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22 . 03 . 23

Don’t underestimate design

Words by: Print Power
When Sappi and global data consultancy Kantar surveyed 1,200 marketing specialists across six countries last year, creative design came second only to trust as the most important attribute for a successful brand campaign.
Here's what you need to know about exploiting creative design in print - from three creatives who know...
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Cassandre Bourtembourg

We spoke with three leading designers:

Tony Chambers - In 15 years at Wallpaper*, Tony turned a niche coffee-table magazine into an influential global lifestyle brand.

Cassandre Bourtembourg - At Luxembourg's Maison Moderne, Cassandre oversees a team of designers working with a range of commercial clients 

Nick Mrozowski - An award-winning print designer, today Nick is creative director at "100 % digital" US small business platform Hello Alice

What makes creative design a 'must have' for a successful brand campaign?

Tony - Creative design is crucial because today we are bombarded with visual imagery and content, so people are hungry for creative ideas - and the things that stand out have to be of a very high standard. That starts from good ideas through to good execution and innovative creative.

Cassandre - Good design is design that serves the message of the brand's content, that cohabits perfectly. The storytelling behind the design is important. Our first approach is always to listen to the needs of the client, to the demands of the brief. The strategy and editorial direction come from the brief- and then the design comes in and brings another vision.

Nick - I think the purpose of design is to tell a story, to communicate something. So, you can have creative design that is fabulous, and you can have creative design that is serious 

What do you see as the extra scope and opportunities that print offers for successfully executing creative design? 

N -When something is printed, it's physical. There's this dimension of experience that is tactile and visual, and the choices that you make can influence people's perception of your brand and the campaign. So if you want to be seen as sturdy and substantial and like you come from someplace trustworthy, say, you might want to go with a heavier piece of paper. Whatever the design choice that you make, the first thing people are going to understand is what it feels like subconsciously.

The thing about print is that the format is consistent. When you're designing for digital, there's a lot of different circumstances in which somebody could view the creative work- on a phone, on a desktop, on a tablet, on an Apple device, on an Android device. So, you don't have pixel-perfect control over how your design renders and you design for the best possible experience on the most devices. But it's different in print, it's the same for whoever receives it. So, you have this, like, perfect control.

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Nick Mrozowski

C - We live in a digital era - digital is more and more present in our daily lives. Print is something that is more physical and emotional. You have a certain distance with digital that you don't have with print.

T - From my perspective, print is still the thing that offers more scope creatively- and the results seem more permanent. You start from a blank canvas with print. It's up to you as a designer, within limitations of practicality and being sensible, but it could be a circle or square, it could be A3 or A5, you can use folding and other genius things. It's a much broader canvas.

Creativity is different in digital. You do your creative solution - say, creative photography if it's a film -and then it's just a slog through all these tiny, different format variations that have to be applied. The creative element ends up a smaller proportion of the workload. Whereas with print, the starting point is so much more possibility.

N - I think what's fascinating today is that there are people who look at print and digital as separate - as one is the past and one is the future. But the truth is that we live in a physical world, and so we interact with things in both planes. What is really interesting now is that we can take the technology that we use for digital experiences and cross it with the technology we use for physical printed experiences. 

And when you cross-pollinate those two pieces of technology, you can do things in print that you never dreamed were possible, and you can take digital branding and digital marketing and bring it into the physical world where people actually exist. 

"What is really interesting now is that we can take the technology that we use for digital experiences and cross it with the technology we use for physical printed experiences."
Nick Mrozowski
Creative Director/Hello Alice

How do you think brands can make the most of the opportunities that print brings for executing creative design? 

C - Last year, we worked on an annual report for a client, a bank, and they said, "We want to be seen. We want to say we're here. We want to show what we do." And we said, okay, let's do a big format- bigger than A3. For an annual report for a bank, that is completely unexpected. And it's something that digital wouldn't be able to offer. When we presented the design and concept, it was completely unexpected for the client -and they were super happy.


Tony Chambers

T - I think print, by its very physical nature, is still - it's resonant. So, one way for brands to make the most of creative design in print is to make the most of the haptics of print. It's paper, ink, texture, smell - all those things that are unique to print and not available through digital communication. And I think people understand that more and more now, because we missed it during Covid. 

N - I think there's two parts to creative design. There's the idea, the visual part of it, and then there's the production. Especially now, the production part of it is something that brands have less experience with, because so much of the widest part of the marketing funnel happens digitally. But ultimately, many companies are selling something physical. And so, if you get all the way down that funnel to the physical part, you want it to reflect well on your brand -you have to make sure that touch point is really strong and powerful and reflects your brand and how you want to be perceived. 

There's also an opportunity here for design to seize the opportunity more than it does. At the moment, a lot of personalisation in digital printing is to do with the copy-but you can have many, many variables as a sort of matrix in a modular design. You could come up with dozens of different outputs that are selected on more of a programmatic basis than on an individual basis. That's scary to a traditional designer, because you don't know exactly what the outcome's going to be - but also kind of exciting to think about how you can create elements that work together in different ways. 


Article first published in 'The marketer's guide to marketing in print' by Sappi. To download the guide click here.