Brand management is vital for the success of any organization. It affects every aspect of a brand’s products, communications and marketing. The corporate brand manager is the on-staff gatekeeper for your brand, but what about all the companies you partner with to help you get the word out?
Ad agencies, social media marketing firms, and promotional products suppliers are all in the business of promoting and protecting your company’s brand. Anyone who has accepted the responsibility of reprinting your company logo; communicating the value statement for your products and services; or promoting the newest marketing campaign must also have the same enthusiasm and passion for your brand as you do.
Like an over-protective parent, the gatekeepers of your brand should continually be monitoring the execution and the output of the information. Spotting new trends and understanding how they can help increase the brand visibility is important, but ensuring that those trends are in line with the established corporate brand guidelines is vital.
Always asking, “What else can we do”, should be a common discussion between you and your gatekeeper partners – the end result will be a brand respected by customers and coveted by your rivals.
According to Merriam-Webster, athleisure is defined as “casual clothing designed to be worn both for exercising and for general use.” It represents the general dressing down across our culture, with high fashion brands turning sweats and tees into big ticket items, and retailers selling more performance apparel than ever before.
Now, at the intersection of athletic wear and luxury, we have athluxury – fabrics and styles that give a luxe feel while delivering a reliable performance piece of clothing. Jackets, shirts and footwear are all being offered in up-to-the minute colors and styles that are creating excitement for corporate brands that want to ignite their audience.
More of an evolution than a trend, athleisure – or, on the higher end, athluxury – apparel can be worn in most offices and social situations without anyone thinking twice. Many styles merge business casual with sportswear, which is a natural evolution of the trend towards health and fitness. As a bonus, this category of clothing is generally more durable, with properties like wrinkle and odor resistance incorporated into its tech-infused fibers.
Adding a corporate logo in a color and decoration method that compliments the item will bring attention and respect to the brand, and nearly ensure the continued use of the item at the office and at home. Sample some of the latest options in this popular clothing category for the next trade show or team-building outing at the ballpark. Your associates will happily accept, and your customers will notice.
With few exceptions, every company has many competitors for the product or service they want to sell. Each one feels their product is different, better. Unlike all the others. But with so many other companies saying the same thing, no one is paying attention.
How do you cut through all the noise? The answer is branding. But having a successful brand is easier said than done. One good place to start is by studying the six essential traits shared by the world’s top brands.
- PASSIONATE: 64% of consumers who said they had a strong brand relationship with a company cited “shared values” as the primary reason. (Corporate Executive Board)
- DEPENDABLE: Marketing consistency pays off; 87% of consumers who interact with a company daily feel loyal to that company (Strativity)
- RECOGNIZED: 89% of B2B marketers say brand awareness is their most important goal, followed by sales and lead generation. (Content Marketing Institute)
- CONSISTENT: 45% of a brand’s image can be attributed to what it says, and how it says it. (Landor Associates)
- AUTHENTIC: 80% of consumers said “authenticity of content” is the most influential factor in their decision to become a follower of a brand. (Pardot)
- CUSTOMER-CENTRIC: 48% of Americans expect brands to know them and help them discover new products or services that fit their needs. (Microsoft)
Other valuable branding habits include audience engagement, company storytelling and pinpointing a target audience. But using the above six traits as a springboard for your corporate branding policy will enable you to start 2018 with a renewed focus on increased brand visibility and improved customer loyalty.
Puffer vests, the staple of the hiking trail, have emerged as a trendy fashion item, equally appropriate for the office as it is on weekends for leisure activities. Designs featuring sleeker cuts and high-tech materials to reduce bulk, make it a practical and stylish solution for both men and women. Less “Michelin Man” – more fashionable versatility.
As young tastemakers have brought back a new appreciation for rugged outdoor apparel, corporate marketing teams have taken notice. Puffer vests, soft-shell jackets, and sherpa-lined sweatshirts have all been popular choices for corporate giveaways. But the puffer vest, in particular, has emerged as a wardrobe staple that can be worn with nearly every clothing style. That type of popularity ensures greater appreciation from the recipient, and promises increased brand visibility for the company.
Retail brands like The North Face, Marmot and Weatherproof offer stylish quilted down vest options that can be customized with a corporate logo. The corporate logo decoration can be subtle using a tonal thread color or placed in a discreet location like the back collar; or it can be embroidered in a light-colored thread on the right or left chest for maximum brand exposure. Either way, the puffer vest will be the gift that keeps on giving all season long – with both the giver and the recipient happy for the mutual benefits of a well-considered corporate giveaway.
What started as a joke in the snowy upper Midwest has grown into a national craze that shows no signs of slowing down. To say the public’s affection for the ugly Christmas sweater has gained momentum is an understatement. From holiday parties to group shots with Santa Claus, people everywhere are donning hideously adorned holiday apparel.
As a natural evolution of everything that’s hot in retail, the ugly Christmas sweater craze has hit corporate America. In 2015-2016, Uber sponsored an ugly sweater giveaway in designated cities across the country. Wine and spirits companies have created ugly sweaters that promote their brands. The craze has even landed one company a Shark Tank deal and in two years they went from a million dollar company to a ten million dollar company. That’s a lot of ugly sweaters!
The appeal goes well beyond just the company holiday parties. They’re also great holiday gifts for customers and employees; perfect for the holiday fun runs (gotta stay warm!); and unforgettable as a community outreach program. Consider branded ugly Christmas sweaters for this holiday season, or next – and keep in mind, as Oscar Wilde said, “The ugly can be beautiful”.
Image courtesy of uglychristmassweater.com
The 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!
We 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.