Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My 10 Favorite Promotional Custom Products

I have customers ask me all the time what my favorite promotional items are. That's a tough question because my favorites may be the wrong promotional wholesale product for you & your targeted audience. I even had several people who read my blog ask me to write an article listing my favorites. There are well over 500,000 marketing items to choose from so I thought that was a topic I'd never go near.

Well, believe it or not, creating the list was actually fairly simple. There are a few items that are staples in the industry. These are things that just about everyone or every company can use or need. Items that have stood the test of time. Products that people love to give, & likewise, like to receive.

I've stressed over & over that whatever you select to hand out must be relevant to your business & still be useful & of value to the recipient. So, with that in mind, I came up with a list of ten customized promotional items that are my favorites. Let me introduce you to my top 10 picks:

#10 Flashlights: Every home, school or office should have a couple of flashlights handy in case of a power outage. Every car, briefcase, computer case or purse should have a small one in case of an emergency. Ask parents of bored children......they're great entertainment & spark imaginations of kids of all ages. Flashlights are unique because everyone will need them at one time or another. Let your logo shine in the dark!

#9 Flash Drives: These are something everybody absolutely needs, but only a few people actually go out & buy. Yet, they are a must-have item to save, store & share files from their computer. Your logo can be boldly imprinted on the flash drive, itself, & you also have the option of loading your own information on them before handing them out. These are indispensable to anyone with a computer--& today, that's everyone!

#8 Beach Balls: These appeal to people of all ages. They're bright, colorful & have large area to show off your logo & company name. They're attention-grabbers. When not inflated, they're easy to tote to trade shows, conventions & sporting events where they'll be an instant hit. Watch your name bounce up & down the coast or around backyard pools!

#7 Stress Relievers: Stress is evident in the work place because offices are confined & don't have the space to work off steam when tension builds. A quick fix is giving out stress items as your next promotional imprinted product. Because stress has become a primary health issue in our society today, your customers will use these more than you think. Your logo will always be visible. These are fun items that are usually left on the desk top......& could very well be squeezed by those who pass by!

#6 T-Shirts: Do you ever wish you could buy a traveling billboard & have it move around town promoting your business? Well, when you put you name & logo on a t-shirt, that's exactly what you're buying. Design something unique & appealing & your company will make an impact. They will be noticed--if they aren't being worn, they're being read. People tend to read them when they would ignore almost everything else. It doesn't get much easier than that!

#5 Letter Openers: Ok, this is not the most exciting out of all the customized promotional items, but it gets an A+ on promoting your company. These are constantly used at home & in the office. What's the one thing you do everyday, but Sunday......open your mail. They're economical, they fit into any budget, they come in a variety of colors & shapes. Every time a piece of mail is opened, it's your company name that is seen!

#4 Drinkware: Water bottles, insulated travel tumblers & ceramic mugs......so much to choose from & all are very effective. Go to the park, the beach, the gym, the mall, look into parked cars as you walk past them & what do you see? Insulated drinkware for hot drinks or trendy sport bottles for cold. Whether at home or in the office, people carry their mugs around with them all day like a security blanket. No matter what you select, your company will be vividly displayed for all to see!

#3 Note Pads & Sticky Notes: Some people like note pads; others swear by sticky  notes. It's six of one & 1/2 dozen of the other--either one is a fantastic marketing tool & both equally do the job of advertising your business. The sizes & variety of styles are endless. Don't forget about the cubes & hard covered notebooks. Notepads & sticky notes are one of the most economical promotional items you can invest in; yet, they have the largest imprint space--the entire pad. That's getting the biggest bang for the buck!

#2 Shopping & Tote Bags:  Bags are one of the largest, most purchased items in the ad specialties industry. With consumers focusing on being more environmentally-friendly; non-woven, polypropylene totes are everywhere, used over & over again. They have a large imprint area......blow up your logo so it really pops & can be seen from a distance. It's been reported that ONE bag will be used an average of 10 times a month & will be seen by 1038 people. That's just one bag......now multiply that by the number of bags you give out in a month!

#1 Pens: Pens are man's best friend. They are used constantly throughout the day, carried around in a purse or pocket 100% of the time & if someone is caught without having one, they grope frantically for one until another person hands them theirs. And as simple as that your company name was passed from one individual to another!

Well, those are my top 10. What are yours? I'd love to hear from you......tell me your favorites & why.
Ronni Sherman

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Colors--History, Facts, Trivia & Success!

May 28, 2010, I wrote an article on the psychology of colors......how they can affect people's moods & emotions. This article is so important to any business owner or anyone running a marketing campaign because color is probably one of the most significant aspects of your company's identity. It would benefit you to look at the post & read about the colors you're using in your brand. What message are you giving to your targeted audience? You may be using your favorite colors, but are they doing justice to you in representing your business?

Below I listed some fun facts about color. Much of it is just for fun, but read on because it can also help you in selecting the colors for your brand whether you're designing a logo or website, printing a brochure or handing out promotional imprinted products

For instance if you're marketing a sports team or sporting apparel, even for girls, you should think twice before picking bubble gum pink. If you're a new catering company, what should be your main color--orange or blue? Of if you have one of the popular food trucks, do you want to paint it blue even though that's your favorite color? What is the best color your promotional custom products should be if you're a yoga studio?

Later in this post, I used 5 very well-known corporations & illustrated how color worked for them & gained them company identity worldwide. You may never rise to global status, but color can give you recognition if you choose the ones to properly represent your business.

Some fun, yet important facts on basic colors:
RED: When the Bolsheviks overthrew the tsar & seized power in Russia in 1917, they used the red flag as their emblem & ever since red has been considered the color of communism.
Red is used in more national flags than any other color.
ORANGE: This sparks more controversy than any other hue--it's a hate-it or love-it color. It stimulates appetites & therefore, is widely used in the food industry. 
To many Americans it denotes "cheap" products or services (in fields other than food) while it's just the opposite in the Netherlands. There it's the color of royalty & the royal family is called the House of Orange. Children like this color & will often pick it as their favorite.
GREEN: This color has a strong calming effect--suicides dropped 34% when London's Blackfriar Bridge was painted green.  
The Green Room, the room guests on TV shows wait before their appearance, is actually green in most studios.
BLUE: It is the color most preferred by men & a survey showed that blue was the bestselling color in women's sweaters because women think men will like it.
It's also an appetite suppressant & some weight loss plans suggest putting a blue light bulb in your refrigerator & your munchies will disappear. This is because blue food is a rare occurrence in nature. Except for blueberries & a few blue-purple portatoes or plums, there aren't blue foods.
VIOLET: It's a peaceful color & one that inspires learning, concentration & reflection of life. Because of this Richard Wagner used this color in his surroundings when composing his operas.
 PINK: Drunk-Tank-Pink or better known as Bubble Gum Pink, is used to calm violent prisoners in jails. It suppresses angry, antagonistic & anxiety ridden behavior among prisoners when in a cell painted this shade of pink. It's been reported that people try to be angry or aggressive in the presence of this pink, but can't--the heart muscles can't race fast enough. This color literally saps your energy. But these reactions are short-term & once the body returns to equilibrium, the prisoner may regress to an even more agitated state. It is only this exact shade that creates such behavior among people.

Did you know:
That there is no word in the English language that rhymes with orange or purple?

That the first box of Crayola crayons was sold in 1903 for a nickel & included the same colors available in the 8-count box today: red, blue, yellow, green, violet, orange, black & brown.  The names of the colors rarely change........only 2 have ever been changed: Prussian blue to Midnight blue & Flesh to Peach.

When it comes to achieving company recognition, some of these facts are significant & some aren't--but one thing you can count on........color is one of the most important factors in attaining company identity. These five corporations used color to gain global recognition. They are known, world-wide, for their colors.

 UPS: Over the decades, UPS's brown has provided the most consistent color personality for any company that exists. Even their logo design is secondary in importance to the color. It's highly unusual that a business can boast that one simple color can bring their company to mind instantly. Yet, when you see a brown truck, a brown uniform or the brown tail of a plane, you most likely know it's UPS without looking for the logo. Brown tells you who they are......they're conservative, they're dependable, you feel secure. This is the feeling you get when you see the color & this is what UPS is known for.

TIFFANY: The Tiffany blue box originated in 1850, when Tiffany & Co. opened it's first foreign branch in Paris. The designers selected this light turquoise-blue as the perfect color to attract the fashionistas of the day. This specific color was the signature color of the Diva of Fashion at that time, Empress Eugenie, Napoleon III's wife. The color has remained the same for over 150 years. If you see that famous blue box, you don't need to see Tiffany on it to know who's box it is & what's inside.

BMW (Bavarian Motor Works):  The logo was created & registered in 1917, a year after the company was founded. The logo has remained the same ever since as well as the controversy surrounding the colors. There are two versions regarding the meaning of the 'sky blue & white checker box':
1. It's meant to represent the silver & white propeller blades that engineers of BMW were working when the design was created. Those who believed that's what the logo depicted wanted to change the colors from blue & white to silver & white.
2. The other meaning relates to Bavaria where the product of the company are manufactured--their national colors are sky blue & white, the same as the logo.

MOBIL OIL: Their logo is nothing more than the name of the company in simple, clean lettering. It's the use of the red O in the center & the use of red & blue that brings out their company identity. The red O represents the circular pumps & canopies at their stations which has brought immense popularity to their brand. The use of red evokes energy & strength while blue give the consumer a feeling of faithfulness & security.  

McDonalds: This couldn't be complete without including  McDonalds because their logo is probably one of the most recognized world-wide. The company's reputation is synonymous with the golden arches & while they went global, they are still identified as being All-American. When someone thinks of fast food, what's the first name that comes to mind? This isn't an accident or because they were the first to deliver instantaneous hamburgers & fries........it's because they took marketing to the nth degree when they designed the arches & selected their colors. They used color psychology wisely when they chose red & yellow as their colors. First of all that vivid combination stands out in the day as well as night when it's dark. Red encourages diners to eat quickly & leave & that's exactly what they want you to do. Yellow stimulates the appetite so you'll feel hungry & will probably eat more (thus spend more) than your original intention .

Color is so powerful--it influences much of what we do in our daily lives, whether on a conscious or subconscious level. Therefore, don't eliminate it or underestimate it when it comes to promoting your company. The color of your customized promotional product is just as crucial as the item, itself. 

I hope this helps you stand out.
Ronni Sherman      

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hidden Messages In 20 Well-Known Logos

I've talked a lot about your logo & how you can gain company recognition by putting it on promotional imprinted products & then distributing the items to your clients & prospective customers.  This is one of the best ways to attain logo identity.  You may not get the notoriety that Toyota, Apple or McDonalds has; but if you continually circulate your customized promotional items, you will be recognized by your targeted audience.

Did you know that many companies have objects & symbols hidden inside their logos or incorporate their logos to be a part of a hidden message?  Below are 20 logos hiding a subliminal message.  How many can you depict just by looking at the logo?

Some of the trade marks will be easy to recognize, though the subliminal message may not be as obvious to you.  It doesn't matter if you've seen the logo before or not........just for fun, try to find what the hidden meaning is in each one. The answers are at the bottom of this post, but don't scroll down until you've looked at each one carefully to see how clever you are at discovering the subliminal message.

Hanuet Wine



Portrait Photos Studio


Raven Financial

Sun Microsoft
Goodwill Industries
Skittles Candy
Wisdom Spa

Toblerone Chocolate

8 Fish Sushi Restaurant

Baskin Robbins Ice Cream

This was just for fun. I'm not suggesting you do this to your logo.  The important thing is that you keep it simple & it's easy to be recognized--especially when used in advertising & imprinted on promotional custom products.

Here are the answers:

1. Hanuet Wine:  two wine glasses in the H
2. Bison: the word shapes a buffalo & was designed for a rock band from Vancouver, Canada
3. FedEx:  space between the E & the X forms an arrow pointing right, meaning moving forward & it depicts speed for which the company is known for
4. NBC: showing the peacock looking to the right, again symbolizing looking forward--not back
5. Portrait Photos: the negative space under the camera & the lens forms a person
6. Amazon.com:  the arrow is in the shape of a smile & goes from A to Z, depicting a happy customer & that they're a company that will sell anything from a to z.
7. Raven: (a Dutch financial company) the negative space between the 3 ravens forms a 4th raven
8. Sun Microsoft:  4 interwoven copies of the word sun that can be read from any direction
9. Goodwill Industries:  the letter "g" is also a smiling face
10. Skittles: look at how their token red Skittle is placed on the package & the prominent "X"
11. Body Wisdom:  (high end day spa) the hands convey a relaxing massage while forming an owl's head meaning wisdom
12. Toblerone Chocolate:  from Bern, Switzerland. Bern means City Of Bears & a bear is incorporated into the Swiss Alps
13. Tostitos: the T's form two people eating a chip over a bowl of salsa--the I--& gives the idea of connecting, having fun & being social.
14. Piano Forest:  piano keys on a keyboard shaped like trees
15. Yoga Australia: (my favorite) look close & you'll see the body posture creates the map of the country, Australia
16. 8 Fish: how many fish do you see--4 or 8?
17. Treacy Shoes: there's a shoe in the negative space between the T & the S
18. Eight: various parts of the figure 8 are used to form the word "eight"
19. Baskin Robbins: 31 for their 31 flavors is incorporated in their logo (B & R)
20. Hope For African Children Initiative: (definitely another favorite!) what do you see first--the faces or the map of Africa?

How did you do?  If anyone got them all correct, let me know in the comments section.  Also send me logos that you've found that have a subliminal message.  There's definitely more than 20 out there--I only chose the ones I thought were the most creative. 
Ronni Sherman

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Traveling With Promotional Imprinted Products

Do you really want to get your name & logo out there for everyone to see? Have it go places where you won't be going? How would you like to advertise your business nationwide, worldwide inexpensively--sometimes for under a dollar?

That's not an exaggeration. It can be done simply by putting your logo on a promotional custom product that would be used while traveling. Think of the exposure just one luggage tag, umbrella or backpack can get.

Summer is less than a month away & it's one of the heaviest travel seasons. Take advantage of this time & hand out promotional items that people will use when they go on vacations. Wherever they go, they're taking your business right along with them!

You can distribute them among your targeted audience who travels, whether for pleasure or business. They're ideal to give out at trade shows, seminars & sporting events. You don't have to be in the travel industry to hand out these logo imprinted products.

Here are some ideas for customized promotional items that will spread your company name around while the recipient is traveling:

Luggage Tags:  Yes, it is the obvious; but you don't have to hand out just an ordinary rectangular tag. They're now available in all shapes, including the shape of your logo. Make your company name pop with the multitude of bright colors that are available. My favorite has motion-sensored lights & lights up as it goes down the baggage carousel. Then there's the tag that is 3-D lenticular--it has brilliantly colored changing images. You do not need glasses to get the effect & it's animated........now how fun is that!

Sleep Mask:  While your clients snooze at 50,000 feet, this item will advertise your business to everyone who strolls down the aisle. The imprint space is large enough to vividly show off your logo & company name.

Luggage Identifiers:  These wrap around most luggage handles & make identifying baggage easier. Your business will travel in style as it's being wheeled around airports country-wide. They come in an assortment of bright colors & will make your company name stand out.

Back Packs & Duffel Bags:  There is not too much I can add that you don't already know. The large area will advertise your logo spectacularly. Shapes, sizes, colors, price ranges........there's no end to the options you have to choose from. Just think of the places they will go & the people who will see them.

Umbrellas:  Your customer may be traveling, but the sun may be on vacation too. These are necessary to any traveler who is not going to a tropical island. Compact, collapsible umbrellas are easy to pack & take up no room. Your company can be imprinted on one panel or all panels. You can shine on the dreariest of days.

Beach Towels: These are huge colorful billboards for your business. There is no limit to what you can put towels & enhance your company's image. The large space used for your copy & the imprint colors will attract attention for you on the beach or by the pool. Not everyone who is going to a beach area will be in a hotel that supplies towels........let's not forget about the campers.

Coolers:  And speaking of camping, everyone will need a cooler--whether its' a small one that holds 24 cans of sodas or a large one that's on wheels. Again, there's ample room to display your logo & advertising message. These are so useful & something that can be used over & over, even when not on vacation.

These are just a few ideas where you can display your company name when your clients travel. When they go on vacation, let them take your business along for the ride.
Ronni Sherman