Design in Mind
THE PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS industry is a hungry beast. It feeds on new ideas, designs and innovations. It is insatiable. One product enters the scene, only to be greedily consumed and fed to end-users in an endless attempt to set a logo apart from the crowd.
This is hard work for suppliers of promotional products who must continue to fulfill a demand for products possessing nebulous adjectives, such as “new,” “hot” and the oft-cited “unique.” Many suppliers are left waiting to hear of new inventions, which can then be added to a line, but a few suppliers are taking a different approach. This rebel bunch goes beyond merely supplying products but is actually inventing them. The results are product lines that practically drip newness from wet ink on freshly printed catalogs.
At January’s ASI show in Orlando, Fla., a group of young women in lab coats stood smartly along the side of one aisle. The company they represented was Design Lab, Florence, Ala., and the show was its launch into the promotional products industry. One of the lab coat-clad ladies was Brandi P. Stokes, vice president of sales and marketing. “Design Lab is actually a sister company of a design firm,” Stokes explained. Having prior experience in the promotional products industry, she felt confident the company could stand out and deliver products that stood out as well. “Design Lab was born out of that,” she said.
The ideas that brought Design Lab to the industry are similar to those that brought a well-known success story to fruition more than 14 years ago. Logomark, Tustin, Calif., was founded by Trevor Gnesin in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1993. Today, the company has more than 4,000 products, said Damian Want, senior vice president. “We’ve never tried to do what everyone else is doing,” Want stated. “We’re always focused on something new, something that we can do better.” To aid the process, Logomark has invested heavily in design. The company staffs designers from the San Francisco School of Design and supports them with sophisticated design software. The company, though established and successful, has not lost site of its origin. Want said Gnesin, who still owns Logomark, continues to seek out new products and conduct product research, often traveling extensively to find innovative ideas and solutions to problems.