Your Brand Guidelines, Empowered with Promotional Products
Reinforcing the value of your brand in your promotional products is a given. Promotional products have a way of tangibly telling your story and sticking around like no other form of advertising. But, that doesn’t mean you are bound by your guidelines. Your guidelines are there to support and help you evaluate, but they are meant to be a living, breathing document of your organization’s look, feel, message and standard. So how can you push the needle in your marketing campaign, but stay within your business’ parameters to maintain integrity and consistency?
Start with the Messaging
Perhaps it’s because of the success of “Content is King,” but for most brands their messaging has the most freedom. It is well recognized and understood that messaging has to be nimble and adjust rapidly to the audience, the environment it lives in, the character limits, etc. So when a brand puts together their guidelines, many leave messaging directives off completely. Even if your brand didn’t leave messaging off though, there are still opportunities to toe the line and make a great promotional product message.
Say it again, Sam
Pull out current (and maybe some old) creative pieces and start looking at the headlines. Is there something that can be reused from a flyer that would have an entirely different meaning on a T-shirt?
Or maybe it is the older pieces that can be leveraged and create a nostalgic message. This can be really fun if you find materials from brand and product launches. The launch of a new item is an exciting time, and a lot of investment was made to promote it to the masses. Those messages deserve to be dusted off and re-used and can reinvigorate a campaign in a whole new way.
De-jargonize Your Copy
In any industry you will find a series of terms that every industry professional knows and (ab)uses daily. And sometimes that works really well in your marketing materials. It’s something your audience can relate to, understand and they just get it. But, what if you flip the jargon on its head? It’ll stand out from the rest. Hearing the same thing day in and day out can bring some comfort, but putting a subtle spin on it can make it pop.
In the healthcare industry we always talk about health & wellness. But, as shown in these kits at TED Conference 2017, they took what so many organizations use and gave it a cheeky spin that is really catchy.
Rethink Your Brand Colors
Brand colors are almost always nailed down to a tee in brand guidelines. Typically guides include the RGB, CMYK, PMS and hex color codes for brands. This way there is no question at all what the right shade is. But when it comes to promotional products, this is one thing that could be tinkered with – with the appropriate team members’ agreement. For one thing, while many products come in a wide variety of colors to ensure they meet your PMS or through customization you can create exactly the right shade, some items make sense in subdued hues, or leveraging tone-on-tone item color + decoration color.
This can be especially true for apparel. If your brand uses bold colors, getting all apparel items in your exact PMS may be too much for all of your employees to wear. Consider things like hair color, undertones in skin pigments, the type of fabric and much more. Offering a variety of options in different shades may result in a larger number of people willing and interested in wearing your branded merchandise than one standard item that clashes or negatively accentuates a feature.
De-decorate Your Products
This may sound like the antithesis of everything we tell you. And we aren’t saying you have to keep the item completely blank, although there are opportunities and reasons to do that. But, what we do suggest is reconsidering how you approach branding the item.
If your product and experience with the recipient is strong enough, they’ll recall where they received it, and they’ll be more likely to tell people the story. And that says a lot.
Try it without the artwork
You may be thinking, “but what about all the other impressions promotional products bring?” You aren’t sending everyone out as your brand billboard anymore, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You can still feature a subtle logo if it really feels necessary (we’ll touch on this in a moment). But also consider the item, if it’s a standout item it’s probably going to generate attention from passersby and may result in a conversation like, “Wow! I love your bag. Where did you get it?” Their answer will be YOU. Which is exactly what you wanted in the first place.
Subtlety Speaks Volumes
Back to the point of having “light” decoration, you can still place your logo on an item and make it not feel like it’s a billboard. Tone-on-tone decoration is a great way to treat an item and give subtle hints to your brand. Consider using an icon to represent your brand without your name, or a placement that is only seen when someone moves their arm, or is hidden by hair. Sometimes that flash of something is more eye-catching than the center-of-the-chest placement.
Hit the Road with these Street Smarts
In the end, your promotional products are an extension of your brand and your story. There may be rules you need to adhere to, but there are a lot of opportunities to flex your marketing powers and make the items you are branding fit trends, your audiences, the occasion and more. Talk to your Staples representative or visit StaplesPromotionalProducts.com today to get started.
This article is part of a series titled Promo Buyer 101. This series is perfect for anyone who is just starting to buy promotional products for their organization, or is a veteran buyer but is looking for tips and ideas for branded merchandise needs. Check out the other articles in the series and be sure to share with your colleagues.