The Power of Smart Promotional Merchandise

The Power of Smart Promotional Merchandise

If you’re considering an opportunity to order promotional merchandise for your company, the answer is yes.

13 years ago I would not make such claims. I use to associate promotional merchandise with waste. I learned as a marketing coordinator that my early judgements were quite limiting. As a practical marketer, it’s important to me to always have a strong “why” with any promotion, campaign, visual, or merchandising decision. I also, always consider the waste-factor in merchandising opportunities. There is power in a brand identifying customer needs, wants, and how you can consciously, ethically, and without breaking the budget, deliver.

Visibility applies to all companies, regardless of size.

If nothing else, get pens. Anyone who has done any similar work as a coordinator or in marketing, knows something about pens. Everyone loves a good pen, and they always disappear too quickly. On that note, if you are looking for pens, I have found a couple resources for eco pens here.

What promotional merchandise does for your employees:

  • Helps them feel a part of something
  • Encourages a team-like atmosphere
  • Builds trust
  • Establishes 6 degrees of brand awareness

What promotional merchandise does for consumers:

  • Supports brand awareness
  • Influences purchasing behavior
  • Increases consumer connection to the brand
  • Promotes trust
  • FREE advertising

If those reasons aren’t enough, I can’t think of anything more important. Once you start seeing your logo on merchandise, my guess is that you’ll be hooked. Let’s get started.


Protecting Brand Assets Throughout an Organization

Protecting Brand Assets Throughout an Organization

It is very easy for a brand image to become inconsistent. Inconsistency is the last thing anyone wants for their brand as it decreases customer recognition. Protecting visual elements and messaging should be a priority for any entrepreneur and marketing team.

What happens in larger organizations or, when you have multiple vendors, is that your color codes, fonts, and styles can quickly become muddled by those who either aren’t aware of the guides or, unaware of their importance. Even the slightest variation in a logo shape, colors, and fonts is noticeable and should be avoided.

Show up, stay consistent, and make sure your team does too.

Within your organization especially, whenever you have departments preparing communications, it’s important to inform them of the guides your brand uses. Not everyone knows to look and, most are unaware of the delicacy a brand identity is. Personal bias can lead to quick, emotional decisions in any department—even marketing—which can have detrimental affects on branding efforts.

Influence your team by defending your brand’s visual attributes. When you educate your group and vendors on the importance of keeping visuals consistent and tell them where to find these guides, you’re protecting the integrity of your brand.

If you are evaluating a rebrand for your corporate identity, Rice Content Marketing & Design can design and coordinate the transformation. Contact me today.

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

Give Customers a Memorable Experience

Give Customers a Memorable Experience


Award-winning author Justina Chen in her book, North of Beautiful writes:

“Adventure in life is good; consistency in coffee even better.”

Imagine being on vacation and coming across a store for your favorite co-op that you’re a member of. You’re excited to see them because you know they have the  same customer-benefit that you find in your home-shop, completely absent from the store nearest you on vacation. It would be a real let-down. That’s what was happening in a co-op I’m a member of and was appalled. When the opportunity came up to streamline the experiences of all members in all locations, I just on the opportunity and here’s why.

Members enjoy consistency and feeling a part of something.

The more you can give something unique to your members, it makes the offer to non-members, that much more powerful. My first experience with branded coffee was as an account holder at Umpqua Bank. Though not a co-op,  their model at the time was heavily customer focused. One example of this was the experience provided to customers in each location and, their branded coffee. After sign-on, Upmqua customers were given a small bag of free ground coffee and genuine smile.

Soon after joining the marketing team at Whitefish Credit Union, I knew I wanted to bring this same concept to our members. In discussing how we could streamline member experience, I knew it was simple: consistent lobby experiences and coffee.

The idea of branded coffee had already been tossed around once before, but this time we were able to make it happen. With executive leadership on-board the Whitefish Credit Union successfully brought branded coffee to members, in all branches. It helped that Capital One had just started promotion of their Coffee Shop Cafés.

For members and community

For cooperatives and companies focusing on customer-first experience, branded coffee is such a great promotion. It’s almost like the Native American Peace Pipe or Sacred stone of Wohpe, turquoise given as a symbol of friendship. Even if you don’t partake in the coffee libation, the offering does not go unnoticed.

Whitefish Credit Union branded coffee is only served in lobbies. They do not distribute coffee as new account gifts. However, working with the local coffee roaster that roasts the custom coffee, we were able build bagged coffee promotions for the rollout. The marketing team lead various whole-bean giveaways using direct-mail advertising. Each time, the response rate well exceeded our projections! We were happy to hear positive feedback from branches across our membership area. The team continues to focus on other opportunities to give members consistent, excelled experience in each branch location.

If you have tossed around the idea of bringing branded coffee into your company, why not make it happen, today? Rice CMD can help you make it happen. For now, enjoy your favorite brew and consider your next great adventure in business and in life.

What is Your Sustainability Plan for Your Trade Show Booth?

What is Your Sustainability Plan for Your Trade Show Booth?

From your direct mail marketing to day-of event activities, don’t let sustainability planning fall to the wayside. Have a plan. It’s very easy to skip this step, it’s easier than you’d think, to setup an eco-friendly trade show booth. You’ll find that considering booth impact and waste will actually make setup and take-down easier.

Let’s be realistic, you know how you think you have everything in place and then there’s that one item that gets missed? Don’t miss sustainability! All you need to do, is:

Consider your options for promotional resources, building materials, and refuse solutions.

Follow this mantra:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Ecological Pre-Show Marketing:

  • Narrow your recipient list to those you identify as being active but on the fence about attending. Business development staff may be able to help.
  • Turn your direct-mail piece into a web optimized image – increase digital advertising.
  • Consider your nurture call and invite clients and partners – no waste involved!
  • Source a promo gift for visitors that is reusable, functional, and something a majority of people can use.

Simple Ideas for an Eco Display:

  • Have a recycle station at the head of your booth
  • Only bring necessary touch points with you
  • Create a unique seed paper touch point for your events
  • Consider 3D cardboard displays
  • Ask your trade show booth retailer what green options you can work with
  • Consider backdrops that can be reused for consecutive shows
  • Have guest or staff provisions that produce zero-waste

Implementing sustainability for your trade show booth is easy but, you have to first make the decision to put a plan in place.

How will you connect with your list of attendees? Establish a team to handle quick thank you calls or automate thank you emails to your visitors. If you have promotions leftover, these make great thank you’s to clients for attending – and, for those clients who couldn’t be there.

It’s really easy to lead a greener event by simply implementing a few of the steps above. To get more ideas on promotional merchandise options, check out this Rice CMD article.

We must consider all opportunities where even the smallest decision can affect the greater whole of our planet.

“…my god that little thing is so fragile out there.” — Mike Collins, Apollo 11 astronaut, interview for the 2007 movie In the Shadow of the Moon.

I hope you have a great event! If you need event branding or, would like to design ecological direct marketing solutions, please contact me.

Photo by Julian V from Pexels

The Brand Style Guide You’ll Use the Most to Protect Your Brand

The Brand Style Guide You’ll Use the Most to Protect Your Brand

First, I hope that if your company has been in business for any length of time, you have a brand style guide. If you haven’t had eyes on it yet, find the file and see what’s there. This vital document is your visual compass. It tells your marketing team, creative agency, and vendors how to use your logo and other brand assets. If you don’t protect this information it could hurt your image. Some day, you might stumble upon a screenshot of your logo, taken from your website, on a sponsors site. This has happened to me for companies I’ve worked for and, it’s embarrassing. Having a guide you can share with stakeholders is critical.

Your comprehensive brand style guide is not always appropriate to share. Your creative partners will require this document to uphold the integrity of your brand. However, vendors and other partners just need that basic visual information to assure consistency.

The brand style guide you are going to use most is a snapshot of your comprehensive brand style guide. The comprehensive style guide will include identity system details, mood board, brand voice document, and other icons, graphics, and visual references to your brand. A snapshot includes your logo, colors for print and digital publishing, and guidelines for logo placement. This style guide snapshot should also clearly show how not to use your logo.

An accessible snapshot of the style guide will assure vendors and employees working on internal communications stay true to the brand. Some companies include this information on their website either as a hidden page or, accessible to the public if they know their audience is likely to display logos and links back to their site. I’m a fan of the online resource. Working as a senior designer on a busy marketing team, we often got requests for our company logo. I was able to quickly respond with the link to the guide where they could also download the vector or web optimized logo file they needed.

Here are the primary roles of a brand style guide and style guide snapshot:

  • Protects the integrity of your brand
  • Gives your audiences a way to advertise for you
  • Promotes visual and messaging consistency
  • Increases brand awareness and improves recall

Everyone working for any company is responsible for assuring print and digital, internal and external communications are in line with the brand values and goals. A brand style guide snapshot is easy to use, increases readership and chances for compliance. Many guides are beautifully designed which goes a long way to inspire employees and stakeholders. Get inspired by viewing brand style guide images online.

If you don’t have a brand style guide or while searching your network you found that your file is outdated, please email me directly to improve this important resource.

Bring Eco Promotional Merchandise to Your Next Trade Show

Bring Eco Promotional Merchandise to Your Next Trade Show

Want to know how to give your booth visitors the best eco promotional merchandise? From packaging and construction elements to your freebies, you can make decisions along the way to assure your company is green. This article focuses on making sure those great brand awareness items trade show visitors love to collect on their spin around the event center, are eco-friendly.

First, I want to share an experience I had about a year ago, coordinating a trade show booth for a boat show. It was a month before the event and I was excited to open the box of promotional merchandise that arrived ahead of schedule. I tore open the box with vigor and was instantly crushed! The color was on-brand, the logo turned out pretty great, but each piece was individually wrapped in plastic! Not to mention, the quality was quite poor. The floatable keychains were very popular at the event – apparently word spread to our local coffee shops that our booth had the best promos – but the guilt over environmental impact was overwhelming.

So, here we are! I am excited to reinforce and support your interest in eco promos for your events, trade show or other.

Don’t wait for the initiative to come, make it your goal to go green at your event.

Please, use your position to propose eco promotional merchandise. This is where it starts. If your job is to bring the proposal to the table, it starts with you. Yes, it really is that simple. Also, planning early will make your life easier. Because eco promotional merchandise takes some research beyond standard ProForma, you’ll want to get your promo list together asap so you can focus on your other tasks, executing pre-show planning initiatives, day-of strategies, and roll out wrap-ups.

Here are a few recommendations for ecological promotional merchandise:

If you currently have a vendor you use exclusively, I recommend giving your vendor a call to look into how they package and ship products. When you’re choosing items, going the functional route means there’s a better chance the promo will actually be used. Together we can all have better, greener promos at our trade show events. Hope your event is a success!

I’d love to hear what your favorite ecological promotional merchandise items are and what you’ve used at your events! Please share in the comments below!

Feature photo credit: Photo by Marcel Parramon from Pexels