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.


Seeing Red

img_pantone_color_of_the_year_2015_press_releaseNew Jersey-based color systems firm Pantone has announced that Marsala – an earthy shade of red – is its color of the year for 2015.  “Marsala enriches our mind, body and soul, exuding confidence and stability … it’s red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness,” said Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of Pantone.   Where that may be breaking news for the fashion world, a corporate marketer may want to know how it could, or should, affect branding strategy.

Consider the upcoming trade show season.  The team apparel for the associates managing the booth doesn’t always need to reflect the corporate logo color, as much as it does the spirit of the team.  The logo decoration on the shirt or jacket will take care of the branding.  The color and style of the clothing should demonstrate how you want the brand ambassadors, and thus the brand itself, to be perceived.  The new color is likely to be used in fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors.  Since your customers are seeing it in the retail marketplace, they will recognize that your team, and your company, understand today’s trends and consumer preferences.  When discussing your own products and services, that subtle message can be helpful.

In addition to shirts and jackets, other accessory items could be used to add a contemporary flair to corporate giveaways.  Hats, bags and wearable technology items are products that should be considered in this popular color choice.

One thing to consider, however, when looking for promotional merchandise in colors other than the standard corporate blues, blacks, reds and greens, is the ability of product suppliers to match a PMS color for an all-over or accent-color imprint.  Not all product suppliers have this capability, and not all products lend themselves to this type of decoration, but sometimes “close” is good enough to give you the up-to-date effect you’re looking for.

It is undisputed that your customers expect to see familiar colors with your logo branding.  But when there’s an opportunity to add a little “punch” to the branding message, consider the color that your audience will be seeing in retail, and likely bringing to their own homes.  Marsala – like the wine!



Designed To Stand Out

BackStrap-Black-PhoneEvery brand should have a twist in order to be heard over all the other brand noise in the marketplace.  Whether it’s with a catchy advertising jingle that you can’t get out of your head; a fun-loving quirky spokesperson, like Progressive’s hugely popular “Flo”; or high-design merchandise like the Apple products, companies looking to appeal to their audience on an emotional level should always be looking for that edge.

Fortunately, when it comes to distributing branded giveaways, stand-out designs don’t always mean expensive price tags.  Furthermore, product designs that get noticed for one company aren’t necessarily the same types of products that a different audience would appreciate.  As always, when choosing a great item for your next promotional gift, consider the audience and the brand message you want to convey, with a design that is fresh and a cost that makes sense for your budget.

I’ve provided a few examples of practical products that also offer creative design elements.   And, of course, all items have room for a logo imprint.

  • Phone or tablet backstrap:  Provides protection from surface scratches while giving you a place to hold cards or documents.
  • Silicone speaker amplifier:  Boosts sound on a smart phone up to 200% without external power source while holding the phone for easy media viewing.
  • Wireless activity tracker:  Count steps, calories, nutrition and sleep with a wrist device or less-expensive clip-on unit.
  • Custom notebooks:  Build a notebook with a custom cutout shape, insert pages, clip-in bookmark, usb pocket or dozens of other custom options.
  • Performance fabric t-shirt:  Moisture wicking, anti-odor technology changes the game for the next tee giveaway.

Great product design comes in all shapes, colors and sizes.  Those products stand out because the designs are fresh while their intended use still makes sense for the recipient.  It takes a little more time to be creative, but it’s worth the effort when your customers takes notice!


The Power Of The Paw

paw printThere’s an emotional bond between pets and their owners, and it’s that bond that drives over $55 billion in sales of pet-related products.  Nine in ten pet owners see their pet as part of the family, and according to the American Pet Products Association today more than 62% of Americans own pets.  Companies within the pet industry as well as those in non-pet industries are paying attention to this data and are seeing a big opportunity for their brands.  Charitable walks, hotels and resorts, car brands and car rental companies, and even software developers are some of the industries that purchase pet-related branded products to enhance their marketing efforts.

Today’s pets travel and exercise with us, have their own social-media accounts, require stimulating day care, eat organic food, and nap on luxury fabrics.  To reach those pampering pet owners, marketers need to connect their brand to activities people do with their pets.  There are many ways to do this and lots of products to support those efforts. Below are a few ideas:

  1. Sponsor a community event that is aimed at animal welfare, such as the popular Bark in the Park and Yappy Hour events.
  2. Distribute branded giveaways aimed at pets:  dog treats at a drive-up window; dog-safe flyers at the company picnic; light-up waste bag dispenser in a safety program; or pet emergency decals as part of the wellness program packet.
  3. Companies that cater to the travel industry (hotels, car rental agencies, airlines), and want to connect with the people who travel with their pets, should pay attention to the pet amenities with gift bags that include useful animal care items like a collapsible water bowl or pet-paw soft wipes.

It may be the unquestioning loyalty owners get from their pets, or possibly the health benefits of lower stress and anxiety that come with pet ownership, but whatever the reason, trends show that pets are one of the most meaningful ways to engage consumers.  So consider the power of the paw when your team is brainstorming the next new marketing approach.






The Power Of Bags

ultimate2In a recent study, the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) conducted a national survey of end buyers to determine the effectiveness of promotional products versus other advertising media, and the results highlighted the effectiveness of bags as an advertising vehicle.   Besides what we see at the retail stores, eco alternatives are increasingly used to replace paper or plastic on our grocery runs; trade show attendees often receive a lightweight bag at registration to carry all the literature and giveaways; and even the humble brown paper lunch bag and upscale wine bottle totes have gotten bag makeovers.  How do all these bags give corporate marketing departments better brand power?   See below for the highlights of that ASI study:

  • Bags were reported to be one of the most frequently-used promotional products, nearly 6 times per month – even more than shirts or caps.
  • Bags made the highest number of marketing “impressions” during their use, approximately 1,084 per month. This was more than twice the number for caps or writing instruments, and 3 times number of impressions made by shirts.
  • Even more remarkable, bags were kept a long time, nearly 7 months. That’s more than 7,200 marketing impacts over the life of the bag!
  • 88% said their reason for keeping a bag was because it was considered “useful”. The second most cited reason was its “attractiveness”.
  • 82% of recipients said they could clearly identify the advertiser who gave them the bag and 45% said they now had a “more favorable” impression of the advertiser. Best of all, 59% reported doing business with the advertiser after receiving the bag!
  • The overall “cost-per-impression” for bags averages only $0.001. That’s less expensive than traditional media such as prime time TV ($0.018), cable TV ($0.005) or national magazines ($0.045). When measured against other promotional product categories, bags scored equally as well. Bags have a lower cost-per-impression than calendars ($0.003), drinkware ($0.004), shirts ($0.005) and business accessories ($0.008).

Bags are extremely effective marketing and branding vehicles, giving companies a better return on their investment.  Few promotional products are more powerful, so consider one of the thousands of different bag styles when looking at options for your next branded giveaway.

(Image and data courtesy of Bag Makers)  

Trade Show Checklist

trade-show-crowdd1January signals the start of the 2013 trade show season.  The time when every company takes stock of the success of the shows from the previous year, and moves forward with a fresh perspective and  renewed energy for marketing their business. Some companies have a dedicated trade show associate who is famililar with the routine and has the execution of details down to a fine science.  For the rest of the corporate world, a trade show checklist can be a helpful tool when the task falls to one or two willing individuals who stayed in the room just long enough to be “volunteered” for this sometimes daunting assignment.

  1. Fill out and submit application. This provides the opportunity to submit payment and secure booth space.  Tip:  best booth space is at a high traffic location that limits congestion (no exits, entrances or restrooms)
  2. Confirm exhibitor services & accessories.  Carpet, table, chairs, curtains, electrical, wi-fi, audio-visual, telephone, housekeeping, lighting and security.  Tip:  most trade show organizers will include this information in the exhibitor packet, but it is always prudent to check everything against your own internal list.
  3. Prepare booth.  The construction, layout and graphics of the booth should allow easy display of all product, with creative methods of highlighting new merchandise or services.  Tip:  the money saved on a smaller booth space or fewer shows could be well spent on better display graphics to maximize the experience for the customer
  4. Order promotional materials.  Advertising, print material, product give-aways, pre-show mailings, and customer hospitality items.  Tip:  allow for a minimum of three to four weeks lead time for delivery of custom branded products
  5. Make reservations for booth staff.  Airlines, hotels, ground transportation and dinner reservations should be made as far in advance as possible.  Tip:  respect for the comfort of the staff will pay high dividends with a positive attitude at the show
  6. Establish shipping logistics.  Arrival, labeling, storage, and return of all shipped items should be determined and confirmed with carrier and trade show manager.  Tip:  poorly labeled packages have a way of getting lost
  7. Follow up on all leads!  Do this in the first week after the show.  Confirming the possibility of a sale, or even casual interest for future consideration, will provide valuable feedback for the next trade show.  Tip:  potential customers want to hear from you, but it’s unlikely they will make the time to place the first call

Trade shows are an effective way to reach new audiences, but only if they are well executed without any embarrassing glitches.  Make a list and check it every day until the show is over and you’re back at your desk – you will be glad you did!

(Image via photopin)