50 Creative Promotional Product Ideas For Brands & Creative Agencies
The most successful branded merchandise ideas bake in the DNA of your brand, your audience and the context in which they are given. They ooze your story and make your recipient feel something.
That’s why dreaming up a unique creative promo products idea is tough. Sometimes you miss the mark and the items end up in the trash.
However when you get your giveaway ideas really right, they take on a life of their own. Not only is there immediate social buzz but also ongoing use by your audience, which gives long term brand impressions from your corporate gifts. But this doesn’t happen with mass produced products. You need promo items that force you to stop and take notice.
The 12 Immutable Laws Of Trade Show, Conference & Event Giveaways detailed how to achieve this perfect fit between your corporate gift ideas, your audience and your situational context–all with swag ideas for brands such as Apple, Google and Netflix.
But these 12 ideas were so very specific to each brand, audience and event that we thought you might like to see a big list of cool promotional ideas with broader appeal to really get your creative juices flowing.
Check out these 50 branding ideas for your business:
1. Custom Sunglasses
This fetching set of Venetian Blinders may look like something from a 1980’s music video, but in actual fact it was featured at The Future Is Here, a 2013 design exhibition showcasing digital manufacturing.
Agencies and brands can take inspiration from cleverly simple laser cut products like this. Finding a way to play on their debatable merits as a fashion accessory, they are a perfect example of what can be made at high volume and low cost.
Creating promotional products ideas that show off your technical and creative skills in a fun, playful way is made even more memorable if your clients can wear it home.
2. Pop-Up Record Player Keeps Customers In The Groove
For executive gift ideas to make a lasting impression it can help to find a clever way to surprise and delight your recipient. Take this example from Canadian ad agency Grey who created a memorable direct mail product that references the client’s historical association with vinyl records.
A very basic but fully functional record player folds out from a sleeve containing the 45rpm single. Manually operated, the hollow space in the folded card amplifies the sound. According to Geoff Dawson from Grey:
“It’s actually shocking how good the sound quality is, it took a long time of playing with different materials and designs to get the audio just right.”
For a little more on the Grey player, check out the brief review on Modular 4.
Take this idea for a spin or use it as inspiration for making simplified interpretations of other familiar domestic products.
3. Laser Cut & Engraved Stamps
The tactile satisfaction of a physical stamp can help give your brand a memorable impact. The example above includes a simple but cleverly designed laser cut ergonomic handle which also has several surfaces where further branding or information can be laser etched.
Whether laser etched stamps are produced as promotional items to be given away or as a tool to apply branding onto media for prospective customers, there is a novel human element to it that can communicate at a deeper level than conventional printed materials.
Creative modern interpretations of seemingly superseded technologies are a great way to make your brand stand apart from the competition.
4. Laser Cut Paper Crowns
Whether you are actual royalty or just a regular Joe, on certain occasions there can be something special about slipping a crown onto your head. As this example from Art We Heart shows, there is scope to include considerable complexity (and therefore artistic expression and identity) when using laser cutting in this way.
Laser cut crowns are a cost-effective way to transform customers into proud, willing and eye-catching roving brand ambassadors that will make heads turn. Let your fans make a regal impact wearing your company’s brand messaging at the next big trade show or industry event.
5. Laser Cut Pop-Up Chair Card
Giving your clients a quick and easy construction project can be a fun way to ensure your message will be remembered. This effective example of a pop-out chair from seier+seier was produced as a Christmas card and includes straightforward assembly instructions and branding etched onto the remaining material.
As a cute little extra, an additional card featured a bonus pop-out cat to sit on the assembled chair.
Using laser cutting, you can create branded merchandise that can ecreaasily be transformed from 2D to 3D by the end user. These kinds of interactive designs are great way to make a lasting impression.
6. Business Cards With Just The Key Details
When exchanging business cards with someone, what information about you do they really need? In a world where connected devices are within reach at all times, perhaps your most critical info is your online presence.
Gabe Ferreira reduced his key details down to a personal website address and then maxed out the text to fill the area of a traditional business card. In his own words:
“…there is no distinction between content and material. The cards are more durable and cheaper to produce than most ‘premium’ business cards.”
To give brand identities a strong visual presence, this example from Gabe shows how clever laser cutting will really stand apart from the more familiar printed alternatives.
7. Multi-Layered Laser Cut & Etched Images
When an image is laser etched it takes on a whole new emotive feel, as many artists have demonstrated in recent years. This example from Malaysian laser cutting service Passion Woody uses a clever combination of photographic imagery with laser cut and etched wood.
It is a simple but very effective technique that gives the printed material a depth and visual presence that really catches the eye. Using laser cutting and etching in a selective way to enhance key aspects of an image enables your brand messaging to have a totally different impact.
8. Laser Cut DVD Sleeves
Distributing large files on optical media continues to provide significant bang for your buck… even in these times of ever-cheaper flash storage. So if you’re still using discs as a way to distribute your digital wares, why not show off some creative flair with the packaging that goes along with your promotional CD, DVD or Blu-Ray?
The particularly refined laser cut case pictured above comes from designer Jazz Tigen, and it is a great example of the impact that can be achieved when you break away from the standard DVD sleeve.
Here are a few more approaches that others have taken in creating unique CD and DVD sleeves through clever use of laser cutting such as these by Sarah Holbrook.
The dark colors used by Stine Strand allow the contrast of the bright colors to show through.
The circle design by Neslihan Ulus has a subtle cool vibe.
9. Laser Cut Flat-Pack Vases
Flowers in a vase can mean so many things, and bringing a beautiful snippet of nature into our lives has a unique magic to it. Where to put those flowers can be as personal as the choice of flowers themselves, but sometimes it can help to give people something to work with.
As we’ve seen many times before, laser cutting is a great way to quickly achieve novel 3D forms from sheet materials. These vase examples from Colin Francis and Chromatophobic use a test tube as the vessel, with a laser cut structure to hold it in place.
How would you use this as inspiration for your own creative promotional product ideas? To get you started, imagine placing branding on a slot-together structure that assembles around a standard water bottle, which can then become a functional keepsake for conference attendees or clients to take home with them.
10. Laser Cut & Laser Etched Awards & Trophies
Rewarding people for their hard work or congratulating team members on a particular achievement has greater impact when something tangible can be handed over. If the presentation item is good enough, hopefully it will be retained and proudly put on display to share with others.
With even the most straightforward use of laser cutting and laser etching, awards and trophies can be easily customized. Identifying the event and naming the recipient in crisp, clean laser precision adds a perceived authenticity to the trophy. We’ve come a long way from hand-engraved brass name plates glued to a generic cup!
Pictured above is a laser etched award plaque-in-progress by Epilog Laser. For more creative approaches, check out their other examples and think about how you could make the most of laser cutting to give your next presentation ceremony a memorable impact.
11. Laser Cut & Engraved Business Cards
Attending a conference or event involves many layers of social nuance. As these laser cut and etched examples show, with a little creativity and planning in advance you can find all kinds of ways to make personal identification novel and memorable.
Pictured above are samples from the Engraved project by John T Kim. The clean graphic impact of this design and the way that it has used the precision of laser etching are a good reference point.
12. Key Rings
Quirky Etsy laser cutters Cropscotch have taken the traditional name tag and given it a laser etched makeover.
13. Name Tags
Here’s another traditional name tag, where a section of the contour that has been laser cut to break free from the standard rectilinear format. This works well with the laser etched artwork, while leaving plenty of space for primary and secondary lines of text. A nicely resolved example from Dominion Stamps.
14. Place Names
Here are some wedding name tags produced by DoES Liverpool that will be standing up long after the guests have gone wobbly at the knees.
15. Conference Badges
These name tags have that iconic laser cut look to them, and were quite a hit at the OKFestival event in Finland.
Taking a similar approach but with a more refined outcome, these name stencils from Miss Bold encourage the recipient to use the laser cut trinket for further acts of identification.
17. Illuminated Signs & Labels
This creative promotional product idea is a bit more involved than laser cut or laser etched wood, but as you’ll see, the extra effort is well worthwhile. Produced for a kids workshop at FabLab Aachen, the LED illuminated name tags have laser etched details that light up when a cleverly integrated circuit is activated. The battery is held in place by the wire legs of the LEDs, so there’s no soldering required. Check out the design in detail over on Instructables.
18. Laser Cut Annual Reports & Catalogues
Celebrating a company’s milestones and achievements, the annual report is an important document that can be further enhanced through clever use of laser cutting. By using typographic voids, multicolored layering and other similar techniques familiar to laser cutting designers, the published information becomes interesting and eye-catching in a way that invites the reader to explore further.
Pictured above are examples of laser cut cover artwork on annual reports and cataloges from Under Consideration (top-left) and Croatian Post (lower-right) as well as internal content from Pelayo Insurance (top-right) and the Zuiderzee Museum (lower-left). We can see in these different approaches that selective application of laser cut elements can help to give a sense of prestige and style to the printed material.
19. Laser Cut Cards
High contrast laser cut layers are really visually effective and unusual materials mean recipients are more inclined to display and keep them.
Laser cut and etched wood has a striking impact all on its own, but as this example from San Francisco creative duo b-spired shows, adding in a backing layer of bright colored card really makes things pop.
Enhancing the crisp lines and bold negative space that is such a strength of laser cutting, the layered card creates a high-contrast visual impact that completely transforms the natural tone of the timber. The same effect will be equally impressive when applied to other popular laser cutting materials such as acrylic and metals.
These greeting cards and invitations also have a sturdy backing and a neat little pop-out stand, because when something looks this good, chances are high that people will want to display them.
Imagine how this technique would look when applied to corporate identities and company artwork.
20. Laser Cut Mobiles
While there are some people who don’t give the humble mobile much thought outside of a baby’s nursery, for others the transformation that takes place as an object floats delicately through the air can be quite mesmerising.
Mobiles can take on many forms, as is demonstrated by the playful examples pictured here from Diana Jess aka daswooddesign. Hand-made from low impact eco-plastic, she used the compositionally friendly arrangement of four floating elements (pictured above), but you can also have just as much impact with five, three, two or even one lone pendant suspension. It all comes down to how interesting your individual items are and how well they balance when suspended.
Many of our favorite laser cutting materials are ideal to use in this application, as the silhouette of the object and the negative space around it contribute to creating a dynamic visual impact. The designs from daswood achieve this particularly well, using the strengths of laser cutting to make the most of the chosen material’s physical characteristics.
Where can you suspend this kind of eye-catching merchandise from? Going beyond the standard ceiling mount, there are opportunities around us all the time. See what else you can come up with to create a “space modulator” that leaves a lasting impression.
21. Scale Models
Taking an everyday object and making it big can really change your perspective. The same thinking can be just as effective going the other way–when large objects become interesting and engaging by making them tiny.
No one does this better than the clever makers at Everything Tiny. As we can see in the tinysaur example above, miniaturisation is an easy way to encourage a fresh, light-hearted response to your brand. Considered use of layering and materials can also help to create more impact, and also remember that small items tend to be fragile or easily lost, so a display case of some kind (perhaps laser engraved with a logo?) would be a handy addition.
22. Cake Toppers
Tasty treats are a great way to draw a crowd at your tradeshow, and as these playful laser cut cake toppers demonstrate, there can be so much more to the proverbial “cherry on the top” if you’re willing to get creative with laser cutting.
This approach calls for elements that ring true with the strengths of laser cutting: A combination of crisp outlines, bold forms and delicate silhouettes that are uniquely eye-catching. Individual units are also fast and cheap to make, and they will be resilient enough to withstand the rigors of more than a few rounds at events or parties. This makes them a great take-home souvenir or giveaway, with the added memorable twist of your brand being associated in a fun way with a tasty treat.
Using the cupcake as a base for their creative endeavors, John and Christine from Thick and Thin Designs have gathered quite a following with their cake toppers on Etsy; a few of which are pictured here. Bringing your corporate messaging to life has never been so sweet.
23. Tiny Boxes
Wondering how to use laser cutting to stand out from the crowd? Check this mini shipping crate out. Complete with cargo inside.
The distribution of creative promotional products can be a powerful marketing tool, with novelty objects triggering conversations between stakeholders in new and interesting ways. When used to full effect, these products become memorable in their own right and, most importantly, this also means the brand identity becomes an integral part of the ongoing conversation.
For an exhibition showcasing the best student works titled “D&AD New Blood,” the creative design team from Southampton Solent University incorporated visual, conceptual and sensorial metaphors into their very effective event swag. A neat little laser cut box was produced in the style of the ubiquitous Southampton dock packing crates. Inside, further supporting the theme of “cargo,” nestled a macabre-looking glass vial with the top sealed in wax.
This small bottle of wine continued to play on the New Blood idea of creative juices being shipped out. All sealed in a laser cut crate with sliding lid and laser etched details, it held just the right combination of conceptual nostalgia and contemporary novelty to become an effective conversation starter. People loved the diminutive scale and the nonsensical utility of the object. This was all made possible through clever use of laser cutting to increase brand awareness. See more photos of the miniature crates on behance.
24. To Scale Models
Life-sized laser cutting is pretty darn impressive, especially with shiny lights.
For brands and agencies in the automotive industry, the challenge of finding new ideas for creative promotional products to engage and excite potential customers calls for eye-catching innovations that are able to match the impact of the vehicles themselves.
Hand assembled from 1,700 individual laser cut pieces, the cardboard replica carries with it the fine contours and perception of energetic motion that is a hallmark of the Lexus brand. For the model makers, the process of exploring the complex three-dimensional design contours using a flat 2D laser cut material gave them an insight into the creative skills of the automotive engineers.
Through this cardboard construction, they were able to create a visually arresting object that is “…a celebration of the human craftsmanship skills that go into every car Lexus makes.”
Just as in smaller laser cut products, to achieve this highly refined, successful outcome the designers went through many iterations with the seats and wheels proving particularly tricky. The speed and versatility of laser cutting enabled an efficient workflow in the transition from digital model to 3D physical object.
“Once we could see the physical pieces taking shape, we could identify where we needed to make improvements…”
For brands and agencies working in the automotive industry, the scope for novel creative responses to design briefs is greatly enhanced when laser cutting enters the process. We often see fantastic 2D laser cut promotional works, and as this Lexus campaign demonstrates, the impact of laser cutting at 1:1 scale can be a real conversation starter.
Read all about the cardboard Lexus here.
25. Silhouettes At Human Scale
The magic that’s in the air at sunset helps to bring John Marshall’s playful cardboard cutouts to life, with a real sense of movement and action communicated through his carefully constructed photography.
By planning each scene according to perspective, lighting and precision timing, an entertaining scenario is depicted with surprising realism. This human-scaled shadow puppetry is a technique that could be adapted to give an impact to marketing collateral that standard graphic prints can only dream of.
Location-specific installations encourage people to rethink their role in the physical environment, engaging the viewer and ultimately creating a connection to the space that leaves a lasting impression.
The examples shown here in John’s Sunset Selfies are all cut out by hand, and the concept is well suited to a streamlined process using laser cutting. How can your clients apply this idea of immersive puppetry using laser cut cardboard?
26. Laser Cut Pop-Up Text
It makes sense that with many promotional products and messaging items, the choice of typography plays a major role in whether your messaging gets through to people. One way to literally stand out from the crowd can be to create something that looks interesting and encourages a simple physical interaction, all within the text itself.
This eye-catching example of 3D text with a difference came from the forward-thinking fashionistas at Anthropologie. The event invitation would have looked appropriately refined and stylish printed onto white card, if only a more traditional approach had been taken.
However, the simple transformation of laser cutting a portion of the font outline completely changes how the recipient reads the message. Each word can be folded out to stand proud from the surface, making perspective, light and shadow all contribute to a more memorable sensorial experience.
Make your corporate messaging take on a whole new impact using laser cutting and see how your words stand up and get noticed.
27. Laser Cut Fashion
The intricate designs enabled by laser cut textiles are no longer an exclusive novelty for the haute couture runway scene. The bold fashion statements enabled by laser cutting are now within the grasp of the everyday consumer with leather, silk and other textiles ideally suited to the digital manufacturing process.
Delicate patterns reminiscent of fine lace and needlework lend themselves well to laser cutting, but as we can see in the image above, bold shapes and iconic imagery can be just as effective.
With some clever design thinking, laser cutting has also enabled more exotic materials to become wearable garments. The wooden t-shirt below by Pauline Marcombe uses laser cut panels attached together with wire, transforming what was once a rigid material into a malleable interlocking form of modern body armour.
Why would you turn to laser cutting for brand promotion? For one, the eye-catching impact of these fashion items invites attention and a healthy curiosity. But also, thanks to the laser cutting process, there is much scope for design freedom and customization at a price that is accessible to the consumer.
28. Laser Cut Food
For a tasty treat that is as much a feast for the stomach as it is for the eyes, laser cutting opens up a whole new world of possibilities. The precision and intricacy enabled by laser cutting is perfectly suited to many delicious everyday ingredients, as is demonstrated with the laser cut maki sushi rolls pictured above.
Laser Cutting In The Kitchen
The laser cutting we know and love works in two dimensions, transforming any flat material into an open creative canvas. Taking this into the kitchen where so many ingredients are rolled, stretched and beaten flat gives enterprising chefs a new tool with which to win over your heart. Sheets of nori (dried seaweed) are a great example, as they respond much like thin paper when laser cut. Then when they are assembled into a sushi roll the dramatic visual impact really draws attention.
Branding Good Enough To Eat
Applying brand identities and iconic imagery to ingredients creates quite a different engagement for the consumer than if the same elements are used on printed materials or packaging. With good reason, the way we pay attention to something edible triggers a response from somewhere deeper inside. How does that old proverb go? The way to a man’s heart… (following images via meatcards.com)
How can you tickle some taste buds using laser cutting?
29. Laser Cut Clutch
Wrapped in a living hinge, this laser cut pattern makes hard materials flexible. This clutch is made of wood!
There is something almost magical about the way a flat sheet of rigid material becomes flexible when laser cut using the “living hinge” technique. This method of achieving a 3D shape from 2D material is ideally suited to laser cutting, as it exploits the natural tendency for stiff materials to flex around voids or notches. With a distinctive visual identity, the functional design elements can also be quite eye-catching.
The result is a smooth, organic curve that can be controlled rather efficiently if you are willing to either put your head far enough into the mathematics of how it works or simply enjoy the prototyping process through several rounds of trial and error.
About Living Hinges
Learn more in our post on How To Design a Living Hinge where the mathematics behind this construction technique are revealed. While many examples of living hinges use simple lines as the decorative and functional element, it is in fact possible to adapt complex graphics (such as icons or company logos) to achieve a similar physical manipulation in the material.
See the following examples of patterns increasing in complexity and how they respond when they are a part of a living hinge. To the left is a basic staggered line element, similar to the clutch bag design featured above from Michael Harwood. Moving through to chevrons, larger voids in a plus symbol and then the more detailed Space Invader sprite, it is clear that visually recognisable icons can indeed become living hinge elements.
Applying This Technique To Your Brand
Staggered lines are an excellent starting point when looking at living hinges, as the behavior of the material is much more predictable and therefore easier to control. To keep things interesting, we do also encourage exploring more complex designs for maximum impact. Consider both the form that is created when the material bends around the living hinge and how best to incorporate brand identity.
Bagging the perfect fashion accessory has never been so fun.
30. VR Headsets
The impact of Google Cardboard on the accessibility of virtual reality has been dramatic. While not quite in the same league as “true” VR headsets such as Oculus or Sony’s offerings, it is remarkable what can be achieved using the Cardboard platform for under $10.
One benefit of the accessibility of Google Cardboard is that it is an ideal vehicle for promotional messaging. The platform has been used for advertising campaigns by some pretty big players as well as a myriad of small-scale campaigns and personal projects.
What Is Google Cardboard?
Watch the intro movie below to see how The New York Times introduced its viewer in a campaign that saw the units distributed to 1+ million subscribers. The portal at NYTVR showcases a collection of highly refined immersive clips filmed specifically for use in these virtual reality headsets.
The High Tech Approach To Low Tech
For a really polished example of Google Cardboard at its finest, look no further than the Volvo XC90 campaign. Using some serious high-tech equipment, they were able to film an immersive experience that enables people to get a sense of what it is like to be physically inside the new car. The Volvo Cardboard viewer has also received a fancy facelift, going beyond everyday cardboard to reflect the luxury feel of the brand.
Are You Ready To Go Virtual?
Can you think of a way to create your own branded laser cut Cardboard Viewer? Although the content associated with these two examples looks pretty slick, the physical platform itself is still based on the same core components. With freely available plans for the structure to be laser cut, it is surprisingly easy to achieve unique, engaging results from more modest materials and equipment.
If the examples from The New York Times and Volvo have perked your interest, then you may enjoy looking further at how others have made use of this affordable technology. There were also some creative submissions to the Ponoko Cardboard Design competition, showing there is still plenty of room for clever adaptations and customizations.
Give a bunch of people something round that can be thrown, caught, bounced or rolled, and within moments an impromptu game will have started. So strong is the allure of the ubiquitous ball, even the non-sporty types are likely to join in.
This clever flat-packed ball from Instructables user Scientiffic is comprised of only two simple laser-cut components. Repeated and then snapped together with no need for glues or adhesives, it is a neat example of how you can make a robust and functional object from basic elements.
What Does An Object Like This Do For Your Brand?
Engaging customers with a physical object that can then become a light-hearted networking tool allows your brand to form a different kind of association at an event. Incorporating the tactile process of assembling the ball, then adding in the element of play either as an introverted solo activity or as a way to interact with others may indeed prove to be more engaging (and therefore more memorable) than the usual event swag.
A Vehicle For Your Corporate Identity
The example here from Instructables shows the components of a ball that have been laser cut from wood. Ways to adapt this design could include the addition of company branding as a laser etched detail or even changing materials to use acrylic in colors that match your company’s colorway. Other options to generate interest and encourage interaction could involve the addition of simple electronics to illuminate the material from within or add engagement triggers such as sound or motion sensitive functionality.
32. Laser Cut Glider Business Card
Watch your brand take flight with this playful idea for a business card makeover. Canadian model aircraft supplier Norburn put a sample of its wares right into potential customers’ hands thanks to a snap-fit mini glider incorporated into their business card design.
The simple but fully functional flyer easily assembles from three components that pop out of the card. The fuselage and wings give plenty of space to lay out all the key company info, and although the assembled plane may not fit back into your wallet so well, chances are you’re not going to forget these guys any time soon.
Inspiration For Your Brand
The surface area provided by a business card may be small, but as this glider shows, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun there with some laser cut designs. Taking an aspect of what your company does and turning it into a simple 3D assembly gives people an interactive way to engage with your brand and generate a memorable connection. Adding in the functional element of (in this example) a glider that can actually fly would make for a real conversation starter at events or in the retail environment.
33. Sweeten Up Your Laser Cutting
Here is a great way to use laser cutting to help your brand stand out from the crowd. We already know that laser cut letters have serious impact when compared to printed alternatives, and there’s something that really grabs you when a typeface stands proud in 3D.
For agencies and brands, the need to go one step further in order to draw in the target audience can lead to some interesting design explorations.
The use of food, with all of its associations and temptations, opens up a number of unusual opportunities to enhance laser cut objects.
We’re wired to respond positively to sweet things. There’s something about desserts, particularly sweet ones, and it’s hard to get any sweeter than honey. Putting the sensorial experience of eating honey aside, actual honey is also a visual marvel with its mesmerising molten viscous motion and deep golden glow.
Here is a great example of this combination of food and laser cutting working really well together as seen in Design Hooked. Giving laser cut letters a unique eye-catching appeal, this experimental typeface takes inspiration from the classic wooden honey dipper. It is only once the honey is added that the letters become complete.
“We were attracted to the simplicity of structuring layers of wood, the mesmerizing viscosity and warm tonalities that honey has.”
34. Themed ‘Build Your Own’ Event Kits
DIY kits are a great way to engage people with the world that your brand inhabits. From a collection of snap-together laser cut parts, a miniature diorama can be created that entertains and stimulates playful conversation.
The example here comes from Michiel Post van der Molen’s wedding, where guests were given a Build Your Own Honeymoon kit that enabled them to become immersed in the newlywed spirit. The package contained iconic laser cut silhouettes along with a felt base, where a grid of slots allowed personal interpretations of the ideal romantic getaway to be clipped into place.
What unique worlds can you create to connect people with your brand using laser cutting?
35. Illuminated Laser Etched Business Card
Handing out cards is a networking ritual that is still going strong, and for good reason. As a conversation starter and trigger for memory recall, the trusty business card plays an important role. But with all the cards that get passed around at events, how can you make sure yours stands out from the crowd?
This bright example, designed by UK creative agency The Big A for artist Ghizlan el Glaoui, shows that there are indeed alternatives to printed cardstock. Although it may not be something she’s handing out to every passer-by, it would certainly have an impact for the select few who do receive one.
How Does It Work?
A laser cutter was used to etch artwork and text into the clear acrylic surface, with the result almost invisible when viewed in natural light. This all changes when the material is lit from an edge, in a process known as total internal reflection. For Ghizlan’s illuminated business card, a small LED embedded in the corner is activated with a gentle squeeze, lighting up a sample of her artwork along with her signature and key contact info.
Get inspired with the whole story via PSFK. With some ingenuity and imagination, laser cutting can illuminate your brand’s image, too.
36. Laser Cut Cross Stitching
The crafty, handmade look of cross stitch embroidery has something wonderfully warm and fuzzy about it. While the regular grid of holes speaks of an industrial precision, the contrast of woven yarn introduces a human element that is organic and inviting.
The pendant above was made by Rebecca from Hugs are Fun as a gift for her dad. Over time, Rebecca has refined her techniques to become a bit of an expert at making all kinds of laser cut cross stitched whimsies. It’s well worth browsing through her website for inspiration, patterns, project ideas and even items to purchase.
How To Use Laser Cutting For Cross Stitching
Cross stitching describes an embroidery technique of tracing out patterns using yarn or other coiled materials. In this particular example, the yarn is threaded through a defined pattern of laser cut holes to generate the raster-like effect. With a little creative thought and planning, you can come up with many interesting variants based on this core idea give your brand a cross stitched crafty twist.
The material of choice can be any of our usual laser cutting favorites. Bamboo ply, acrylic, metals or even leather and felt will all respond well as substrates for the cross stitch technique.
For versatile cross stitched patterns, a grid of laser cut holes will allow for quirky pixellated artwork or logos. It can also be effective to cut only the holes you need to define the form; leaving the substrate surface bare either to have presence in its own right or as an optional space for further laser etched details.
37. Laser Etched QR Codes
Ok so this picture is actually printed rather than laser cut, but you get the idea!
Our devices are talking to each other every day, and with all this chatter going on, making new connections or transferring data should be an effortless process. Technologies such as NFC (Near Field Communication) and QR (Quick Response) Codes help to make these digital interactions smooth and simple.
How Does NFC & QR Work?
For NFC to work, information is encoded onto an embedded chip. When two devices containing NFC chips come into contact (usually in the form of a bump or light tap) a process is engaged–payment could be transferred, data and audio connections established or other tasks involving interaction between the two devices.
QR codes operate much like a barcode; they contain a set of reference information that can be scanned using the camera on a smartphone. This prompts the device to access information such as a website address, play a video or (as in the example above) display login credentials.
Why Is This Useful For Your Brand?
The ability to seamlessly connect can give your customers immediate access to a deeper level of information. This means you can add collateral such as image galleries, video clips and other detailed supporting content without consuming valuable real estate on your product. There is much scope to have fun with QR Codes as well as to use them for sensible, straightforward communication.
In the example shown here, Instructables user BWRussell needed a way to share the login details for his wireless network. Tired of spelling out the passphrase to relatives and visitors, he constructed his own dongle that houses an NFC chip and a laser etched QR Code. All visitors need to do is tap or scan the code with their mobile device and they will be granted access to the network.
It is worth noting that when it comes to the actual physical QR code, a similar functional outcome can be achieved with a desktop printer. However, a laser etched QR code has a greater sense of quality and purpose.
See more of this DIY approach to NFC and QR from Instructables user BWRussell.
38. Hand-Stitched Laser Cut Action Camera Case
In almost every sport and active lifestyle pursuit, you will find people strapping on action cameras to document their exploits. These cameras have transformed the way outdoor activities are captured and shared in recent years, and because they provide broadcast quality results at bargain prices, action cameras have become an important piece of kit for professionals and amateurs alike.
While the action cameras themselves tend to be diminutive and relatively discreet, there may still be times when the camera is handy to have around without the need for underwater housings or fancy mounting systems. So what options are out there for the more relaxed uses of an action camera?
Pictured above is a laser cut leather case for a popular budget-level action camera. Designed by Seoul-based Architect Eduardo Chamorro, the laser cut protective sleeve will give minor protection from bumps and scratches and it is also valuable as a lighthearted way of creating a different visual presence for the camera.
How Can This Help Your Brand?
If you deal with people engaging in an active lifestyle, there is a good chance that many of them already own (and use) an action camera. There is also a high probability that these users care about how they look, which extends to their techno gear (it kind of goes along with the territory). Creating a custom accessory for an action camera will provide a strong visual reference that differentiates from the classic robust utility of most action camera designs.
Instead of a cheap silicon overmold, a laser cut action camera case can provide a visually appealing option for when the camera is not actually in action. The example from Eduardo is held together with crafty looking hand-stitched yarn that adds a cozy aesthetic that helps to soften the hardcore “action camera” styling of the product. There is also scope to use laser etching to add text, logos, brand messaging or other customisations to the leather surface.
For further images and files for Eduardo’s laser cut camera case see the project page on Thingiverse.
39. Laser Cut Drink Caddy
Yes, your summer BBQ essentials can be laser cut. Oh the possibilities.
As the days get longer and the hint of summer warmth spreads its cheer, gathering together for a BBQ is a great way to reconnect with friends and family. For those who are hosting and also as gifts for (or from) the invited guests, laser cut BBQ tools and trinkets can make any event a memorable experience.
Pictured above, this handy beer caddy will enable up to eight bottles or cans to be easily transported. The design makes use of the strengths of laser cutting, with interlocking components that require no adhesives and plenty of space to laser etch company, event or personalised details. Carting drinks from place to place doesn’t need to be an awkward balancing act. A laser cut beer caddy will get those drinks to your guests in style.
40. Laser Cut Beer Sleeves
If a wooden caddy is too cumbersome, you can go ahead and laser cut felt or leather to make fold-able beer or wine or on non alcoholic drink sleeves too. Check out these felt wine bags from MetisDeco.
41. Laser Etched Cutting Boards
The broad, flat surface of a wooden cutting board or cheese platter is an ideal location for laser etched brand messaging.
Adding details from an event or personalizing with quirky snippets and brand messaging will make this communal table item a memorable conversation starter or possibly even a desired keepsake. Examples: Dinner is Coming from Wicked Wooden Things, Mom’s recipe from 3D Carving, Lionel Richie from Darkling Designs 10.
42. Laser Cut Bottle Opener
Having carted beers to all your guests, they will need a way to open the bottles.
The profiles of openers are many and varied, and as these examples show, they are well suited to laser cutting. Whether you choose to have a little fun with the forms used (Beer & Friends from Hyde House, Porsche 911 classic from Racetrack Style) or incorporate the opener into an ingenious multi-tool (Hedgehog by Zootility Tools) or maybe go super-tiny like the Pangea Pico, the potential to get really creative with this simple and handy product is fantastic.
43. Laser Cut Coasters
The surface and outline of the coaster can also be used for creating functional laser cut bottle openers, but if you’re not going that far, simply creating interesting shapes can be more than enough. Consider the laser cut and etched street map series titled I Kinda like it here by the National Design Collective, further quirky fun from Zootility and interlocking Penrose tile coasters from PhaseSpaceDesign.
Each of these products present both an interesting form and a generous surface area where laser etching can be applied. As customized event collateral, they make for ideal promotional giveaways because they cleverly combine the feature of having fun with the function of being truly useful. All this happens while establishing further brand recognition and recall.
44. Divot Repair Tool
Those hard working executives at the top of the corporate ladder need to balance their business brains with some serious leisure activities. And as every CEO knows, the golf course is a great place to escape from the pressures of the office. Golf related goodies are always popular with corporate types, and this opens up a number of opportunities to introduce laser cut promotional products to tickle the fancies of the golf enthusiast.
Pictured above, a laser cut divot repair tool available on Instructables incorporates a magnetic disc marker that would be an ideal surface to add laser etched logos and personalized messaging. The divot repair tool is a simple device that can take many forms, so long as the functionality of the prongs is not compromised. Use laser cutting to get creative and customize a truly unique golfing accessory.
45. Golf Tee Markers
Tee markers are also a part of the group dynamics on the golf course, and as with the divot repair tool, what happens above the ground is quite open to interpretation. The brightly colored examples here from Boyd Golf (below, left/center) show how laser cutting makes it easy to follow a golfing theme. Using the same approach to suit particular corporate clients with branded imagery, logos and text can give a personalised feel to the laser cut golf accessory.
Golf themed products are a lot of fun as well. The reliable source of quirky products Vat19 has a neat Sportula (above, right) on offer, giving the trusty BBQ tool a golfing makeover that is sure to be a talking point at post-game
drinking networking events.
Laser cutting enables you to be creative in the ways that you engage with your client’s penchant for golf accessories.
47. Passport Holder
When marketing to the travelling executive, personalized laser cut travel accessories hit the mark because they will keep and use them.
When business executives and head honchos hit the road to seal the next big deal, they love to have all the right corporate gear. Let’s take a look at how laser cut giveaways and laser cut corporate gift ideas can smooth out even the bumpiest of business junkets.
48. Luggage Tags
Travel accessories are a great way to use laser cutting to customize products with company branding or personalized info.
In the above example from Laser Cutting Lab, a leather passport wallet with laser etched details not only protects this important document, it also sets the exec apart from the other travellers in the departure lounge.
Briefcases, suit bags, backpacks and checked items all need to be easily identified. The scope for creative laser cut solutions is broad and varied when it comes to luggage tags. The two examples above show how laser etched details can be used effectively, and also how the shape of the tag itself can reference travel-themed forms. Luggage tags can be produced using most of the familiar laser cutting/etching materials such as leather, acrylic, ply and sheet metals.
49. Chess Set
Work hard, play hard. Travel games are a great way to clear the head from all those work stresses while keeping the mind active. The portability of laser cut chess sets like the timber and leather Got Chess (pictured above) is just one example of how traditional board games can easily slot in to the briefcase or day pack.
50. Document Wallets
Document wallets, briefcase inserts, tablet and notebook holders can all be laser cut from leather and then stitched together. This method of construction gives a hand-crafted artisan look and will balance nicely with any custom laser etched corporate details that are included in the design.
Another consideration is to use laser cut felt, as in the example above from David Sjunnesson. Pictured on the right is a sample sheet showing how different engraving settings will look when using felt.
Laser cutting makes it so easy to add custom details to executive travel gear, made even more accessible thanks to the relatively simple design requirements of products like luggage tags and basic document sleeves.
Calling Designers, Engineers & Marketers At Brands & Agencies
You can go add your logo to a tee, mug or cap (like everyone else) OR you could turn on your creative streak to pump out some promotional product ideas that represent the DNA of your brand, your audience and the context of your giving.
Why have you not been doing this to date? It’s because on-demand custom manufacturing has not been so readily available. Until now.
If you’d like to discuss your whacky ideas, just let us know. We’ll let you know the feasibility, the delivery timeframe and cost. And anything else you’d like to know.