Brand extension at work

I noticed that some of our clients are now shifting to higher-quality, higher cost items and imprinted with their logo alongside the manufacturer’s. Cutter and Buck pens, four-piece portable cafes, and Nike apparel are some of the most-ordered higher-end items.

Perhaps it has a lot to do with brand extension. When our clients sponsor a golf tournament, for example, they want something more than just visibility – they also want to be associated with a top brand. Who can blame them? Branding has always been proven to reinforce recall.

Even the top brands realize this. Nike, for example, now permits company logos to be embroidered next to ‘the swoosh,’ and many other top brands are doing the same. The benefits are mutually-beneficial. Top brands sell more products, and logos of companies promoting themselves are exposed and connected to trusted names. The old-school formula works yet again: association = memory.

- Josh

Insulated mugs

When I started working at rushIMPRIMT some years ago, one of my first assignments was to help a radio station choose promotional items to give to its employees for its anniversary party. The station employed only about 40 people, and they were pretty close-knit. It was important for me to find a promotional product that they could use in their daily lives.

I had only one day to come up with my recommendation (because this is rushIMPRINT), so I talked to their representative and asked some questions – unusual questions – to help me make an informed suggestion. I found out that the majority of the employees are in their early thirties, took the train to the office, were heavy coffee drinkers, and spent about $50 a week on Starbucks. That was when I decided on the perfect promo item:

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A 24-ounce thermos bottle with two mugs and a comfort grip molded handle to make it easy to carry. It’s perfect for coffee-drinking commuters, because it can keep coffee either hot or cold during long morning commutes. It’s also great for busy offices like a radio station, where employees keep going back to the kitchen for their morning cup of coffee.

My recommendation apparently worked, because just two days later, the radio station placed a reorder. Oh, and their employees cut spending on Starbucks, because they can now bring brewed coffee from home. :)

- Jen

Lip Balm…..Who Knew?

Every pocket, every handbag, every dresser, or every bathroom in the United States probably has a stash of lip balms. So popular are lip balms, in fact, that brands like ‘Lotta Luv’ has sold more than 30 million of these products during the past two years, and the brand ‘Leashables’ ships out about 1.5 million of them weekly.

I personally carry two kinds of lip balm in my purse – one orange-flavored, one cherry. I find myself buying packs of lip balm monthly. And I’m sure the rest of the world does, too. Lip balms have definitely become staples not only during winter, but throughout the year.

How do you take advantage of the trend? Put your logo on them! For less than $2, you will be putting your name on a product that is used by virtually all Americans every thirty minutes, or at least ten times a day.

Flavored Lip Balm
These are some of the lip balms we carry here at rushIMPRINT. They go for as low as $1.83 per piece.

The lip balms we carry are medicated with the right SPF formula to protect lips from dryness, cracking, and sun exposure. Best of all, they come in luscious flavors that taste so good, they may as well be candies.


PDAs versus paper folios

I thought I was the most technologically-backward person this side of the country, until I read this: Most people still prefer traditional paper folios to personal digital assistants (PDAs). And it makes sense, really.

Many carry phone numbers in their cell phone, and therefore do not need electronic organizers to do that for them. Most professionals are always sitting at their computer and lugging around their laptops, anyway, so what use would they have for a digital assistant? Conclusion: Electronic organizers are often redundant. They’re also pretty scary – you have to religiously synchronize them with your main computer, or you risk losing data.

The best thing about paper folios is that they are very simple but still work well. I’ve already tried using a PDA, but I find that there is no better alternative to dark ink on bright pages. The glare on screen texts makes reading harder. Paper is still easier on the eye, tangible and portable.

That probably explains why the orders we get for paper folios still continue to grow. In fact, we get a lot of orders from IT companies! That just goes to show that no matter how tech-savvy or ultra-modern people are, their affinity for paper never goes away.

 Cutter & Buck Jr. Writing Pad
This is one of our Cutter & Buck paper folios, crafted from stylish top grain leather in chestnut color.

So, should you buy a digital organizer or renew your paper planner? That is a personal choice. I know I won’t trade in my paper folio for anything electronic this year. For me, the paper folios work, and work well.

72-hour marathon DAY 3

The demands of producing promo items ten times quicker than the normal industry turnaround is nothing new to me. Most of my days here run on deadlines. We are, after all, the web’s first source for logo merchandise ready to ship in 24 hours. Clients who need promo items fast come to us everyday, because that’s what we do – we take care of last minute needs. They can simply select and order promotional products online before 12 noon of any day, and we can ship it less than two days later.

We do everything with the precision and regularity of clockwork, from customer orders, to order fulfillment, to shipping. We do all the worrying so that our clients never have to. It’s a stressful job, sure, but it is also very gratifying.

This just in: I got a call from my dentist, and he was asking if he could have fleece crews made to give to his staff for their anniversary, which is tomorrow. Great idea, considering that his office is quite chilly. He and his assistants can layer these fleece crews not only to protect themselves (as required by the state and OSHA compliance laws), but also to keep warm and promote the clinic. He was worried that the notice is too short, but I was quick to correct him, of course. I told him what I always tell clients: At RushIMPRINT, it’s never too late :)


72-hour marathon DAY 2

Everything is going pretty well with the fleece wear order. Production is in full swing, which means I can now put down my third mug of brewed coffee, breathe, and do some research for the client.

Warming up to fleece
Our instincts were right. Clothing is still the most popular category for promotional items (more popular than mugs, actually). T-shirts are still the most used, followed by fleece vests and hats. But fleece is really moving up – many experts say that it is now quickly replacing golf shirts and polo shirts (the ‘it’ promo items in the late 1990’s). Everyone is now quickly realizing that fleece is lightweight yet warm (twice as warm as wool), very durable, dries fast, and always looks good.

Now a staple in colder climates, fleece clothing is permeating even upscale fashion in the guise of ‘corporate casual style.’ But not all fleece apparel is the same. Recipients will probably throw pieces with cheap, shoddy workmanship straight to the trash, along with the company logo. That’s why we at RushIMPRINT make sure that every promotional item we produce maintains functional and visual integrity. We carry only well-made polar fleeces with stretch binding at the armhole and the bottom opening, and fashionable contrast inside-collar, collar binding, and side panels. You don’t want your logo on anything less.


72-hour marathon DAY 1

At 9:20 on my watch today I received a rather frantic email from the marketing representative of an old client – an insurance company – who said that they needed 200 pieces of fleece wear embroidered with their logo right away, in three days. They are sponsoring a local mini-Winter Olympics event and would like to give their customers something tasteful and functional – something that they could actually use, not shove into the back of the closet.

She asked for my suggestion and I recommended this unisex pullover…

 Chestnut Hill Unisex Polartec Quarter-Zip Pullover

…which comes in all sizes, and looks great on anyone. Fleece sweats are more flattering, lighter, and warmer than cotton sweats. That probably explains three things: (a) why many people now run around in them, (b) why you’ll find them in all colors in every GAP store, and (c) why they’re the hottest thing in the promo item industry.

To get the ball rolling, I headed off to our design department to decide on how the logo should be embroidered. We all agreed on a design that will embroider well – this way we keep the fleece elegant, stylish, and very wearable.

So many things have to get done. I have to coordinate with the design team and check back with the client and verify with production – basically pull all strings to make sure the order gets shipped by Wednesday morning, at the latest. It looks like I’m having another working lunch.


High-tech promo products (part 3)

More great news: some 73 percent of recipients of promotional products use the product at least once a week, and a whopping 45 percent use it at least once a day. This is especially true for technology promo items that take over almost every office desk in America (and some coffee shop tables, too).

Some 90 million people in the United States own and use computers, and a good 45 million of them rely on computers for work. Of this, more than 28 million people telecommute one to three days a week – that’s 42 percent higher than the 19.6 million figure only five years ago. So it’s without a doubt wise to invest in ultra-portable techie gift sets like this:

High Sierra Tahoe Computer Travel Set

Your recipients can literally bring all their computer accessories in one very small soft case. The set includes a wireless mouse, USB light, a 4-foot retractable phone cord and 2-foot retractable USB cable.

I also personally like this multitasking High Sierra USB Tahoe Pen:

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It’s real pen that writes, but it also has a USB flash drive in the crown. Talk about hardworking. Just like all our other memory stick promo items, this is the ideal giveaway to urban professionals and students.


High-tech promo products (part 2)

Over 22 million people own iPods or MP3 player in the United States alone. So it certainly makes sense to give iPod-related promo items like these:

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The Sound Pod Travel Speaker (left) is perfect for travelers who use either MP3 or CD players. Who knew that high-quality speakers could come in a size smaller than a hair dryer? Put your logo on the back left or right speaker and music lovers everywhere will surely remember you.

The Smart Pod Media Case (right) is another go-getter’s dream come true. People always on the move can keep their MP3 players secure and easy-to-access. It’s tailor-fit for every lifestyle – corporate people can use the belt attachment or swiveling clip, while more rugged individuals can use the arm band.


High-tech promo products (part 1)

It may as well be Christmas here at Rushimprint, because tons of new shipments are coming in. Just yesterday I saw Nine West Bags, and this morning I saw iCubes that feature universal docks for iPods.

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I’m not very tech-savvy myself (I can’t even use a fax machine), but this iCube is so simple to use that I now find it indispensable. I just pop in my iPod and instantly hear my songs in a stereo speaker with frequency range of 20Hz-20KHz.

I read that high-technology promo items like this are in the top rungs of the ‘predicted popular promo products for 2006.’ That certainly seems to be accurate, because why else did the Consumer Electronics Show last January have 2,500 exhibitors eager to show their new products, and need 28 football fields to accommodate onlookers?

The electronics industry is now becoming a major player in the promo world, coming up with cheap but very useful products for giveaways. It’s confident that it can boost its market share to $122 billion this year. For us the promotional products industry, that means ‘change’ – we need to focus more on high-tech items to cater to the tech-savvy clientele. We’re quick to spot the trend here in Rushimprint, so we are stocking up on everything high-tech. I’ll show them to you in the coming days.