print media

Print merchandise – So much to print, so little time…

By | Brand Identity, Brand Strategy, Event Branding, print media, trends

In the midst of the digital tidal wave, the right printed merchandise can be extremely effective in terms of enforcing your brand message. A targeted product for the right audience can be a great conversation starter and do wonders for top-of-mind awareness.

If you’re a start-up, or a small business with a plan to crank up your marketing presence, you may be wondering what on earth you should invest your money in.

I’m guessing you don’t want to be left with 3,000 novelty bottle openers that are quietly rusting in the corner of your garage…?!

You’re thinking, what will best represent my brand in print? What’s the latest thing?… A frisbee? A fridge magnet? A t-shirt? A yoyo? A coffee cup?

Firstly, forget about what the latest thing is. Be selective and look for a quality product that suits your style.

Here’s a few pointers you should consider before deciding on your printed promotional merchandise…

Does it say something about who you are?

Regardless of what the object is, it should add to the story of you as a company. If there’s no tangible point to it, then it’s not worth doing.

A cost effective place to start is the most basic of printed items – the Business Card.

moo cards hub heart cards





OMG I hear you say – this girl has rocks in her head – business cards are soooo 1998!!


If you haven’t got a business card because you don’t think you need one, then let me ‘splain my reasoning (rocks aside)… Doing business – last time I checked – still involves people. And what you want is for them to leave your first meeting with a little piece of ‘you’ in their pocket.

A business card presents the perfect opportunity to solidify their first impression and pique their interest in your story. Obviously it needs to be interesting and engaging …. And If they say absolutely nothing when you hand it over, you know you have room for improvement.

A great card will deliver a positive response and ideally start a whole new conversation about what you can do for them. It’s the ultimate in personal branding.

If I’m impressed by the business card, I always keep it… even if I didn’t like the person!

xtra-space     steve     gabefercover5Business-Cards-3153-Best-Business-Card-Design-Inspiration20alexandrabusiness-cards-2014-17cfed29255211f71bf5a893b0dfe81ac12-LAVA_BusCard_560px_4-580x435C_2_fotogallery_1004542__ImageGallery__imageGalleryItem_0_image












Will it last?

Rather than printing thousands of flyers that will only add to landfill, why not go for something with a bit of stamina?

Ideally if you’re going to spend anything more than about $3 per unit, you want something that has a shelf life of 6-12 months.

So look for durable products with a supplier who will ideally send you out some samples. That way, you and your friends can test it out for a few weeks and see if it makes the grade.

Is it useful?

bottlePractical items are ideal and very worth spending money on. Obviously, these are perfect for event branding as well.

Some of my favourites in this category include:



1. Canvas shopping bags:

canvas bageataly canvas bagcanvas bag red print


Coffee canvas bag






2. Eco coffee cups: (check out Ideal Cup from NZ)

ideal cup






3. Lip balm or sunscreen:

3 sun screen malibu-rum-lip-balm sunscreen






4. Bandaids:






Remember that if it is a quality product and the branding is stylish people will enjoy using it more because it was free! In terms of printing, obviously if you can get away with one colour print then the price will come down, and it’s always economies of scale with these products too – the more, the merrier!

Items that might not be as practical as they seem…

Satchels: I always find conference satchels a bit naff. They are cheaply made, the handles are stiff and starchy and the logos have been slapped on in a tacky fashion. I’m happy to be proven wrong on this, but so far I’ve only ever been the recipient of the dud ones!

USBs: Also a word of warning about cute USB sticks… they can be awesome if you have the right product or service, but PLEASE test the design first. So many I have found either won’t fit into some ports because the design obstructs them sitting flush, or the pin is so thin it snaps off after two uses, or they only have 2MB of storage on them :/

promo usb plane usb green truck usb






iPhone Covers: Again, these can be awesome if you get a good quality product… and if Apple would stop changing the size of their phones every six months :/

iphone covers





Remember – it needs to be actually useful, not just pretend to be!

Is it unique?

What you don’t want is to be a walking brand cliché. For example, every pharmaceutical company on the planet has produced a golf umbrella and a stress ball in the shape of one of their drugs. These ideas are not new.

Something sooooo unique that they want to show their friends immediately should be your aim. Easier said than done, I know!


Next up – Is my website ‘mobile friendly’ and does it need to be?

Print is not dead, Part 1 – Worth Holding in Your Hands

By | Brand Strategy, digital media, print media, trends

As per every major shift in media technology before it, the ‘arrival’ of digital media spawned a glut of public assertions that would see print media in the grave before sunset.

“The newspaper is dead”

“No one will ever read a magazine again”

“There will only be eBooks” (this may yet happen if we run out of trees!)

magazine stack

They were partly right – traditional news consumption has undergone a seismic shift.

Free content is delivered immediately online, there’s no need to wait for the morning paper; citizen journalism has created a ‘democracy of information’ but simultaneously, a huge grey cloud over the credibility of news; international tabloid news gathering tactics have made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Before newspapers even had the chance to respond to the ‘digital attack’ – or in some cases, even believe it was happening – sales certainly plummeted.

But now, something of a retroversion seems to be happening – last month’s statistics show that some titles may have ridden the wave successfully – at least for the moment.

“News Corp Australia has bucked the trend of declining newspaper print readership to post a 2 per cent increase across its national, metropolitan and regional titles over the past year, well above the 4 per cent decline across all major newspaper print mastheads.”

Now this is news in itself. That it even was possible to buck this trend seems unthinkable. News Corp’s diversified holdings surely must account for some of this – but ultimately, their content strategy must be spot on.

“The Sydney Morning Herald retained the No 1 spot across print and digital…

The West Australian was the only major paper to post a significant drop in total audience, down 8.3 per cent to 1.863 million”. (source)

So SMH has successfully balanced the books by combining up-to-the-minute digital content and relevant print news… but The West Australian is obviously doing something wrong… despite having the most captive audience in the nation, they seem to be slipping behind in a two-horse race.

And glossy magazines too – despite their enormous production price tag – have failed to fall off the map. Clever cross promotion on tv, digital and retail platforms (helped by cross media ownership I’m sure) seems to be the key to holding market share.

According to News Life Media’s website, their collective digital and print assets reach an audience of 7.7 million – representing 45% of Australians aged over 14. (source)

This is an incredible statistic – but not surprising when you consider the content reach – and clever commercial partnering – on some of their titles:

  • Australian Good Taste (with Woolworths)
  • Australian Parents (with Woolworths)
  • Country Style
  • delicious. (with the ABC)
  • donna hay
  • Gardening Australia (with the ABC)
  • GQ Australia
  • Inside Out
  • MasterChef Magazine
  • Vogue Australia

Australians are firmly on the foodie wagon – even when you might think we’ve reached saturation point – nope, we’re just swallowing the entrée.

Masterchef 2014

Masterchef 2014

The contrived scenes of tension created using reasonable people with excellent culinary skills must ring true with a huge whack of domesticated adults.

Either that or they’re just hungry.

Following it up with a magazine purchase to recreate the very emotional food experience they’ve just bought into is clearly a no-brainer. And lets face it… it’s way harder to follow a recipe when the screen keeps going to sleep every 60 seconds.

Being eaten up with the same amount of ravenous enthusiasm is the topic of home renovations. People can’t get enough of watching other people pull down rooms and redecorate them.

Preferably with the occasional hot-couple-argument thrown in for good measure.

The Block participants 2014

The Block participants 2014

So it makes sense that some hard copy ‘inspiration’ should feed those creative decorating demons.

By why not just surf Pinterest til the cows come home?

That’s definitely happening, but that’s not where it ends.

Pinterest and other image-heavy platforms are great for the immediate binge. But maybe they don’t hold fast for the long, slow ponder. Maybe a magazine is less invasive with its lack of flashing gifs and targeted banner ads; more timeless and durable, within its natural habitat of the private or public coffee table; and therefore more suited to a contemplative decision-making mood.

So for hot-headed impulsive purchases, the click-bait has it covered. But for a larger or more involved purchase – one that might require having to – gasp – ‘discuss’ the decision, then it makes sense that a magazine provides a solid selection of concepts in print.

So its good news that print is not dead. Keeping the quality of journalism high while adding in-depth, thought-provoking analysis to current issues is worth holding in your hands.

Adaptability is a wonderful thing.

Flow magazine cover

The latest indi craft magazine to hit Australia

And you would think a person crazy if they told you they were about to launch a magazine, right? But, niche magazines – new titles! – have sprung up all over the place, like Flow Magazine from the Netherlands.

Take Frankie and add a layer of uber-cool Dutch aesthetic; an extra dollop of designer-maker-look-its-another-doily-but-cooler; and a limited run of only 4 editions annually and all of a sudden you have a top quality printed mag in high demand by 20 and 30-something craft-obsessed neo hipsters.

Of course, Flow comes with its own neat little app, bringing you 365 Days of Flow… cute illustrations combined with pick-me-up quotes and homemaker tips deliver a daily brand reminder. So obvious I can’t bare to call it clever, yet it works a treat.

Even local marketing agencies have reverted to print to make their point.

George magazine

Promoting George Street, East Fremantle, WA.


Out for dinner during the week at the tasty Wine Store & Kitchen in East Fremantle, I spotted a stack of stylish looking newspapers. Simply titled ‘George’ the 24 page paper beautifully promotes selected businesses on George Street, with high quality photos and carefully written copy. I notice in the fine print it has distribution of 16,000 to a handful of high-end suburbs.

Targeted, tangible and perfectly placed.



Next week… Print is not dead, Part 2 – So much to print, so little time…

Halcyon Creative