Case Studies Merchandise

What Promotional Products are people buying during Coronavirus?

I thought it would be useful to share what Promotional Products people are buying during the Coronavirus lockdown as these are such a powerful marketing tool to communicate with customers and employees during lockdown.

It is easy in this unprecedented crisis to batten down the hatches, shut the doors, turn off the phones and walk away. But while this situation won’t end quickly, it will end, and the challenge for us all in business is to try to ensure our business survive this storm.

In looking for inspiration I only need to review the actions of some of our customer & supplier base, to draw strength from their fighting spirit, resourcefulness, ideas and creativeness.

With my team furloughed, below is some of the promotional products enquiries & design ideas that I have been processing over the past week. I hope it gives you a little food for thought as to how you too can communicate with your staff and customers and effectively Keep in Touch.

Much of our sector has started selling PPE products, I’m not particularly comfortable with that, I don’t believe I am an expert, I don’t fully understand the regulations and I don’t have a history with a supply chain.

Hand Sanitiser

One promotional product we have always sold which has of course exploded in demand is Hand Sanitiser. A month a go as soon as stock landed it was sold before I could get an email posted!

Things are a little calmer, a bit like stock piling at the supermarkets, the supply chain has caught up and you can now buy Hand Sanitiser fairly easily.

We have this UK made sanitiser available, comes in a 50ml bottle and is available either with a genric label or with a bespoke digitally printed label. MOQ is 100 bottles are the lead time is 7-10 working days.

Image of a bottle of Hand Sanitiser with a bespoke printed label, a really useful & valuable promotional product during Coronavirus

Face Masks

Another product that is related to PPE but not specifically tested as such is Face Masks.

Sustainable and washable Face Masks made from cotton or polyester as opposed to single use varieties are being requested.

Face Masks are quite common on the news reporting from Far East Asian countries, historically fighting pollution but I see these becoming as common as wearing a hat in the UK. Providing us and the people we come into contact with a little protection from airborne droplets etc.

There are options for printing through dye sublimation and creating almost a fashion piece, I see corporates being able to dye masks to their corporate colours, maybe use tie-dye effects to create something that is on-brand without it maybe being a logo over someone’s mouth & face!

At the moment it is a small cottage industry of machinsts turning their equipment to supplying the front line NHS but I foresee this sort of thing will become mainstream and some manufacturers and printers within the promotional product industry are looking into product development.

Image shows a dye sublimation printed bespoke face mask, , a really useful & promotional product to protect during Coronavirus

Moving away from PPE, what other products are we seeing being requested and developed within the promotional product sector?

Promo Product Ideas

We have processed orders for Chocolates & Hand Creams as thank yous for front line NHS and Care Home workers.

A great idea for Home Workers which we quoted yesterday was for bespoke printed Yoga Mats. We have options for either a mat supplied in a printed drawstring bag, or if budgets allow for a full colour, full 100% coverage bespoke printed yoga mat with no limitation in colour or design.

Company messaging regarding wellbeing, a thank you, an image all staff members can relate too could be applied.

Available from just 20 pieces I thought this was a fabulous gift for house bound office workers encouraging them to stay healthy. Maybe even a 3 month subscription to an online class could be offered too.

Image of a bespoke printed yoga mat that makes a great gift to home workers during the Coronavirus shut down

Social Distancing Messages

Social Distancing, much like furlough, are new words to my dictionary, and once lockdown is released a key requirement and directive from the Government will be that we maintain our Social Distance.

Another product that is being ordered in preparation for the unlocking of employees and hopefully some social interaction is printed clothing & workwear with Social Distance messages.

Image shows printed t-shirts a promotional product that communicates social distancing during the Coronavirus
Image shows printed Hi Viz Jackets a promotional product that communicates social distancing during the Coronavirus

If you would like to see other examples of some of the pre-printed designs we have come up with please email me.

Of course the Social Distancing and Coronavirus messaging isn’t unique to clothing and clients are being creative with the artwork they are asking us to print to their promotional merchandise.

While it is harder to send promotional gifts to clients that are furloughed or working from home, many clients have taken the opportunity to either send gifts promoting wellbeing and recognition to their staff at their homes, or we have seen enourmous generosity through clients sending gift packs to frontline NHS staff.

Some design ideas for Covid-19 related merchandise include Keep Calm and Keep Distance, Heart Shape messages for the NHS and the hashtag #WFH

Image shows a range of promotional products that communicate messages to staff and customers during the Coronavirus

The following designs have all been created to make it easy for us to personalise product & clothing to help you deliver your message to employees or customers, each can be tweaked to your own brands as required.

Image shows a range of promotional messages that can be printed onto promotional products and clothing that communicate messages to staff and customers during the Coronavirus

Promotional Products are a powerful marketing tool at any time of year, but right now, during this unprecedented pandemic maintaining lines of communication with employees as well as customers is crucial for long term survival. I hope the above provides some inspiration for your next marketing campaign!

#StayHome #StaySafe


Want to get noticed? Try lumpy direct mail.

With email open rates consistently falling, direct mail, the physical through the letter box stuff can be the only way to get a message read, and lumpy direct mail is the addition of a product into the mailing that makes it that bit ‘lumpy’ and therefore creates a bit of interest and excitement for the recipient.

The On-line Crowd

People often describe on-line media such as twitter, facebook, google+ as networking rooms where people are just shouting louder and louder trying to be heard, but still everyone is climbing over themselves to get into this room, apparently it’s the in-place!

The Off-line Space

I have a different idea, let’s swim upstream, do something different, you want to get noticed? I recommend you try lumpy direct mail which still very much has its place within the marketing mix.

Email marketing is much the same, my inbox has a constant stream of emails from suppliers, wannabe suppliers and spammers vying for my attention, and unless the headline happens to grab my attention, in the bin it goes.

Do you know how much physical mail I received today?

Nothing, not one piece of mail landed on my desk, I wonder how much you received? What’s the ratio of sales & marketing emails received to Direct Mail, and if done well then the below cartoon may just ring true.

The key is obviously Direct Mail done with thought, not just a letter and leaflet, but a well considered marketing piece, using lumpy mail– the sort of mail that provides intrigue due to its size, shape, bulk and rewards the recipient on opening with a little gift.

Here at Sussex we use various forms of direct mail, we mail mugs filled with chocolate, we send catalogue packs filled with goodies, we send newsletters and at Christmas and Easter we often send promotional gifts to our customer base.

Why use Lumpy Mail?

At the minimum it acts as a marketing touch, a reminder to our point of contact, but at its best and most effective we send a useful promotional product to a customer who is (1) grateful and (2) whatever gift we have sent lasts for months and acts as a little reminder of us, subliminally if on the desk top acting as a constant advert and puts us at arms reach for when we are needed next.

Such product ideas we have used include individually personalised desk top calendars, printed mugs with chocolate, coasters, chocolate Santas and printed sticky notes.

Each item, the product, the product colour, the printed message etc have all been carefully considered for the market.

When was the last time you sent your customers a little reminder by post? 

For help and ideas to find the right product to deliver your message to your market please get in touch, we’ll be happy to help, call the team 01273 493618.


The best Promotional Products Distributor, how do you choose?

With so many companies to choose from, how do you choose the best Promotional Products Distributor? A company with hundreds of Five Star Reviews who have won industry related awards has to be a good start!

The PAGE Partnership

The PAGE Partnership is one of the industry’s oldest and most respected catalogue groups. Sussex Promotions is one of its 40 members & has been for over 10 years.

PAGE survey all its members annually to establish who are the best suppliers to the group. In return, all suppliers are surveyed to see who they consider are the best Promotional Products Distributors.

The Page Partnership catalogue is 170 pages, with over 1400 of the latest promotional products, business gifts and promotional clothing items on display.

Sussex Promotions customers are offered a new catalogue each June or have the option of seeing the entire product range online through the website.

Award Winning

We were absolutely delighted to be presented the Silver Distributor of the Year award at this year’s annual dinner in June, in the £1 – £3M turnover category.

Suppliers are asked to judge distributor’s on their professionalism, team knowledge, systems, payment record and feel good factor.

Our Barometers

For us here at Sussex Promotions there are two barometers measuring how we are performing. First how our customers view us and second how our suppliers measure us:

  1. our Customers are asked to complete a survey after ordering which is collected by The results can be found here.
  2. the Page survey lets us know how our Suppliers see our team acting

We have a customer rating of 4.90 from 340 reviews on

Andrew Nash, Managing Director, says “for our suppliers to endorse us as one of the country’s leading promotional products distributors through the PAGE survey is just fantastic.

As the AVIS car rental campaign of 1963 suggested, coming second to Hertz, We Try Harder!”

AVIS Advert 1963, we try harder to be the best promotional products distributor.

Still looking for the best Promotional Products Distributor?

From a sales team with years of experience and ideas. A design team who will inspire. An award winning customer service team, you’ve found the needle in the haystack! Please give us a try, experience for yourself why Customers and Suppliers consider us to be one of the country’s best. Call us, 01273 493618.


Choosing the right Promotional Products.

How do you go about choosing the right Promotional Products for your campaigns ?

More often than not customers tell us which promotional products they are wanting quotes for, which is absolutely fine, but I do ask my sales teams to ask if you are choosing the right Promotional Products?!


Because…. “you don’t know what you don’t know!”

Who is the expert?

At Sussex Promotions we take a lot of calls for 500 cheap printed pens, or 100 printed mugs, or stress balls or embroidered polo shirts but these requests are typically based on what that the customer knows.

The requests are based on the product knowledge of the buyer, not the knowledge of the promotional product expert.

What if there is a much better printed promotional product available that is perfect for your target audience, perfect for your message, but you don’t know about?

Our supply chain continues to design and introduce new product lines, new print techniques provide opportunities that maybe didn’t exist just last year.

If my team don’t ask why? and if you don’t ask, you’ll never find out about it! And you won’t be choosing the right Promotional Products for your campaign!

Some questions that need answers:

  • Why are you looking for promotional items?
    • Which will lead into….
  • What are you wanting to achieve, to communicate?
  • Who are the customers / prospects?
  • What do they do? What do they like? What will be useful to them?
  • Are they ladies or men? What age? Demographic? Office or Field based?
  • Where are they based? How are you reaching / distributing to them?
  • What are the logistics & storage considerations?
  • What does your logo / message involved, how many colours, how big?
  • What is the budget for the project, per unit?
  • Etc etc.

Sussex Promotions is a team of promotional product, branded merchandise enthusiasts… sure we’ll be delighted to supply you the best-selling branded pen that are the printed contour pens.

But if you tell us why you want that promotional product?

Then you might end up choosing the right Promotional Products with something very different, interesting and engaging for your target audience.

Choosing the right Promotional Products

Promotional products work if they are useful to the target audience, if they engage with the customer, if they use it every day, they will see your name, brand, logo, message.

The printed pen might be perfect, it often is, but Sussex Promotions has a team in sales and in design who might have a better pen, or an idea for how your brand can be brought to life or a new idea that your audience will love.

Ultimately, we want to deliver maximum ROI, and help you choosing the right Promotional Products.

The team is available on 01273 493618, we look forward to hearing from you!


How do Promotional Products Work?

How do Promotional Products Work? The PPAI (Promotional Products Association International in America) published this infographic of research explaining why promotional products are such a powerful marketing tool.

Powerful Marketing Tool:

  • 88% of recipients of Promotional Products can recall the advertiser
  • 62% can recall the printed message
  • 59% have a more favourable view of the advertiser
  • 85% did business with the advertiser after receiving a product
  • 47% kept the promotional product for more than a year
  • Top reason for a promotional product working: USEFUL
  • After clothing, Pens & Drinkware are the favoured product categories
promotional products work

No further words needed from me, other than Promotional Products (done well) work!

Andrew Nash is Managing Director of Sussex Promotions, your one stop shop for all promotional product and clothing needs.

Please call our friendly and knowledgeable sales team today on 01273 493618 for a bespoke quote or product ideas for your next marketing campaign.

If you have a comment about the infographic or your experience with Promotional Products in general we’d love to hear from you please use the section below.


Desktop Calendars, the most cost effective advertising medium.

In today’s virtual world Desktop Calendars are not going to be most marketers idea of the most cost effective advertising medium available! But what other marketing mediums are guaranteed to be seen every working day?

Prime Marketing Real Estate.

If your target audience sits at a desk for a large proportion of the day then that work space is absolutely prime marketing real estate if you can occupy part of that space. This is why coasters or mouse mats have in the past been such effective promotional products as they sit in this space and are so visible.

Premiums v. Gifts

At this time of year we and our customers move our attention away from what I might call advertising premiums and look instead for business gifts. With the desktop in mind I think printed, personalised, calendars are a great gift but they also represent 12 months repeat advertising.

This year we have produced a business gift which we feel is a nice thank you to our top 100 customers for their business this year. Our customer base is nation-wide so a mailable item is essential. We have tried to go the extra mile using bespoke photography that has been taken across Sussex when Andrew & his friends have been out on the mountain bikes in our beautiful county that is our name-sake.

Sussex Promotions 2019 desktop Calendar

Desktop Calendars – 12 month product!

This promotional desktop calendar will hopefully be well received. It’s a nice quality product, useful of course, it does its primary job of saying “thank you” to our customers.

But by the nature of what it is this gift of course has a 12 month shelf life. It will act as a subtle reminder of us to our customers for all of next year, sat in their prime marketing real estate.

Just re-read the above, it’s the really important part and it’s why I think Desk Top Calendars are the most cost effective advertising medium:

  • a gift that has a 12 month shelf life
  • subtle reminder
  • ALL of next year
  • sat in prime marketing real estate

Wine & Chocolates?

Now yes, you can spend just as much money on a couple of bottles of wine, on boxes of chocolates or tubs of sweets, which will be well received, may be better received initially.

But as December progresses all the other suppliers’ bottles of wine, boxes of chocolates and tubs of sweets merge into one collection. They’ll be distributed amongst the team but none are really remembered and certainly not come mid January!

How are you saying thank you and Merry Christmas to your customers this December?

If you would like help with promotional products for your customers give us a call on 01273 493618 or leave a comment below.


Mad Men meets the internet: the ongoing appeal of promotional products

Despite the internet, the appeal of Promotional Products continue to find their place in the marketing mix.

Mad Men

If you were glued to every single box set of Mad Men, you’ll know something about the history of advertising and the way it simultaneously appeals to nostalgia and the future, blending old and new into successful marketing campaigns.

In fact the 50s, the decade in which the earliest episodes of the show was set was something of a mecca for promotional products. Companies really embraced the benefits of promoting their brand identity with customised gifts chosen from catalogues.

Promo Products are still an effective tool

While times have changed somewhat, with the internet supplanting the catalogue as the place to do business, the appeal of Promotional Products is undimmed and they remain an effective tool in the sales process.

Major exhibitions are held around the world annually, including the PPAI Expo in Las Vegas, PSI Dusseldorf and the BPMA Silverstone that set the tone for the year ahead.

Peak marketing seasons around holidays and major sports events present an opportunity to gift valued customers and employees with clever merchandising material from the tried and trusted to the cutting edge.

By some estimates, the industry in the UK is worth over £1 billion.

Statistics highlight the appeal of Promotional Products

Research by the PPAI & BPMA turns up a number of fascinating statistics about the impact and influence of promotional items:

Nearly 90% of customers received a promotional item in 2017

9 in 10 recall the branding

8 in 10 recall the messaging

7 in 10 recall the call to action

83% are more likely to do business with a brand that has given them a promotional product.

That combination of huge reach with an unparalleled influence over decision making behaviour is what gives old style promo products a very 21st-century edge over other marketing platforms, including social media.

The Big Four

So why are promotional products such a good fit for a wide range of businesses?

Promotional items generate resonance with your customers, with 83% developing a more favourable impression of your brand after receiving an item, even something as simple as a printed pen.

The promotional products market is dominated by four categories of product: clothing (32%), writing instruments (7%), bags (7%) and drinkware (7%) – exactly the kind of promotional items that would have been around in the 1950s.

If you can match up your products to your clients’ lifestyles, so much the better – take the humble water bottle for example.


Drinkware is one of the big 4 in the promo products industry, especially at the moment with so much media attention on coffee cup waste and single use drinks bottles. 

There’s a good reason for the popularity of personalised mugs and water bottles despite the recent spike in interest for eco reasons. Just think about those water cooler moments, and Mad Men had more than a few episodes that generated plenty of discussion in the office the the next day!

Now imagine someone using your smart customised water bottle to get a refill that sits on their desk for the rest of the day and from which they swig on the commute home.

Put your logo and CTA on a water bottle and you’ll generate the lowest cost per impression of any form of marketing. And by presenting such a useful, high-quality and well designed item as a gift, you’re buying into the ability of promo to engage your customers with your brand in an overwhelmingly positive way.


Wearables or Clothing are the king of promo merchandise. A great T-shirt, fleece or softshell will find its way into any employee’s off-duty wardrobe and of course charity fundraisers and community challenges present great opportunities to brand your contributions with ‘Team’ clothing.

Design and quality are both paramount, which the industry is serving better and better with recognised designer brands allowing their garments to be co-branded and decoration methods allowing for all sorts of retail inspired accents in the decoration process.

Writing Instruments

Writing instruments might not seem like the most glamorous of promotional items, but they represent a huge RoI.

A good quality printed pen is highly functional, and people tend to have one handy at all times in their bag, car, and on their desk which must be the most prized piece of marketing real estate. Pens also have a habit of changing hands often, increasing their reach and the number of impressions they generate.

We’ve mentioned the sheer usefulness and longevity of a well-designed and decorated water bottle, and you can apply the quality/utility/fun mantra to insulated coffee cups and quirky mugs.


Bags, on the other hand, are another universally welcome item that can be toted far and wide – when shopping, at the gym, or even taking the kid’s equipment to an after school club.

A well designed bag is also unisex, which is a consideration when it comes to your promotional swag budget.

Finally, never forget the environmentally aware dimension of a good quality promotional product – a reusable shopping bag, for example, is a really useful piece of merchandise in an age when we’re all aware of the harm that plastic can do. And by choosing promotional items that use environmentally aware and recycled materials you’ll promote a positive ‘green’ impression of your company.

Up and coming

We’ll admit that tech gadgets have been around for long enough to be embedded as the must-have swag for Millennials, but this segment of the market is the most innovative and receptive to change.

Smartphone-related accessories will continue to be a smart choice, because of their sheer ubiquity, and the USB drive is simply a modern equivalent of the business card or the logo pen. The point is that these products blend our hankering for the future with our desire for items that deliver familiar results.

Promo products that bring together quality, usability, familiarity, fun and affordability are, like Don Draper’s famous Carousel, designed to capture and engage your customers. For a low level of outlay, you can blend the old and the new for a long range and effective reach.


There is no doubting the ongoing appeal of Promotional Products but with so much choice including the Big 4 and so much more we will be delighted to get involved with finding you the perfect product for your audience, campaign and budget.


Fad, fashion? Why the silicone wristband could be right for you!

The Silicone Wristband, they’re as much a fashion accessory as a marketing tool, a cost-effective and savvy way of raising your brand awareness. Durable, highly customisable and easy to distribute, a high-quality silicone wristband puts your logo and brand name directly around your recipient’s wrist.

It started with Lance

Back in 2004, the now-disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong and his Nike sponsors developed the Livestrong campaign, a support organisation for those battling with cancer as Armstrong himself had so successfully done. As he entered the 2004 Tour, aiming for a record-breaking sixth win, he was seen sporting a yellow band around his wrist.

Harnessing the power and visibility of the iconic yellow jersey was a smart move. Soon the roadsides of France were filled with eager spectators all wearing their yellow silicone wristbands supporting the Livestrong cause.

An astonishing 87 million bands were sold (some changing hands on eBay for vastly inflated prices), kickstarting a craze that has continued to the present day.

Pink Unity bands for breast cancer awareness. Turquoise and mustard bands for Movember. Sport Relief and Help for Heroes are two of the high-profile UK charities who receive much-needed donations from the sale of silicone bands.

And though it’s unlikely that a silicone band will ever capture the zeitgeist again like the Livestrong band, these rubber bracelets can still be a worthwhile investment as part of your marketing strategy for the right charity, brand or cause.

Fad or here to stay?

There’s no doubt that the silicone wristband no longer commands quite the impact that it did back in the days of Livestrong. But wristbands & bracelets are a growth fashion accessory, just as festival bracelets are worn with pride. For the right charity, brand, cause or movement the wristband still has massive potential.

In the same way that custom pens and keyrings are no mere fads, the silicone bracelet is here to stay.

The power of mobile marketing

The silicone wristband is something of a double whammy in marketing terms. Let’s say one of your employees is undertaking a charity event: in this case, selling silicone wristbands with an appropriate slogan plus your company logo will tap into the same feelgood factor that drove the popularity of Livestrong bands. After all, who can resist showing off their charity giving?

On the other hand, a well-designed, high-quality silicone wristband will make a great promotional freebie, as many people simply won’t be able to resist showing off something fun and attractive that they got for free. Putting your company name and logo on your customer’s wrist is a smart twist on word of mouth and mobile marketing, with phenomenally cheap costs per impression to add to their appeal.

Make a mark with Silicone Wristband

As with any promotional product, buy the best quality you can afford. Even buying top of the range bands is not expensive, and they’ll repay you with longevity. A broken or faded wristband is of no use to anyone. Another tip is to order de-embossed bands. Not only is the carved effect more sophisticated than printing, the messaging will last as long as the band does.

Now you’ll need to match your brand colours for recognition and consistency. Customisation is something that silicone wristbands do extremely well, with a huge range of colours and effects. Single colours may be on brand but mixing two colours and creating a marble effect look great. Such marbled patterns also mean no two bands are identical. Depending on the target audience this extra zing or colour and individuality may just help.

Next you need to get your messaging right, which is surprisingly crucial for your promotional bands. Obviously your logo and company name need to be on there, but don’t be tempted to leave it there because this is where you have the opportunity to really deepen your wristbands’ impact.

Maximum Exposure

Consider timing your wristband release to coincide with an online campaign and add your hashtag. The point is, the more value you can add to your marketing messages, the more effective your wristbands will be.

Finally you need to think about distribution channels for your bands. Giving them away – at conferences and trade shows, in your retail premises, at reception – are all quick and easy ways to get them onto people’s wrists.

But why not also tuck a few in with an order or your next direct mailer? Your customers will appreciate the extra little gift and return the favour by giving you free publicity.

Hold a social media competition with wristbands as a reward for participation and tuck a few in with the big ticket main item. Another great way to encourage your customers to wear your wristbands is to offer a discount whenever they shop with you wearing your band. The word will soon get out and all your customers will want one!

Silicone Wristband, a unique product

Silicone wristbands are perhaps unique among promotional products in that they don’t really serve a useful purpose. You can’t play with them like a frisbee or charge your phone from one of them. But what silicone wristbands offer is a cross generational appeal that few other products can match, except perhaps the promotional pen. A desirable fashion accessory for the young and a way to demonstrate your support for a company or cause without seeming over the top, with a proven global appeal, the silicone wristband covers a lot of bases.

If you stay true to your brand values and create the right band for your customer base, high quality silicone rubber wristbands are a powerful and enduring marketing tool. This modern marketing method is an easy introduction to promotional products, offering an exciting and unique platform for your marketing ideas through the medium of a much-loved and highly recognisable promotional item.


How to choose the right promotional products.

While marketers focus their attention on the increasingly crowded online market, the numbers don’t lie: with a recipient keeping your promotional product on their desk for an average of eight months, you’ll remain top of mind while your tweets and posts are lost in the ephemera of social media. But there are considerations needed on how to get your promotional products right.

The beauty of promotional items is that they not only allow recipients to see your brand, but to associate with it and recognise it at a future date. It’s that direct emotional connection that social media finds difficult to match.

Make an impact

The promo products industry has never gone away – in fact it continues to grow at a healthy rate, clocking up an impressive five-year growth rate of over 15%. It’s the seventh biggest marketing channel in the US, with sales topping $21 billion annually, and in the UK just under £1 billion.

More interestingly, where customers have managed to channel out most online advertising, they show an 85% recall level for certain products, particularly ones that are useful and tactile. That far outstrips the impressions made by an online ad and creates favourable impressions – over 75% of recipients of your promo products will have a positive attitude towards your brand.

We all enjoy getting a gift. But a targeted and personalised promotional item says something more: it tells the recipient that you care about them and are happy to have them as a customer. Even a printed pen can create a feeling of goodwill towards your business.

Choosing promo items to brag about

Promotional swag (US) or products (UK) is cost effective and particularly prized by the under 55s who, perhaps surprisingly, prioritise this form of marketing over any other: especially internet pop-ups that are frequently blocked.

But before you load an online cart with cheap giveaways, stop and consider whether giving away those kinds of items are the right promotional products and will create the impression you want. If you don’t want your customers to remember you in the worst way, then you need to invest some time and money in getting the right items to create the best possible impression.

So how do you get your promo products right?

Quality, utility and attractiveness are useful watchwords to keep in mind when you’re making your decisions, but there are other questions you need to bear in mind as well so as to get the right promotional products.

What’s your message?

Don’t choose a torch if you’re an electric company, or a deodorant if you’re a beauty salon. Why? Because the underlying message these create – that your power company creates power cuts, that you have personal hygiene problems – is not the takeaway you want to associate with your brand!

Instead aim for the quirky or the high quality if you want to create a memorable first impression – those products will be used time and again, not handed over to someone else or, worse, discarded.

Are you selling yourself short?

The value of your gift should really be commensurate with the perceived value of your business. If you’re a one-man-band start-up then you can get away with an ‘ironic’ printed pen, but if you hire out a fleet of luxury vehicles then a cheap giveaway won’t cut it.

Your items don’t have to cost a fortune, but they must accurately reflect your brand and its value. Avoid generic products like T-shirts or tote bags unless you can make them covetable and collectable with inspiring creative designs.

Does the cap fit?

Or the T-shirt, or the fleece? Giving away wearables is often a good strategy but this is one item where quality is everything. A cheap T-shirt with fraying seams, a fleece that’s too thin or a cap that’s ugly and doesn’t fit well are all big turns off for your potential customers. They’ll leave a poor impression with your recipients and may even end up getting tossed into landfill, which won’t do much for your brand if you’re trying to project an eco-friendly image.

Is your promo making an emotional connection?

Choose a product that your clients perceive as thoughtful and adding value to your transactions and you’ll create an emotional connection with your brand that can drive website traffic and earn you positive customer reviews. Again, it needs to be a thoughtful and unusual gift, continues your story rather than a low cost printed pen.

Do you understand your audience?

You’ll never find one gift that pleases all your recipients, so you may want to invest in a variety of products suitable for different demographics and client bases. Above all, your promo giveaways should always make your company look good, which is why there are so many different products out there – one size very definitely does not fit all.

Don’t blow it

While there’s a huge amount of choice when it comes to promotional items, and they can be customised with your logo and contact details in a way designed to create the greatest impact, this can be a double-edged sword. If you’re not clear on the purpose and objective of your swag, then it’s easy to make mistakes and not order the right promotional products.

Never choose items that you fall in love with, because the chances are your recipients won’t react in the same way you do. After all, you wouldn’t use an alcohol-related promo gift to promote a children’s nursery. It’s also wise to think twice about products related to your business – just like that electric company torch, they can carry the wrong message or simply be inappropriate.

Finally, just a note about effective messaging. You need to make every word count, so ensure that your brand messaging is both clear and on-point and relates directly to the campaign you’re promoting. Choose a contact method that you actually use – email, phone or website contact form – rather than one that you’ve been advised to use, otherwise you’ll have some very disgruntled ex-customers.

Effective promotional products can reap rich rewards in terms of reach and impressions, creating a real bang for your buck in terms of RoI and providing the kind of long-lasting impact other marketing channels can only dream of.


Why creating a Style Guide matters for use across all marketing materials.

Your logo is your company’s key visual asset. It appears on your letterheads and publicity materials, leaflets and marketing – and your promotional products. Consistency is key in order that your brand presents a uniform look to build that all important recognition, and that’s why you need to think about creating a style guide.

What’s a style guide and why might I need one?

A style guide is a set of rules that governs the way your logo appears – the size, colours, layout and typography. Being clear about the way you want your brand logo to be displayed helps to ensure that it looks consistent right across your marketing materials and promotional items.

Without clear guidance and a style guide, your logo can be printed quite differently on different products, ruining the consistent branding that you’re striving to create.

But it’s more than just how your logo should look, it’s about considering the entire interaction of your brand with your audience across all your published marketing materials. It’s a quick and easy way of showing how your brand should be presented.

Getting the rules right

There are three main considerations when it comes to creating a style guide for use with promotional products – the imprint area, your logo’s colours and your budget.

Different marketing materials will have their own rules to consider, promotional products have differently sized imprint areas. So why is this important?

Because your logo will be required to fit into a predefined area that varies between different products – just consider the difference between the size of a logo on a printed pen and a shopping bag.

Thinking carefully about different layout styles to match different imprint areas means that your logo will display to optimum effect.

The chances are that your logo might have multiple colours or different colour combinations, maybe full colour, a one colour and maybe also black & white.

Remember that each variation will have a different cost on different materials and that may determine which goes where but are the consistent?

Having a clear style guide with different options for imprint areas and colours that nevertheless are consistent within your marketing can help you keep tight control of your budget.

Focus on your logo

At the very heart of your branding, the logo is basically the face of your brand, the instantly recognisable key that enables customers to differentiate your products or publicity materials from the competition.

Therefore it’s vital that you ensure your logo is accurately reproduced in terms of its colours, layout, size and relationship to the white space around it.

For example, if you have two elements to your logo, your style guide would define the exact relationship between the two elements so they remain in proportion, whether it’s being reproduced on a mug or a T-shirt.

Creating several variations of your logo that are recognisably of your brand but adapted for use on different imprint areas is something you should consider right at the beginning of the design stage to keep consistency and a professional look and feel. This is crucial to building brand integrity.

Choosing colour

When you choose the colour for your logo you’ll almost certainly consider colour psychology – that’s why Coca-Cola has its famous red for youth and excitement, Facebook chooses blue for dependability and trust and Starbucks uses green to promote a sense of health and peacefulness.

Colour can connect with us on the most basic emotional level, so choose your colour palette wisely. You’ll also need to test how it appears on different coloured backgrounds – for example, printed on a black pen or a white T-shirt. If possible, you should also specify the exact values for the background colour.

But it’s also important to be absolutely precise about the colour or colours you choose by picking specific Pantone, CMYK, REG or HEX values.

This will ensure that your brand colours are consistent whatever they appear on depending on the process being used.

It makes sense to keep it simple with a maximum of two colours for your logo – this will not only keep your print spends down but keeps the repro options simple and yet eye catching.

Within promotional print more and more digital CMYK print options are becoming available but this can still create restrictions and if a design is full colour then a simpler single colour alternative makes a lot of sense at design stage.

Keep an eye on type

Typography is often neglected when you think about the way you want to represent your brand, and yet using certain fonts has become a design disaster for your brand.

When once creating typography was a specialist art with every letter carved from metal and set by hand, modern computers are preloaded with hundreds of fonts, of which several have become ubiquitous and best avoided.

Times New Roman, Arial and Comic Sans are just a few of the main offenders, but a good designer is likely to be able to suggest some dynamic and innovative replacements.

For example, if you like the authority and sense of tradition which a serif font like those used by Hugo Boss, Canon and Marlboro implies, then there are several modern serif fonts such as those used by Vogue and Cartier that give the same impression of reliability and quality.

Likewise, if you prefer the clean, contemporary and stylish look of a san serif font, then you’re in good company – this is the kind of typography favoured by brands as disparate as Samsung, FedEx and Nike. Steer clear of Arial and instead opt for fonts inspired by architectural and gothic forms.

Don’t completely discount script style fonts, though they are notoriously hard to work with and will not reproduce well on a small imprint area like a printed pen unless you choose very carefully.

However, they work for Ford, Coca-Cola and Instagram and can range from the casual and playful to the formal. These fonts need handling with care but they can create a big impact and brand personality if you use them properly.

Next steps

Surprisingly enough, a basic style guide is something that you can DIY without the need for a big art direction budget and an army of graphic designers.

Search online for resources and take a look at what companies with easily identifiable logos are doing with their style guides – Apple is an obvious choice.

Remember that creating a simple to follow style guide is about organising your brand principles and presenting a consistent brand experience to your audience. Consistency reinforces brand identity and when combined with cleverly chosen promo products, will keep your audience’s eyes on you and not the competition.