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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.

Not Just Another… Drink Bottle

It’s a problem we’ve all faced. Overpriced coffee. It’s as certain in life as death and taxes. Between waiting in line for a $4 flat white in the heart of Sydney or pouring lukewarm filtered coffee out of the office pot, you can feel somewhat short of a choice.

If that description brings you to shudders, don’t fear, there is hope yet. Whilst increased storage options and mammoth company fridges have allowed people to start bringing their home crafted lunches to their desk, the same hasn’t been afforded to hot drinks. It’s about time that changed.

With a range of vacuum sealed drink bottles, you can bring the taste of your favourite brew to the office and beyond. Able to store hot drinks for up to 12 hours, the vacuum sealed bottle is perfect for the modern working environment. Whether you’re a sedentary worker, or always on the go, with a range of varying sizes and simple, elegant styles, you’ll never be caught short of your favourite energy boost again. Gone are the days of pounding back an espresso at your desk, and having to head straight back out to find another when your craving gets the better of you.

Even if coffee or tea isn’t your thing, this product can keep cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours. Your first sip in the morning will be just as refreshing as your last on the way home.

All of the bottles are made with a durable stainless steel finish which allows for a clear laser engraved company logo, name or design. Not only are the bottles eco friendly, being made of 100% recyclable materials (no dreaded plastic liner either, ensuring the beverage remains chemical and odour free), but they also have an almost indefinite lifespan.

Combining function with form, this handy little tool will keep your brand clear and visible for as long as necessary, with a sleek, minimalist design that leaves room for creativity and longevity.

 

Innovation doesn’t have to be drastic

When brainstorming the Next Big Thing, some new product or idea that will change everything and add a few extra zeros to your bank balance, you don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. In fact sometimes the smallest changes to existing formulas can be the most important and profitable.

People tend to stray away from the small and mundane because it’s less glamorous. Chasing our big ideas is chasing our dreams. We want to shoot for the moon, not the next town over. Apollo 11 was number eleven for a reason though. If you have a big idea, work backwards from it. Innovation can be incremental. You have to build up, and you may well find something simpler and in fact, more valuable, along the way.

If you look at all the biggest products and services of the last few decades or so, many of them have been deliciously simple. A simple twist on a core idea, or perhaps just the streamlining of an existing one. Uber, and all its many diminutives, brought peer-to-peer services to transportation and completely revolutionised the taxi and food delivery markets in the process. ‘McDonalds doesn’t deliver? No problem, we’ll bring the delivery to them and then to you.’ It was an extension, an addition to a tried and tested industry that changed everything.

Some of the twentieth century’s most prominent entrepreneurs and ideas people made their name with relatively simple ideas. Elon Musk may be known now for outlandish ideas about space travel and colonisation of Mars, but his most profitable venture to date is also one of his first – PayPal – which as an idea is as simple as they come, a streamlined means to make online payments with just an email address and a password. Whilst Tesla and SpaceX hemorrhage money on a yearly basis, kept afloat by promise alone, PayPal endures and profits two decades after its inception.

It goes beyond big business. In some of the world’s poorest and resource-restricted countries and environments, small changes have made an enormous difference. The ‘Penguin’, a simple plastic suction bottle, is used in the third-world to remove airway obstructions with ease, reducing child mortality rates. In India, health organisations had difficulty getting parents to vaccinate their children. The solution? Give away a bag of lentils with each vaccination. Immunisation rates soared. By examining the problem, aid organisations found a basic, common incentive that made a measurable and significant difference. This same logic can be applied anywhere. Instead of focusing on creating a market or need, look at what already exists and isn’t being catered to, or isn’t being catered to well. Improvement and incrementation.

Thinking big is good; the heart of innovation is daring to dream. It doesn’t mean, however, that you should be missing the forest for the trees. Getting caught up in either the minute or grand can leave you blind to the simple and sublime.

Branding – How far is too far?

In an increasingly diverse and ever-expanding marketplace the temptation to go big, better and more in-your-face, can be overwhelming. There’s a time and a place for more restrained and exact branding, and it’s here and now.

When the average person thinks logos, advertising and everything brand-related, they probably picture seas of logos, flashing lights and electronic technicolour. Think Times Square, Piccadilly Circus, Shibuya Crossing. It’s a trend that persists and exists across cultures and continents. From Tokyo to the Big Apple, bigger is seen as better.

It’s an approach to branding that attempts a sort of omnipresence. Being here, there and everywhere as a constant reminder and reinforcement. The Trump approach to advertising, who focuses on a relentless self-aggrandisement. Slapping a name, big and gaudy, on every product and property. Steaks, planes and towers, all under one almighty title. It’s worked to mix success for Trump, and in it’s modern context, this sort of very personal branding will divide audiences. Because it’s so tied up in perceptions around his character and what he represents. Success depends on how he, or his name, is perceived. Regardless of what’s being sold. Trump steaks aren’t sold on meat quality, the brand brings images of wealth and excess from its bombasity. That’s the selling point.

Relentless branding, and its relative effectiveness, comes down to the extent to which the brand is tied up in the success and essence of what’s being sold. Hello Kitty, whilst very different to the Trump brand, operates with a similar ethos, albeit one that is arguably more effective. The image of Hello Kitty herself is inexplicably tied to the brand and target audience. She is visual shorthand, aesthetic and selling point all in one. Overbearing and ever-present but also highly targeted in terms of audience.

It’s about knowing the product and the brand, the extent to which they exist synonymously, and what one says about the other. Targeted digital advertising allows any brand an omnipresence if done correctly. But that doesn’t necessarily make it the right approach. More subtle approaches to branding are becoming more numerous, and more importantly, are reaping the rewards.

Recent years have seen even the biggest brands; Coke, Durex, McDonald’s. Move towards a more minimalist design aesthetic with a focus on simplicity and stark design. There’s also been the rise of brands such as fjallraven and Paperchase, which tend to focus on simple elegant design acting as branding.

This trend is also present in larger scale retail and businesses with wide product ranges. General Motors shrunk its brands from eight to four, and saw a 16% increase in sales within the year. Head and Shoulders reduced it’s product line from twenty-five to sixteen and saw a 10% bump in sales. You can get even more mundane. Aldi, which has a far lower number of brands (and very little focus on brand recognition for individual own-brand products), less intrusive imaging and choices on offer, has seen a surge in popularity for exactly this reason.

Take a long hard look at your product(s), and how you want to brand them. It’s all a balancing act, and your approach to branding should reflect the core design ethos. In being too brash and boisterous a brand can drown out its own appeal. Any recognition becoming lost in its own noise.

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