Incorporate Good Design. With An Idea For Apple.
As a designer, you know that promotional products can enhance the on-site event experience as well as serve as an important post-festivities branding reminder. But how much time do you spend working with event marketers and managers selecting branded merchandise to support meetings, conferences, tradeshows and educational summits? Where do you find products?
The reality for most designers and event marketers is that event swag is often selected out of a catalog at the last minute. While the products may align with corporate colors or event theme, do they truly represent your brand DNA?
What Would Happen If You Put Design First?
Forget the catalogs of endless products for a moment. Let’s say you could start with a clean slate. No preconceptions. What would happen if you put design first?
“Innovation today is inextricably linked with design—and design has become a decisive advantage in countless industries, not to mention a crucial tool to ward off commoditization,” writes Cliff Kuang, Fast Company’s director of product, in the article “Why Good Design Is Finally A Bottom Line Investment.” “Designers are the ones best situated to figure out how a kit of parts can become something more—they’re the ones who can figure out the human interface for a vast chain. If they do their job right, the result—a working ecosystem—is a far better platform for innovation than an isolated product.”
Incorporating Design Into Event Marketing
If you put design first, there would be no limits to the event merchandise you could make. The products would be more creative, unique to your individual brand and deliver your brand message to recipients in a way that no off-the-shelf product can.
In theory, this is absolutely true. But what about in practice?
To put our beliefs to the test, we took on a challenge: 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, 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 these 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.
Sound like a tall order? Yep. But we’re totally up for the challenge. Because we want to prove what CAN be done…with a little creativity and ingenuity.
So without any further ado… (insert drumroll here)…
With the first law in our series “The 12 Immutable Laws Of Event Marketing Swag,” we asked our designers to start with the basics to “Incorporate Good Design.” Here’s what happened:
Event Marketing Swag Idea: Apple #InCommand Earrings
The Brand: Apple
The Event: Anita Borg Institute’s Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women In Computing Conference
The Audience: Women technologists from 63 countries
The Marketing Goal: Create word-of-mouth on social media during the event as well as build brand awareness via repeat product exposure and use after the event
If you want to be surrounded by a lot of smart women all in one place, attend the Anita Borg Institute’s Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women In Computing Conference. Every year, GHC brings together the community of women technologists, the best minds in computing and increased visibility for the contributions of women to computing. GHC 2015, hosted nearly 12,000 attendees from 1,300+ companies in 63 countries. GHC 2016 is expected to top 15,000 attendees.
If Apple were an exhibitor at this event, what kind of trade show booth gift can you give such a large number of ladies from different backgrounds and cultures? Well, jewelry, of course!
To create word of mouth on social media during and after the event, designer Annie Rawle used the command key and the “clover” image that are unique to Apple as inspiration for earrings. The earrings are shaped like a ? stud on the ear, and they would be presented in a gift box that incorporates Apple’s signature packaging style.
The use of a uniquely Apple image—that isn’t the Apple logo—in a piece of jewelry is a good fit because it ties into Apple brand imagery (so no competitors would have an identical giveaway) and it’s not something available anywhere other than this event.
“Women enjoy showing off jewelry and also enjoy looking at what other people are wearing,” says Rawle. “A fun item like this would be visible as it’s worn and instantly recognizable as an Apple product so others would easily guess which tradeshow booth to visit to get one.”
To integrate the social aspect into the giveaway, create a hashtag that ties into the promo such as #InCommand or #GHCinCommand and encourage attendees to post photos of themselves wearing the earrings. You could even set up a selfie station with the #InCommand theme and Instagram photo frame to facilitate the fun.
Designing Promotional Products For Event Success
What a difference incorporating design can make in the types of promotional products that can be created to represent your brand at events! What did you think? Did we achieve our goal of creating a product that is unique to the example brand’s DNA + specifically targeted to an event and audience?
Let’s get the conversation started. We’d love your feedback and constructive criticism (no haters!) in the comments. Also let us know what promotional products you’ve received have really made you say “WOW!” Got ideas on what event swag you’d love to get but have never seen? Let us know that, too.
Whatever promotional products you design for event marketing, just remember that these products are the one thing customers and prospects can take home with them to remember you, so make sure you’re doing your brand justice. Create something that’s as truly different as you are.
“Ultimately, a company’s success hinges upon how well it intuits what users want and how much each pleases them with products,” Fast Company’s Kuang concludes. “Only design has that power to seduce and delight.” We couldn’t agree more.
This is the first 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.”