Print: A Timeless Medium?

Print: A Timeless Medium?
Carole Tuckey
December 18, 2014
Wooden print blocks that spell Gud

Printing is centuries old. The Chinese developed woodblock printing during the T’ang Dynasty in 200 C.E. The Chinese introduced movable type printing in 1040, the first printing press was developed by the Koreans in 1377 and the first major book published using movable type, the Gutenberg Bible, was printed in 1450. (There are still 48 known copies of the book today with various pages missing, and 21 that are complete). By 1500, printing presses operated throughout Western Europe and produced an estimated 20 million book volumes penned by the likes of Martin Luther and Desiderius Erasmus. 

Today, advances in printing techniques and paper manufacturing have allowed print to achieve effects not possible a decade ago. Print has the ability to replicate nearly any texture through various coatings and varnishes, inks and additives, including scents.  

And this is where it gets really cool.

A neuroscience study commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in 2009 and conducted by Millward Brown discovered that “paper-based marketing—i.e., direct mail—leaves a ‘deeper footprint’ in the brain than digital,” and that difference can be pinpointed on functional MRI brain scans. 

According to a report on the study by Sappi Fine Paper North America, “The physical act of handling tangible material feels more ‘real’ to the brain, the study claims. It produces brain responses that trigger emotional reactions, which get internalized in your memory.

“In other words, the printed piece itself becomes part of the subliminal messaging. The brain associates the tactile quality of the piece with its perception of the brand.”

Sounds like kooky science to me, but the folks at Sappi Fine Paper took that information and applied the magic of design and the advances in printing to provide a beautiful interactive piece to easily illustrate how the brain reacts to that type of stimulant. 

Sappi’s design team used thermography, four-color process and UV reactive inks to highlight an individual’s emotional reaction to the print, thus highlighting the brain area affected by handling tangible materials when submitted to direct sunlight.

Pretty cool, but timeless? Absolutely.

Despite the advances in social and digital media, print still lies at the core of most brand identity programs. Print still lets you control the message and tell the story the way you want it to be received by your customers with a visual hierarchy, while websites allow visitors the ability to jump from section to section in whatever order they please.

Print lets the brand speak for itself, and now with lots of bells and whistles.