Printing trends of 2018 that your company should know about

If your company purchases more print than you expected, you’re in good company. Print is trending.

Commercial printing sales have increased 9.1% since 2011. Idealliance’s “State of the Industry Report, 15th Edition” predicts that sales will grow an additional 1.5-3% in 2018.

Print’s resurging popularity means there will be more competition for your brand awareness offline too. The merchandising and design experts at Vistaprint Corporate present the following printing trends you should know about to deliver faster, more effective visual communication. Expand your reach in 2018. Get inspired. Get printing!

Print and digital fusion continues

One reason for the print industry’s comeback is its embrace of digital media. Print products today are examples of what economists call the Fourth Industrial Revolution—a period of emerging products that blur the lines between physical, digital, and even biological mediums.

The increasingly common fusion of print and digital marketing campaigns illustrates how print is evolving into a hybrid form of communication. Production designers at Vistaprint Corporate, who are tasked with setting up design templates on the private online portals we build for large organizations, have already noticed companies using print to get attention in the noisy world of social media.

“Different companies will have hashtags to get people talking about them on the Internet,” says Stephanie Cobb about recent postcard designs she has seen. “There are also more business cards with Instagram or Twitter info to get people to follow them.”

In these cases, companies are using print to boost digital awareness—further evidence that print and digital are functioning as complementary forms of communication that reinforce each other.

Takeaway: Let print help direct missed viewers to your digital channels.


Companies are clamoring for distinction with bold colors, minimalism, and texture

Free design software, tools, and apps have made it easier than ever for anyone with a computer or mobile device to make professional-looking graphics. This means there’s lots more visual communication saturating audiences—with designs ranging from successful to very unsuccessful. You’ll need more than high-quality design to gain interest in your brand and messaging.

Companies are turning to bold, minimal designs to get noticed. Production designer at Vistaprint Corporate Michaela Bolotin explains, “There is just so much stimulation. Everywhere you look there are screens flashing. It really is a struggle to win the attention of your audience. I think that has a part in this trend of bold colors, and expanses of solid colors on designs to really stand out.”

Bold is relative, each designer at Vistaprint Corporate points out. Whatever approach you use to achieve originality, our designers recommend that you to keep your audience in mind first. Modern and trendy doesn’t resonate with every age group or geographic region. If you have a more traditional audience, try another approach.

The use of texture on a business card, for example, helps a company to distinguish itself. Tactile embellishments such as raised print, a metallic finish, or a premium stock such as linen will add texture to your business card. Fellow production designer Leah Spencer explains, “These give customers a different way to remember your company, other than just with visual memory. They’ll hold onto your business card and be like, Wow. This feels different, and it is different, and I’m intrigued.”

Takeaway: Aim for originality that still connects with your audience. Engage more senses to stand out.


Repurpose paper and promotional products

Companies are increasingly using printed products beyond their traditional uses, according to Senior Product Merchandising Manager Chris Hamel. “Business cards are being used as loyalty cards or appointment cards. Also, you see them given out as coupons or a way to display promo codes,” Hamel says.

“Same thing with brochures,” adds Hamel. “A brochure is essentially a flyer that’s folded in a variety of ways. That works well for creating menus at restaurants, as well as something you may pick up at the doctor’s office or tourist info desk.”

Promotional products are getting clever applications too. Apparel such as custom-printed hats and T-Shirts are being used as company uniforms, as well as traditional giveaways. “It all depends on the route you’re looking to go,” Hamel says. “Basic items that have a digital imprint of your logo can be a very cost-effective way to get a variety of uses.”

Takeaway: There are many ways you can repurpose paper and promotional products. Doing so can help you reach more people or save money.


Print is moving towards online procurement

Advancements in manufacturing are driving the rapid transition to online procurement, according to Senior Merchandising Manager of Vistaprint Corporate Matthew Rees. “Complex print and promotional product orders that would traditionally be handled offline can be created and ordered using online portals,” Rees explains.

Rees cites a July 2017 market study by Global Industry Analysts, Inc. that shows the volume of print procured through e-commerce channels increased 56% from 2014 to 2016. In 2016, 41% of all print volume was transacted through e-commerce channels alone.

Online portals are a procurement method that allow products such as lawn signs, banners, mugs, and more to be ordered as quickly as composing a tweet or Facebook post—all with the same or better quality you could get from a local print shop. The custom-printed products can be ordered from anywhere, and shipped wherever needed, much like shopping from any e-commerce site.

“Online procurement is a trend we believe will continue,” Rees adds. “That is why we’ve worked hard to make the customer experience of ordering as easy as buying from your favorite online store.”

Takeaway: Consider what printed products you can order faster by getting them online.


Automation is the future of print

Automation of processes allows companies to increase efficiency and save money. Top companies in the commercial printing industry will continue to invest more capital in automation over the next few years to meet demand, according to the Idealliance “Capital Investment Report, Fall 2017.”

An online portal automates frequent print orders by having products already set up with a company’s pre-designed templates. Products such as business cards are then readily available to print on demand. When business cards for a new hire are needed, only text fields need to be updated, and new business cards are created. Fresh versions of postcards, flyers, and brochures can be made just as efficiently with an online portal.

Automation also speeds up large quantity orders. Batch upload functionality, for example, allows business cards for multiple people to be ordered all at once with a single .csv file. Several tedious steps are eliminated to create discrete business cards, while at the same time ensuring brand consistency on each card.

Takeaway: Spend more time making creative assets; spend less time ordering them with an automated solution.