Is It the Last Post for Business Stationery?

Television commercials, billboards and supermarket shelves are the traditional arenas in which brands battle for public notice and market leadership.  But there are more low key ways to build brands – especially for companies in the service and business-to-business industries.

Not least amongst these is the creation of a corporate identity, which will include templates for letterheads, quotations and invoices as well as well as company logo, name style and literature formats.

They are, indeed, a prime way to keep your name before the public in your everyday communications and dealings with clients, new or existing.  The question arises, however, whether it is necessary, in this digital age, to produce printed copies of all these items.

Print versus digital

Whilst some printed stationery items may be more dispensable than others – on line invoicing and money transfer is quicker and easier than the alternative, and no-one can claim that ‘the cheque is in the post’ – most would agree that it’s premature to proclaim the death of print, and there are good reasons to think that the two will co-exist happily for years to come.

There couldn’t, for example, be a better brand ambassador than a personal business card.  It’s the hallmark of a professional – indeed, you’d be considered unprofessional without one.  It offers the perfect introduction in a chance encounter, and a useful reminder to those you’ve met and networked with at conferences, exhibitions and other business events.

In any face-to-face encounter a business card makes a matchless first impression, and says a great deal more about you than a phone number.

Where print is irreplaceable

There are a number of other occasions when printed stationery is irreplaceable.  Documentation of goods in transit – labels, delivery notes and bills of sale – is one example where print has to both look and do the business.  And let’s not forget the personal touch that a compliment slip adds, especially with a hand written note.

Mail order is big business now, and a delivery offers an ideal opportunity to solicit repeat or follow up business with the enclosure of a printed leaflet, brochure or catalogue.

Belt and braces in record keeping

The digital revolution has changed the way we work, particularly the way we store and access files, but there are still security issues over data loss because of system failure, computer viruses and the like.

Also, when disputes arise and litigation looms, nothing quite matches the authenticity and verifiability of a hard copy, which is why many firms – particularly those in the financial and legal professions – keep a foot in both camps and retain both hard and digital copies of their files.

The power of mixed media

Websites, e-mailings, pay-per-click ads, blogs and social media. With all of this digital firepower, who needs print you might ask.  Well there are some occasions when only print will do, and many when it’s desirable as part of a mixed media campaign.  For example …

Direct Mailing

In the age of spam, when so much gets ignored or dumped directly in the junk folder, a personally addressed direct mailing commands attention and respect. Address the prospect by name in a letter accompanying your mailing piece and you have something that really connects.

Glossy brochures

There’s no substitute for the prestige of a glossy brochure when selling big ticket items like houses or luxury goods, and they’re invaluable tools in the hands of sales people and site representatives. A property marketing brochure is a perfect example of the power of the printed media.

Similarly, in the corporate world there’s no substitute for print when issuing prospectuses or annual reports and accounts. Also people offer prefer the feel and familiarity of printed literature, which is why is unlikely that hard back books or glossy magazines will ever go out of fashion.

Press Advertising

Even the big boys in digital, like Amazon and Ebay, place press advertisements to extend their reach, and recognise its value despite themselves.  One of the key differences between press advertising and, say, social media, it that it is intrusive, a deliberate grabbing by the lapels to command attention. And there are times, especially when announcing events or special promotions, when it is the best medium for the job.


All of which goes to show that print is not dead, but a powerful element in mixed media branding and advertising campaigns.  The divide between traditional and digital marketing is an artificial one promoted by those with a hidden agenda – often because their skills lie in only one direction.

At Simpsons we describe ourselves as a ‘tradigital’, a full service agency that spans both disciplines.  In the end it’s the message not the medium that counts, and we use our communication skills as copywriters, web developers, graphic designers and social media experts to bring you the best of both worlds.

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