Brands Can Rise Above The Ordinary

mini droneUnmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, have been around for about a century.  Originally developed for the military, development of UAV technology has allowed commercial drones to become cheaper, lighter, and more sophisticated.   And with those advances, drones are now delivering your packages, taking photos, and helping brand marketers get their audience excited.

Drones combine fun, practicality and brand awareness in one product.  It’s not a big leap to envision the positive brand impact it would have on trade show attendees watching a flying mini drone demonstration at your booth while waiting to take a turn with their own mini UAV, and then providing their contact information for a chance to win a full-size recreational drone after the show.   Outdoor community events and employee team-building meetings would benefit from the same brand engagement exercises.  Think of it as taking experiential marketing to new heights!

According to one industry report,  consumer drone sales are set to surge in the next five years, with global annual unit sales increasing more than tenfold from 2015 to 2021.  Companies looking to rise above the ordinary by capitalizing on the popularity of this growing consumer trend should consider including branded drones in their 2018 marketing tool box.

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Bespoke Promotional Merchandise

Original-Stamp-PNGWhen one thinks of the word bespoke, it’s a sure bet there are few who would associate promotional merchandise with that very-British term.  According to the Merriam-Webster definition, bespoke means “custom-made”.  And, although we generally associate that term with tailor-made suits for affluent gentlemen, it is also commonly used when referring to anything that is made-to-order … from furniture to a traveler’s hotel design experience.

In that light, for companies that want to create an unforgettable product giveaway that will be completely unique and built to represent their exclusive brand, a custom-made promotional product is the perfect solution.  The John Deere toy tractors, Aflac plush duck and the many different original-design Starbucks coffee cups are prime examples of companies growing and extending their brand visibility with original products that are used every day.

A few examples of common items that can be custom-designed:

  • Flash Drives:  Custom cases designed to duplicate a logo shape or company mascot
  • Sunglasses:  Frames using custom corporate PMS colors and/or custom graphics
  • Packing Cubes:  Custom color fabric and zipper; custom shape and size
  • Toys:  Small-scaled vehicles that duplicate the company truck, van or car
  • Socks, Hats, Headbands:  Full color, all-over print designs using custom colors and graphics

Higher minimum order quantities and longer overseas lead times are common – although there are a growing number of USA manufacturers that offer custom product production and shorter lead times.  On the positive side, the pricing is generally more attractive and the custom options are endless.

In many cases, promotional products ordered for a new product launch or the multiple trade shows during that busy time of year are purchased in quantities that meet those order minimums, and at prices that are at, or above, the cost of a custom-made item.  So the only remaining potential roadblock between you and a completely custom promotional product is timing.

With the new year approaching, it’s time to look ahead three to four months, and decide to incorporate at least one bespoke promotional product into your stash of brand swag.  It’s a proven way to showcase your company creativity and engage your target audience.

 

 

Thank You Is Not Enough

thank-youCustomers are the single reason any company exists.  Brands are built on appealing to those customers with consistent messaging, quality products and exceptional service.  So how do companies show their appreciation for customer loyalty in a way that resonates with their audience?  It should start with a sincere “thank you”, but that’s not where it should end.

Customer appreciation comes in many forms.  A quality product that won’t break or function poorly after the first time it’s used; first-rate service that handles difficult problems with as much grace and efficiency as it takes to process a simple order; or a spot-on gift that shows a keen understanding of the audience.

Those gifts can range from fun swag, to high end executive level offerings, or contributions to a favorite charity in the name of the customer.  In any case, the gift should represent a genuine show of thanks, and a discerning grasp of what matters to the recipient.

There’s no right or wrong way to show appreciation for your customers — as long as they see and value the gesture.  Thank you is where it starts.  Year-long attention to quality products and extraordinary service is how it should carry forward.

 

 

How Sweet It Is

candyThe holidays are a time of both nostalgia and looking ahead to a new year.  Combining longstanding favorite candy treats with creative branded packaging would be a sweet trade show giveaway, reception gift or appreciation token.

According to the National Confectioners Association (NCA), 85 percent of Americans say they will likely give someone the gift of sweet treats this holiday season.  And their favorite treat?  The NCA surveys indicate three out of four Americans say the traditional peppermint flavor candy cane is their favorite candy cane variety.  Beyond the classic candy cane, 36 percent of Americans prefer to find foil-wrapped chocolates included as part of a holiday gift.  Gummy bears, jelly beans and chocolate covered pretzels are also popular choices.

Corporate marketers don’t need to worry about size, age, gender, or religion.  Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or winter solstice, giving candy during the holidays is a tradition that everyone can agree on.

 

Ugly Sweaters – Beautiful Branding

ugly christ sweaterWhat 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

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)