By Desiree Daniello | Aug 2022
A brand used to be defined as “the act of giving a company a particular design or symbol in order to advertise its products or services.” This was a strictly visual definition that has evolved exponentially over time, especially in the past decade. There is so much more to a brand that its visual components. A brand is a personality. It is everything that encompasses a company to its stakeholders. Think of the company as a person, an individual. People are all individuals with different identities and personalities. A personality includes many different things including the way one dresses, communicates, the values they have, their friends, their characteristics, the story they have to tell, etc.
Much like a person, a company’s brand leads to their reputation. A brand and a reputation go hand in hand. In the business world, those 2 words can almost be used interchangeably. A brand is how consumers perceive that company. Essentially, it can be defined as all of the assets and actions of the business that shape the perception of that brand or company. One component of this is whether or not the company delivers on their promises.
Branding is more important now than ever before. Consumers are more overloaded with information and brands than they have ever been. Consumers constantly have information flowing to them and bombarding them through the internet, especially social media. Think about when you scroll through Facebook or Instagram. How many brands do you see in 5 minutes of scrolling? My guess would be hundreds, in just that short amount of time. People are exposed to a ridiculous number of new brands every minute of every day, so companies need to stand out. Remember, no company is operating on a local level anymore, regardless of whether they are big or small.
A strong brand helps companies get recognized and stand out in a crowd. They are the companies that set themselves apart from the competition. The brand must be cohesive and permeate the entire organization. This includes, but is not limited to, the following areas:
One major component missing during this digital age is the human touch and the emotional elements. Companies only have a couple milliseconds to engage with an audience emotionally, so they must be deliberate with their brand strategy and communication. If you are able to connect with the consumer on an emotional level, you are already above the competition that sells based on features and benefits. They will develop a relationship with you, so their purchases with you will evolve from transactional to emotional. Consumers develop relationships with the companies that they purchase from, not the products that they are buying, especially commodities in an overly saturated market.
Consumers do not have the time, interest, or attention span to figure out why they should care about your brand. You have to be deliberate and make sure your brand stands out and answers that question. The answer to that question should be easy to relate to and resonate with your target audience. Your brand messaging is going to set the expectations and promise that you make to your customer. How do you deliver on those promises? A promise is only good if it is kept. If this is done correctly, consumers will remember you even if they are not ready for your products or services.
Once they are ready to purchase from you and they experience your brand firsthand, they will become loyal to you. Loyal customers are key. These are the people that will generate leads and referrals for you. Word of mouth advertising from customers is one of the best and most effective advertising techniques. People will pass their perceptions on whether they are good, bad, or indifferent. Remember, people love talking about brands they like. A good brand will generate leads and referrals from their current customers. If you do right by your customers, you will become “that guy” in the phrase “I got a guy for that.” You will become the hero instead of just being a vending machine.
Remember these simple rules about branding. Your brand must deliver its message clearly and succinctly. You must reaffirm your credibility, which will in turn generate goodwill and loyalty. It is important to build an emotional connection with your audience. Your brand should also motivate your potential audience to buy or take the next step in the process of working with you. Before you strategize your brand, ask your self the following questions. What is your company’s vision in the next 5, 10, 30 years? What is the target you are moving towards? The brand should be based not only on where you are today, but also where you are headed. The next question is what do you stand for? What are the values that you need to live by to achieve your goals? This is essentially your “why” you are doing what you are doing. Lastly, what sets you apart from your competition? You need to know what you are doing well and why you are winning today. A great way to find out the answer to that question is to ask your current customers.
Promotional products can help take your brand to the next level. Did you know that the first promotional product that was used dates back to 1789. George Washington was the first recorded person who used promotional merchandise. He had commemorative buttons produced to motivate people to vote for him in the first presidential election. It is obvious that this strategy helped his campaign. He went on to become the first president of the US.
There are a number of ways that promotional merchandise can boost your brand. First, they can help you build a strong reputation with your audience. It has been shown that 25% of people have a more positive impression of a company that gives out promotional products. Those consumers that receive that merchandise have a much more positive image of the brand. They view the products as a direct reflection of the company they receive it from. Promotional products are actually the most highly regarded form of advertising, winning over tv and radio ads.
Next, promotional products help you stand out from the competition which is imperative in today’s world. These products help you build a more personal relationship with audiences. Think about it. People love free stuff! 76% of people who have received promotional products in the past 2 years were able to remember the product, the company, and the message that the company was conveying through the merchandise.
They also have the ability to create customer loyalty and retention. These products bring personality to your brand. There is a great value in the sentiment behind the offer. This feels personal to the customer. It is a tangible item that you are handing off to someone that you want to do business with. Once they receive the item, they have a tangible connection with the brand. After receiving a promotional product, that person is 85% more likely to do business with the organization that gave them that gift, no matter how small. It actually gives the consumer a sense of reciprocity. They want to do something for you because you did something for them.
Promotional products are the most effective tools for prompting customer action. They motivate people to take action and do business with you. No other form of advertising is as successful at persuading people of all generations to take action. Once they enter into a relationship with you, they are going to tell their friends as long as you delivered on the promise and they have a good experience with you, regardless of the situation in which you connected. Promotional merchandise has been shown to draw as many as 500% more referrals from satisfied customers than an appeal letter alone.
Of course, when you are getting all these referrals and people are talking about your brand, it is going to build your brand exposure. This allows the name and logo of the company to be seen by a variety of people. 60% of people will keep their promotional product for 2 years. Those that do not want their item anymore, will pass the it to another person. Research has shown that 67% of people pass the item to another person when they no longer want it. They do not want to throw the item in the trash because it was a gift to them. You showed effort and sentiment when you gave it to them. People do not easily throw relationships in the garbage. While they are passing your item from person to person, you are gaining exposure to many different people from many walks of life. This keeps you top of mind.
Lastly, promotional products are a great form of advertising. They have an average CPI (cost per impression) of only $0.004 per impression. This is the least expensive form of advertising. Buying these products in bulk puts less of a burden on your marketing budget than any other form of advertising. Don’t forget. We have trained our brands to ignore advertising, but promotional merchandise is tangible and in your face. 57% of people remembered the advertiser that is shown on their mug. This can be compared to 32% of brands heard on the radio and 28% of brands seen on the TV. All in all, promotional products can push your brand to another level. As cost effective as they are, they have the ability to help you gain brand exposure, stand out from the competition, build relationships with consumers, build customer loyalty and retention, and call people to action to do business with you. Start with your brand strategy, add promotional products to the mix, and watch your sales and reputation blossom.