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How Do You Use Your Promotional Products–Like a Shotgun or a Rifle?

I attended a very informative webcast today offered by the American Marketing Association and led by Bullpen Marketing called “The Truth About Branding with Promotional Products”. Once we got past the whole”definition of a promo product” bit (which I’ll admit lumped in quite a lot more that I would rather call branding or identity than promotional products), there was some interesting information on how to make promotional products useful again. I’m not going to cover the entire presentation here, but I would like to go over some of my takeaways.

1. Promotional products are no longer limited to dust-collecting junk.
As a matter of fact, the more useful the item is to your customer, the longer they’ll keep it and the more exposed they’ll be to your brand. Out of sight is out of mind. Consider branded hand sanitizer for clinics, doctor’s offices, and hospitals. That would probably get a lot more use than a mousepad, right? And be a lot more useful to their target customer. I mean, how many mousepads does one person need?

2. Have a plan going in.
And all that entails, from your target customer, your budget, your timeline, and your goals. That’s what will help you determine if your promotional product campaign was a success or a failure–or didn’t even cause a ripple. Knowing that will give you and your marketing team a starting point for improvement the next time around.

3. There’s an ROI for that.
Bullpen Marketing’s Creative Director Suzi Senna shared their formula for determining ROI on promotional products. There’s actually research that can show statistically how likely different kinds of promotional items are to be used in a month, and how often other people are likely to see your product when your customer uses it. Turns out, depending on the item, promotional products can get more impressions for your brand than the same amount spent on most other advertising media, it’s just over a longer period of time. Of course, that doesn’t mean take all of your advertising budget and pump it into promotional items! It just means that promotional items should be considered as a part of your budget–how much will depend on your business and your goals.

4. Don’t assume your customer knows what that awesome doodad is.
I can testify to this myself. I attended a conference and got the obligatory swag bag. Inside was this little block branded with the corporate logo (no other information, by the way). After fiddling with it, I eventually got the block open, and revealed a black velveteen bar. Could be a lint roller, could be a markerboard eraser. No one I’ve asked seems to know. I hold on to it more as a puzzle than anything else, and as a reminder of how ineffective promotional items can be. During the webcast, Bullpen showed examples of how they had used inserts to demonstrate how a promotional item is used, as well as give a little extra space to share your message. They offered up the case study of using a cell phone holder as a placecard holder for a luncheon, with an insert mocked up like an iphone to show how the product was meant to be used.

5. Time is money.
Just for practical purposes, the more lead time you have on your promotional product campaign, the fewer rush fees, expedited shipping charges, and costly mistakes you’ll incur. Give yourself enough time to explore your options, and most important, get proofs of your promotional items before they’re mass produced and delivered to your customers with the wrong phone number.

So are you using your promotional items like a shotgun, blasting them out there and missing more than you hit, or are you aiming your promotional campaign like a rifle, with specific, measurable goals that reinforce your brand and target your potential customers?

Packaging Blunder: It’s a joke, but it’s not that funny.

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This is seeping through Pinterest on a lot of Funny boards, but all I see is a bad design decision. Although in general I’m a fan of the Great Value brand redesign, making a food product and a cleaning chemical have such similar packaging is a definite blunder, even if you would expect them to be stored in different parts of the house. There are plenty of ways for the two to cross paths, while putting away groceries being only one of them.

What do you think?

"I almost killed my family this morning making pancakes." Packaging Goof!


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3 Reasons Why Logo Development Should Always Start in Black and White

It’s easy to get excited about the prospect of a new logo for your business. I’m guilty of it myself. But your business logo is now something that should be rushed. Done right, a logo should last up to 10 years. Some can last the entire lifespan of a company with only a few cosmetic tweaks, and we’re talking decades here! Whether you’re starting from the ground up or refreshing a brand that’s gone a little stale, every logo comp should start out in black and white, and for good reason. Three of them, actually.

Reason #1: One color logos reveal structural faultlines early in the process.
There’s an old rule of design that if a logo can work in black and white, it can work anywhere. A black and white logo can’t have low contrast areas. Overlapping letters either work or they don’t. And usually any unintended and/or inappropriate shapes are quickly apparent in black and white that may have been obscured in a full color version.

Reason #2: One color logos are less distracting during the approval process.
Science has shown color is full of psychological meaning, not to mention personal preference. A logo should be judged based on its merits as a symbol for your business. Removing color from the equation—at least in the beginning—takes some of the emotion out of the decision because you’re seeing the symbol, not the color that reminds you of your mean Aunt Martha’s couch.

Reason #3: One color logos will not go to waste.
As I’ve mentioned before, having multiple versions of your logo can help you brand consistently no matter the medium you’re advertising in. A black and white (or other single color) logo will definitely be used at some point, and the extra time spent ironing out any wrinkles from the word go will pay for itself.

If you’re thinking about getting a new logo for your business, give me a call at 405-259-2738!


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Taglines vs. Headlines

Nonia Ad Campaign

Headline Examples from Nonia

It’s understandable how these could be confused, since they’re often used interchangeably to mean different things, but to put it simply, a tagline is a short phrase used to personify a company or organization (such as Nike’s “Just Do It” or McDonalds “I’m Lovin’ It”), while a headline—at least in marketing—is usually the main idea of an advertisement (like the ad campaign above).

This article actually describes the difference really well.


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Why (Almost) Every Business Needs More than One Logo

This is a lot simpler than it sounds, and basically it all comes down to how you’re going to use your logo. Will you be printing t-shirts or embroidering hats? What about magazine and newspaper ads? (Print may be dying, but it’s not dead yet.) Will you have an online presence, like a website or social media?

Then chances are you’re going to need a lot of separate, different, and intentionally designed versions of your logo, including basic stuff like different file types and color options. We’ll start off simple.

File Type
There are two basic types of image files:
Raster files (like .jpg) cannot be made bigger without getting blurry and pixelated (although they can usually be made smaller with few hiccups).
Vector files (like .eps) can be made bigger or smaller and still look clean and smooth.

.jpg files are usually used on websites and are preferred by some printers, but the key is JPGs are created at the size they need to be—they won’t be resized later. So if your only logo file is a .jpg, you’ll definitely need a vector version.

Color
CMYK is a printing term referring to the ink colors Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black, which are combined by the printer to make all the colors in the CMYK gamut.

RGB also refers to color—Red, Green, and Blue—but these are the colors of light that blend to create all the colors perceived by the human eye. RGB color is used on electronic devices like computers and TVs.

PMS or Pantone Matching System is a standardized color matching system that allows printers to make sure colors look the same even if they’re printed on different kinds of machines in different locations. There are some PMS colors that can be reproduced in CMYK, but most are spot colors created using 15 different base pigments mixed in different amounts.

Depending on how you intend to display your logo, it can be very useful to have versions in all of these color spaces.

Orientation
Example: The Company Co. has a tall, narrow logo. The shopping center where they are located only has short, wide signage spaces available on their pylon sign and store fronts. Now The Company Co. has to choose between making their logo very small—and harder to read by passing drivers—or not using their logo at all, which would be huge waste of money and branding opportunity.

I’m not saying we should scrap all vertical logos—or horizontal signs, for that matter. It is, however, a good investment to have alternate layouts available for different spaces. Another good sample of this is social media icons. Why chop off a part of your logo to be your Twitter icon, or even worse, shrink it down to an unreadable blob, when you could have a square version created especially to be shown in tiny formats?

More On Color: Full Color, Grayscale, One Color
This is one of those areas where having multiple versions of your logo doesn’t just improve your brand, it can save you money too! This is also a place where a lot of assumptions are made and marketing is produced that usually turns out to be less effective than it could have been.

Full Color is just what it sounds like. It can also be called Four Color, referring to CMYK.  Full Color will work for most instances, but sometimes you gotta go black and white. Unfortunately, black and white isn’t as simple a it sounds.

Grayscale involves all those pesky shades of gray we usually think of when we hear black and white thanks to newspapers and television. I’ll be blunt: I have never come across a situation where a grayscale logo was more effective than a one color logo that didn’t have a poorly constructed logo at the root of the whole mess. That’s another reason why logo development should always start in black on white, but back to the topic at hand. Skip grayscale, go straight to one color.

One Color logos are about as simple as it gets. Most people assume that one color means black on white, or perhaps whit on black (you should have both, by the way) but honestly it can be any color that works with your brand, for example, a yellow one color logo printed on blue shirts.

This is where the money saving bit comes in, too. Most apparel and merchandise printing charges by the ink color, so having a logo that can be reproduced in one color can cut your printing costs wa down, and more color can be added to your products by considering the color of the surface that’s being printed on.

I know it’s a lot to keep track of. Depending on how robust your marketing plan is, it is possible to skip some of these options, but even if you only have one color and layout version of your logo, it’s very important that you use it constantly and consistently to maintain your brand image. A simple way to help you do this is to have logo guidelines—a simple list of do’s and don’ts that can be as short as a single page or give War and Peace a run for its money. Your logo guidelines keep everyone on the same page and helps keep your brand consistent.

Need some help expanding your stable of logo versions, or want to start from scratch? Drop us a line.