The Great Outdoors
If you love someone, set them free.”
This, the worst relationship cliché of all time, is routinely followed up by the brilliant logic, “If they don’t come back, they were never yours; but if they do, you own them for life,” blah, blah. Terrible. However, despite its existence on many a tween’s Facebook page, when taken out of the context of a tumultuous love affair, it’s strangely relevant in the realm of promotional products.
If you love your clients, set their logos free. Why keep them locked up tight, indoors, when there are so many fish in the sea? Winter’s over, don’t commit!
Of course, in keeping with the aforementioned banality, there is a bit of fine print involved. It’s highly unlikely the logo will return. The laws of cost-per-impression pretty much mean it’s out there to stay. But we bet it’s a risk your clients are willing to take.
The first step of letting a logo flourish in the wild is allowing it to be itself—a workaholic. Outdoor marketing collateral is a heavy hitter in a variety of areas. “Banners, flags and pennants have been used in just about every type of retail business or special event,” said Brandon Westmoreland, inside sales for Dallas-based National Banner. A few particulars he noted include sporting events, outdoor festivals and concerts, though he added, “It would be really hard to narrow down the popularity to just one or two markets.”
Whether for generating attention, support or foot traffic, “These products serve as an extension of corporate identification to link brand recognition with the function of an item,” noted Cindy Scardino, marketing coordinator for Gill Studios, Shawnee Mission, Kan.
Gill Studios’ decals have been used for everything from simple signs to parking permits, plus, the sheer logic and practicality of bumper stickers has not been lost on Scardino. “According to a CNN article last July, 89 percent of Americans drive to work,” she said. “Whether the commute is one mile or 10 miles, the quantity of signage available to view to a captive audience is vast and varied.” A few seconds of recognition is all it takes to turn passers-by
What’s more, as the seasons change, the volume of said passers-by just keeps getting better. “Spring and summer [are] upon us. That means people will be out and about enjoying the weather,” said Westmoreland. Making the most of Mother Nature’s cooperation relies on a few easy design principles: “Big, bold and colorful,” he affirmed. But by the same token, simplicity is key. “A message must be communicated quickly, efficiently and,” Scardino joked, “without traffic mishaps.”
The customer and logo that play together, stay together—particularly in this climate. Promoting a healthy lifestyle and a feel-good mentality can only help branding, “especially when consumers’ attitudes have become very negative,” said Daniel Berkowitz, president of West Chester, Pennsylvania-based Picnic Plus by Spectrum. Since people are traveling less, he added, the area of opportunity for outdoor leisure items is growing.
But every thriving business needs product differentiation. While picnic baskets and umbrellas are great for typical alfresco enjoyment, you should also consider products for Grizzly Adams types as well as items that can jive with the urban dweller’s philosophy: “I am out of the house, therefore I am outside” (don’t be fooled, they’re really in a restaurant or a gallery or something).
For example, wine and beverage carriers can do double-duty. They make stylish and convenient work of bringing your favorite bottle to a picnic—or a BYOB restaurant. “The coolers and totes must be fun and fashionable,” said Grethe Adams, president of Southern Plus Umbrella, Hartwell, Ga., noting that bright patterns or a punch of color helps them stand out.
Or, for those who take their outdoor lives sans training wheels, New York-based Compass Industries has tools with a more rugged bent. “Binoculars and pocket knives are perfect for the outdoors,” noted Mike Levy, vice president. He also pointed to the company’s offering of well-known flashlight brand Mag-lite as “the perfect outdoor companion,” and one of the most reliable lights for safety. “They are always needed and wanted for everyday activities,” Levy added.
Regardless of an end-user’s inclination, however, portability is the be-all-end-all feature. “Clutter and space has become such a problem for many consumers, many of our products are designed to fold up or collapse flat when not in use,” Berkowitz said. These small, but ultra-important, design conveniences can make a big difference in how often the item actually gets used. As Adams noted, for her company’s new Contour Tote, easy mobility is one of its most exciting features. “It folds down to a small pouch so you can carry it with you wherever you go,” she concluded.