Brand Comfort

dri_duck_5020_model_shot_medWinter will be around for another few months, and outdoor enthusiasts – workers, hikers, campers, hunters – will be looking for both warmth and comfort in their outerwear.  Brands have an opportunity to shine with that demographic at this time of year.

Today’s consumer wants products that offer smart function, performance and style.  Not satisfied to only follow the latest Instagram clothing trend, younger generations  are less focused on quantity than quality. Single apparel pieces that can get them through multiple seasons in various life experience settings are the trend for today’s consumer.

Enter the corporate marketing initiatives.  Companies that invest in increasing brand awareness and improving customer loyalty have become increasingly aware of the the need to respond to not only the style choices of Millennials and GenX’ers, but also to their generation’s emphasis on not consuming more goods than needed.

A rugged, but comfortable work jacket; a stylishly classic quilted vest; or even a custom knit beanie in a subtle color are all excellent choices for adding your corporate brand to an item that will be worn for years to come.  Men and women.  The young and not-so-young.  By targeting your customer base with cleverly decorated, quality apparel items, your company will offer comfort to an audience that will repay you with brand loyalty.

Fanny Packs Are Back

fanny pakAfter the fanny pack fad of the ’80’s faded, those functional bags of yesteryear were deemed uncool and were only seen on clueless tourists in bright tropical shirts.  But a lot has changed in the last few years, and the fanny pack is back in fashion and hotter than ever.

Rebranded as a “belt bag”, “hip bag” or “waist bag”, the modern fanny packs come in various shapes and sizes. The styles range from practical nylon or polyester, to high-end leather.  They can be simple with a single zipper, or decorated with studs and creative stitching.  Nike and Adidas offer options aimed at athletes and the casual day-tripper, while numerous high-end designers like Gucci and Calvin Klein bring runway-worthy styles to the fashion-conscious crowd.

The resurgence in demand for practical, versatile items fuels the growth in this category for women and men alike.  The fanny pack is responsible for 25% of the growth in the accessories market, and is the fastest growing segment in the men’s market.  Worn around the hips or across the chest, these bags are turning up everywhere.

The good news for corporate marketers is that the promotional suppliers have responded to this popular trend, and offer lots of fanny pack options that would be perfect for concerts, festivals, sporting events and trade shows.   Considering the current excitement around the contemporary fanny pack, it should be on the top of your list for upcoming event giveaways.

Tariffs? What Tariffs?

TOD40D_Blue_5723Since July, tariffs have been imposed on nearly half of the Chinese goods imported to the US.  Those tariffs – which is essentially a tax on an imported good – can either be absorbed by the importer or passed on to the buyer through price increases.

For the most part, the impact of these tariffs on the promotional products industry won’t be felt until 2019, but why wait?   There are many high-quality options for USA-made promotional products, and none of them will be subject to tariffs.

  • Drinkware:  Cups, mugs, and tumblers are all available in various colors and shapes to help keep your customer hydrated.
  • Tote Bags, Aprons, Tablecloths:  Create a custom bag with one-of-a-kind features; trade show table covering with enhanced graphics; or colorful apron for staff or customer gift.
  • Socks:  Exploding in popularity and available with low minimums and endless customization options.
  • Plastics:  Bag tags, cell phone holders, ice scrapers and clipboards are a few of the many plastic promotional items that remain popular giveaways at an affordable price.
  • Paper Products:  Notepads, calendars, sticky notes and journals are all made in the USA and are among the most popular giveaways for home, travel and office.
  • Leather Goods:  From key tags to high-end luggage, every customer appreciates the quality of genuine leather and the appeal of American craftsmanship.
  • Caps and Hats:  Many US manufacturers offer ball caps and knit beanies, which are especially good for inventory programs that want a unique product but can’t afford long lead times.
  • T-Shirts:  Short sleeve and long sleeve tees have been made in the USA for many years, but with the increased attention on this category, there are more choices and better price points.

There are many reasons, other than avoiding tariffs, to consider buying USA-made goods for your next promotion.  Those reasons include supporting American jobs, reducing carbon footprint, and endorsing the superior human rights environment of the American worker.  When you add it all up, a USA-made product with your corporate logo sends the right message to your customer without blowing the department budget.

 

Branded Apparel With Attitude

hoodedDon’t expect your target customer audience to get excited about another shirt, hat or fleece that looks just like all the others in their closets.  Appreciative, yes – excited, no.  But with a little extra time and effort, your company can offer a clothing item that showcases your brand creativity and youthful attitude.

  • Fully customized hooded sweatshirts are a perfect cold weather item for young and old, male or female, regardless of industry.
  • Yoga leggings with custom waistband or all-over print are designed with relaxation in mind, and work well for women’s organizations, gyms or yoga studios.
  • All-over print t-shirts and jackets make a bold statement for corporate conferences, team events and trade shows.
  • Custom branded pockets on all types of t-shirts provides a single-location brand statement that pops off the garment.
  • Add subtle creative flair with a custom logo inside collar on 1/4 zip, 1/2 zip or full zip fleece.

Be bold, or remain understated – in either case the difference is clear when a custom branded apparel item stands out from the crowded field of embroidered or screen printed corporate clothing.  Showcase your brand attitude – it’s everything!

Retro With Modern Twist

wood speakerIn the era of #ThrowbackThursdays and #FlashbackFridays, retro-inspired products are more popular than ever.  The nostalgic emotion of times past triggers the happy feelings that retro products inflame.

In response, corporate marketing departments are capitalizing on this trend with branded products that resonate with that audience – and those products are created with the modern consumer in mind.  Check out a few of the more popular merchandise trends below.

  • Classic radio styles equipped with bluetooth capability
  • Metal coolers with retro design and modern stay-cold features
  • Full color metal lunchboxes
  • Playing cards with custom fronts and backs
  • Customized board games like Scrabble and Monopoly featuring corporate graphics and messages
  • Coffee mugs; bottle openers; and coasters that look like vinyl records
  • Hoodie sweatshirts, sweatpants and skater-style sneakers are even making a resurgence

There is a wide range of products that reflect the retro craze without sacrificing the present-day features we have all come to expect.  Consider retro with a modern twist for your next promotion – those items are having a moment.

Respect The Brand

2461_Carolina_Blue_lifeThe way that you dress can earn you, and your brand, respect.  At corporate events like trade shows and industry conferences – or even in the office on a Friday afternoon – it’s important to dress professionally so others know you mean business.

Business casual attire is well-accepted but it can be tempting to take the idea of “casual” too far.  It should be less formal than traditional business-wear, but still provide a professional appearance.  Keeping that in mind, disheveled t-shirts, cargo shorts and flip-flops should be left at home for the weekend hang-time.

Depending on the industry and age of the employees, appropriate business attire can mean polos or button-downs, paired with pants for men, and pants or skirts for women.  On occasion well-constructed jeans are acceptable, but not the ones with holes and fraying hems.  Even though in today’s fashion world consumers pay a premium for a pair of designer ripped jeans, it’s still not the right image for someone representing most corporate brands.

Consistent brand identity, which in turn increases brand loyalty, relies on maintaining a dependable dress code for every corporate event.  Consumers come to depend on a recognizable corporate image that commands their respect.  That respect becomes trust – and trust grows into loyalty.

If you respect your brand with appropriate attire, so will your customers.

Sun Protection Can Be Stylish

rash guardThere are lots of opportunities for corporate outings in the summer – ball games, charity runs, community events and employee picnics to name a few.  And in addition to the company affairs, employees and customers are spending time at the beach or pool; enjoying golf, tennis or fishing; and just hanging in the yard or at the park with the family.  All of this time in the sun gives every company the perfect opportunity to increase brand visibility with stylish gear meant to protect their audience from those harmful rays.

Consider a few of the most popular items on the market today.

  • Rash Guards:  Originally designed for surfers, these fast-drying lightweight shirts offer UV protection and warmth, and are available in both long sleeve and short sleeve styles in a wide variety of colors.
  • Sun Hats:  Move beyond the standard ball cap, and embrace sun hats in any of the many fashion-forward styles like booney hats, bucket hats and fedoras.
  • Board Shorts:  Offered with or without side pockets, board shorts come in different lengths and colors, and are constructed of moisture wicking, fast drying fabric.
  • Hiking/Boating/Fishing Shirts:  Vented backs, long or short sleeves and multiple pockets offer necessary features on a shirt that is also made with fabric that packs light, dries fast and provides UV sun protection.
  • Sunglasses:  There are classically cool styles and modern fashionable designs, but everyone needs a pair of sunglasses for protection from the sun, wind and dust … not to mention the fun of having different eyewear for different activities and outfits.
  • Cooling Towels:  Simply soak the towel in water, wring it out, snap it a few times, and voila!  a cool refreshing towel to get reinvigorated on a hot day.

All of these items can be branded with corporate logos, which means there are multiple opportunities to increase brand awareness this summer.  Give a stylish stay-cool item as your next giveaway to keep those rays at bay.