“Learn by Doing” is the motto we live by when brainstorming, designing and selecting swag to represent our company’s or a client’s brand.
Swag (also known as “promotional products”) is defined as “useful items imprinted with a company’s name, logo, message or offer,” or, “articles of merchandise that are branded with a logo and used for marketing and communication programs.”
Customary examples of swag include grocery-store-branded pens and refrigerator magnets emblazoned with the local insurance agent’s contact information. We’ve all seen these; however, a closer look reveals that both examples are out of date. Pens made sense when checks were a common payment method at the grocery store, and now we keep our contacts organized and easily accessible on our smartphones.
As technology evolves, so do swag options, and there have never been more unique and trendy items available to promote your company’s brand. This provides an incredible opportunity to be the first to put a new, quality tchotchke in someone’s hand.
Recently, the opportunity to learn by doing presented itself, and our team was tasked with identifying effective swag to launch the new Kiterocket brand. Kiterocket was formed by the merger of Impress Labs and Duo PR. As an agency, we are firm believers in the concept of “brand-driven communications” and are committed to our vision to “make brands more valuable.” The official July 2017 launch of the Kiterocket brand took place during our annual SEMICON West After-Party in San Francisco, and this event marked the unveiling of top-level swag.
Through this journey, we discovered that whether you’re launching a completely new brand, or boosting the image of an established one, these are the basic rules to follow when choosing products that will carry your logo.
Choose Quality Over Quantity
As a new brand, it was especially important that the promotional products we chose for our team, our clients and our guests reflected what Kiterocket represents.
The quality of a product can override the product’s usefulness. Although earlier we suggested pens may not be as important as they once were, they remain ubiquitous. Why? The first reference point a person has is whether the product is actually useful. The individual grabs the pen and uses it, then examines it. Put your brand on a quality pen, and the person is more likely to hold onto it and use it … and thus see your brand more often. A poor-quality pen will be put back on the shelf with the other pens, along with your brand.
One should also always consider the impression you want to leave with the recipient. Take water bottles, for example. The quality spectrum directly relates to how often and how visible the branded products will be in the end. This, and the recent advances in water vessel composition (from inexpensive clear plastics to costlier stainless steel, and double-wall insulation), directly impacts an individual’s desire to have one. Be on the right side of swag history (not to mention helping reduce the amount of waste in landfills) and order a quality vessel.
Running out of promotional products is not, on the surface, a bad thing. Ordering quality does cost more, per product. But it all comes down to simple supply-and-demand economics. Sacrifice mass quantity for a higher-quality item. If you run out, consider it a good thing; it was in demand. Plus, you don’t have 5,000 unwanted items taking up storage space.
As we worked to develop ideas for our clients’ SEMICON West swag, we knew they needed to be unique and memorable. For example, knowing Impress Lounge was located outdoors above Moscone North, NSTAR Global Services anticipated a need for sunglasses. Many attendees hadn’t expected an outdoor venue, or simply forgot about it, but NSTAR representatives were there, handing out shades as the sun shone down on the rooftop of the Moscone Center. This promotional tool represented NSTAR well, as the company delivers specific technical resources on specific projects around the globe. Their brand is built on delivering quality to scale, and the sunglasses were there on demand, when their prospective clients needed them.
A combination of quality and uniqueness can strengthen your reach. A perfect example of this is the fidget spinner. Think of the person who hasn’t yet encountered a fidget spinner: a gadget that uses ball bearings to spin around its axis with ease. Be “first-to-market” in the audience’s mind (they always remember their first experience) and they’ll always associate your brand and logo with that unique experience.
Make It Social-Media Worthy
Social media, assuming proper tagging (we can hope, right?), offers the opportunity to increase your brand’s reach. When your swag hits the proverbial mark, the items can go viral on social media feeds, increasing demand and amplifying brand visibility.
As an active member and resident of Phoenix’s Warehouse District Council (#PHXWD)—an entity of stakeholders that focuses on initiatives to showcase the district’s distinct characteristics—Kiterocket recently co-hosted a meeting with Phoenix ad executive Jos Anshell. As a thank-you to council members for attending, we handed out bottles of red wine with custom labels that featured PHXWD’s branding. These bottles were highly sought after, shared on social media and perhaps, most importantly, were greatly appreciated. Not surprisingly, we ran out shortly after the meeting (randomly giving someone a bottle of red wine is a great way to start a conversation), but that was the point.
In closing, investing in memorable swag is an investment in your brand. To realize your swag’s full power, be smart, be creative and be fearless. It’s a great way to leave your mark.