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Why physical media appears to be more real to the brain

When your competitors are focused on their digital campaigns, getting to grips with social media and identifying appropriate digital influencers to gain an edge, they may be overseeing an opportunity in paper.

A study by branding agency Millward Brown revealed that our brains process paper-based and digital marketing in different ways. The MRI brain scans of a test group showed that paper advertisements caused more emotional processing, thereby leaving a deeper footprint in the brain. Physical media appears to be more real to the brain: it gets tied to a place and time and is therefore given more meaning.

Build emotional connections

The more emotionally connected we feel to a brand, the more likely we are to choose it over others. Ideally, you want to ensure that your brand is experienced repeatedly and on as many platforms as possible. In theory, the actual number of synapses formed in our brain could measure the strength of a brand.

Neuroscience aside, we believe a brochure as well as other physical media – from welcome packs to exhibition design – is, if anything, more important today as an effective way to stand out and build emotional connections to your brand. Essentially, it’s about added value. We appreciate the time and effort that goes into creating something beautiful and tactile – even more so when we can take it home as a reminder of the experience.

Long-term brand appreciation

The key is a unified approach to marketing and basing communications on a detailed understanding of your audience. Digital communications can do things that paper cannot, not least being where your audience is and providing lots of evidence of success through measurability. But there is no substitute for the real thing, and a beautiful brochure that’s worth taking home to place on a shelf can bring genuine long-term brand appreciation that is immeasurable.

So, don’t forget in your communications planning that you should keep a place for physical media and all the wonderful strategic and creative marketing that can be done with it.

Paul Bearman, Senior Editor, Goldmine Media

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