By: Benna Crawford
Your brand is shorthand for the series of promises your business makes to consumers. An enticing logo, an appealing name and a catchy tagline increase traffic — unless they're invisible. So, the ability to be discovered is the key to success. Once your initial splash into the public eye fades, clever reminders can keep your business top-of-mind. Signs, banners, stationery, useful swag and a light touch of humor establish your visible presence in a crowded landscape. Branded giveaways and signs develop familiarity, attract new attention and create the impression of a stable, enduring business. Just make sure you comply with local laws before spreading your brand name.
Have a Banner Year
You're having a sale, sharing a co-op office space, or promoting a new line or a new service. A custom, full-color banner breaks through all the chatter and clutter to signal a good value — or help someone find your business — in a maze of possibilities. Magnetic and vinyl banners are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, and a mini-marquee with your name, logo and address keep your message out there. Remember, size matters. Trim your banner to fit your space and use a large enough font so people can read it at a glance. Always opt for color. Full-color banners offer an affordable way to reinforce your brand image with eye-catching colors and logos.
What's Your Sign?
Ideally, you were thinking about signs when you designed your logo. A good sign should be legible from whichever angle your customers approach, whether they are pedestrians or drivers. It contrasts clearly with its surroundings and the colors "pop" your logo, name and message. Signs work in a window, over a door, near a sale rack or counter, on a stick in the lawn or even on the side of your truck or car. A magnetic sign kit with vinyl letters and numbers sticks to vehicle doors and can be removed and reapplied easily — no more anonymous deliveries for your catering company, or stealth yard work. Make it easy for customers to find you with colorful, customized signs.
On the Fly
Advertising takes many forms, and flyers make effective, direct-to-customer promotions to blanket your local area. Avoid cramming every last iota of information on a flyer; a potential customer may not be able to read it in a hurry. Design flyers for strong visual appeal, immediate recognition and obvious contact information. For instance, a restaurant flyer might show a full-color specialty dish, while a moving service flyer might show a stack of boxes or a blanketed piano. Book flyers should feature the publisher's logo, the author's name and the book cover along with a couple of strong blurbs. Remember, always ask for paper upgrades. For a few cents more, your customers will notice a world of difference in your flyers. Custom-designed flyers are instant, inexpensive and targeted ways to connect with a new audience.
Window of Opportunity
Think of the theater a window cling or vinyl lettering in your office or shop window creates. Your colorful business name, logo or message — and a line or two of options or pricing details — are superimposed over a glimpse of the active business inside. For instance, "Chubby Chuck's Cupcake Cafe" has a display case of the mouthwatering confections as a tempting background, reinforcing the message to come on in. Pedestrians won't miss "Exotic Pets & Pythons" when the store mascot is slithering up a branch behind the sign. Custom-printed window clings go up fast and peel right off as information about your business changes — simpler and typically less expensive than permanent, hard-to-remove painted signs.
Everyone loves a free T-shirt, especially when it's a cool style, screen-printed with an awesome logo in full color. Printing company T-shirts for a fun run, community or charity event are a great way to get attention. Let your team dazzle the competition in the name of your brand. Hand out branded tees for special promotions, the launch of a new service or product, rewards for reaching a certain shopping level, or conference or convention swag, so word about your business spreads far and wide. A branded T-shirt for sale can also be another income stream — who wouldn't want to pick up a "Gnarly Nate's Brew & Boards" T-shirt to commemorate wipeouts at the best surfers' beach on the island?
Sports Gear Styling
Half of America wears workout gear to venture out into the daily fray, and even "the business suits" pack water bottles in their briefcases. A BPA-free aluminum or plastic water bottle makes a one-time giveaway with real staying power. Print your logo, custom message or your business name and a pre-made design on a carabineer top in a gleaming metallic or colorful painted finish. Choose a see-through, gem-color plastic or a bike bottle style. Hand them out to the first 500 customers at a store sale or opening, to purchasers of certain products or to booth visitors at trade shows. Water bottles are perceived as high-end value products, a marketable quality to have associated with your business.
These days, some people spend more time with their screens than they do with their families. Find your audience where they live with branded mouse pads, practical publicity for your business that's always at hand. You can add your logo, business name, website and phone number in colors that complement or match your main business colors. Add a note of humor to the mouse pad. You can give free mouse pads to clients to keep your name and number at their fingertips.
When you're shipping and sending products and communications through the mail, use every surface to display your business name and logo. Mailing and address labels can be colorful, miniature print ads that announce the sender of a sought-after item or the source of a clever marketing pitch. Why waste the space with a plain white label printed with only the recipient's address? You can get some extra mileage out of your mailings with the visible reminder of your brand, pasted across every envelope and package.
Genius at Work
Hotels have already trained people to read door hangers to see what they say: "Do Not Disturb," or "Please Clean Room." So your message will get a glance as your soon-to-be customer reaches for the doorknob. Make it memorable. Custom-printed door hangers can be created on a simple template or emblazoned with your own design. The locksmith service name and number might end up in a drawer for future reference; the restaurant menu could migrate from doorknob to fridge magnet. A door hanger designed for humor or utility might hang around long enough to influence a lot more people. "Please Remove Shoes" and "No Smoking Unless You're On Fire"— with your logo and website printed underneath — helpfully alert visitors to the house rules and give your business some presence on prime real estate: the front door.
About the Author
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has worked in executive management for global advertising and marketing firms, in finance industry regulation and as head of her own successful small business for 15 years.