It’s easy to focus on digital when it comes to your global brand strategy and design work. But print still has a lot to offer. Doing it right the first time is faster and cheaper and will maximize your impact overseas.

It’s a digital world.

You can’t grow globally without a well-developed digital strategy. Want to expand into China? Get on social media. Is Russia your next move? Localize your website.

With ever-increasing volumes of content vying for attention, your brand needs good, distinctive design to stand out.

That means a sleek, visually appealing website. It means incorporating memes and gifs in your social strategy. And it means using stunning infographics to build links. Of course, this costs time and money. But thanks to analytical tools, it’s easy to justify the investment.

It’s more difficult to measure offline channels, which is why Next is cutting its print and TV ad spend. Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign has also gone digital-only.

So is print dead? In one word, no. In fact, it should still play a key role in your global brand strategy and design. Here’s why.

WHY PRINT ISN’T DEAD

Print channels like newspapers and magazines are both better at building brand campaigns and generating ROI than advertisers assume. And their decline isn’t as terminal as you might think.

According to PWC, magazine sales will fall by about 0.25% in North America between 2015 and 2020.

global-magazine-growth-rates

But the picture is very different in emerging countries. The Latin American market is forecast to grow by 1.5%. There will also be an increase in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. In these regions, magazines are still a worthwhile investment.

And don’t forget, print is more than just magazines and newspapers.

Globally, the number of people shopping in brick-and-mortar stores has increased by 4% since 2015, as customers seek a sensory, rather than digital, experience. In the UAE, mall culture is a big deal. In fact, 77% of Emirati shoppers discover new products in a store, not online. Print advertisements have a clear role to play here, enticing customers into stores and providing that final push to buy products.

Even if you don’t need print material currently, it’s worth future-proofing your content for later global growth. It’s not just about making your digital content easily adaptable for print formats. You’ll save time, money and effort if you think about how your content can be localized for other markets from the outset. This will make sure you’re resonating with audiences and maximizing your impact.

So if you’ve got global ambition, here are three things that should inform your brand strategy and design.

1. LANGUAGE

Some languages just need more space than others.  

Russian, for example, can take up to 30% more room than English, whereas Chinese and Thai are significantly shorter. Arabic requires greater line spacing to be readable. And Scandinavian languages do not mix well with narrow columns – their longer words will result in hyphens everywhere.

So when designing content, leave enough white space to accommodate extra text or formatting changes you may encounter.

Top tip: avoid embedding text into images where possible – and if you absolutely do need text, make it editable. It’ll be much easier to localize, saving you time and money.

2. COLOR AND IMAGES

Colors often have cultural connotations that can influence how customers view your content. In the UAE, almost every color carries a different meaning. In Thailand, there are lucky colors for each day of the week – so pink is great on Tuesdays, but not on Wednesdays.

This isn’t just an interesting fact with no commercial purpose. Effectively considering the emotions associated with colors can increase brand recognition and retention by up to 80%.

You may also need to change the images you use in each market. Japan and Saudi Arabia are more relationship-oriented and prefer high-context communication. So layouts should be denser, provide richer information and feature plenty of people in the images. By contrast, Western cultures prefer minimalist, plain-speaking content and more product-oriented imagery.

Although it may not be practical to create custom material for every market, creating content with these differences in mind can ensure you select designs and imagery that work for as many of your customers as possible.

3. FONTS

On a practical note, check which languages are supported before choosing your fonts. You may need to select custom alternatives for some markets or channels – especially if you use handwritten fonts, which don’t travel well.

FINAL THOUGHT

It’s still worth including print in your global brand strategy and design work. Even if you don’t need the assets right now, making your content easy to localize in the future will save time and money – maximizing your ROI with minimal extra effort. You don’t have to be stuck in the past, either. Technology like Augmented Reality can give your content a fresh new look and make sure you stay relevant.