The Emotional Effects of Print vs Digital Marketing Materials

With everything going digital, printed materials offer some distinct advantages. A number of studies have been conducted over the past few years showing that when it comes to emotional impact and memorability, print beats digital. 

Here’s why: 

A study conducted in 2015 by TrueImpact, a Canadian neuromarketing firm, compared the effects of direct mail marketing with email and display ads. According to the report:

"Direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media (5.15 vs. 6.37), suggesting that it is both easier to understand and more memorable. […] When asked to cite the brand (company name) of an advertisement they had just seen, recall was 70% higher among participants who were exposed to a direct mail piece (75%) than a digital ad (44%)."

Another revealing study was conducted by Bagnor University and Millward Brown, a branding agency, in 2009. They used fMRI to study the effects of paper and digital media. Some key takeaways, according to Forbes, included:

  • "Physical material is more “real” to the brain.  It has a meaning, and a place. It is better connected to memory because it engages with its spatial memory networks.
  • Physical material involves more emotional processing, which is important for memory and brand associations.
  • Physical materials produced more brain responses connected with internal feelings, suggesting greater “internalization” of the ads."

So what does this mean for your business? 

Your branding efforts should include a mix of digital and printed materials. Digital should not replace print; they should work together. Put together some well-designed print materials that leave an impact of your brand, such as business cards, letterhead, brochures, envelopes or direct-mail postcards.


How to Create a Brand Style Guide
Why Business Cards Are Still Relevant

Brochure Design Tips

14 Tips for Effective Poster Design

Posters are a great opportunity to draw attention, spread your message, and get creative. See below for some tips on getting the most mileage out of this effective marketing tool.


1. Keep it simple. Stick to one or two fonts to avoid clutter.
2. If you're using more than one font, try playing with contrast to draw attention — by using script next to a bold sans serif headline, for example.
3. Make sure your text is easy to read from a distance.
4. Match your font with your message: is it serious, playful, traditional, or modern?

Get more tips for choosing a font here.


5. Start with a single, dominant image to build your poster design around.
6. Be sure to use high-quality images for large posters, at least 300DPI.


7. Less is more. Decide which elements are necessary and stick with those.
8. Include a call to action.
9. Establish a hierarchy of information with a headline, details, and fine print if necessary.


10. The eye is drawn to the center. You may want to consider placing your most important text here, or you can center your image and place the text in the header and footer.
11. Because the poster may be viewed from a distance, try using space between its elements.


12. Create a mood and match your color to your message.
13. Draw attention with a colorful palette, or by focusing on just one or two hues.


14. Consider where your poster will be located. This will affect your size, message, and even color (you don’t want it to blend into the environment).