Category Archives: Branding your Company

Personal relationships protect buyers.

Here is yet another example of what can happen when dealing with companies over the internet. Pricing may look good, but product quality is often times lacking. Nobody wants to have their logo associated with a poor quality product.

Here’s an example that has picked up some negative attention for obvious reasons. Imagine as a buyer that you find a great online deal for moisture management shirts. You place your order and have them decorated with your brand and then find out after the fact that the care instructions are extremely offensive.

My advise… There are tangibles that internet companies cannot provide and the biggest one of these is a trusting relationship that you have a marketing professional looking out for you.

Gentlemen if you happen to ever buy a shirt that reads like this, tread lightly… That is unless you like quality time with your couch.

(This is an actual tag from the inside of a shirt)


Reach and Recall – The power of Promotional Products!

The results are in and once again, Promotional Products carry more Reach & Recall value than other forms of traditional media. Check out this 2 minute video to see the results of the study. Note: There is background music on video, so adjust your speakers accordingly.

Five critical things to remember when developing a new brand.

So you’re thinking about creating a new logo. It could be that you’re a startup company working to get yourself up and running or maybe you’re a long standing company needing to create a brand within your brand. The task of creating your identity is of massive importance and one of the absolute most critical things you will do in setting up your company or brand.

Here is a list of things to make sure you consider when taking on a task like this.

#1. To Hire or Not to Hire? – As one of my sons used to say when he was younger… Are you a good “drawer”? If you have a knack for design and an ability to put it to paper, then you could possibly design your own logo. However, if you’re idea of design involves stick figures and crayons, you should probably seek the assistance of a professional. These services are not cheap, but well worth it if you’ve never done something like this before.

#2. A Great Idea – When you begin to think of ideas for a logo, don’t just stop with the first one you have. Think of at least three completely different concepts and then kick them around.. The more input you can get, the better, especially if you are getting said input from people who want to help you.


#3. Kicking Them Around – Show what you have created to multiple people with whom you trust. Get their input. Find out what they like about each one and what they don’t. Fine tune your concept as you may very well find that your end result includes parts from several of your initial designs.

#4. Fine Tuning, and then Some – So now you’ve narrowed it down to the design you like, or even better you may have two designs you equally like. Now you need to fine tune every little detail. Think about what your design will look like printed on business cards, letterhead, envelopes and promotional products like pens, water bottles and t-shirts. How will it look embroidered? It may look really good at a 8″ X 8″ size, but your logo is going to eventually be printed and branded at all different sizes. So while it may look great on a large format vehicle wrap, how will it look on a pen that has an imprint area of 1/2″ X 1/2″?

Are there any really thin lines? If so, you could have problems printing on anything other than paper. Think long term, Once you know you’re pleased with the design efforts, now it’s time to grab the crayons!

#5. Crayola – I know, the kid in you is screaming Yaaaa!, but the reality is that unless you want to photocopy 50 sheets of your design and then spend hours upon hours coloring like a 5 year old in Kindergarten class, you may want to have your design created in vector art. If you haven’t already, now is the time to seek a professional graphic designer to take your masterpiece(s) from the paper to the screen. The beauty of doing this is that once your logo has been created to vector art, you can easily manipulate colors with a few clicks of the mouse. Just keep in mind, the more colors you have, the more cost involved in having your full color logo printed on a very large majority of business necessities.

Lastly, here are a few additional things to take into consideration during your logo development which will help you avoid additional frustrations and costs when using your logo.

  • If possible, avoid really thin lines. While easy to print on paper based products, not so easy when screen printing on a promotional product, of which there are over 750,000 to choose from, so we’re not just talking pens.
  • Avoid gradients if you can. They may look cool on the screen, but they don’t look the same on paper or other products.
  • Know your colors! I encounter a fair number of companies who don’t know the PMS colors of their own logo! If your brain is thinking “PMS?”, please take comfort in that this has nothing to do with the well known Post Menstrual Cycle. This PMS stands for Pantone Matching System and you can learn more at
  • One more thing on colors, the more colors you have, the most cost involved in in creating your full color logo on products that are screen printed.
  • If your logo is multiple colors, try to create a one color version as well so that you have a version you can use to keep your printing costs down in those times where it is needed.
  • Develop your brand standards guide. This should contain everything you can and cannot do with your logo. It should include information on spacing of text, fonts that are acceptable to use and what specific colors can be used.

Taking these steps will ensure that you will avoid some brand confusion later on. Good luck!

Chris Morrissey is the Owner of Proforma Big Dog Branding, a premier provider of printing services, promotional products multimedia production and e-commerce solutions. To reach Chris:;

* Image provided by

Half-a-Cent – Study finds that Promotional Products average a Cost Per Impression of only $.005

Beating out Radio, Newspaper and Television, Promotional Products score big with smart advertisers looking to make big time impressions on small time budgets.

A 2010 study was conducted with businesspeople in the New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, London, Sidney, Toronto and Montreal metro areas to determine the value of media and the cost per impression made with the target audience.

The Conclusion? Promotional products have a lower “cost per impression” than nearly all forms of media.



What is an “impression”? 

An impression is created when a person sees or hears your brand image/message featured in some form of advertisement. Impressions are critical in the effort of creating brand awareness. The more a person sees your brand message, the higher the chance that they will one day do business with you.

Top 5 product categories which average the highest number of impressions..

#1. Bags – 1078 impressions per month

#2. Caps – 443 impressions per month

#3. Pens – 437 impressions per month

#4. Shirts – 344 impressions per month

#5. Calendars – 295 impressions per month


Calculating Cost Per Impression


Impressions are calculated by multiplying the number of times an item is seen/used by the number of people that saw or used that item and the brand message it carries.

As an example, let’s look at a branded Bic Pen costing the advertiser $.46 per per pen for 300 pieces, a total cost of $138.00 for this order.

Based on the findings of the study, writing instruments average 437 impressions per month, which would mean that this particular pen would have a $.001 cost per impression.

For the sake of argument, let’s calculate this example at half the amount of impressions, bringing it in at 218.5 per month. This equates out to $.002 per impression. Even at just 100 impressions per month, the cost only reaches 4 cents per impression!

So what happens if this advertiser gives out all 300 pens at an event and then decides to be conservative by calculating each pen at just 100 impressions in six months time.. This calculates out to 30,000 impressions at a cost of $0.0046 per impression. In 6 months time, the advertisers brand message was identified 30,000 times! All for $138.00 in branded Bic Pens!

What about that $35 branded shirt you’re wearing?

Did you realize that shirts average 344 impressions (views by others) per month? That equates to $.10 per impression after just one month. What happens to that number after 6 months? Your impressions average 2064 over 6 months and your cost drops to $.01 per impression.

Other findings from the study..


Top 5 types of promotional products used by those who participated in the study..


#1. Pens – 46%

#2. Shirts – 38%

#3. Calendars – 24%

#4. Bags – 23%

#5. Caps – 16%


Ability to identify the advertiser..

83% of those surveyed in the U.S. said they could name the advertiser on a promotional product that they had been given, with glassware (87%) and shirts (86%) having the highest recall.

Reasons for keeping an item..

75% of those surveyed said that the items usefulness is the primary reason they keep an item. The next highest reason was an items attractiveness, coming in at 27%.

Impressions of the advertiser..

41% of U.S. respondents indicated their impression of the advertiser was more favorable after receiving a branded promotional product.


Business after receiving a branded promotional product..

60% of respondents in the U.S. say that they have done business with the advertiser after receiving the branded promotional product.

Likelihood to do business in the future..

Among those who had not done business with the advertiser since receiving the item, 27% of U.S. respondents thought it likely that they would eventually do business with the advertiser.


Fate of items not planned to keep..

62% of respondents indicated that when given an item they do not intend to keep, they choose to give that item to someone else rather than throw it away.


Number of promotional products owned..

U.S. respondents have the most promotional products, averaging 9-10 items that contain and advertisers brand.


Importance of branded merchandise..

57% of respondents indicated that the brand name of a product is important, but only 18% consider them very important.


Gender & age marketing..

Males are more likely than females to own branded shirts and caps, while females are more likely to keep bags, writing instruments, calendars and health & safety products.

Those 45-54 years of age tend to keep the most items given to them (averaging 9.8 items) while those aged 22-34 tend to keep one less item than their more experienced counterparts.


The end result, promotional products not only have a great cost per impression, but they also get results. By using promotional products, small businesses are able to compete with their bigger budget competition and achieve a better result with less money.

Chris Morrissey is the Owner of Proforma Big Dog Branding, a premier provider of printing services, promotional products multimedia production and ecommerce solutions. To reach Chris:;

What’s working in content marketing in 2013? A look at how content, SEO and social media all work together when doing it right.

How Will Technology Affect marketing To Younger Generations?

Over the weekend, I saw a commercial where children were sitting around talking about how much they love to read. Instead of showing them flipping through the pages of an actual book, however, they were holding up Kindles! With recent studies showing that more toddlers can play a computer game (58%) than ride a bike, it’s time to face the fact that children growing up in our high-tech world are going to experience everything in a much different way than I and many other generations have. The Kindle commercial got me thinking – what does all of this mean for marketers?

The facts below illustrate key findings and how the information can be translated in a way that may help marketers to target younger generations as they come of age in this new, technology-centered world.

Fact: 58% of boys and 59% of girls can play a computer game or make a mobile call (28% boys, 29% girls). This means that the tech gender divide between boys and girls is almost nonexistent. Takeaway: There may be less gender stereotyping with online and mobile advertisements in the future. This may mean larger and more diverse markets for products and services that typically were marketed mainly to one specific gender in the past. Additionally, both men and women will be equally accessible through mobile and internet channels of communication.

Fact: More than half (51%) of six to nine year-olds use some type of children’s social network, including Webkinz and Club Penguin. Takeaway: Many individuals today still insist that social networking sites such as Facebook will die out over time. This fact, however, proves that social networks will continue to become an important form of communication for children in the future. The sense of community that they find through these sites, and the opinions and experiences that they find on there, means an even higher likelihood that friends, family and acquaintances in these networks will play large roles in how they perceive brands and products.

Fact: 7% of babies and toddlers have an email address created for them by their parents. Takeaway: It can be assumed that most children in this age will have several email accounts: a personal email set up by them or their parents, a school email address and possibly a work email address down the road. The personal email will always be the most important, and they will be maintaining these email accounts for a much longer time than any of us have so far. Because of that, email marketing will need to be eye-catching, relevant and infrequent in order to grab their attention. Otherwise, they’ll just learn to filter everything that they don’t want to see.

Fact: Almost half (47%) of eight and nine year-olds talk to their friends online. Takeaway: When’s the last time that you saw someone showing their friend something that they found in a newspaper? The days of sharing tangible news items are over. In our world, and in the world of future generations, information will continue to be transferred quickly from one person to another via online communication. This means that a brand’s online presence must not only be informational but entertaining as well in order for it to be shared. A good example of this is the Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” commercial, which has exceeded more than 45 million views on YouTube. At the end of the day, however, it is still a product advertisement.

Fact: The rise of the internet is strengthening our ability to scan information rapidly and efficiently. Children are becoming more skilled in where to find things and less skilled in actually remembering information. Takeaway: Future generations aren’t going to remember exactly where they see an advertisement online. They will, however, remember how to find it again if it sparks their interest! Providing valuable product information and creating engaging, memorable content will be the best way to grab the attention of future generations. Since younger generations will be used to quickly scanning sites for information, high quality, colorful images will play a very important role in how to draw them in.

Technology and communications are changing, and they will continue to change. Marketing to a younger generation will be a challenge. Will your business be ready for the generations to come?


AVG Digital Diaries and The Huffington Post

Is print dying? Not so fast!

This post contributed by Pamela Thomas from Proforma’s Corporate Headquarters in Ohio.

Is print dying? Not so fast!

Working at a print and promotional company for almost a year now, I utilize both mediums, and also use social media to support campaigns that I’m working on. But is print dying? This question has been a common topic around the marketing world since the internet and social media adoption has increased, and quickly seems to be taking over. Many businesses have changed their marketing to the web mainly because it is cost effective. Regardless, print is still powerful and a necessary component for businesses throughout the world.

Newspapers – Even though some newspaper companies are closing due to technological advancements and availability, some people still prefer to have something tangible compared to pulling it up on the internet. They are portable thanks to laptops, tablets or e-readers, and if you want to read one in the car, you can. But remember, battery life can only last so long.

Brochures – Companies still order brochures. It is an easy way to show all your products and services on one piece of paper. They are typically priced very reasonably and serve as a great marketing tool. Cards – Most companies will send out a company holiday card or a birthday card to you as a gesture of appreciation. It shows more sincerity than sending an online e-card.

Direct Mail Campaigns – Direct mail is one of the most overlooked yet effective and inexpensive ways to increase your company’s presence.

Coupons – At the checkout of your local grocery store you may have used coupons to get items at a discounted rate. Coupons are often times available on the internet. Be sure to setup your printer to take advantage of various offers.

These are just a couple examples of the main printed items that are still used and are just as powerful as before. The best way to market your business is to use as many printed, promotional or online tools as possible. Sometimes print and the internet work together to create a campaign, you just have to know how to use it.

A Promotion To Be Remembered…

New Zealand Alzheimer’s Society hits a nerve with a memorable promotion:


The goal:

Design a memorable piece of communication that raises awareness of the disease’s early warning signs, like memory loss, as well as reminding everyday New Zealanders of the importance of Alzheimers New Zealand.

Concept: Actual working erasers were hollowed out and fitted with USB memory sticks. The message displayed on the top is: ‘Alzheimer’s erasers your memories. Save them’, with the reverse side featuring the Alzheimer’s New Zealand logo and website.

Results: Alzheimer’s New Zealand distributed these eraser/usbs amongst the public, various local organizations, as well as distributed them to local politicians, with a letter, in an attempt to raise awareness of the charity. Feedback has been very positive and they’ll hopefully continue to leave people with some sort of understanding of what people with Alzheimer’s go through everyday, and where they could turn for more information and support.

Recommendation: While I believe this was a very creative promotion, I would have liked to see a call to action with this promotion in order to help the organization achieve their ultimate goal of awareness as well as give them stronger, more measurable results.

Either way, I rate this promotion with an A+ grade because of it’s creativity and unique approach.

This promotion is a great example of how to take the ordinary and turn it into the extraordinary!

Don’t Market Less, Market Smarter

The economy is rough, we all are feeling it to one level or another. Businesses are becoming more and more cautious with their spending and some are even going to the extreme by cutting their marketing budget all together! Big mistake!

Didn’t American businesses learn from the market turmoil after 9/11, that if we stop marketing our companies, we become stagnant? Marketing is what drives sales; sales mean profits and profits help us pay the bills!

This was nearly the exact word for word conversation that I had with a small business owner a few weeks back. We were at a restaurant, both waiting for our guests to meet up with us, and just struck up conversation. He asked me what I did for a living and when he heard the words “Promotional Marketing” in my reply, he quickly replied “Man, your business must be really tough right now!” “No, it’s actually the opposite” I responded, his puzzled expression said it all, but he went on to explain that he had cut all of his marketing budgets in order to save costs.

I explained to him that tough economic times lead to great opportunities for all business, but especially small businesses, and that by cutting his marketing budget, he was actually putting one foot in the grave.

You see, over the past 20 years, American companies have throwing their marketing budgets at every concept and effort they could find, even without proof that it would work. Now that times are tougher, the first reaction is to cut the marketing budget because for most companies, it’s a fairly large expense!

The reality is that you should never cut marketing completely. Yes, you can trim it down, but your efforts need to become intentional, more focused, more creative!

As an example, let’s take an actual case history example from ABC company (the names have been changed to protect the profitable). They didn’t have much of a budget left for the year, but they want to make an impact on their target audience and create brand awareness.

Their target audience is a large company located within their market area, which happens to be in a cold part of the country where rain and snow fall often during the winter. Their goal is brand awareness. They want to create good will and leave an imprint on the minds of this particular customer. Their budget, $600.00 total.

The Concept… “You can see clearly now…”

Since this is a cold part of the country where rain and snow fall, people tend to come out of work and have to scrape their windshields before being able to go home. Two hundred ice scrapers were sold to the customer with their logo and the tagline “You can see clearly now.”

The customer made arrangements with a local high school football team for a donation to be given to the organization as a fund raiser for the team.

On the next snowy afternoon, the team would send over a representative to pick up the ice scrapers. They would then go to the employee parking lot of the large customer mentioned above and would proceed to scrape every windshield perfectly clean. When done, they would take the scraper and place it under the windshield wiper as a gift for that employee. In return, the team would earn a donation of $1.50 per windshield scraped.

A total of 118 windshields were scraped clean and 118 employees came out that cold day to a pleasant surprise and the gift of a new ice scraper for their future use. The customer reported major approval and positive response from their largest customer and as a result, sales increased with that customer over the next year by 30%.

In addition, the football team earned $177.00 in fundraising for about 45 minutes worth of work and the company that donated that money to them earned publicity in the school newspaper and e-newsletter that goes out to parents, showing their involvement in their community. All on a $600 budget.

This is a prime example of a focused and creative marketing effort on a limited budget. What other marketing avenue could they have used that would have gotten their name in front of their target audience, left a goodwill impression and a token of that memory with the customer that they will use often over the next 6-8 months? All on a $600.00 budget!

My recommendation, don’t make the mistake of cutting your marketing budget! Contact a promotional marketing company that offers creative ideas on how to solve your marketing budget. If they just want to sell you the ice scraper, but can’t tell you a creative way to use it, go somewhere else till you get that level of service! Your business depends on it!

Chris Morrissey is the Owner of Proforma Big Dog Branding, a premier provider of printing services and promotional products and ecommerce solutions. To reach Chris:;

Top reasons why companies create an online store

Ever thought about  creating an online store for your company, but not sure if the benefits outweigh the expense? Below is a list of the top reasons that companies pursue the creation of an online company store to manage their print, promotions and company apparel.

1. Control their brand image. Companies have been fight brand abuse for a long time. A company store provides a system of protection for their brand.
2. To organize and control their purchasing efforts. By creating an online store, companies are able leverage their dollars, provide a centralized location for buying and gain control of a disorganized mess.

3. Corporate apparel made easy. By creating an online store, companies are able to control the quality of the apparel that their company employees are buying and wearing, as well as the quality of decoration that is being placed on the shirts. Why have a nice shirt with bad embroidery? Or great embroidery on a poor quality shirt? Control both with an online store.
4. Who, What, When & Where??? Without an organized system, companies with multiple locations and departments have purchasing that is fragmented and out of control. An online store let’s you know who bought what, when and where they shipped it to.
5.  Administration costs are through the roof! Current processes and proceedures take too much effort and energy, which often times is being done by multiple people in different locations, which costs the company a lot of money. An online store can centralize your purchasing processes, save you money and give you back the control you need.
It all comes down to the desire and need to make things easier and save money. If your company has more than 100 employees located in different parts of the state, country or even the world, it would be a wise choice to examine what a company store can do for you.

Chris Morrissey is owner of Proforma Big Dog Branding, a premier provider of promotional products, printing services, ecommerce websites and eco-friendly marketing solutions.

To reach Chris:;