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.

Advertisements

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)

 

 

 

Get Charged Up!

iBar_ChartsMobile phones, tablets, MP3 players – in our personal and business lives, much of our time is spent on-the-go, connecting with others through our battery charged devices.  They give us the ability to work from the car, listen to music while mowing the lawn and talk to family members on the way to catching the next flight.  So when considering end-of-year corporate gifts, a perfect gender-neutral option that everyone can use would be a portable battery pack for all those devices that keep  us linked to rest of our world.

Mobile chargers come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes.  Some offer LED lights, others come equipped with dual USB ports – but all are built to offer convenience, practical effectiveness and size-appropriate dimensions to accommodate the pocket on a tight pair of a college students jeans or the jacket of the CEO’s business suit.   These devices are designed to appeal not just to the tech-savvy consumer, but more to the mainstream users of all sorts of mobile tools.

Considering their universal appeal, it makes sense that any customer would be pleased to receive a branded mobile charger, but what does the corporate giver get in return?

  • Logo Visibility:  the imprint area is usually generous, which gives the corporate logo a high profile
  • Brand Identity:  every time the user plugs in, the corporate brand will be reinforced
  • Positive Brand Association:  giving gifts that reflect the current trends shows corporate awareness of customer habits and lifestyle
  • Customer Loyalty:  customers support the brands that offer products and services that appeal to their emotions as well as servicing their needs
  • Increased Sales:  positive brand identity + expanding customer loyalty = increased sales

This holiday season, consider giving a gift that will get your customers charged up!

(Image via Idol Memory)

Earth Day Is April 22 – Show Your Commitment

  • eco bagCommitting to a business strategy that supports a cleaner environment is not so much an option, as a business imperative, according to Corporate EcoForm Chair P.J. Simmons.  Some firms have invested in building practices that win them LEED (Leadership in Energy and Enviornmental Design) certification, while others have enlisted sustainability practices that affect every operational business process from information technology to product design, and even into areas like accounting and marketing.
  • To build on current practices, or even to begin moving in that direction, there are thousands of eco consious products available for logo branding that will demonstrate not only your awareness, but your corporate commitment to the environment.  And Earth Day is a perfect time to roll out that message of eco-awareness to your customers with a product that is useful, attractive and appropriately planet-friendly.  Consider some of these options:

Under $20.00

  • Cotton tote made from 100% recycled material
  • Umbrella made from 51% recycled material
  • Polos and t-shirts made from organic and recycled material

Under $10

  • Flash drive made from bamboo or recycled paper
  • Car charging flashlight
  • Messenger bag or duffel made from 100% recycled material

Under $5.00

  • Plastic bag recycler made from 100% cotton
  • Insulated grocery tote made from recycled non-woven material
  • Journal made from 100% recycled paper

Under $1.00

  • Eco pen made from recycled paper, bamboo or biodegradable plastic
  • Koozie beverage holder made from recycled foam
  • Magnet made from 100% recycled material

There’s a growing demand for recycled products, intensified regulations and even increased investor pressures to demonstrate sustainable practices.  Build your brand identity, and support a cause that makes business sense, with products that represent today’s reality of the need to reuse, recycle and reduce.

Product Safety And Sustainability

gogglesSafety and sustainability will continue to grow in importance when considering promotional product options,  and an argument can be made that these issues should carry as much significance for the buyers as the merchandise budget.  Promotional product vendor partners have an obligation to proactively address the issues of safety and compliance before presenting product options for client consideration – and at the same time should continue to promote products and practices that support environmental stewardship.

To help with the issue of product safety, the promotional products industry can look to the Quality Certification Alliance (QCA), “… an independent, accreditation organization whose mission is to elevate the standards by which industry firms that import and/or manufacture promotional products provide consistently safe, high-quality, socially compliant and environmentally conscientious merchandise.”  Recalls and product safety issues could damage the brand image, and worse, potentially harm the recipient.  Knowing and supporting the product suppliers that comply with established safety standards is a best practice that will protect both the company brand and the customer.

Regarding the growing demand for more earth-friendly products, there are many ways for the promotional product vendor, and corporate customer, to do more while maintaining its focus on strengthening the brand identity.  Reducing energy consumption and recycling paper in the office are always a good place to start.  But it’s not difficult to go further by using branded products made from recycled materials, requesting biodegradable eco-friendly packaging materials, and finding printers that use water and soy based inks for screenprinting.  In some cases, the cost may be a bit higher, but the long-term gains in a healthier planet, as well as the appreciation from the educated, eco-conscious consumer, will pay dividends that may not have been considered.

Safety and sustainability are easy issues to support during a casual conversation or in a well-drafted mission statement.  But as more consumers begin to question the impact of corporate give-aways on their planet and in their homes, it may be time to incorporate that discussion during the next meeting with your promotional products provider.