alternative medium. 

Double page spread in Tresco Times, a print publication.

The overall experience of reading an item of print encourages the reader to retain information. This is particularly useful in the world of marketing and advertising, an industry that relies on consumers retaining the messages it provides. Canadian ‘neuromarketing’ firm TrueImpact conducted a study investigating how readers retain data provided via different mediums, and the results speak for themselves: when asked to cite the brand name of an advertisement they had just seen, recall was 70% higher among participants who were exposed to a piece of print compared to a digital ad.

As well as being a more effective means of engaging readers and encouraging the retention of information, print articles are far more likely to be read again. If a reader is genuinely engaged by an item of print, then they are likely to keep it and revisit it. This is a marked difference to digital media, which generally represents a fleeting encounter and is unlikely to ever adorn a coffee table.

Notable ‘new’ print publishers:

Facebook: Grow

Facebook has recently commissioned a quarterly print publication aimed at business leaders and executives who are on the move. According to ‘Grow by Facebook’, its ambition ‘is to help business leaders keep ahead by creating and curating insightful content and experiences’. In essence, Grow is a means for Facebook to market themselves to potential advertisers and collaborators - but it’s also a definite signal that print is having a moment. The fact that tech businesses are self-publishing print perfectly sums up the fact that print has qualities that digital doesn’t.

Google: Think Quarterly 

Google is another tech giant that’s taken strides into the world of print. The company’s beautifully crafted magazine Think Quarterly, published by Human After All, was designed to educate and inspire business leaders - and promote Google’s specific business objectives. Produced in collaboration with world-class photographers, illustrators and writers, Think Quarterly’s content was matched by its tangible physical quality. Each copy (a bespoke, hardback book) was personalised, with its recipient’s name worked into the cover art - and acted as a showcase for what’s possible with interactive print. Translated into several languages, including Korean, Chinese and Japanese, the publication was a great success – enabling Google to reach an audience of business leaders in a way not possible with digital content. Naturally, a bespoke and personalised book is not the sort of print that most businesses can use to market themselves, but Think Quarterly is an inspiring publication that pushes the boundaries of what a print magazine is capable of.

Couple at sunset at their Airbnb.

Airbnb: Airbnbmag

Airbnb, the revolutionary home-sharing website, was launched in 2008. Allowing people to rent out their homes on a short-term basis, and providing users with an intuitive user interface, it was a quick success. But as the brand has grown, it’s begun to use content marketing to promote business. Recently, Airbnb has teamed up with publishing house Hearst to create Airbnbmag. Mainly given to guests for free, the magazine can also be found in airports (retailing for $4), and endeavours to make readers ‘at home in the world’ and inspire them to visit new places. Focusing on the human element of travel, and how travel connects people from all corners of the world, the magazine provides readers with ‘local’ tips and recommendations for their trip. Their reasoning for publishing it as a print journal? Simple. It’s a better medium for travellers, but can also be given as a gift to guests on arrival – something that’s not possible with a digital copy.

Net-a-Porter: Porter

Premium fashion retailer YNAP (YOOX Net-a-Porter group) has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to content marketing. Its Mr Porter brand differentiates itself from other high-end men’s clothing retailers by providing customers with a constant source of excellently produced content, from journal posts to YouTube videos – and sister site Net-a-Porter is no different. Net-a-Porter changed the content marketing game when it launched Porter, its ‘fashion magazine for stylish, successful women’ in 2014. Operating as both a ‘brand beacon’ and a profitable business in its own right (with ads starting at $57,000), Porter has been an incredible success. The key to this success lies in its ability to drive traffic to Net-a-Porter’s e-commerce site without overtly pushing sales. This, in itself, is the secret to print marketing; it’s a means for brands to express themselves and drive sales in an unobtrusive way. 

And some we’ve created:

Tresco Island: Tresco Times

We worked with the island destination of Tresco to transform the Tresco Times – its short, regular newsletter – into a beautiful and high-quality annual journal. Illustrators, photographers and writers are commissioned to contribute towards the creation of this authentic and unique publication, which showcases the experience of staying and living on the island. 

Now in its sixth year, the Tresco Times has gone from strength to strength and serves as a fantastic window onto all that the island has to offer. It’s driven an increase in business, too – encouraging guests to invest in the Tresco brand and book a repeat trip.

Different issues of Tresco Times magazine opened on different pages.

Duchy of Cornwall Nursery: Houmout

To help promote the nursery to a wider audience, we created Houmout, a newspaper exploring those elements that make its offering unique: the local landscape, horticulture, food, drink and high-quality products. Taking its name from the motto of the Duchy of Cornwall, Houmout is an appealing representation of the Duchy’s offering.

A stack of the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery's gazette, Houmout, tied with a piece of string.
Two pages from Houmout – Duchy of Cornwall Nursery's yearly paper.
Copies of Houmout – the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery's gazette – opened on different pages.
A double spread on food in Houmout – Duchy of Cornwall Nursery's gazette.

Throughout our 25-year history we’ve been fortunate enough to produce print for a long list of clients - and our talented team of designers, copywriters and project managers would be delighted to help if you’d like to publish something of your own. To talk through your ideas, just get in touch.