Pouring It On
2) CONSIDER BOTH SIDES
"The panels [of an umbrella] can be decorated with complete coverage imprints—including the underside," explained Jennifer Grigorian, vice president of marketing for Hit Promotional Products, Largo, Fla. "The decoration possibilities are almost limitless."
Blackmar outlined a memorable example, in which a Washington, D.C. Hampton Inn printed a map of the surrounding city on the underside of an umbrella. He noted that while not to scale, the maps were still useful for reference. "[Users] could give directions in the rain," he added.
3) CLEAR YOUR HEAD
Incorporating eye-catching structural features into a canopy design is another way to guarantee looks and enhance the promotional qualities of an umbrella. "We've done umbrellas for Gulfstream Aviation's distributor, where we made clear PVC windows in the shape of the trademark windows on a Gulfstream jet," Blackmar said. "Not only were they very stylish, but there were also safety features that allowed users to carry the umbrellas and see where they were going at the same time."
4) GET INKED
If modeling your umbrella after a jet aircraft isn't enough to turn heads, perhaps a touch of magic will do the trick. "Our watermark imprint is an exciting way to decorate an umbrella," said Grethe Castberg Adams, president of Southern Plus, Hartwell, Ga. "This special ink only appears when wet and makes for a real 'a-ha!' experience when you first see it."
5) HANDLE WITH CARE
Canopies aside, umbrellas offer plenty of other options for customization that can enhance the user's experience and make a particular product even more memorable.
"Handles can be customized, can be made of rubber, sponge, light and dark hardwoods, even recycled materials," said Blackmar. "All these elements add to the quality, fit, function and message [of the umbrella]."
6) BELIEVE IN THE SLEEVE
Customization options don't stop at the handle. Many suppliers offer personalized tie straps or imprintable sleeves as well. "Shoulder strap sleeves enhance the umbrella and give it a retail look," explained Richard Meth, vice president of sales for Edison, New Jersey-based Rainkist Umbrella Co. He noted that small features like these can pay off in a promotional campaign, citing an example from a trade show. "[A supplier] sent out sleeves imprinted with a booth number and a letter [directing attendees] to visit the booth to receive a free umbrella," he explained. "Booth attendance for the supplier increased dramatically for the show."