Google “promotional products” and within 0.74 seconds, over 1.8 million results will clutter your screen. Take special note at Google’s predictions to your query, and you will see that most people searching for promotional products are looking for fast and for cheap.
As the new client services director at Anthem Branding, with deeply rooted supplier experience, I can honestly tell you firsthand what really makes our agency different.
Most other players in our industry are selling a lot of the same products and services
Our creative director, Michael Benjamin, put it best when he said, “Unique, high-end apparel, outerwear, accessories, and retail products are often the unsung heroes of a strong brand.” The main takeaways here are unique and high-end.
Elevating a brand takes more than items and creative branding that anyone with an open wallet can get after five seconds on Google. Are they effective at building an emotional long-term connection with your audience? Do they provide a high return? Do they actually grow your business?
Likely not. And it’s because many companies fall into the “logo slap” trap, where a wholesale provider has a standard water bottle, for example, and slaps your logo on it the same exact way they did for your competitor, the business across the street, next door, and two streets over.
Don’t invest in something that you can find anywhere. Invest in making your brand truly stand out in ways that attract your target audience, and keeps them coming back for more.
Often, it can feel like ROI is the unicorn in this industry. It’s frustrating when you’re unable to calculate ROI accurately to know if that custom hat you invested in actually translated to sales or brand awareness or market growth.
Companies that factor ROI using customer experience feedback as the key performance indicator can more accurately capture the business impact of otherwise intangible variables: emotional connection, and the influence high-quality promotional items have on consumers' buying behavior. That is where you can tell the difference between us and others.
That wholesaler doesn't always ask you questions about the end user, your target audience, desired quality, how the item will be used, or how your brand can be subtly and creatively translated in a way that develops differentiation. They’re interested in taking their best stab at accomplishing your goals and then moving on to service the thousands of other companies that they support. Rinse and repeat.
The differences in our approach at Anthem Branding
If you can successfully design and produce a hat — one of the oldest and most traditional forms of advertising — that makes big name brand's jaws drop, you know you’re doing something right. Most importantly, it's because you’re doing something different, thanks in large part to the impact a professional designer has on a project.
We base everything on experience
We are just now collectively understanding as an industry, brands that have an effective brand identity built it based on experience; the experience their employees are seeking, the experience their customers expect, and the experience potential clients want but don’t know they want yet. With three out of four people spending more time with a company because of a history of positive experiences, this can potentially contribute to a revenue boost of 5-10 percent.
Our creative process begins with discovery and research
“Delivering great results on every project involves understanding brands holistically — beyond just look and feel—their history, business goals, customers, and messaging,” says Benjamin.
We learn about a brand’s target audience, their main goals, competition, and what the brand really wants to communicate.
And it’s because of this end-user connection our designers make while balancing the account management side of the project such as budget and timeline that build what we call a “vital pillar of brand engagement.”
Real-deal professional in-house designers and creatives
Sadly, it’s often common practice for companies to impress new clients with all the creative and design bells and whistles has to offer; whatever it takes to seal the deal. Yet, the second the ink dries, that level of creativity and design falls to the account manager rather than a designer.
With sales as the core responsibility, the account manager may be able to squeeze in some creativity here and there, and depending on how long they’ve been in the industry they can pull on what they’ve seen. But more often than not, in order to manage all of their accounts, they tend to leverage the same pool of suppliers for most of their projects.
Your audience will engage with you if your products make them look cool and feel good. Items that are produced cheaply and simply slapped with a logo are not going to make your audience look cool or feel good.
I’ll leave you with this from my new boss, Ted Church:
“Strong brand merchandise and authentic promotional messaging engage consumers, loyal clients, and potential buyers in ways that traditional marketing can’t. The long-term exposure tends to powerfully reinforce your product’s relevance to the end-users. And when done right, could be your highest grossing revenue channel.”