creative collateral

Conference Swag & Promotional Merch Recommendations

It’s almost 2020… people are drowning in stuff, the planet is drowning in plastic, and no one needs more logo-printed:

  • plastic water bottles or cups

  • stress balls

  • toys

  • crappy knock-off lip balm

  • tote bags

  • USB drives

  • spirals/journals/notepads

  • keychains

  • eyeglass cleaners

  • pop sockets

But from a marketing perspective, you still need giveaways for your trade show booths, conferences, and award shows though, right?!

Our first recommendation for conference swag is to MAKE IT USEFUL, otherwise you’re just spending a fortune on trash.

What’s in demand now:

  • Consumable product samples or snacks (much appreciated by attendees – it’s your job to make your brand memorable when they come get ‘em!)

  • Stainless steel straws (either singles or kits, with or without carrying case, brush, etc.)

  • Portable bamboo utensil sets (typically with a roll-up wrap to store them in your purse or bag)

  • Glass, ceramic, or double-walled metal tumblers and bottles (expensive but cool; and we wavered on including this one because we don’t need any more of these either)

  • Wireless anything (bluetooth speakers, phone chargers, headsets/headphones; for high-end events only because otherwise, in order to make it inexpensive enough for a giveaway, it’s likely not high-quality, and will eventually become trash)

These tried & true conference favorites are not sexy, but people are likely to keep and use:

  • Pens/pencils

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Tissue packs for pocket/purse

  • Webcam covers

(though we don’t love that most of these items are plastic)

Our #1 Recommendation:

Sponsor an Experience!

  • device charging station

  • water bottle filling station

  • coffee bar

  • chair massage station

Your brand will be associated with something truly helpful in a clutch situation and “if you wrap the event in your branding, there’s a good chance your target customer will remember that experience” long after a tote bag would end up in a landfill somewhere, says Fast Company. We couldn’t agree more!

Read more here: “It’s time to stop spending billions on cheap conference swag

Client Spotlight: The Oakridge School

We have worked with The Oakridge School for nearly 10 years on all kinds of projects from their golf tournament collateral, summer programs brochure, booklets, invitations, flyers, and logo modifications. Then, almost a year ago we were invited to respond to their RFP for an opportunity to become their official Agency of Record, which would make us responsible for their admissions campaign for the entire school year. We jumped at the opportunity, and to our delight, our proposal was accepted. Design is our first love and we are happy to invest our creativity into any project, but putting together a complete campaign is every designer’s dream.

Our Methodology

We wanted to keep the amount of text minimal but include words associated with the cornerstones of an independent education: Academics, Arts, and Athletics. The background is a photo we shot of their iconic fence line – it not only provides a visually dynamic eye-line, but it represents being “inside the fence,” and it also showcases the oak tree line along the edge of campus. The ornate frame at the top holds the call to action, which literally points straight into the word cloud. Or, if your eye lands directly in the word cloud, there’s a good chance your line of sight will be directed upward into the call to action, as it springs from the center like a thought bubble.

“When you really break it down, marketing is just the psychology of getting someone to give you a moment of their focus, with the hope and possibility of something more. The only way they’re going to give you something more, however, is if something about you makes them take a second look. Something that makes them pause,” said Chris O’Neill, the CEO of Evernote, at SXSW 2018 (see our Conference Recap here).

Many private school ads heavily incorporate the school’s colors, but their signature deep navy and hunter green were getting a little bit lost in print publications, as many other schools share at least one of these colors in common with The Oakridge School. So we went in the complete opposite direction and used a sunset colored overlay, including the famed “Millennial pink” and coral (the 2019 Pantone color of the year), which really help the ad pop off the page. “It’s so different from what everyone else was doing, and that’s what we loved most about it,” said Laura Heymann of Green Apple Lane.

The campaign design worked well in print, online, and even fit in seamlessly with the school’s website. We isolated each word and included a photo background to correlate with that word (the art room for “create,” a cheering crowd for “win,” etc.), all accented in a blue overlay to fit right in on the existing home page carousel.

In addition to the campaign graphics, we used hard data from their web analytics to advise and make media placement recommendations for the duration of the campaign term, including a radio broadcast ad on KERA (the Dallas-area PBS and NPR station), for which we also crafted the copy.

Additional design projects

(unrelated to the campaign)

  • 40th Anniversary (“Ruby” anniversary) logo alteration and related signage

  • Assorted social media graphics

  • Athletics marketing piece (select panels shown)

  • Admissions marketing piece (not shown)

  • Infographic marketing pieces (select area shown)

  • Custom “instagram photo frame” signs for various occasions, and more!

Ready to stand out?

Client Spotlight: Worthington Lawn Care

When Worthington Lawn Care approached us to create a logo for their new business, we were excited to jump right in! At their request, we created concepts that included leaf and tree graphics, and in the end, the leaves were especially appealing because they tie in with the branding of the owners' other companies. We love the pairing of clean, modern slab and sans-serif typefaces for a professional look in their logo, business cards, and shareable social media graphic, all shown below.

Worthington-Lawn-Logo_final.jpg

This is not our first time to work with the Worthingtons... we go way back to their first business venture, Worthington Monuments, which has recently grown to include a fifth location in Colleyville, Texas (joining Burleson, Arlington, Stephenville, and Grand Prairie). We recently created a digital email invitation graphic to promote the opening, and updated their letterhead and business cards to include all five locations. Also shown is an ad we designed for placement in an event program where Worthington Monuments was a sponsor.

We are so proud when our clients' businesses grow and especially proud of all the work we create for them!

Client Spotlight: Devan Allen

Devan Allen is a successful entrepreneur, speaker, and even political campaign manager, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. To quote her bio, "Whether developing strategies for high-ranking political leaders, encouraging youth and women to exercise their right to vote, serving as a keynote speaker, or running in a marathon – she uses her work and life experiences to inspire hope and transformation in the community." We're convinced there's nothing she can't do!

When I first met Devan, she already had a personal brand and a website, but she'd been wanting to make some changes and wasn't sure how to do them herself. We were able to jump right in and make revisions to her existing Wordpress site, and we've had the pleasure of designing many pieces to promote her endeavors since then.

Most recently, we created a logo for her latest venture, Allen Realty Advisors; worked on promotions for the DRC Breakfast with the Mayor, which she co-chaired; and we updated her website again with new text and photos, as well as a fresh, new header image.

2017 Website header image for  DevanAllen.com

2017 Website header image for DevanAllen.com

In addition to Devan's new website header, we're showing off some of the graphics we created for her website and social media, keeping with her existing color palette of black, white, and hot pink. We couldn't agree more with Fort Worth Business CEO magazine – Devan Allen is definitely a woman to watch and we're excited to see what she does next!

Please contact us if we can help with your design needs - we love starting from scratch on completely fresh concepts, and we're also happy to revise existing pieces and develop new collateral while conforming to your existing branding!