Category Archives: Brand Identity and Corporate Logos

Cheerwine Inspires Promotional Novelties, Doughnuts, Unique Brand Experience

Tomorrow will mark a momentous milestone in the life of my home state, North Carolina. Krispy Kreme of Winston-Salem will release Cheerwine-infused doughnuts in 1,000 grocery stores across the Carolinas.

Never heard of Cheerwine? It’s a cherry-flavored softdrink produced by the Carolina Beverage Corporation in Salisbury, North Carolina, and found mainly in the southeast. Due to its scarcity and unique taste, the brand has developed a cult-like following, spawning fansites, promotional novelties, and specialty Cheerwine Floats offered at locally owned restaurants.

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Outstanding Employees Deserve Glass Awards; Customers Will Reap the Benefits

the Ritz Carlton
Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: Alina Sofia

Think for a moment about the various touch points customers have with your organization- maybe your website, maybe an automated phone recording, maybe a monthly account statement. But at some point in time, most of your customers will interact with a living, breathing ambassador of your brand. In a world where processes are becoming increasingly less personal, it truly makes a difference to receive individual assistance from a trained professional.

Take the Ritz-Carlton, for example. The hotelier empowers employees to go the extra mile for guests by offering monetary reimbursements for each customer issue they are able to resolve. To find out more about the Ritz’s creative employee recognition program and how to use promotional glass awards or other types of awards to motivate your staff, keep reading.

Schwinn Bicycles and Custom Sports Bottles for Summer Fun

When was the last time you spent an afternoon riding a Schwinn bicycle, sipping from a custom sports bottle, and waving to your neighbors with the wind blowing through your hair? I’m guessing, for most of our readers, not recently, although I know my coworker Acree happens to be an avid cyclist.

Nostalgia marketing is a powerful technique used by marketers to capitalize on the sentimental associations that their target audiences harbor for certain products and/or experiences. At 23, I rarely find myself feeling nostalgic about my past, but last Sunday afternoon, as I ventured out to Atlanta’s Virginia Highlands neighborhood to enjoy the beautiful weather with my dog and my sister, I spied a father on the sidewalk across the street teaching his young daughter how to ride her bicycle without training wheels.

For more about Schwinn’s advertising campaign and my latest personal wave of nostalgia, keep reading…

Lions and tigers and promotional products… Oh my!

Home to 4000 species of exotic animals and 100 acres of lush wildlife, the San Diego Zoo is one of the largest and most famous zoos in the country. I can attest to the vastness first hand because I was lucky enough to visit the Zoo this past weekend. While there, I pet a camel, heard about numerous conservation efforts, learned that koalas are marsupials (not bears) and was able to snap this photo of the San Diego Zoo’s promotional products.

I also started thinking about how much animals influence the realm of business. Over the years, well-known companies in a variety of industries have used animals as a logo to symbolize their strong brands.

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Rethinking a Marketing Strategy: Promotional Products and Social Media Synergy

A study of Internet usage released by The Nielsen Company shows that Americans nearly tripled the amount of time they spend on social media sites and blogs between August 2008 and that same month one year later. Over the course of that time, people developed and altered the way that they gain information. Not only are consumers turning to online news sources such as or the New York Times online, but also people are garnering more of their news from sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This means that hard news stories- about the earthquake in Haiti or the latest status update on healthcare reform- are cluttered with personal status updates, such as what John Smith ate for dinner last night or the color of Jane Doe’s new hat. What’s more, consumers are hearing the news through secondary sources that cannot help but add their own personal bias.

Personal bias about online news also applies to brands. Social media sites provide an easy and uncensored outlet for shoppers to share their likes and dislikes about certain products, companies and customer service experiences. Thus, as consumers spend more and more time on these sites, effectively changing the way they share and acquire information, marketers are forced to shift their campaigns as well. And they are. The same Nielsen study reveals that while the time consumers spent on these sites tripled, the amount of money that businesses spent advertising online increased 119 percent during that same time span.
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How promotional products influence brand recognition

radiolab.orgWNYC’s Radiolab — a fantastic podcast — had a fascinating short this week called “Do I Know You?” about people with a delusional disorder called Capgras.

A woman suffering from Capgras comes home to find a man sitting in her living room, wearing her husband’s clothes and containing all his physical features, but who, to her, simply is not her husband. In actuality, he is. But she can’t shake the feeling he’s an impostor.

Click to find out about how our brains manage recognition, and how promotional products enter in…

Costumed Sign Wavers Versus Promotional Products

Kolin ToneyOn my way to work each morning I drive by one intersection that always has someone dressed as a reindeer, dancing, waving, and holding a sign that reads “Caribou Coffee.” I have never stopped at that Caribou Coffee on my way to work, nor do I plan to, as I make coffee at home in the morning and have my first cup of the day on the road, and then my second (or third…) using the coffee maker at the office.  However the cheerful, dancing deer often leaves me with a feeling of pleasantry as I continue on my morning commute.

That is until I reach another intersection probably about a mile down the road (maybe 2? I am terrible with estimating distances). It is at this intersection that I am confronted with two (sometimes even three) people dressed in the most terrifying costumes resembling the Statue of Liberty(see scary mask below) that one could ever imagine holding signs that say “Income Tax” in bold letters with a telephone number below. They rotate their body position to direct their signs toward different directions of oncoming traffic, but cheerful they are not. No dancing, and I have only witnessed a wave once maybe twice. I suppose it may be fitting as income tax is not generally considered to be a “cheerful” subject matter, and certainly is less of a joyous matter than say, coffee at 8:45 am. And the costume, though frightening, is also fitting, as they are advertising for Liberty Tax Service whose logo includes a portion of the Statue of Liberty’s head (though the signs do not even denote the company’s name – I figured it out through a little online research).


Some further research led me to find that there are more than 2,500 Liberty Tax offices in the United States where more than 10,000 people are seasonally employed to wave at passing cars. This must be a reactionary effort created by the current administration’s job stimulus plan, was my first thought. My second – does this form of advertising really work? According to Paul Mason, professor and chair of the Department of Economics & Geography at the University of North Florida, it can:

“At first I thought that it was stupid, like people standing on the street waving for their political candidate,” he said.

So like any good skeptic, Mason began investigating to see if the sign holders made any difference in helping a business grow and thrive.

“I have asked business owners, restaurant people, etc., about how effective the sign holders are,” he said. “I discovered that particularly for stores that don’t have strong street presence or are just opening, it seems effective at letting people know that the place is there. It helps people try new stores by announcing their presence.”

By Joseph Baneth Allen
Publication: Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville)

I have not done any of the cost analysis (nor could I find any done by anyone else online) but I just cannot imagine that this form of advertising to the local community could be more cost-effective than say, doing a promotional products mailing to residents of the area. If you do choose to employ “Costumed Sign Wavers” however, please make them cheerful, and do not have them wear scary masks. Thanks.

Team Lead – Multimedia

Extreme Makeover: Promotional Products Edition

Jo Naylor-open-bookWhat do golden arches, a partially eaten apple and Mickey Mouse have in common? This question might sound like the start of a bad joke, but the answer is no laughing matter. These items all represent strong brand identities, which belong to McDonald’s, Mac, and Disney respectively (not that I had to tell you that.) Moreover, these symbols prove that a company name, logo and even a mascot send a message about the quality and consistency of the brand’s products or services.

As Jaime and Kim mentioned in their blogs earlier this week, it’s important to set yourself apart from the competition. The methods you use to attract consumers- offering free shipping, next day delivery or even just a catchy name and Web site design- all fall under the larger umbrella of branding. Business might be booming, but if no one can remember your name, customers will soon be drawn to competitors who offer similar products. Whether you are just starting up or trying to re-brand an established business, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine if you are on the right track.

To start with, who is your target audience? Go beyond just demographics and consider what types of products these people buy and how frequently they make purchases. Your research should certainly incorporate statistical analysis, but never underestimate the power of speaking directly with your customers. Listening to consumers’ needs and understanding their backgrounds will help you determine the most effective way to reach them; proven strategies often include interactive Web sites, social media, and promotional products. At the end of the day, your brand should be able to tell a story– if it doesn’t, you might need to step back and take a revitalizing approach. Does your brand need an extreme makeover? Use promotional products to re-brand.

Marketing Coordinator
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Tell your brand’s story with promotional products


Recently I visited my friend Brian, who was looking for bikes on Craigslist. Now, Brian already has two bikes — a fixed gear and a tandem — but he wants more. Brian’s not the kind of guy to be satisfied with a practical fulfillment of his needs; he obsesses over things. When he adopted a cat a few years ago he wasn’t satisfied with that, either. He let the cat have four kittens in his house, then he adopted a ferret and brought his childhood pet snake from his parents’ house. The animals all live in harmony with his roommate’s hedgehog. Brian is neither greedy nor rich. He doesn’t have a television set and you’d be hard pressed to find a suitable water glass in the house, but he proudly owns a 100-piece collection of vintage mushroom pottery.

Brian’s actually not that different from most people. We like to think that we buy based on price comparisons and consumer reports, but most of the time we act on gut feelings. I may be looking for a 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment with a balcony, but if I fall in love with the quirky floor-planned 1 bedroom with poor insulation, I’ll start talking myself into the buy. “That screened-in porch could totally work as a second bedroom… and the real estate agent said it used to belong to an heiress in the 1920s!”

We often choose story over sense. In a globalized market there are too many choices, and we’ll pick the one that stands out. That’s why it’s important to think of your brand not as a transaction maker, but as a storyteller. Coca Cola designates its entire museum to telling the story of its product, and their ads too. This commercial turns a simple transaction — buying a coke from a vending machine — into a complex narrative. Notice the ending:

Back to my friend Brian. During our conversation he remarked that he likes the Craigslist bikes with a story behind them. “I want to know why they’re selling them,” he said. “Maybe it’s the guy’s daughter’s bike, and she’s going away to college, and she’s not going to use it anymore. Maybe they’re moving out of the country. Whatever it is, I want to know.”

I found similar responses when I was selling my couch on Craiglist earlier this year. “Why are you selling the couch?” people would ask, even before they started haggling the price. Putting a story behind your brand lends it authenticity. And the power of promotional products is that they communicate that story to your customers.

So what is your brand’s story? And how will you use promotional products to tell it?

Creative Writing Intern
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I Work for Entrepreneurs in the Promotional Products Industy; How Do Entrepreneurs Impact Your Life?

global entrepreneurs weekThis week marks the second annual Global Entrepreneurship Week, hosted by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and business coalition Make Your Mark (based in the United Kingdom). The week coincides with the U.K’s Enterprise Week, and altogether, the events encompassed by these joint celebrations number about 25,000! Over 75 countries are taking part in the festivities, which kicked off in New York yesterday with the ringing of the bell at the New York Stock Exchange immediately followed by a panel discussion between college students and renowned entrepreneurs from an array of industries.

The week serves as a platform for young entrepreneurs to gather with experienced entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other knowledgeable professionals to network, learn and share ideas. Due to the current global recession, many entrepreneurs are becoming disheartened with their work, so this occasion provides a valuable opportunity for them to re-energize, listen to personal experiences and triumphs of other entrepreneurs and refocus their priorities. Did you know that over half of the companies listed on the 2009 U.S. Fortune 500 got their starts during a recession or bear market? If that statistic isn’t a source of inspiration for today’s entrepreneurs, I don’t know what is!

After reading several stories about Global Entrepreneurship Week in the press, I was suddenly hit with the realization that entrepreneurs are the people who make the world go around. Yes, I knew this sub-consciously, but I think I have taken for granted the significant impact that entrepreneurs have played in my life. Change would not be possible without forward-thinking risk-takers. Who can deny that entrepreneurs have been the driving force behind every appliance, product and service in existence? Take, for example, the founders of Pinnacle Promotions, Mitch and Dave Weintraub: they noticed a need in the marketplace for a reliable, efficient online distributor of promotional products. Their entrepreneurial spirit led them to found Pinnacle, and fourteen years later, this company remains at the forefront of innovation and improvement in our industry.

Now, before I turn this post into a list of reasons why I love working at Pinnacle Promotions (I’ll save that for another post, another day!), here are a couple of motivational quotes from the kick-off event for Global Entrepreneurship Week:

“Entrepreneurs that I’ve met who have been really successful, whenever you ask them about why they did it, or how they did it, it’s never about the money, and it’s never about the business plans – it’s always about, ‘I saw the need.’”
-Blake Mycoskie, founder of eco-friendly footwear company TOMS Shoes

“If you can drive authenticity through your market and own that space, you are going to have a sustainable business.”
-Barry Sternlicht, CEO of Starwood Capital Group

“Study what’s missing and what you want to become. It’s 2009 – anything’s possible.”
-Snoop Dogg, Rapper

To learn more about Global Entrepreneurship Week, you can visit

Team Lead – Social Media
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