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Outmatching Digital with Fedrigoni's cultural heritage - #BehindTheBrand

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When digital took over the world and the first Kindle was released, some publishers shuddered and panicked as they saw printed paper declining like never before. A few were forced to cease operations. The smallest book shops still struggle to survive. But others, like Fedrigoni, saw the opportunity in the crisis – and they set out to change publishing forever.

Fedrigoni is an Italian paper manufacturer and the group combines the over 750 years of cultural heritage in its network into one single brand. Certainly enough to learn a thing or two; and now, well after the dawn of digital, Fedrigoni doesn't just sell paper – it packs experiences for artists and consumers all over the world.

We reached out to Ambra Fridegotto to learn more about the story of the brand and how it rose to success.

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How was your brand born and what does it do?

Fedrigoni is an Italian manufacturer of specialty papers and packaging products. We are a global leader in both the production and sale of different types of paper for packaging, printing, graphics, and self-adhesive materials. If it can be made with paper, it can be made with Fedrigoni!

What is one unique aspect of your brand?

Between Fedrigoni and Fabriano, the Fedrigoni Group has over 750 years of rich heritage and has been there along many historic milestones. From the invention of the watermark in Fabriano, to printing Euro banknotes, to producing the first punched cards for IBM computers, and the first test batch of post-it notes for 3M. You could say that in our own way, we have contributed to the history of the world! Historic figures have used our papers over the centuries, including Michelangelo, Raffaello, Beethoven, Picasso, and even the Pope.

Can you describe your brand’s personality in one sentence?

Striking the perfect balance between culturally historic and forward-thinking to satisfy our clients. 

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Image credit: Superfried

What was the biggest challenge for the growth of your brand?

The growth of digital at the expense of the physical printed experience. In today’s eco-minded and digital-first world, it’s easy to cast print aside as an outdated medium. However, the emotional and tactile experience of the printed page is one that can never be replicated through virtual platforms. The biggest challenge is to find a way for print and digital to work together

Which was the first huge success that you can remember?

During my time at the company, our annual calendar, Fedrigoni 365 , has been a continuous highlight. When we started working on the first edition in 2017, we had no idea what the reaction would be. That quickly changed on the launch night, when Protein Gallery in Shoreditch was absolutely packed full of talented creatives who had designed a page for the project. Each year we strive to do something different, which culminated in a digital edition for 2021, gathering almost 1,000 contributions. Fedrigoni 365 has always been about the design community, and the heartfelt messages we received these past few months, thanking us for continuing the project despite the pandemic, have been really emotional.

What’s the biggest opportunity for you and your brand in the next year?

As climate responsibility becomes essential, not optional, we are focussing even more on recycled papers and being genuinely sustainable. This is reflected not only in our products, but also in our every day practice: our HQ in Verona recently moved to a new high-tech, energy efficient building and we recently inaugurated the Fedrigoni Wood, the first of many green spaces in urbanized areas close to our mills.

Do you work with an in-house creative team, an agency or both?

Both! I personally work on a few elements, and we often collaborate with various agencies. In the past few years we have worked closely on a couple of projects with TM (TsevdosMcNeil) including Fedrigoni 365 and Fedrigoni Plus which promotes our UK stocked items.

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What do you look for in a creative agency?

We love to see agencies who really push the boundaries of what paper can offer. In an increasingly digital world, giving the user a haptic perception by handling something as tactile as paper can create a very personal experience. Nonetheless, being able to then share that moment digitally, for example on social media, is also very important. Agencies who find harmony between print and digital are the real ones to watch.  

What is one tip you would give to other brands looking to grow?

Reputation - earn it, keep it, promote it

What is your current role about? Any ‘typical’ day?

Without sounding too cliche, every day genuinely is different. Yet this variety is part of the fun. As with many, during the pandemic I have had to adapt, but still love the diversity that this role offers; from managing our social media to  working on upcoming campaigns, swatches and projects. I do miss meeting customers at our London Studio, helping them with their paper enquiries and hosting evening events. The space acts as a real hub for the city’s creative community, a place I can’t wait to return to!

What’s your one big hope for the future of branding?

Brands not shying away from the printed page. It can be sustainable and can work with the digital realm to create the most innovative results. It just requires a little more creative thinking.

Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

I’m currently reading Just My Type by Simon Garfield. Not only is it informative, interesting, and insightful, it’s also fantastically written, hilarious, and shows the value in considering which typeface to choose for a project. 

As always, I’m also reading Pulp Journal, a quarterly magazine produced by Fedrigoni and the team behind Eye Magazine. The latest edition features 19 Artists versus Covid-19, a poster project raising money for the NHS, which I was personally involved in throughout 2020.


Header image: Mark Richardson
 

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