The debate between digital and print design rolls on…

Our current media landscape is predominantly digital, and for good reason. Digital gives us huge potential for creative work and the analytics to measure and analyse what viewers think.

But, when it comes to design are we becoming impersonal, disposable even? Is print design making a resurgence because of the genuine positive effect holding a piece of physical communication has?

In the Bugler Smith creative team we have some pretty strong opinions on this one…

Kayleigh is part of the design team and definitely is in the ‘pro-print’ camp. Here’s some of her thoughts.

Digital can be impersonal, Print design is real.

“In my opinion, web design can be very ‘throw away’. Something is up for a few days or so, then it is replaced by something new. Unless you are a digital designer yourself, when was the last time you screen shot an e-mail because of its beautiful layout or design?”

And Kayleigh has a point, the US Post Office ran a survey in 2015 on ‘The Value of Physical Mail‘.

Bugler Smith US Mail Print Design
Photo of a 1912 Three Wheeled US Mail Motorcycle

The US Post Office tested a range of the same content in physical and digital formats and physical content scored far higher when it came too:

  • Review Time
  • Engagement
  • Stimulation
  • Memory Retrieval Accuracy
  • Purchase and Willingness to Pay
  • Desirability

Kayleigh elaborated:

“Receiving a great piece of print design is much more exciting and personal. It can feel like more time and collaborative skill have gone into producing it. Not just the designer, but also the printers and finishers who have the ability and techniques to produce beautiful pieces, just take a look at foil blocking!

Of course, this isn’t saying that Digital Design doesn’t do these things. Kayleigh went on to say:

Lots of people (not just designers) keep beautiful packaging just because it says something to them.


Unfortunately you can’t do that with digital… okay you could but you don’t.”

Saving Nice Wrapping Paper

A very valid point. Have you ever kept your new shoes in their original shoe box because of what it represents or kept a newspaper clipping because you wanted to share a funny story with someone?

Kayleigh went on to say:

“Beautiful print design forces brands to live within our homes and become part of your clutter – a constant reminder of them.

I have had a shoe box from Joules (for wellies) sitting in my kitchen for months – just because it’s pretty. I wish I had a use for it, or even the space but I just can’t throw it away… yet.”

There’s no doubt that there are definitely thousands of Grandmas globally with a drawer of used wrapping paper not caring about e-cards, online greetings or voucher codes. No matter how good they look.

Bugler Smith Print Design
Joules – Wellies

Puma saw the trend in the importance of print design back in 2010 and designed the ‘Clever Little Bag’.

Opting for physical design, not digital.

So, we know where we stand with Kayleigh, but how about you?

Do you keep your old shoeboxes and love a good old handwritten letter through the post?

Or… does that all seem a bit archaic to you? Let us know what you think via twitter & LinkedIn



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