Think Custom, Not Commodity. With An Idea For Adobe.
When swag recipients receive one of your promotional gifts, is it obvious that it came from you? What if the logo or branding were removed? Would it still be clear the promotional products were yours…or could the item be from anyone—including your competitors?
Generic promo products are just that. Generic. They don’t stand out in a crowd. They don’t completely tie into your brand story or marketing strategy. And there’s no differentiation with what you’re giving and what your competitors are giving…unless you create custom swag that is unique to you.
Custom Promotional Products Beat Commodity Items Every Time
In a world of crowded marketing messages, you need a vehicle that can deliver your story better than the competition. And common promotional products aren’t going to get the attention your brand desires.
Here’s an example to put the concept into perspective. In the article The Commodity Sale Is Dead (And This Is Why), Matt Heinz says:
“Produce is a commodity, right? Apples, bananas, salad fixings. But you know as well as I that some markets get a reputation for better produce than others. Freshness, selection, custom order possibilities, etc. Price is a factor, sure. But it’s one of many. If you play the commodity game, it’s just a race to the bottom purely on price. If you fail to differentiate, then you really are just like everyone else.”
While Heinz is speaking more about the products and services a company provides, the concept is also applicable to the swag you give. In fact, produce and promotional products just might have more in common with each other than you might think.
Have you ever received food gifts from Harry & David during the holidays? Their Royal Riviera Pears are legendary. First, the packaging is beautifully designed. You immediately know it’s from H&D and can’t wait to open it. Second, the product quality is excellent. The pears are soooooooo good!
At the core, the gift is simply produce. Just pears. You could go down to the corner market and get some. But you don’t. Instead, you want to give an experience. The luxury pears that are priced at a premium deliver this experience.
Translate this to promotional products. Choosing giveaways from the standard selection in a catalog or on a website is like going down to the corner market of branded commodities. If you want to create a meaningful and memorable experience for your target audience, designing custom promotional gifts is the only way to achieve that goal.
To prove this point, we gave ourselves a challenge to design actual product ideas for event giveaways for some of the world’s best tech brands as examples. The goal is to create truly custom promotional products that fit the example brand like a glove by baking in the DNA of the brand + audience + event.
Additionally, the products designed must achieve a measureable marketing goal, be different from every other promotional product at the event (read: be different than the competition), be different from every other promotional product the brand has used at events before, and it must be packable in carry on luggage—because what good is it if recipients can’t take it home with them!
Keep in mind there is no endorsement of any products by the brands represented. We’re simply trying to tell a story of what IS possible by using brands and events that you know and understand. So check this out:
Event Marketing Swag Idea: Adobe Iconic Toolset
The Brand: Adobe
The Event: Adobe MAX – The Creativity Conference
The Audience: Graphic designers
The Marketing Goal: Build brand awareness via repeat product exposure and use after the event
It takes something special to impress attendees at Adobe MAX – The Creativity Conference—an awe-inspiring mashup of 9,000+ of the world’s top creatives and best-in-the-business experts who come together to learn, share, create, connect and play. But designer Jen Pepper was up for the task.
To create brand awareness via repeat product use after the event, Pepper designed an artist’s tool set based on the iconic Adobe tools found in its software. The set includes an artist’s quality magnifying glass, pencil, paint brush, ruler and fountain pen—any or all of which could have an engraved logo.
“Designers who use these products have the idea of the pixel tools in their brains, so bringing them into the real world is a fun talking piece for their desk and studio when they return from MAX,” Pepper says. “They are Adobe through and through.”
By thinking custom and not commodity, Pepper created a product that incorporates good design and brand DNA, is strategic and has a purpose all while targeting a specific audience and being different from the competition. She incorporated the first six Immutable Laws Of Event Marketing Swag. And this is why the idea works.
Custom Design: Creating Memorable & Meaningful Swag
So what do you think? What would happen if promotional products weren’t ordered straight out of a catalog and instead were crafted following the Immutable Laws of Event Marketing Swag? How would incorporating good design and brand DNA, being strategic, having a purpose, targeting a specific audience and being different from the competition change your approach to designing promotional products for events?
Let’s get the conversation started. We’d love your feedback and constructive criticism in the comments. Also let us know what promotional products you’ve received that have really made you say “WOW!” Got ideas on what event swag you’ve never seen but would love to receive? Let us know that, too.
German designer Dieter Rams said: “Good design is making something intelligible and memorable. Great design is making something memorable and meaningful.”
We’re not gonna lie: Designing truly custom promotional products that are memorable and meaningful is hard work. It takes thought. Planning. Strategy. Maybe that’s why so many opt for simply ordering branded merchandise out of a catalog. It’s just easier.
But great brands didn’t become great brands by taking the easy way out. No way. They fought their way to the top. And paid attention to all the little details (like promotional swag) in the process.
And you can too. By removing the limits of what promo products are offered in catalogs and forgetting the commodity mindset, you can tap your inner creativity to design promotional gifts that deliver a remarkable experience. One your customers will stand in line for and share with their friends on social media. Isn’t that what you want from your promotions?
This is the seventh in a series of 12 Immutable Laws Of Event Marketing Swag. For links to each law as they are published, check out the article that started it all: “How To Reinvent Your Event Swag Strategy: 12 Immutable Laws Of Event Marketing Swag.”