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.
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.
Wellbeing products are somewhat ubiquitous these days. You’ll see them lining the walls of a pharmacy, perhaps stuffed in next to the Cadbury’s or even right at the checkout to prompt a last minute ‘Oh gosh I forgot about X’s birthday’. The ever-presence is for a good reason though. They’re an excellent gift idea, having a universal appeal and a price range that lets consumers pay a little or a lot whilst still getting a presentable, quality product.
Everyone likes to be pampered. Everyone likes to smell nice and feel detoxified. Consumer engagement is very high with wellness products and it’s only getting higher. With the recent surge in popularity of wellness and spirituality, more natural products such as diffusers are seeing a high adoption rate and their place in the gift market gives them an even broader reach.
Smelling great and getting comfy can be done on a budget with wellness products, and the potential for customisation and creativity is strong. Diffusers in particular can be tailored to a variety of tastes, or perhaps more accurately smells. As Promotherapy, a producer of sensory promotional products, puts it:
‘Marketing isn’t meant to be bland and boring, it should engage all the senses.’
The results are scientifically proven too. Our senses are tied to our memories, and positive stimuli that engages some or all of our senses can invoke a strong emotional reaction, as shown in a recent study carried out by the National Institute of Neuroscience in Turin, Italy.
Certain types of diffuser have even been shown to increase house prices! Driving up asking prices by as much as $100,000! Now that’s a strong smell.
So don’t underestimate the power of these seemingly simple products. By effectively utilising wellness products (smells in particular!) you’ll see your brand retention and engagement improve spectacularly!
Through the years on-screen visual capabilities and resolution has improved. We are seeing funky full colour 3D logos, animated apps and website designs as well as high quality video production.
Evolution in one industry has a roll-on effect to other industries. This is always going to be the case. Despite, in theory being two industries, in reality, the digital technology and printing industry are both in the advertising and communications space.
So as a result of digital technology lifting it’s quality, printing has also had to raise the bar. One colour printing, whilst still relevant, doesn’t cut it as much as it did in the past. Now we have full colour direct digital, sublimation and direct to garment printing becoming the status quo. To someone not in the industry, this sounds like a lot of fancy words. In essence, you can now print photo quality designs on physical products:
- direct digital print on a flat surface (like notebooks and compendiums)
- direct digital printing on a slightly curved surface (like pens)
- rotary digital prints on a curved surface (like sports bottles)
- 100% cotton apparel and bags with direct to garment printing, which is a completely different look to heat applied transfers
- Polyester apparel and bags with full colour dye sublimation
There is also an increased demand for personalisation, which is also available via digital printing. This is also known as variable-data (VDP) or variable-information printing (VIP or VI), in which elements such as text, graphics and images may be changed from one printed piece to the next, without stopping or slowing down the printing process and using information from a database or external file.
The exciting thing about products being printed digitally, is that as the technology continues to improve, then the costs will become even more cost effective. Something that will not just impact promotional products, but printing across all material types.
The fashion industry is a good example of how digital printing has created opportunities: “It currently takes anywhere from two to three months for traditional screen-printing. Digital printing by comparison can happen immediately. Digital printing ensures higher quality, more unique designs at scale, greater variety of rich colors and more. It’s literally possible to take a picture on your iPhone today and print it onto a textile at photo-realistic quality straight away.
The cost performance for small production runs also means looks can be created on a scale of one – rather than thousands.” (Source: How Digital Printing Technology Is Taking Us Closer To Fully Customizable Clothing, by Rachel Arthur, forbes.com, February 2017).
If you are looking for a promotional product that will stand out; that the recipient won’t want to part with; that others will envy, then it’s definitely time to think about going all the way – and letting your brand shine – through a beautifully designed and printed product.
Find out why promotional products work
Winter is on the doorstep. Head protection from extreme weather is a necessity… for how many weeks of the year, all depends on where you live and how often you travel to cold climates.
From another perspective, head attire can have nothing to do with protection, but more to do with a personal identity, statement or association. Celebrities known for wearing a beanie in the summertime include: Robert Pattinson, Ashton Kutcher, Justin Bieber, David Beckham and Liam Hemsworth.
Here are some different ways you can wear a beanie, thanks to instyle.com.au:
- Take a casual approach – team up with a pair or sneakers
- Patterned beanie – Wear with block colour outfit
- Work the tones – Compile your outfit on different tones of the one colour
- Dress up your beanie – Wear with a tailored coat and Knee high boots
- Off-duty model – Match with leather jacket, skinny pants, and sneakers.
- Play with Texture – A fluffy beanie with a fluffy jacket.
- Stripes – Beanies with stripes.
What are some other interesting facts about beanies:
- There is a world record for the most beanies worn at once. One hundred beanies, by a man in New York, in 2016.
- It’s believed that the first beanie dated back to the 12th and 13th centuries.
- 1990s, the beanie increased in its attractiveness, becoming a favorite accessory for skaters and snowboarders
So we get that beanies have been around for a long time and are super popular, both in winter and summer. So how can you make a branded beanie work? There are lots of fun and cool things you can do with beanies: animal designs; full colour images, branding or messaging; ear warmers; visors; or even a pompom on top. It also comes down to your brand personality, message and the theme/event you are tapping into.
Lots of brands do caps and visors, so why not try something a little different. Beanies are a great way to tap into the millennial market; if you want to go for the grungy / anti-social movement; and also the adventure tourism market (involves exploration or travel to remote exotic areas) – a market which is expected to grow by 20% in the next 5 years.
Not just another…. Cap
According to Euromonitor International, “There is a fundamental shift in consumer values towards experiences over things that bring happiness and wellbeing, with spending on experiences like travel, leisure and food service to rise to US$8.0 trillion by 2030.”
Millennials are driving this change:
- 91% of Australian Millennials (aged 18-34) attended a live event, ranging from entertainment-focused experiences like concerts and beer festivals, to more cause-related events like marches and rallies.
- 81% said they would choose to buy an experience rather than something desirable, ahead of their Gen X (35-45) peers at 72%.
So what’s shaping the experiential economy, they believe the growth is derived from (according to Eventbrite a Event Platform):
- People crave interactions off social media – Four out of five millennials say that attending live events makes them feel more connected to other people, the community, and the world.
- People are looking for a new perspective – In a world where the today’s headlines are yesterday’s old news, in-person events provide the opportunity to connect and gain perspective.
- Our cultural climate is shifting – A high percentage of people believe it’s essential for people to come together in person to promote positive change
- Millennials are starting families – Seven in 10 (69%) of both younger and older millennials attend live events to challenge themselves and escape everyday routines. Their interest in attending events doesn’t lessen once they start families.
- Livestreaming is making experiences more valuable – According to Facebook, people spend more than 3x more time watching a live video than a recorded video.
1. Knowing this what can we do about it when it comes to branding:
- Create experiences. Start small if you have to. Some ideas to get you thinking:
- Tasting testing before purchase. Mezzina do a great job of this.
- Offer classes. The Sydney Fishing School has done a great job of this. Now we are seeing cooking classes pop-up everywhere.
- Collaborate with a partners to hold an event – We are seeing this happen more and more. You split the costs whilst cross-leveraging your audience.
- Demonstrations. They have been around for a long time, and they continue to pull a crowd. But it’s not an ordinary demonstration… people want theatre. So give them theatre. This doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money, it may just mean that the demonstrator is highly entertaining.
2. Crossing over to the virtual world. Real estate agents, particularly ones selling off the plan dwellings are using virtual technology to enhance the buyers experience. It completely changes what you can deliver to a customer – without being limited by your location.
3. Bring your product to where the people are. Race days do a great job of this. You can go and have your make-up and hair professionally touched up, and not have to the leave the race course.
4. Social Media… make it seamless, make it effortless, make the audience feel like they couldn’t possibly not share this experience with their online friends.
5. Branding – Every brand has not choice but to have a level of coolness. Even if it’s a daggy cool brand. Over emphasising your positioning, so your customers, get it and embrace it, because they want to create a ‘by-association’ run off-effect. If I am in this place, experiencing this, then this says something about me that I want others to also know.
We cannot go past the inclusion of promotional products to help you create a deeper more engaging experience for your customers. People love tactile things, they love to touch, and take something away with them. Whether it’s a hat at a sporting match, drink bottles at a running festival, showbags at a conference, T-Shirts at a music event, USB’s after a presentation. Consider how you stretch the experience and the memory to continue beyond the event… this is something promotional products can definitely help you achieve.
Running out of mobile battery has climbed ahead of death and public speaking as our biggest fear! How life has changed!!! This is a bit of a joke, but there is a thing called “low battery anxiety’. An LG Survey revealed (sourced by Daily Mail Uk):
- 90% of us panic about losing power on our phones
- 32% of us will drop everything to head home and charge phones
With the current battery capacity compared to the power required to run more complex apps at faster speeds, our batteries are running out a lot sooner than they ever did.
Phone charging Technology continues to improve. With wireless charging becoming the latest must have.
What’s so good about the inductive wireless charger, is the charger transfers power from a charging device to a receiver without a cable. On top of that, you can brand your own wireless inductive charger, as a means of reducing ‘low battery anxiety’ for your customers or staff.
Phones that have wireless charging:
- Apple iPhone: 8, 8 Plus, X
- Samsung Galaxy: S9, S9+, Note 8, S8, S8+, S7, S7 Edge, Note 5, S6, S6 Edge
- LG: V30, G6 (US version only), G4 (optional), G3 (optional)
- Microsoft Lumia: 1520, 1020, 930, 929, 928, 920
- Google Nexus: 4, 5, 6, 7 (2013)
Benefits of a wireless charger:
- Safe way to charge your phone
- Easy to charge by placing your phone on the charger
- Never have to find the right cable for your phone.
- Can listen to music and charge your phone at the same time
Not just another.. USB
The trusted t-shirt first debuted during the Spanish-American war between 1898 to 1913. They were worn under the Navy uniform and to the delight of all the t-shirt fans, undergarments they did not remain.
The prices people are willing to pay for t-shirts has blown out in a big way. This isn’t a new thing. A Run DMC Adidas t-shirt, produced on the back of the 80’s hip hop music movement had willing fans spending $13,000 on a DMC (in collaboration with Adidas) concert t-shirt. A 100% pure cotton t-shirt, round neck-line, short sleeves. Made for comfort… and made for value! T-shirts as an investment strategy, something to think about??!!
So what’s so appealing about the t-shirt:
- Easy entry level – to design, manufacture.
- In Australia – we are in t-shirts 9 months of the year – so usage is high.
- It crosses all demographics and socio-economic groups.
- It provides high-end brands to produce less expensive products to reach a wider audience, though still charge a premium.
- The versatility of the t-shirt – can be dressed up or dressed down.
- T-shirts are becoming increasingly ‘all occasions’ socially acceptable.
Promotional T-shirts to promote your business, brand, product, message:
Is a very good idea. If you put thought into who will be wearing it, the design, the quality and creating a tee that they want to keep wearing versus storing in the bottom of the drawer. The initial costs per person may be high if comparing to other communication mediums, but the engagement opportunity could far outweigh this. Not only is the person completely engaged with the t-shirt and consequently your brand, but the number of people they cross paths with whilst wearing your t-shirt can create many more impressions of your brand for years to come. Then you can go further to social media, if they are posting images wearing the t-shirt, this will further grow your reach.
The catch is – relevant message, good design, good quality.
Quality says just as much about your brand as does the design and message. So don’t surpass such an important component.
T-shirt fabrics details
- Combed cotton – Fine brushes are used to eliminate short strands and straighten fibers, making the fabric stronger, softer, smoother and perfect to screen print.
- Jersey – A stretchy knit typically made from cotton or a synthetic blend, it’s very flexible and comfy.
- Organic Cotton – Cotton grown with minimal fertilizers and pesticides. Usually softer and more expensive than treated cotton.
- Pigment dyed – A coloring process that coats the outside of the fibers, it can create a faded, worn-in look.
- Polyester – Maintains its shape well and resists shrinking and wrinkles. Traditionally polyester is non breathable unless moisture wicking / cool dry treated making the fabric pull heat and sweat away from the skin for rapid evaporatio out of the fabric.
- Polycotton – generally a polyester and cotton blend.
- Rayon – A breathable man-made fibre made out of trees, cotton, and woody plants. Has a silky hand, yet wrinkles. Also called viscose.
- Bamboo – tees made from bamboo fabric are beautifully soft, sustainable, easy to straighten, dye and the fabric has a splendid colour effect of pigmentation. Can also be known as rayon.
- Rib knit – A ridged pattern that creates a thick, structured garment with a lot of give – usually this fabric can be used around the neck and sleeve to provide more structure.
Some of the list of t-shirt fabrics was sourced from: https://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/clothing/sweaters-tops/t-shirt-fabric
Where is the t-shirt made?
Look for the WRAP accreditation label. Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) is an independent, objective, non-profit team of global social compliance experts dedicated to promoting safe, lawful, humane and ethical manufacturing around the world through certification and education.
Do your homework and/or work with someone who has a sounds knowledge of the ins and outs of global manufacturing, so you receive the right product for your business – particularly if your business/brand chooses to align with ethical and environmental compliant business.
Watch this video, a Coke campaign case study, to see what an integrated sensory brand engagement experience can look like.
By the end of it, even if you don’t drink Coke, you are thinking about it. And that’s just watching the video. Imagine if you are the customer that experiences all these touch-points? It’s next level infiltration, and you have no idea, the effect it’s having on you.
The magic of this campaign is in the journey:
- TV (Sight, Sound)
- Phone (Sight, Sound, Touch)
- Outdoor events (Sight, Sound)
- Social media (Sight, Touch)
- Print (Sight, Touch)
- Shopping centre where you experience the product (Sight, Sound, Touch, Smell, Taste).
The engagement of more than one sense, creates a compound effect, as you continue along the marketing funnel to the conversion point – where you receive/buy the product. One versus all sense interplay – is the part versus the sum. The sum is a lot more powerful.
This is poetry in motion. And we haven’t even mentioned the effect this has on your consciousness or subconscious. Messages coming through, via different channels (Sight, Sound, Touch, Smell, Taste). Creating stored memories and emotions. Imprinted in your psyche for the rest of your life. Wow. Sounds a little scary, when you say it like this. The power of sensory marketing!
Coke does have big brands and big budgets, and whether you do or not, the learning’s you can definitely be taken into your marketing campaigns. Look at your activity and ask yourself how many senses are we engaging? How can we engage three? Is it possible?
Some ideas that can inspire your team:
- Promotional Products – Whether it’s a t-Shirt, cooler bag, notepad or pen – have fun with this. There are lots of ideas, but what will make your idea unique to your brand?
- Scented Printing – The candle industry leverages the scent of smell to create nostalgia, relaxation, passion, etc. Is extending ‘time on page’ through incorporating a second sense experience, something to think about?
- Events – What event can you create for your customers? If you can get your customers in a room, you have access to all 5 senses, and an opportunity for the highest level engagement. If you don’t wish to run your own event, can you collaborate with a partner?
- Sound – We all know the sounds of milk being warmed at the coffee shop, and the sound of opening a Coke or packet of Pringles. Is there a sound that is unique to your brand that you can leverage through your communication?
- Signature Scent – Could you create your own signature scent? Who says you have to be a fashion brand to have your own scent. If you had to create a scent for your brand what would it smell like?
If you are looking at your marketing activity and investment, keep asking yourself how you could extend the life or the engagement with the customer, beyond 20 seconds, 3 minutes, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 3 months… This is the magic that well-thought through promotional products provide. Your customers end up loving them so much, that they promote your brand for you in a way that you couldn’t do yourself. And there is nothing more powerful than third-party endorsement.
A logo on a notebook, umbrella, is ok, but you can do so much more. Your customers will be grateful for the effort you put in and reward you with free advertising as a result.
Good business and good brands make sensory marketing both seamless and mutually benefiting.
“In his 2005 book Brand Sense, branding expert Martin Lindstrom argued that those that invest in multisensory branding are likely to have a loyal customer base.” https://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/multisensory-branding-immersing-all-five-senses
A book written more than 10 years ago and we are glued to our digital screens more than ever. However, we are seeing consumer trends move from material to experiences.
A ‘Smells and Emotions’ study of 1,000 people by psychologist Silvia Alava, found that people remember 35% of what they smell and only 5% of what they see. And that 85% of people said happy moments were recalled with certain smells.
So how does a brand tap into the senses? How can you taste or smell an App for example or an online brand, or a charity?
We find ourselves in an environment that has a lot of noise. Yes we might be able to reach our audience, but will they remember you/your brand? There are more brands, more products, more messages, more channels. A creative problem awaits us all, which means brands to survive need to think outside the status quo and become more adventurous and continue to test a variety of applications to connect with their customer.
We are seeing online stores, like Amazon create pop-up shops. Fashion stores creating café experiences, fragrant collaborations across all industries, non-food brands opening restaurants, car brands selling apparel….
Champagne is a classic 5 senses product – smell, touch, sound, sight, taste. A magical moment that brings all your past celebratory moments in one. A lot of Coke’s ads have been based on how Coke stimulates the senses. When this happens, I don’t know about you, but it takes me right back to childhood summers and no responsibility.
We are not all in the space of creating a restaurant dining experience for our brands, but if we were to think about the 5 senses, what would our brand sound like, taste like, smell like, sound like, look like?
A promotional product campaign can take this knowledge and apply it to create an experience, a strong alignment with your brand where there is not just reach, but also recall.