Archive for January, 2011

The Proof is in the Package

January 27, 2011

I have a bad habit of getting on my computer when I get home from work and spending a good hour (or 2…or 4…) perusing the interwebs.  As if sitting in front of a computer during the day isn’t enough, I go home and Facebook stalk my friends instead of doing the laundry.  Productive!

On the other hand, I’ve found some pretty inspiring and motivational tidbits while “wasting time” on the internet, so maybe it’s not such a horrible thing that I’m down to my last pair of emergency socks?

The other night I came across Tuned Pale Ale.

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Falling into the “Why-Didn’t-I-Think-Of-That!” category, these guys actually combined beer, science, and music (okay… and great design) all into one genius product.  I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t wait to share it with the world.  Or get my hands on some… I’m already envisioning how awesome my Backyard Beer Bottle Band is going to be. (Our first piece will be “Beer Bottle Variations on a Theme of Hot Cross Buns”.  It will be epic.)

It got me thinking about promotional products and campaigns, and why they work (or don’t, in some cases).  I’m consistently asked, “What’s new? What haven’t we seen!? What can we hand out that is different from everyone else?”

I often have difficulty answering this question because, quite frankly… you’ve probably seen it.  Case in point; Erin and I attended a “New Products Showcase” last week, and out of the 30 or so supplier booths we passed, there wasn’t one thing that stood out as new or different to me.  It was a lot of the same stuff we’ve seen for the past few years, now available in Burnt Sienna!

How do we solve this dilemma of standing out in a sea of sameness?

I say, instead of starting out by trying to find a unique product, why not start with YOU? What is it that you or your company does that is unique, fun, new, or different?  How do you stand apart from the rest of your industry? What is the message you want to send?  Once you narrow this down, you might find that the best product to convey the message is something simple and ordinary in a creative package.

The guys who created Tuned Pale Ale didn’t create anything new. Micro-Brewing has been popular for a few years now, and everyone I know has blown across a bottle to make a sound. But they found a way to take something common and turn it into something unique and fun; just by adding some interesting packaging. And I bet it doesn’t have to win a taste contest to move some product.

Here’s an example from a client of ours, Ener1, who designs and manufactures advanced lithium-ion batteries for machines like… oh… electric cars.  Instead of handing out their wordy informational brochures in a folder, they decided to put them inside a static shielding bag similar to the bags in which their batteries ship.

Ener1 - Closed




Nothing new or unique about what they are handing out, but they packaged it in a creative way that says something about who they are as a company.

The lesson?  If you’re looking for a great new way to promote your company, the best way to make yourself stand out from the crowd isn’t necessarily the product.  Sometimes, it’s the package.

So, the next time you are searching for a way to make your promotions stand out from the crowd, give this approach a try and see how it works for you.  And if you need some help… well… you know who to call. 😉

Now if you’ll excuse me I have some browsing… er… laundry to do.


You heard it here first!

January 13, 2011

Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” recently did a segment covering San Fransisco’s happy meal toy ban.  Hmmm…. Didn’t someone we know tell you all about that recently?

Check out the clip, and then feel free to go back and read/comment on my blog post about it!

The Daily Show

P.S. Sorry, I tried to post the clip in here instead of rerouting you, but WordPress does not allow Flash videos.  Wahhh wahhhhh…..

P.P.S. Two posts in two days = one patting of myself on the back.

Happy New Year!

January 12, 2011

It’s 2011!  Okay… admittedly, it’s been 2011 for 12 days now, but between traveling, shopping, gifting, exchanging, visiting, decorating, un-decorating…. I am just now getting around to my work resolution. If you never started then you can’t break it, right?

Things got pretty busy for us at the end of the year, which was great, but it didn’t leave me much time to share any promotional news with you. I’m going to try to be better for two reasons: 1) Maybe there are a few people out there who really do enjoy reading this? and 2) My mother asked me about 5 times over the holidays when I was going to write another blog.

Okay Mom, I’ll do my homework now.  😉

As far as new reports in the Promo world, the big news is the rise in the price of cotton.  Unfortunately for all of us t-shirt lovers out there, this means your favorite apparel item is also going to come with a higher price tag.  This price increase is effecting the retail markets as well as wholesale, so just keep this in mind if you are looking to order t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies or any of your other favorite cotton items.

A tip from the pros: If the color of the ink you are printing is lighter than the fabric you are printing on, we must print an “underlay” of white to make the colors pop.  Think of it like a base-coat of paint on the wall – without it, you’d see the fabric color through the ink (or the previous owners lovely giraffe pattern wall “art”).

Giraffe Wall

I guess it could double as "tortoise shell" or "large rock mural" or "ugly"

The “underlay” adds an additional color charge, which can really add up, especially when you are printing a small quantity of shirts.  So to get a better price, try going with a lighter shirt color, dark ink colors, and limit your design to one or two colors.

And if you need help, our artists can help you convert a colorful design into something MUCH less expensive to print!

Here’s a great example of a design we converted, compliments of the daughter of one of our favorite clients:

Before and After Design

Before and After!

Well I just looked outside and the snow continues to fall, so before I have to shovel my way to my car, I think I’ll wrap it up. I’ll be doing my best to update you more frequently throughout the year with tips, tricks, news, and anything else I can think of that you might enjoy putting off work to read.

Happy New Year!