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Not Just Another… Beach Umbrella

It isn’t a bad problem to have, fending off the sun rather than the rain. But as December comes and falls away and we all stumble forward, probably more than a little tipsily, into the blinding sun of 2019, more than a few of us will be feeling the heat.

It’s easy to spend Christmas week cooped up inside, nursing a nice port and eating yourself into a food coma, but then it’s time to get out and let the fun of the sea and surf wash away the accumulated kgs. Or at least move the eat fest to the beach.

Either way you’re going to need a spot of shade, and with the holiday season being a time of friendship and family, you’re probably going to need a lot of the stuff. Beach umbrellas are a mainstay in the arsenal of any sun lover. The stars of postcards and boardwalks, you can’t have a beach without a beach umbrella. Easily stored, carried and large enough to keep everyone cool and relaxed.

Large but also lightweight, the Bahama Beach Umbrellas eight panel design fits all the necessary specs for safe fun in the sun. Boasting a reflective silver lining with a UPF 50+ protection, short setup time and a nifty carry case, it’s a product that’s going to get around.

With options for screen printing and digital transfer, branding is exceptionally easy. Beaches are wide open, easily accessible spaces that provide a lot of visibility and footfall. With a striking design and logo on the showerproof polyester canopy, it’ll be easy to stand out, come rain or shine.

The Principles of Design

There is logic in creative thinking and expression. Despite whether the creative or the audience is aware of it. Unconsciously we are drawn to design that follows at least one or more of the key principles of design. On the other hand, we repel, and feel like something isn’t right or is missing if none of the principles are adhered to… which may be what the designer is trying to achieve. Hence the importance of firstly knowing what your desired outcome is of any design piece.

WHAT ARE THE KEY PRINCIPLES OF DESIGN

There are six basic principles, however, some theories state there are up to 20 principles, but from research it is a further dissection/layering of one of the key principles below.  The basic principles will suffice in creating ‘good design’. The theory is that at least one of the design principles should be incorporated to achieve good design, however, all the six principles can be incorporated into the one piece.

Alignment

This helps us to create order and an invisible connection between elements. In today’s world, the number of messages that we engage in / cross our path each day, makes it essential for us to make it easy to understand quickly what it is that we want to the audience to think or do. It is a simple but effective way to creating sharp design. Interestingly, the word alignment, infers a feeling of balance and peace.

Repetition

Something that is used when you have multiple pages or pieces typically, but we can also see this principle used in one-offs. In this case, it would be for the purpose of making a very strong statement that leaves an imprint. Repetition, generally, is about creating consistency. Consistency makes people feel safe, provide clarity and helps build trust. Unless your brand is very established, playing around with the treatment of your logo for example, will only confuse your audience, whilst forgoing the opportunity of building familiarity with your brand.

Contrast

Contrast is all about emphasis. You can achieve contrast with type, colour, images, shapes, lines, etc. It’s a great tool to help guide the viewer, also playing a role in the principle of hierarchy (below). Creating strong contrast definitely helps with grabbing attention. So if you have a big message you want to get across, use contrast. You will see this principle adopted in many political movement communications.

Hierarchy

Is a means of prioritising the message order, so the design doesn’t create chaos and lose the viewer, as they are not sure what path to follow to take in the information. Our eyes, when looking at something, are looking for order of where to start and where to end. When it comes to a marketing message what is the order from the most important to least important in the eyes of the viewer: is it your logo, the message, your website, the visual, the contact details, etc? It’s crucial that we think from the viewer’s perspective. This has created many interesting conversations between creatives and clients on the percentage of space given to a logo!! Currently the trend of minimisation is impacting how and where and if we position various components… and leaving us to ask the question… do we actually need them at all?

Balance

It is what it says. You can achieve this in two ways: symmetrical, when the weight is evenly distributed (ie, two equal halves) and asymmetrical, through using contrast (eg, dark and light). Keep in mind what you are trying to achieve and whether this design principle is applicable.

Colour  – Is not a key principle, per se, but we think it’s worth including.

A game changing principle to any design piece. The key is to know how far you can take colour and when to pull it back. In most design courses, colour is the last thing you get to play with so you can focus on learning to leverage the effectiveness of all other principles. A good discipline to establish. Work on the order first and then play with colour. There are millions of colours, each every one tells a story. So think about the story you are creating with the colours you are using. If you are looking for inspiration, look to nature. There is a magic in natural that achieves colour combinations that we might not ordinarily be able to achieve.

WHAT ROLE DOES THIS PLAY WHEN IT COMES TO PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS?

In 1919, founder of Bauhaus (An art school in Germany), Walter Gropius had the idea that design should meet the needs of society. (source:https://www.reference.com/art-literature/bauhaus-design-adc78199c0f8726d).

This thinking is still relevant today. Before we step into designing any promotional piece, we must try to understand how it will meet the needs of the user/audience. The more aligned we are with this, the more value the audience will place on the item. So staying close to what’s trending is important to ensuring your brand/business stays relevant. A well thought through promotional product clearly denotes your relevance in the market … an image speaks a thousand words. Doing something for the sake of doing it, without the thinking, will come through and may devalue your brand in its market.  

What we are seeing now is how, what were once considered promotional products, have become a merchandise range, for companies like VB and Tiffany’s. It has become a means of leveraging their engagement across new channels and new audiences. In itself, it is/has become a marketing medium that the consumer is paying for. For the reason that the brand value has been well established. VB has engaged fashion designers to create their new range of apparel line – which is a big step forward.

Before you go straight to the ‘promotional product’ consider the following:

  1. Start with your customer
  2. Research what is trending in the industry and consumer market
  3. Be clear about what you are trying to achieve
  4. Consider some concepts
  5. Think about the message and the relevance.
  6. When you go into design, apply two or more of the design principles listed above.

GREAT DESIGN ADDS VALUE

At first you may not being able to assign a monetary value to great design, however if it’s having an impact on perception, then this is the beginning of a new era for your brand, business and you. You, is in reference to how you think and feel about your brand. That it is worthy of the investment, that the customers are also worthy, that the alignment with your desired brand positioning (if your current one doesn’t cut it) is crucial to continuing to build ‘perceived value’. And perceived value, at the end of the day, is a ‘real value’. Sometimes our biggest challenge is knowing our true value!!!

Not Just Another… Pair of Socks

Socks have become kind of a low-key way to inject a splash of colour and personality into business dress. They’re easy to cover up and easy to unveil. Take a seat at a boardroom table, and with a flick of your leg you can unveil a polka-dot print amidst your otherwise standard formal attire. Socks, as mundane as they once seemed, are now something of a statement.

Where there’s a statement to be made there is power. So ask yourself, what do your socks say about you? That’s the ethos behind companies like Swanky Socks, (https://www.swankysocks.com/about-swanky-socks/) who have sought to bring a variety of striking designs to your tootsies. They’ve done so rather successfully, with their brand now featured in over 250 retail stores. The key to their success might be the sliding range of their products, from the loud and colourful to the more subdued and sedate. With each design though, they still retain a consistently eye-catching style, so you can choose the volume of your statement.

There’s an untapped potential in branding socks. Many see it as just one part of a great whole. Nike socks are just there to compliment a set of Nike training trousers and a crew neck. Socks though have the unique ability to infiltrate any and all settings. Sports socks, business socks, lounge socks, it doesn’t matter. There’s always socks.

By producing branded socks you can make introduce your image to a vast array of settings and markets. What’s more, people often forget they’re wearing them. Wearing an emblazoned t-shirt or decorated jacket is something that you’re always aware of. If say you intend to produce some as promotional materials to give away, you’ll potentially see a much higher adoption rate than with a big and bold company t-shirt.

Socks aren’t always in the forefront of the mind but they’re always present. They wear out quickly but they’re quick and easy to produce, and always in demand. Everybody needs socks, and they need them often. Make your brand part of that need.

When did Halloween become a thing in Australia?

Halloween’s a weird one, both in concept and history. A holiday that reflects pagan sensibilities, of Welsh and Iris h origin, under the guise of a Christian holiday. Today it doesn’t have much to do with honouring saints or praying for the dead, and has instead taken on a face that more significantly reflects hallmarks of contemporary American culture. Spooks, scares and sweets all wrapped up in enormous orange marketing efforts. When and why then did it make its way down under? It doesn’t seem a very good fit.

There’s something decidedly Autumnal about Halloween. A celebration of harvest time and getting comfy against the coming cold. It’s wrapped up in oranges and auburns, with pumpkin’s flooding the streets (and every product imaginable https://www.eater.com/2017/9/26/16330438/pumpkin-spice-food-pop-tarts-kit-kats-milanos-jello). With it coming at a time when we here in Australia are breaking out the eskies and barbies again, there’s an understandable dissonance.

The Australian kick back against halloween is, however, perhaps more to do with its commercialisation and a particularly American form of commercialism at that. The holiday itself, as aforementioned, has little to actually do with Australian culture and has only taken its first stumbling steps into the Australian national consciousness in the last few years. Its popularity has grown particularly amongst younger generations, due to the influx of American media through the internet and television. Deakin Business School researcher and consumer behaviour expert Dr Paul Harrison (http://this.deakin.edu.au/society/should-we-really-be-celebrating-halloween-in-australia) has charted the close association between American big business and Halloween’s present day incarnation. America is responsible for producing a vast amount of the world’s sweets. Confectionary giants like Mars, Inc. hold a massive place in contemporary culture and have everything to gain from any and all foreign markets embracing a holiday devoted to the celebration of all that is sweet and sugary.

Harrison believes this is where disgruntled Australians should focus their aggravations, on the commercial side of things rather than the holiday itself. Harrison suggests that, as Australia has done with so many other cultural traditions in the past, the country should be open to the holiday. Halloween is not merely a product of America, but something celebrated the world over; by differing people in differing ways.

Business is at the heart of Halloween and is the biggest player in its expanding popularity. Perhaps the key to Australia coming to terms with Halloween is in acceptance and adaptation. It seems unlikely the practice is going away any time soon. It’s time to put that distinctive Aussie spin on an old, and already amorphous tradition. In both business and practice.

Not Just Another… Pair of Flip Flops

Flip flops, thongs, jandals or as they’re known (somewhat bizarrely) in South Africa, slops. The cooler more casual sibling of the sandal, there’s few summer footwear options more versatile or fashionable.

It’s a design that doesn’t really need reinvention. At least in the form factor. They’ve followed a consistent design since their inception in Ancient Japan and Egypt. So even today, in your cheap and cheerful thongs, you can follow Pharoah Chic and Samurai style.

They can be made to last a few weeks or a few years depending on the materials. Though I must admit a friend of mine had a pair that cost $2 that survived a four month trip around Asia with nary a scratch or tear.

We can offer highly customisable flip flops that can be manufactured in no time at all without sacrificing style. With a robust sole that’s designed specifically for high definition, full colour printing, you can keep your range varied.

Flip flops are popular with all ages, from toddlers to teens and far beyond, their versatility makes them an invaluable summer accessory. With a variety of printing options, simple and complex designs alike are readily available. For the discerning patron on race day looking for a simple solid colour pair to change into when the heels get to be too much, right down to the hyperactive ten year old who wants their favourite superhero emblazoned on their summer shoes. There’s something for everyone.  

Your Brand & Christmas – Let’s Create Some Magic!

There is a lot of talk about seasonal and event specific marketing tie ins. With Christmas now rapidly approaching, it’s time to hone in on what is undeniably the biggest seasonal market of the year. Looking at how to latch onto this opportunity and make it work for your brands.

Unlike some other seasonal events and holidays (birthdays, easter, halloween), Christmas is unique in that pretty much any and all brands can play at utilising the period in their advertising. Part of that comes from the ubiquity of the holiday, and its ties to gift giving and money spending. From NRMA to Australia Post, brands and services of all shapes and sizes find ways to tap into the festive cheer.

The key at Christmas then, is standing out from the crowd. With so much of Christmas focusing on buying and gift giving, so many advertisements focus on deals and cost cutting. Pounding consumers with images of big yellow labels and low prices and sales. It’s nauseating and only really works for large scale retailers and companies dealing in a wide variety of products. The types of companies that will see a large footfall regardless and are really only trying to syphon consumers away from very similar, competing stores.

When working with a more concise brand, you’ve got to get creative. Being unique is always important in advertising, and particularly around Christmas being memorable can be more important than actually advertising the product in any meaningful way. Looking at NRMA and Australia Post advertisements, the ties between the service on offer and Christmas itself are loose. The main focus is on tying specific festive imagery and aesthetics and playing on the associated emotions, to the brand itself. These advertisements come across more like a Christmas card from the company, rather than a sales pitch. Christmas is about closeness, familiarity and comfort. The most successful brands tap into these emotions by being approachable and marketing with humility. As mentioned in the article a few weeks back, Coke perfected this. Despite having a product that has almost nothing to do with Christmas, their advertising absolutely nailed the sensibilities and cultural hallmarks of the holiday.

Another effective theme of Christmas advertising is one of summary. Christmas marks the end of the year, a holiday that gives you time to look back on the last 12 months. It’s why so many brands focus on a timeless aesthetic, or one that calls back to the most distinctive events of the year, as well as tapping into the current cultural and social climate. At the end of the year people take stock of what’s happened to them, of what’s important and where they’re going. People are more aware than ever to the current state of things and if you can make that work for your brand, you’ll be reaching people on a whole other level.

Recently, Australian advertisers have moved further towards embracing what makes Christmas so different down under. Embracing the distinctly Australian. The humour, the geography, the cultural. The inherent silliness in celebrating a very winter-centric European holiday at the height of summer. So much of Christmas’ cultural short hand is wrapped up in our European roots. It’s time to change that.

Christmas is the time of giving, sharing and coming together. Branding is effective when it strays away from the obviously cynical and commercial, and looks at what makes Christmas…well…Christmas. Find what it means to your audience, to you and your brand and make a holy trinity of the three.

Not Just Another… Pair of Sunglasses

Here in Australia we’ve got a special need for sunglasses. Long summers characterised by surf, beaches and barbies are staples of the Australian way of life. We have some of the highest and most consistent temperatures on earth and we’ve also got a great big hole in the ozone layer above us. Sunglasses have become a very stylish necessity.

Designs and products are very often referred to as ‘classic and timeless’, in the case of sunglasses this is actually closer to the truth than most. The earliest recorded examples of sunglasses date back to the classical period. Everybody’s favourite matricidal pyromaniac, Nero, watched the gladiatorial battles of ancient Rome through a pair of polished lenses. Whilst across in China, judges used smoky quartz glasses to hide their expressions in court. These early adopters were certainly innovators, but this eyewear of old did little to protect against anything other than glare.

Sunglasses have cropped up in the centuries since. Yellow tinted lenses were prescribed in the 18th and 19th centuries to treat syphilis, due to the disease causing light sensitivity. The modern form and usage of sunglasses however, didn’t really hit its stride until movie stars started framing their faces in the early 20th century and they didn’t go truly mainstream until Sam Foster found a market for cheap, mass-produced lenses in the 1920s. Ray-Ban hit the scene in the early 30s, and once a Life magazine piece sang this new fashions praises in 1938, people began scooping them up in droves.

Styles and shapes have drifted in and out of fashion over the course of the 20th century, but a great many of the first forms have stood the test of time. The Wayfarer remains an immensely popular style and is virtually unchanged since its 1956 debut. Ray-ban has remained a front runner in the field, and many of their original designs have endured. The eyewear of JFK and Buddy Holly can be seen today on Beckham and Pitt.

With time has come affordability, and today you can scoop up a pair of sturdy and effective shades for an astoundingly low price. Design patents on these timeless styles have long since expired and the market for competitively priced sunglasses has never been stronger. What’s more, it’s still a great area for experimentation and putting a twist on an old classic, as our partners are doing today. When it comes to sunnies, you can’t really go wrong.

Can Promotion Products Build Trust?

What value do you place on trust? And can you place a value on trust?

Well if you are AMP the value is very clear. Since the Royal Commission came about, the share price has dropped more than 70% – from $14 to $3.50.

In a recent survey on Australia’s most trusted brands, Aldi and Bunnings won the race. A bit of surprise for Australians to trust a non-Australian brand like Aldi, more than they trust their own.
This may well be a reflection of how the brands are positioning themselves through their communication. Both Aldi and Bunnings tell the story of low pricing, of which they have been consistent with for years on years. As we know, consistency is a strong indicator of trust. Which for the other supermarkets has been a bit of a downfall in recent times, in respect to the ‘should we or shouldn’t we’ provide plastic bags!

How are you building trust with your customers? Is your message clear, consistent and visible?

If a message is continually repeated for long enough, people believe. It’s called the ‘illusory truth effect’. Which means the tendency to believe information to be correct after repeated exposure. So the more familiar we are with someone or something (business, brand, product), the more likely we are to trust what they are telling us, if the message is consistent.
Trust is a core value to masses.

If you work on building trust, then customers for example, deal with you because they see a value beyond the tangibles of the service and product you are providing.

When you cannot physically be there, you have to rely on marketing to do the job. You want to make sure that the marketing is reflective of a direct experience. Hence the importance of being clear about who your business / brand is.

Building Trust with Promotional Products

When we are clear about who we are as a business / brand, through the marketing process we can start to think about branded merchandise. This will help us not only be selective in respect to aligning the promotion with who we are, but also aligning it with our customer, and how we can, through promotional products, continue to provide value.
Promotional products create an experience that lives on longer than 5 minutes and if carried out correctly the total customer experience builds value, consistency, familiarity, trust and subsequently loyalty.

Marketers in Australia, according to ‘Promotional Products Work’, spend $1.5-$2 billion dollars each year on promotional products for the following reasons:
1. 52% say their impression of a company is more positive after receiving a promotional product.
2. 76% recall the name advertised on a product.
3. 55% keep the item for more than one year.
4. Nearly 50% of recipients use them daily.
5. 52% of people do business with a company after receiving a promotional product.

The Importance of Quality

If it’s trust we are building then quality also plays an important role. Whichever style of marketing / customer experience you decide to go with, the quality of that experience paints a picture about what type of business you are and whether they return and/or tell their family and friends about you.

According to business.com, one of the reasons why product quality impacts your brand is because it builds trust. “Countless potential sales are lost because a brand fails to make a deeper connection with prospective buyers. The quality of your services and merchandise is one way to help you get consumers to appreciate and believe in what you have to offer.”

They also make a very good point about business success and trust working hand in hand. If a business cannot be trusted, business sustainability is virtually unattainable. Who wants to work with someone they don’t trust? And if you are working with a business and you feel this way, you are always on the lookout for a replacement.

How to use Promotional Products to build trust

If you are thinking about your next promotional product or looking for a way to build trust with your customers, suppliers, staff, shareholders, board members, colleagues, etc, ensure you consider the following:
1. Align the product with your Business / Brand Positioning, tying into the consistency of your message.
2. Make sure you add value to your customer. This isn’t limited to the product, but the total experience. How the product arrives, for example, do you present it or send it? What do you accompany the product with? How do you continue the story? How will they use the product? How long will they use it for? Will it help them in their daily life?
3. Provide quality products and a quality experience. Make it memorable and create lasting connections with your customers.

If you would like to talk promotional product ideas that build trust happy to have a chat.

Not Just Another… Data Protector

It’s natural to feel a little uneasy about the safety of your private information these days. Between Cambridge Analytica and 2017 being among the worst years in history for mass data breaches, the insecurities of the digital age are becoming vividly apparent. The walls around your digital footprint may seem paper thin, but there is something you can do to put something a bit more solid between you and those out for your data.

You may feel a fair amount of anxiety when using the internet; browsing social media and making purchases through online stores involves putting a lot of personal and financial information out there. This, however, is only one avenue that thieves use to get at your personal data. Not only in cyberspace but also here, in the physical world, thieves can use discreet and relatively simple technologies to make off with everything, from cars to credit card numbers, without the owner even knowing.

The way it works is that the thief utilises radio-frequency identification (RFID) or near-field communication (NFC). It sounds like complex jargon, but these features are present in pretty much everything you’ll be carrying around on a daily basis. Almost every modern smart phone features NFC, you’ll probably recognise the pointed ‘N’ logo from your handset’s pulldown menu, and RFID chips are featured in everything from contactless paywave cards to household pets and passports.

As this video shows, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZp24Twkykw, the process by which thieves can go about getting data is incredibly simple. Scooping up a plethora of card numbers and account numbers in an hour or so just by walking about an average urban neighbourhood.

It’s frightening yes, but the solution to this problem is also devilishly simple. By investing in an affordable travel sleeve for your passport or credit card, you can turn the tables on would-be thieves and hackers. For the frequent flyer and avid traveller, a passport is their life. So why risk it? And there’s no need to speak to the universal importance of keeping your hard earned cash secure. These products are cheap to produce, fairly quick to turnaround and can be customised to feature almost any colour, design or insignia. Subtle, smart and safe. A low-key investment that will not only save any savvy buyer a wealth of time and money, but give them a priceless peace of mind.  

A Marketing Ploy with Good Intentions: Birthdays, Father’s Day, Christmas Day, Valentines Day. Do you buy in?

It seems like every other day is something-day. On the 10th of August, we had Duran Duran Appreciation Day and World Lion Day, Photography Day on the 19th, Be An Angel Day on the 22nd and Dog Day on the 26th.

Increasingly smaller holidays and events are being used to sell an array of products. An appropriate approach is vital. Done right, a holiday or celebration can be the perfect way to boost sales and create a strong brand association, but done poorly and the effort can appear transparent and tacky.

The most straightforward and most suitable instance of tying into any given x-day is when the product is inextricably tied to the day in question. National Donut Day, the 1st of June, is something of a no-brainer for Krispy Kreme, who mark the day by offering a free donut to every customer. It gets feet through the door and nets a tidy little profit to boot.

Greetings card companies stock their shelves with every kind of Birthday card imaginable, and deck their halls with the pinks of St. Valentine or the greens and reds of the festive season. There’s an undeniable and well-ingrained link in these industries and products. People may complain every year that they’re being inundated with Christmas-this and Halloween-that, but they buy it all the same. You’ll see dad rock albums climb the charts in the run up to fathers day and florists will beam when mothers day rolls around. It depends on the holiday, but when the link is clear and established marketing to a day or holiday can make sense.

In the bigger markets, Christmas in particular, where so many products and services are vying for consumer attention, the question actually becomes less of a ‘should we’ and more of a ‘how do we’. A common marketing ploy is to play on cultural associations. Coca-Cola’s Christmas campaigns have been wildly successful because they so effectively capture classic images of Christmas. Families around open fires, the mad dash for last minute presents … all of it wrapped up in a cosy, wholesome family image. They’ve even helped to define the modern day image of old St. Nick (though contrary to popular belief they weren’t responsible for turning his suit red http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7152054.stm). Coca-Cola though, especially in the cold December climates of the US and Europe, hasn’t got a whole lot of relevance to Christmas.

Whilst Coke have managed it, products being advertised and associated with events that they share no link with can also be a big misstep. Cynical and irrelevant marketing will only cause annoyance. Sticking with a festive theme, the UK-based supermarket Sainsbury’s tied into the hundredth anniversary of the First World War in their 2014 advertising campaign, to a fair amount of scorn from the press and public. Trying to sell groceries with images of one of humanity’s most horrific conflicts is a tenuous link at best and downright offensive at worst.

Here in Australia many will be familiar with Meat and Livestock Australia’s controversial lamb advertising campaign, which utilises controversy around Australia Day to drum up interest. These sorts of controversial campaigns can be very hit and miss, and those that do succeed often do so by means of leaning into more out there and incongruous forms of advertising. Dick Smith Food’s own (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7y6iE0aB5s) Australia day advertising plays off of absurd notions of patriotism and the inherent irrelevance of the product to the day itself for comedic effect. However it does also feature some pretty obnoxious casual racism. If you’re planning to use a holiday to sell something that has very little business being associated with it, recognising this inconsistency and playing off it is the best way to go. Tenuous association and causing offense in a needless and tasteless fashion is not.

Tying your marketing to a specific day, season or holiday can be a great way to drum up interest. If your product or service has a very clear link it’s an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. Did you know the 1st of June was Donut Day? You probably didn’t until every cafe had a sign in the window informing you of it. Drawing attention to these fun little events is an easy and relatively risk-free form of marketing. When dealing with the bigger hitters, Christmas, Easter and the like, it comes down to the suitability of the product and its ability to stand out from the crowd.

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