Winners Are Made
The mechanics of a successful awards program are fairly straightforward. Someone does something you like. You give them an award to show your appreciation. They accept said award and smile. Handshakes ensue. Clapping and/or cake may be involved. That's not the hard part.
The hitch to awards promotions comes in the actual selection of the award. What separates the plaque an employee treasures well beyond retirement from the trophy dumped quietly in the trash when the boss's back is turned? Larry Maloney, vice president of marketing for of R.S. Owens & Co., Chicago, and Ryan Shui, merchandiser for Norwood Promotional Products, Indianapolis, offered help with this question, with each picking one of their companies' best awards and going over some of the design features that make them so popular.
Maloney selected R.S. Owens & Co.'s Opera award, pictured left, which he named for its resemblance to the Sydney Opera House. It is one of the top five best-selling awards for the company, and the flagship product for its Acrylic Accolades product line. Shui chose the Kara award from Norwood Promotional Products' Jaffa line, pictured right, an exclusive art glass design that was very popular at the annual show last February for the Awards and Recognition Association (ARA), a trade association of about 4,000 awards suppliers, manufacturers, dealers and others involved in the awards industry.
Looking at both awards, it's obvious they have something in common: a notably distinct appearance, to say the least. Maloney and Shui both emphasized the importance of originality in their awards' designs, structures not too different, yet individualistic enough to set them apart from the competition and catch someone's attention.
For R.S. Owens & Co.'s Opera award, Maloney mentioned a few design elements that make it successful. "Versus other acrylic awards, Opera is made of thicker material, has bevels and slants a bit to the left when viewed head on (versus a more structured, 'normal' perpendicular design)," he said. Combined with the heavier metal base that also matches the curve of the acrylic, the Opera maintains a feeling of balance while offering diagonals and curves that are much more interesting to the eye compared to boxier, more conventional designs. "It is a combination of subtle design styles such as these that make the award just that much more different—and therefore that much more successful—from others," said Maloney.