We are thrilled to feature a guest blog contribution from Alex Symms of Chameleon Like, Inc.  In the digital age where laptops and tablets are commonplace in classrooms and offices alike, is there still a market for paper products?  The answer may surprise you!

paper vs tech

Printed in the business section of The New York Times on February 10, 2008, was an article titled, “Pushing Paper Out the Door.” The piece details how families and industries alike are going paperless, switching over to electronic ways of communicating and keeping records.  A quote in the article from Brewster Kahle, the founder of a nonprofit digital library, reads,“Paper has been dealt a complete deathblow.  When is the last time you saw a telephone book?”

But nearly nine years have passed since the publication of that The New York Times article, and despite Kahle’s insistence that paper had been dealt a “complete deathblow,” The New York Times is still printing papers in 2017.  And you would be hard-pressed to find a family, let alone a business, that has gone completely paperless.

With writing instruments and journals being such a huge spend category for promotional merchandise, it is clear that paper is still a great way to promote your brand.  A decade ago, notebooks and journals were only found in office supply stores and bookstores.  Today, you can even find journals making their way into many fashion boutiques and gift stores.  Americans may have reduced paper usage by nearly a quarter, but what is left is here to stay because some things are not so easily replaced by a screen or a microchip.

Journals collection

So what are some use cases for branded journals?  To start, let’s examine one of the most classic uses for pen and paper: taking notes.  Whether at a college lecture or in a meeting, taking notes in a journal is still a popular method over laptops.

Journals are the way to go when it comes to note-taking, despite typing being more efficient.  A 2016 study by Princeton and UCLA found that students who took notes in a journal by hand were able to better comprehend than students who took notes on their laptops.  Of course, one obvious reason for this is the numerous distractions that technology can provide.  But that is not the whole story.  The researchers found that students using their computers were more likely to try and take down notes verbatim, without pausing to understand the importance of what they were hearing.

This study illustrates just one example of how the human experience differs between using paper and using a piece of technology, and why branded journals are still a great way to connect with your audience.  Along with the fact that journals increase comprehension, they are also a great product to evoke an emotion.  There is a sentimentality about turning the pages of a journal or a book that cannot be replaced by technology.  A worn copy of a classic book just has that element of je ne sais quoi that reminds you of when and where you read that book and whom you may have shared it with.  Planning out the week’s meetings and to-do lists in a branded planner gives you that gratifying sense of organization.  Holiday cards and handwritten thank-you notes arrive in the mail and carry with them a more authentic, emotional message than you could ever get with a text message or email.  Paper and paper products have earned a soul of sorts, evolving yet persisting over centuries of existence.

Even tech companies acknowledge the unique value of journals.  According to Chameleon Like’s data, the biggest corporate user of promotional journals is actually tech companies.  President and Founder Pierre Martichoux writes:

Tech Journals“In an economy where disruption is the new normal and in the world where technology is becoming an increasing part of our daily lives, we know that our paper products are more relevant than ever.  Located just south of Silicon Valley, we see our products being shipped to those very companies that define the new economy: Google, Facebook, Oracle, Uber, Twitter, LinkedIn, reminding us that though times may change, pen and paper will never go out of style.”

Paper products and journals will continue to exist as an instrumental product for the foreseeable future.  No, it has not been “dealt a complete deathblow” by technological innovations.  The rapid expansion of technology in our everyday lives has changed how we relate to paper, but arguably for the better.

While it is true that we are on the whole using less paper to print faxes, invoices, and phone books, paper products have taken on a new role in our lives, focused more on quality than quantity.  Because it is so easy to send someone a quick text message, the handwritten card now means so much more.  Receiving a postcard in the mail sends an entirely different message to loved ones than a status update on Facebook.  Since technology has moved in and taken over so many aspects of our lives, paper has risen to the challenge and become even better and more valuable in its own domain: the heart and soul of how we communicate and connect.

Author bio

Looking to spread Brand Love using paper products? Contact us for creative ideas!