The process of designing and ordering company swag — things like pens, mugs, trade show banners, magnets, etc — can seem lengthy and daunting if you’re unfamiliar with the process. Working with an experienced company like Electro Image LLC can streamline the process. We believe ordering promotional items for your company shouldn’t be difficult. If you’ve never ordered promo items for your company before, you might not know what to expect. By knowing what happens from the very start of the design process to having the finished item in your hand, the whole process of creating, designing and ordering branded items is a lot easier.
Know Your Target Audience
If you’ve got a solid business plan, you already know who your target market is. This bit of info is particularly important when designing and ordering company swag. You wouldn’t want to give out a product that doesn’t get used, or worse, gets thrown away. Company swag that doesn’t appeal to your target audience is worse than useless: it’s a waste of time and money, even if you have the most loyal and enthusiastic customers in the world.
To get the most advertising bang for your buck when ordering branded items for your business, consider the things you use day in and day out. A coffee mug is a classic example of a promotional item that’s likely to see repeated use. Even if your target market doesn’t drink coffee, they’ll still probably keep it on hand for a cup of tea or hot cocoa.
Consider also where you’ll be handing out your items. If you’re planning to distribute your swag at a trade show, make sure it’s portable and easy to travel with. Lightweight items that aren’t fragile or liquid-filled are some of the best for trade shows — nix the oversized umbrellas, heavy paperweights and snow globes.
Invest in Quality Design
Quality design is a key element of producing branded products that produce results. And results are the point of promotional items. Will the lifetime value of your product pay for its cost to design and produce? This is called your return on investment (ROI) and it’s how you’ll measure the success of your swag. A poorly designed product is likely to get tossed very quickly and not even earn back the cost it took to produce.
Color is one of the main design features to concern yourself with. Take a minute to think about the color blue — how many different shades and hues can you name? There’s a lot. Choosing the right colors in your design to match your brand is essential.
Different color coding systems are used for different formats — on the web, your brand’s colors are expressed in HEX or RGB codes. When ordering promotional swag, you’ll be looking for the CMYK code. Sound like a hassle? It is. At Electro Image LLC,our design team will cut through the gibberish and tell you which colors your logo contains and what codes work best for print or web.
But design is more than just color and style: it’s creating an easily reproduced image in a file format that can be used to create a sharp, clear image whether you’re printing a 20 by 40 foot trade show banner for your next big event or a pen that someone will use daily. At Electro Image LLC, our designers work with Adobe Illustrator and deliver a .EPS file — a format that isn’t pixelated or blurry no matter how large or small you print it.
Choose Quality Materials
We’ve all gotten poor swag over our lives — items we’ve received from companies that made us shake our heads and deposit the item in the nearest recycling bin or trash can, banishing it from our lives. If you consider some of the items that you, personally, have banished, you’re likely to remember one thing: poor quality.
It doesn’t pay to cut corners when designing company swag. Choose items that you, yourself, would use in your personal everyday life. T-shirts that shrink or fade, mugs that are reduced to rubbish by the dishwasher or magnets whose logos smear or fade into an unintelligible mess after exposure to water or sunlight: these are the things to avoid when creating your branded items: because of poor construction and materials, their lifespan is reduced and you’re unlikely to meet your ROI.
Order a Proof
Once you’ve designed your product and selected the best materials for your swag, it’s time to order a proof. A proof is a one-off run of your promo item to make sure your swag looks exactly the way you want it to. Proofs can be provided as an electronic image or a tangible product. Although it tacks a few extra days onto your production process, it’s worth it: there’s nothing worse than ordering a run of thousands of items only to discover a typo after the fact or a misaligned logo or colors that are not at all what you expected. Those few extra days can save you big bucks by avoiding promo items you can’t use.
Production Time: What to Expect
Once you’ve worked with a graphic designer to create the image you want on your swag, selected your materials and ordered and approved a proof, you can then place your final order. At this point, you might be getting impatient to have your company swag in hand but remember: getting quality swag for your company is a process that requires patience.
Not including the initial design time or time spent creating a proof, expect swag production to take at least 10 business days from the date of your final order. If you have a deadline to meet in order to have your swag on hand for a trade show or event, start as soon as possible. Nobody wants to show up at a big event empty-handed.
Determining the Success of Your Swag
The easiest way to tell if your swag is a success is to determine your ROI: does the product pay enough to cover the cost of creating it? This calculation requires knowing what result you want from your swag and how you’ll measure the results.
Let’s say the goal of handing out swag is to create more brand awareness. How many people will see your swag and remember your brand? To figure it out, you’d calculate impressions — how many people are likely to see your swag — and the data on search traffic to your company’s website. This is a very rough way to determine if your swag is a success.
Another goal may be to generate new leads. Have your customers fill out a form or give a business card to receive swag. At the end of the day, count up the number of leads you have and you’ll have a concrete measure of how many people wanted your swag badly enough to give you their info. With this contact information, you’ll have a bunch of new entries in your customer database for future marketing. If your swag was a success, the number will be huge.
Getting the Most Out of Company Swag
Branded promotional items are a great way to get your business seen and talked about. The better your promotional swag, the more likely you are to generate a buzz. In order to create quality swag that catches the attention of potential clients, you’ll need to work with a graphic designer that can create a quality file, a production company that uses high-quality products and methods and, yes, you’ll need to invest a little bit of time in the design and turn-around process.
Although the process can seem daunting at first, ordering company swag should be fun and (mostly) painless.