Yes, YOU…the small business owner.
Your brand is your identity. Your brand is not your logo.
Your logo is typically the first visual glimpse people get, to make a first impression about you…EXTERNAL.
Your brand is…Who you are. What you stand for. How you live….INTERNAL.
When was the list time you received a promotional giveaway with a logo on it?
Was it in the form of a goodie bag at an event?
Was it from a booth at a trade show?
Did it arrive in the mail?
Did you feel connected to the brand in a meaningful way, simply because you received free custom printed swag?
Unless you have an established brand (identity) that your audience gets behind, no one will be enthusiastic about using stuff with your logo on it. Therefore, the investment made with the intention of keeping customers happy and promoting business, won’t work as intended.
So what’s the alternative?
One option is to give USEFUL stuff. Customers appreciate gifts that they can use often.
Another approach is to communicate messages that resonate with them. Think about what inspires them, makes them smile, or encourages them to connect with your brand.
A combination of both would be even better!
So what’s the brand test?
It’s simple. Businesses who are successfully able to SELL stuff with their logo, have an established brand which people proudly want to promote. This is a clear indicator that they have a brand identity. This is why many restaurants, concert venues, and popular travel destinations are able to sell merchandise to augment their bottom line.
This is not the case for most small businesses.
So why do small businesses who don’t have an established brand continue to print their logo on stuff that isn’t useful or inspirational?
It’s primarily because everyone else does. It’s the “me too” mentality. If everyone else is doing it, I should too.
The problem is that many large companies who purchase lots of promotional items have deep pockets, and are not focused on building meaningful relationships with their customers.
Small businesses can and should focus on relationships. It’s the main reason why people choose to work with a small business in the first place.
Are there any scenarios when small businesses should print their logo on stuff, front and center?
Sure! Businesses who travel to people’s homes or other businesses, participate in trade shows, have a retail space, and attend formal meetings should promote their logo’s proudly. This communicates that the company is professional and official. It indicates that the company is a committed and legitimate organization. This provides customers with awareness and peace of mind.
So, should small businesses who don’t meet this criteria stop printing their logo on stuff?
Not in the least! However, these small businesses should strategically focus on giving useful and meaningful gifts and messages, while including their logo and contact info. This way, recipients are inspired by the messaging and brand identity, while still remembering who sent them the reward or gift.
Showing gratitude should be an ongoing habit for small businesses who do not have a strong brand identity.
Thanking the people who meet you for coffee, your power partners, your customers, your prospects, those who refer you, etc., and giving appropriate and well thought out gifts and rewards, should be an integral part of a small businesses marketing strategy.
Yet another discounted plastic pen with your logo on it, simply won’t cut it!