Can Swag Be Cool?

guitarsBefore we can determine if there is such thing as cool swag, we should first consider what the word “cool” represents, keeping in mind that what is considered cool changes over time, and varies among cultures and generations.  What was cool in the 1960’s would certainly not translate into the same for today.  One consistent aspect however is that cool is widely perceived as positive and desirable.

In addition, even with the subjective, ever-changing nature of what it means to be cool, it clearly represents individuality – a conscious decision to avoid conformity.  When we think of mobile phones – Steve Jobs, an industry rebel, created what most people consider to be the first truly cool phone.  Is there any cooler car than James Bond’s Aston Martin?  or singer Pharrell Williams’ Grammy hat created by Vivienne Westwood?  All these examples have one thing in common:  none of those items were common when they first came on the scene.

So, back to cool swag.  Yes, branded promotional merchandise can be cool.  But that doesn’t mean it has to be a product no one has ever seen before, or wouldn’t use.  After all, we had phones, cars and hats long before the aforementioned folks introduced their personal styles to the world.  The trick is to choose appropriate promo items that can be decorated with the corporate brand in a way that avoids conformity without ignoring the brand guidelines.

Creative graphics incorporating the company logo can be used on practical items like playing cards, socks, notebooks, glass water bottles, custom-shape flash drives and – one of my personal favorites – guitars!  The product is useful, and the presentation is unforgettable.  And speaking of presentation – don’t forget the impact of custom packaging, personalized print collateral and kitting items together to make a cool statement that is as individual as your brand.

Swag can definitely be cool!  Giving cool swag is all about the mindfulness of your approach to selecting the right product for the audience, and decorating the item in a creative manner that protects the brand identity while delivering that “wow” factor.  Keep your mind open to the different branding possibilities – your customers will notice!

(Image courtesy of Brand O’ Guitar Co)

 

 

 

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Comfort From The Cold With Branded Apparel

Winter portrait. Young, beautiful woman blowing snowThe business benefits that can be accrued from corporate gift-giving are many, from increased productivity to employee satisfaction to longevity in customer relationships.  The gifts you give represent your company, and should express the value you place in your relationship with the recipient.  And what better way to show your respect for your employees and customers than to give them the gift of warmth.

Name brand clothing lines with fashion-forward styles, better fabric options and more choices for women, in particular, offer the corporate world an opportunity to give a gift that will build loyalty and brand awareness with every recipient.  Rather than the standard polo or button-down shirt that is a necessary choice for trade shows and office attire, cold weather clothing essentials are items that will be worn at home, on the weekends, and on the job.

Consider the following apparel categories and the new ways to give the gift of warmth to your customers and employees in the coming winter months.

  • Hats:  Beanies with leather patch, bluetooth headphones, or LED light; fleece lined tassel hat; or polar fleece headband
  • Fleece Jackets:  Lightweight microfleece full zip jacket; super warm brushed fleece pullover; or sophisticated quarter zip rib knit fleece
  • Hoodies:  Vintage french terry hoodie; women’s poncho hoodie; or hooded hockey sweatshirt
  • Puffer Jacket:  Packable down vest or jacket; water resistant finish polyfill jacket; or ecologically sound lightweight layering jacket

There is a cold-weather clothing item that will work for nearly every recipient.  Take the time to consider the age and lifestyle of those people you want to thank, and give them something that will give them comfort from the cold in the coming months.  They’ll thank you!

The Age Of Environmentalism

eco-pencil-1000We have a new generation of buyers.  Buyers that are concerned about the environment; buyers that care about human rights; and buyers that look for the same in the companies they work with.  And those companies that demonstrate an overarching message of corporate social responsibility (CSR) are winning the affection and trust of those consumers.

According to an industry study, in the age group 18-35, 58% of end-users are more likely to have a favorable opinion of companies buying and distributing eco promotional products – more than any other age bracket.  And it’s not just what the product is made of that this generation cares about.  You can’t just say your stuff is eco-friendly because it’s a mug and not a one-time use paper cup.  Most people of the millennial generation are smarter than that.  They want to know about the product materials; the ability to recycle the item when it’s outlived its use; energy usage; and even fair labor practices.

Their concern with the environment is part of their culture, and as they enter into the upper echelons of the workforce, millennials are poised to stoke the growth of the eco category as buyers of all types of products and services.  So what types of promotional products would appeal to this audience without killing the corporate marketing budget?  See below for a few of the many eco product ideas that work in the office or at home.

  • Reusable, recyclable tote bags
  • Bamboo flash drive
  • Reusable, recyclable travel mug
  • Recycled organic cotton t-shirt
  • Corn plastic letter opener
  • Recycled microfiber cell phone stand
  • Recycled polycarbonate sunglasses

The values shared between customer and company are the building blocks of long-term partnerships.  If your company wants to win over this growing customer segment, consider eco friendly promotional products as one more tool to help support your branding message.

Not Just For Gamers – VR And Brand Engagement

virtualTake a college tour.  Test drive a car.  Attend an art gallery display.  Or give a prospective employee a view of the workspace before they arrive for an interview.  Virtual reality gives sellers the opportunity to reinvent the way they market and sell their products.

Beginning with the basics of VR, there are two types:  360-degree VR is a video that allows the viewer to see all around them while remaining stationary.  Immersive VR is virtual space that can be moved around in.

As a practical matter, 360-degree VR is more affordable for corporate marketing purposes since the content can be created using apps for Android and iOS, and will also take videos captured with smartphone cameras.  Full immersion VR requires a specialized development team to create content, which can run into thousands of dollars.

Branded headsets for 360-degree viewing can be purchased for as low as $15.00.  With cutting edge marketing techniques offered at a budget-conscious price, it is no wonder that the promotional products industry has seen a sales surge in this product over the last two years.  Multiple headset styles at varying price points allows nearly every company to turn a future consideration of this compelling medium into a real-world decision for today’s customer or prospect.

Try offering booth visitors at your next trade show the opportunity to submit a creative 3D video for the chance to win a prize.  It will drive engagement and increase brand awareness – which, of course, is the only reason your team is at that show to begin with!

Image courtesy of NY Times

Kickin It Up A Notch

soulkixCustomers always ask ,”What’s the newest product trend in promotional merchandise?”.  Today, one of the best answers to that question is custom printed canvas sneakers.

A growing desire for one-of-a-kind goods continues to drive the market for custom-designed footwear.  This trend is spurred by millennials on one end and baby boomers on the other, making it a very appealing marketing tool for companies in any industry.

The fact that there are few promotional merchandise options that are truly unique, custom  printed sneakers stands out as a way for companies to set themselves apart.  It’s a gift that lends itself well to team recognition or as a creative way to drive traffic to a trade show booth.  If you sponsor an in-booth drawing that awards 10 people each day with a pair of custom branded sneakers, you get their contact information at the same time you get their shoe size!

Custom printed sneakers may not be the answer for a large-scale giveaway, but it’s new, and it’s hot, and it definitely shows your company is kickin it up a notch when it comes to increasing brand awareness.

 

 

Marketing To Young Buyers

y_zThere are 93 million millennials – otherwise known as Generation Y – in the US.  That group now represents the largest segment of the American workforce.  With the oldest members being in their mid-30’s, they will be a dominant force for a long time.  But right behind them is Gen Z – with 70 million members in the college and high school scene – which will soon be a factor for any company looking to promote and sell to that market as well.

As with any customer demographic, there is a unique dynamic to these young buyers.  Marketing through emails and videos; giving youthful products that appeal to this tech- savvy group; and keeping the retail styles in mind when picking out headwear and apparel are all solid guidelines for appealing to the under-40 crowd.  It’s a matter of giving something that is “cool enough”- the latest and greatest – and not something that they have received multiple times in the past (swap the white cotton tee for a bella+canvas black heather tee).

The stats – courtesy of Pew Research Center – that support the theory:

  • By 2020 40% of all consumers will be from Gen Z
  • About 40% of Gen Zers say corporate offices are their preferred workplace
  • The average GenZer has the attention span of about 8 seconds
  • By 2025 millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce
  • 90% of millennials check their emails, texts and social media accounts before getting out of bed
  • More than 60% of millennials stay updated on brands through social media
  • 77% of millennials participate in loyalty reward programs
  • Millennials consistently spend more than other generations on fitness-related products

Young buyers are the future – prepare to understand what they want, and avoid what they don’t – if you don’t, someone else will!