Tuesday, September 12, 2017

How Great Swag Turns Customers into Loyal Brand Ambassadors

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Consumers are bombarded with digital advertisements and online marketing content every time they go online. These tactics have become so common that many people tend to tune them out.

If you want to transform customers into brand ambassadors, swag might be the best option for you. Even in the digital age, promotional products remain a highly effective way to target audiences and establish brand relationships. Here’s how to create memorable, modern swag that earns loyal brand ambassadors.

Consumer Expectations

There’s no debating it: consumers love free stuff. But could it be true that your customers expect you to give them something? As explained by Brains On Fire, they just might. In multiple studies, consumers said that they expected some sort of promotion or freebie in exchange for liking or following a brand. At the same time, few of the CMO’s surveyed said that they thought their customers expected something in exchange for brand engagement.

This shows that there’s still a huge market opportunity for brands to connect to their audiences by meeting their expectations through promotions. It also shows that there might not be many other brands in your industry giving away swag at random, and that there’s an opportunity to surprise customers with swag when they aren’t expecting it.

Aligning Swag with your Brand

From t-shirts to tote bags, branded swag has the ability to forge a lasting and memorable impact in the minds of consumers. But if you don’t choose the right items for your customers, you could be missing out. That’s why it’s important to make sure your swag is well aligned both with your brand and your needs.

Kristie Notto, author and host of the podcast Be Legendary, says that you can choose something that aligns with your brand’s theme. Since she’s promoting a book called Ignite Your Impact, branded lighters would be a great way to reinforce their message. Aside from aligning swag with your brand message, ThriveHive points out that swag should cater to your customers’ behaviors and fit into their lifestyles. Think about it this way: if a piece of swag is irrelevant to someone, why would they even want it? Instead, put yourself in the shoes of your customers and think what they might really want. As Corporate Specialities puts it, swag provides an opportunity to impress your customers and elevate their brand experience to the next level.

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Successful Swag

Creating love for a brand can be equated to building a sports team following. Stephanie Wheeler of Boundless explains that the most successful brands build communities around their brand. Regardless of where people come from or what they do in life, they can all unite around their same love for a sports team. Similarly, brands can help cultivate this feeling by helping people unite and come together around a shared item.

So what kind of swag creates a sense of community? As pointed out in Monaica Ledell’s website Truth Hacking, the best swag is memorable, shareable and useful. When your swag achieves all of these elements, it’s much more likely to stand out in consumers’ minds and make an impression.

Memorable

Successful swag evokes emotion in the hearts and minds of consumers. To create this emotional connection, your swag should be customized. The Noise Lab suggests providing a selection of related, yet differentiated items to let customers to choose what they want. This allows you to create a conversation with people, asking them why they chose what they did. Once you open up this door to conversation, you can also ask people to share their swag on social media and spread the word to their friends. This creates a stronger experience with your brand and helps the consumer feel connected to it.

You can also tug at your customers’ heartstrings by personalizing your swag. For example, crowdSPRING suggests creating handwritten notes and messages that help customers feel important. It’s easy to send an email, but email has become such a common way to communicate that it can feel impersonal. Since people rarely take the time to write handwritten letters, doing so shows that your brand truly values that customer.

Shareable

The best swag is that which delivers immediate recognition and shareability. Caroline Ruggerio at Marketo says that wearable swag provides immediate returns because it showcases your brand to other people in the real world. Glasses, hats, socks and shirts are all easy pieces of swag that can feature your logo. Badges and patches are another way to incorporate wearability into your swag while standing out from others.

No matter what you give away, it’s important to think outside the box. How can you really wow your customers and keep them coming back for more? The Brandling says that brands can try appealing to consumers by giving away recycled and reused products rather than new ones. Since today’s consumers are more socially and environmentally conscious, they may not want to take home disposable items they’ll only use once.

For example, fair trade, eco cotton shirts printed with a fun message can be part of the perfect Instagram photo. Or, you can turn to items that promote sustainable behavior, like reusable lunch bags and water bottles. This can help you stand out from your competitors and create a social buzz around your brand, all while reinforcing your values.

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Useful

According to Orange Label, “eight in 10 consumers own between one and 10 promotional products, six in 10 keep them for up to two years, and about half (53%) use a promo item at least once a week or more often.” What’s the differentiating factor between swag that’s kept, and that which is discarded? Usefulness. If your swag doesn’t provide benefits for your customer, it isn’t going to last.

Carrie Melissa Jones at Lonely Brand uses the example of Lululemon to show how a win-win strategy works. The activewear brand sends free swag to its brand ambassadors, who then wear these clothes in social media posts. Lululemon also helps these ambassadors promote free events in stores, which entices potential customers and creates strong relationships between ambassadors and the brand.

Swag and Your Bottom Line

It’s clear that swag can make people happy and excited in the short term, but can it have lasting impacts on your bottom line? When done correctly, it absolutely can.

Digital marketing and social media agency Brand & Mortar explains that giving away swag is a method of initiating reciprocity. When a brand gives away something of value to a customer, they subconsciously generate in that customer a desire to give something in return. Even when this doesn’t come in the form of an immediate purchase, people who receive swag are often more likely to follow a brand on social media, sign up for their newsletter or check their website more often. This means they’re more closely engaged with the brand, which now has more opportunities to reach this person in a sales funnel.

You can also use swag to impress new customers and transform them into loyal ambassadors. SessionCam recommends giving away free swag to users during an onboarding process, or right after they’ve made their first purchase. This sets a positive tone and makes people feel good about their decision to buy your product. You can involve your customers in raffles, giveaways and other exciting promotions that show you value their business.  

Jodi Shapiro at the Pardot blog says that swag sends a message of reliability. “You’re building a relationship with your client that goes beyond selling them a product or service they need.” As a result, your buyers will trust you and remain loyal to your brand. Instead of browsing competitors when they’re in need of a product or services, they’ll head straight to the brand they already trust.

Images by: Pexels, StockSnap, Amîlcar Vanden-Bouch

The post How Great Swag Turns Customers into Loyal Brand Ambassadors appeared first on CBF Labels Inc.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Look Good, Do Good: Eco-Friendly Materials in Apparel Manufacturing

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From guzzling up water to emitting toxic byproducts, new clothing manufacturing certainly takes a toll on the environment. And when working with eco-friendly clients, traditional clothing production methods often don’t align with their sustainability goals and business values.

Fortunately, modern innovations have allowed many apparel companies to breathe new life into materials that were previously often ignored. From plant-based materials like hemp and bamboo to those made from recycled plastic, here’s a roundup of resourceful fabric, textiles and other materials your eco-friendly clients will love.

Plant-Based Materials

Although plant-based materials aren’t recycled from other apparel items, they offer many benefits for the environment and customers’ wallets. Nadine Farag at Man Repeller writes that common plant-based materials include hemp, linen and raffia among others. Hemp, for example, is becoming an increasingly popular material due to its low ecological footprint.

Hemp

As Ministry of Hemp explains, hemp uses 50 percent less water than cotton. Plus, it doesn’t require pesticides to grow strong and ready for harvesting. Cotton, which is traditionally the most common apparel material, is a water intensive crop that also uses 25 percent of the world’s pesticides.

In addition to being better for the environment, hemp also lasts longer and provides better value to customers. Sympatico Clothing says that hemp is a durable material that withstands many washings and never requires dry cleaning. It also gets softer the more it’s worn, making it the perfect material for nearly any article of clothing.

Bamboo

Bamboo is another crop that grows tall and strong without the need for pesticides. Nomads Hemp Wear says that it also requires just a small amount of water to grow, meaning that its conserves much more water than cotton production methods.

Bamboo Fabric Store Australia adds that bamboo also has antimicrobial properties. This natural function means that bamboo clothing is a great choice for those with allergies or skin sensitivities. The added plus is that these antimicrobial properties make bamboo clothing naturally deodorizing.

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Lyocell

Lyocell is a fabric that’s often made from eucalyptus trees and involves a closed-loop production process. According to Good on You, this allows the manufacturer to capture and reuse 99 percent of the chemical solution used while creating the process. This prevents it from being released into the environment and protects nearby land and water from being contaminated.

In the world of eco-friendly fabrics, lyocell is definitely a cutting-edge, revolutionary material. Simplifi Fabric says that lyocell is also 100 percent biodegradable, giving it one of the lowest ecological footprints of all fabrics available today.

When searching for lyocell online, it can often be found under the brand name Tencel. Christina Sterbenz at Business Insider explains that Tencel was first created by the Australian textile giant Lenzing. Now, it’s commonly found in athletic wear, bedding, denim and other everyday clothing pieces.

Fruit By-Products

Pinatex is a revolutionary material made entirely from waste products. Senior writer at TreeHugger Katherine Martinko explains that pinatex comes from the leftover dead leaves of pineapple trees. Pinatex isn’t just an alternative to cotton, it’s actually similar to the texture of leather. This makes it a viable cruelty-free alternative to plastic-based vegan leathers – most of which are made from plastic.

Pintex founder Carmen Hijosa says that the core value of the material is that it’s a byproduct of agriculture. “This really means that in order to have Pinatex, a textile, we don’t have to use any land, water, pesticides, fertilizers … we are actually taking a waste material and ‘upscaling’ it, meaning that we’re giving it added value.”

Another company that recycles fruit materials is Orange Fiber. Based in Italty, the company makes high-quality, sustainable fabrics from citrus juice by-products. Orange Fiber focuses on products that would otherwise be thrown away. The material is incredibly soft – perfectly suited for high fashion.

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Recycled and Upcycled Materials

Luckily, recent innovations in recycling and upcycling have allowed even the most pollutive materials to be rescued from landfills and given a new life.

Textile Recovery System

Take the Recover Upcycled Textile System, for example. This is more of a system rather than a material, but it relies entirely on recycling old cotton clothing scraps from around the world. The Recover Upcycled Textile System doesn’t use any chemicals or water, but it transforms existing, resource-intensive cotton into long lasting clothing yarn.

Another benefit of this process, according to Dr. Kate Goldsworthy at the University of the Arts London, is that it doesn’t require additional dyes to create vibrant colors. “One of the most exciting innovations is in the way they can mix pantone-accurate colours like mixing paint to create new tones from waste fibres. No additional dye is needed,” she explains. Reducing the need for toxic dyes and their byproducts is yet another feature that makes this process so valuable.

Recycled Yarn and String

Yarn isn’t typically thought of when it comes to recycled apparel, but it’s another way to create sustainable apparel. Recent innovations have pushed traditional string beyond its limits, allowing fresh garments to be created from old materials.

Row and Rue cites one type of string called Bionic Yarn, which is a fabric created from ocean plastics. This yarn includes three layers, which gives it the desired stretch, durability and feel that customers desire.

Another popular eco-friendly string is jute. Offset Warehouse writes that jute relies on natural rainfall and grows without the need for fertilizers or pesticides. Jute also takes just four to six months to grow and reach the age of harvesting. This makes it a much more sustainable crop that yields high turnover.

Similar to bamboo, growing jute absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen at a faster rate than trees – far exceeding what traditional cotton manufacturing is capable of. Trusted Clothes adds that jute has excellent tensile resistance. This means it has a similar stretch to that found in polyester clothing, yet it doesn’t rely on fossil fuels.

Images by: gunter, Bruno Glätsch, Public Domain Pictures

The post Look Good, Do Good: Eco-Friendly Materials in Apparel Manufacturing appeared first on CBF Labels Inc.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How New Clothing Lines Can Craft a Seamless Branding Strategy

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When you imagine the most successful names in fashion, brands like Gucci, Chanel and Louis Vuitton might come to mind. But what makes these companies so successful? High quality materials and on-trend styles do make a difference, but that’s not all. More importantly, it’s their branding which has truly helped them shine. From memorable logos and fonts to a story that captivates, all clothing companies need a powerful brand that customers can relate to.

When you’re just starting a clothing company, however, carving out a unique and innovative brand identity isn’t easy. To get off on the right foot, here’s how to craft a branding strategy that sets your business apart.

Stray from the Ordinary

There are thousands of clothing brands competing for your customers’ attention. To stand out, your brand needs to create a dynamic identity that resonates with consumers in a personal way. CrowdSPRING says that since people choose clothing to express their own identity, apparel brands need to create an identity that people can relate to. New clothing brands should consider not only what identity they want to become, but also the customer-identity types they want to attract. This will help guide important brand decisions in the right direction.

Furthermore, Go Media says that businesses have to determine a few unique brand traits and hone in on them. Whether it’s how you design your t-shirts or where you source your jean materials, find something that stands out and use that to market yourself. As you do, use these details to create a tagline, slogan, or rallying cry.

According to Mash Bonigala, a startup investor and brand strategist for luxury and apparel brands, a tagline can help unite your target market under a single idea. In addition to bringing your target audience together, a catchy slogan adds dimension to your brand and makes it more memorable.

To understand how a well-established brand defines their brand values, consider how Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart of Vaute Couture defines her brand values. Hilgart’s brand is committed to using ethical textiles, treating and paying workers fairly and being vegan. While they may not be the biggest brand on the market today, their small size enables them to adopt an ethical business strategy and tell a story of caring and compassion.

Positioning Your Brand

Most emerging brands feel pressured to create something completely new and revolutionary. But in reality, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You just have to carve out a space where your brand has a powerful message in a reliable target market. James C. Gibson says that brand leaders can help encourage innovation in their company by clearly defining where the company is positioned – and where it’s set to go. This helps employees understand how they’re supposed to act and where the company is headed, which creates stronger internal and external brand alignment.

Another way to position your brand in a unique niche is to determine your brand personality. StartUP Fashion suggests finding your brand’s personality by thinking about your brand’s voice, tone, point of view and values. Then, you can think about your ideal customer. What are her or his values? What pain points does he or she have? These questions will help you define your buyer persona.

And if developing a buyer persona wasn’t first on your list – it should be. Why? Because ESTILA Magazine says it’s one of the main branding mistakes businesses make. They explain that failing to define your brand’s buyer personas is a fundamental part of your branding journey and that it becomes harder to fix over time.

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Logo Design

Whether you’re planning your first logo or undergoing a rebrand, it’s important to know all the logo designs and styles available to you. T-shirt printing company Printsome explains that a typographic font logo can exude a sophisticated, minimalist feel. Symbolic logos, on the other hand, can be either abstract or figurative. Abstract logos involve geometric shapes paired with letters, and figurative logos take the form of animals, objects and other everyday objects.

Another apparel brand logo tip comes from design expert Ali Qayyum who says that high fashion logos should feel chic and stylish in order to attract people to the brand. Elegant fonts and classy scripts can help you evoke this sense of sophistication and class. Design is important for establishing your brand, but it’s important that it’s considered with caution. As reporter Lindsay Rothfeld puts it: “be wary of becoming inspired by only aesthetics rather than deeper meaning.”

Crafting a Digital Presence

In today’s age, it’s impossible to create a new brand without considering your digital presence. For most brands, a digital presence is key to telling an intriguing brand story. Amit Bhardwaj explains that showcasing your brand story on social media helps build trust with consumers while involving people in the brand experience.

HubSpot marketing blog editor Karla Cook writes that the fashion industry is leading the way in visual brand storytelling on Instagram. The most successful fashion brands have mastered how to tell their brand story through inspirational images, lifestyle shots and carefully curated posts that showcase what the brand stands for, not just what their product creates.

Another way to promote your digital presence on social media and on your website is to put together an online style guide. Uhuru Network says that having a guide will inspire customers and help them visualize how to wear your clothes. This makes it easier to tell a story about your clothing, which helps customers better understand your brand story and the lifestyle it promotes.

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Product Descriptions

If you’re stuck on how to tell your story specifically, consider touchpoints on your website. For example, your product descriptions are an ideal place to start. Poq Commerce writes that product descriptions can reinforce your brand values through a consistent tone of voice. If your brand is a sustainably-sourced jean brand, for example, you’ll want to take on an approachable yet sophisticated tone. Product descriptions can be further enhanced through user generated content like reviews and ratings. Jignesh Gohel explains that having real feedback from buyers helps increase conversion rates, decrease bounce rates and boost organic search rankings.

Consistent Messaging

When you’re starting a brand, it’s important to give your customers a powerful experience they’ll remember. Enakshi Sharma stresses that the best way to do this is through consistent and reliable brand experiences. Your typography, brand colors and all other design elements must be uniform across in-person and digital brand experiences. Additionally, these visual elements must reinforce your brand values and beliefs.

As you build your brand and time goes on, your brand will inevitably change and adapt. It’s important to continue testing, tweaking and adapting to your audience’s needs and desires. Toby Nwazor explains that entrepreneurs should always re-examine their business model to ensure that they’re maximizing profits in every area possible.

Images by: tookapic, Francisco Venâncio, Rawpixel

The post How New Clothing Lines Can Craft a Seamless Branding Strategy appeared first on CBF Labels Inc.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

How to Connect With Dedicated Superfans With Limited Edition Patches

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Downtown San Diego. More than 130,000 people convened in one area over a weekend. Shields, light sabers, elf ears, capes and masks.

No, it’s not Halloween — it’s the San Diego Comic Convention (SDCC), better known as Comic-Con.

For the uninitiated, Comic-Con is the premier event of its kind, a meeting place for superfans and geeks, many of whom come in costume, to bask in their love for comic books, TV shows and movies.

Since 1970, this annual convention has brought together hundreds of thousands of lovers of popular arts. If this kind of fandom, and how powerful it can be, is foreign to you, this piece is for you.

In this article, we examine the roots and power of fandom, and how producing limited-release clothing patches can be a great way to create collectibles and expand the reach of your brand.

Fandom is Family

So, what exactly is “fandom?”

Meredith Morrison at The Odyssey Online calls it “a subculture that celebrates a mutual bond formed between people over a book series, TV show, movie, band, or other form of pop culture.” Often, large fandoms self-identify by creating a group name: the “Potterheads” for fans of the Harry Potter series, “Trekkies” for fans of Star Trek and “Swifties” for fans of musician Taylor Swift.

Beyond popular culture and popular art, the term “fandom” can also be applied to sports fandoms. Think of the die-hard fans of the Lakers or the Patriots. They display most of the same qualities and behaviors as fans of popular culture:

  • An unwavering love for the source material (their team)
  • Following every instalment of the series (games, instead of tv episodes)
  • An emotional attachment to what happens within the fandom community

Essentially, fandom is a community of people with shared interests, bound by a love for something that is seemingly inexplicable to others.

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The Power of Fandom

The ubiquity of the internet has added to the rise of fandom, making it easier for people around the world to connect with others who share the same love for a band, TV show, book series or sports team as they do. Social media such as Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr have become gathering grounds for fans to have discussions and stay updated on their favorite fandoms.

Cultural anthropologist Susan Kresnicka sees fandom as something that meets our human needs. “It helps us meet core human needs surrounding self-care, social connection, and identity,” she writes

Fandom has also infiltrated our economy.

According to Nerdist, a digital media company dedicated to all things fandom, Comic-Con attendance has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 1970. Comic-Con 2013 saw over 130,000 attendees, compared to approximately 30,000 in 1993 and 70,000 in 2003. This rise in attendance has correspondingly had a positive effect on the San Diego economy.

Today, Comic-Con has an estimated economic impact of $180 million on the city of San Diego and boasts commercialized booths selling all sorts of merchandise and collectibles for fans. Its popularity has led to the creation of other similar events in America and around the world.

The last 10 years have also seen the growing success of licensed merchandising companies such as Funko, Hasbro and Monogram International. Fans have the buying power and burning desire to collect merchandise related to their favorite movie franchise, book or TV show — and these companies know how to tap into that power.

For instance, while The Forces Awakens made more than $517 million worldwide during its opening weekend, the real money was in merchandise sales. According to Natalie Robehmed at Forbes, predicted Star Wars merch sales were $3 billion for just the film’s release year.

Kresnicka has an explanation for how powerful fans can be: “When we define ourselves as fans, we do more — we watch more, share more, buy more, evangelize more, participate more, help more.”

Even so, Brian Mariotti, CEO of Funko, thinks that the power of fandom is not fully understood or tapped into. “People understand being a sports fan and buying jerseys or coffee mugs of their favorite team,” he says. “This is no different. Instead these are fans of a video game or TV show. This is their passion.”

And passion leads to big bucks. In 2016, Funko earned $425 million in revenue.

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Collecting Collectibles

The question to ask, then, is: What makes something a collectible?

The term “collectible” is often used in conjunction with antiques. Pamela Wiggins at The Spruce defines a collectible as “an item that someone takes the time to collect,” which means that the item could be something of high value or “simple things that may hold only nominal value to the person who gathered them into a collection.”

In the context of fandom, the same definition applies. Fandom collectibles can take many forms: posters, T-shirts, figurines, keychains, comic books, pins, bags, patches, and the list goes on.

For fans, collecting merchandise can be a pricey endeavor. According to the Back to the Movies blog, Star Wars fans spend an average of £800 ($1,040) on movie merchandise. As fandom grows, so does the demand for merchandise.

Limited-Release Patches As Collectibles

The economics of fandom collectibles are the same as other products: Create something that people want, and they will pay for it. Release limited quantities of the item, and chances are the demand for it will outstrip the supply.

As a clothing brand, how can you find your way into the fandom market? Tapping into fans’ passions and designing limited edition patches can be a fantastic way to celebrate fandom and bring in a whole new customer base to your brand.

Clothing patches date back to the 1800s, when they were used to patch up clothes. Then, during the American Civil War, patches were used to identify soldiers by rank. Over time, they have became part of fashion; a quick walk through an H&M or Forever 21 will show you racks of clothes with decorative patches on them.

In fact, Highsnobiety reports that patches have become a hot fashion trend, with high-end designers such as Gucci and Ovadia & Sons using them in their collections. Highsnobiety attributes the current “it” status of patches to “the ability to play off current cultural themes … [and] tapping into that popularity and adding a clever twist.”

Patches can be woven, embroidered or made of other materials such as leather or suede. Regardless of what they are made of, they add personality and individuality to one’s style. It is thus a perfect item for fans to display their love for their favorite characters, shows or books.  

The wonderful thing is that patches are relatively inexpensive for brands to produce, and also for consumers to purchase. Patches can be added to different items ranging from bags to T-shirts to jackets to caps. It’s possible to add a patch to any item of clothing, and this widens your potential customer base.

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Creating Clothing Patches That Appeal To Fans

With so much fan merchandise available on the market, how can you stand out with fandom-based patches?

Find the Right Fandom

The key is choosing a fandom that resonates with your brand and customers. Think about your core audience: who they are, what they like, what fandoms they could be interested in. The connection between your brand and the fandom you choose to celebrate can make or break the success of your clothing patches.

For instance, a brand that has a strong, independent woman as its buyer persona would benefit from connecting with the Wonder Woman fandom due to the convergence in values. This would resonate with your existing target audience, and also attract Wonder Woman fans who were not initially aware of your brand.

Andrew Nodell notes how brands, both mass market and high-end, are producing clothing items inspired by Wonder Woman. As consultant Kim Vernon tells Nodell, “People buying Wonder Woman merchandise are buying into the ideology of the strength of women.”

Keep Up With Trends

Tapping into the fandom market requires you to have your hand on the pulse of what’s currently resonating with fans. This means doing research into which characters are fan favorites, which movie moments got the most Twitter discussion, or what new releases fans are most looking forward to. If you’re able to tap into what’s hot with fans, and then create limited-release patches that match their interests, you’ve got a winning product.

Jeremy Goldman points to clothing brands like Welovefine, TeeFury and Her Universe as companies to look to when it comes to creating clothing that fans want to buy. Built by fans for fans, these companies use “obscure fan references and occasional crossing-over of multiple fandoms” to appeal to fans.

Go For Evergreen Fandoms

Pop culture comes in waves, but there are fandoms that are more evergreen in nature. Years after the last book in the series was released, the Harry Potter fandom is still going strong. Star Wars fans have only multiplied since A New Hope was released in 1977. The Marvel and DC fandoms have seen exponential growth since they introduced movies and a shared cinematic universe for fans to delve into.

Such fandoms that have developed a solid fanbase are excellent choices for brands to align themselves with. The strength of their fanbases mean that demand will always be there. Once a fan, always a fan.

One company that has done extremely well by appealing to fans is Black Milk Clothing, based in Australia. Samuel Hun credits their strategy of producing apparel based on popular movies, comics and TV shows as a key factor of their success. Whether it’s Star Wars-inspired swimwear or Marvel Comics leggings, Black Milk has successfully (and stylishly!) combined fandom and fashion. Their limited edition collections tend to sell out very quickly, showing that the demand for such products are high.

Nostalgia Sells

Nostalgia is another strong selling point. Popular bands, movies and TV series from years past evoke warm memories of good times and create a strong emotional pull. As Lauren Friedman puts it, “Aligning marketing strategies with emotion has already proven to be successful, but tapping into fond memories can be an invaluable tactic, especially for engaging millennials.”

Combining fandom and nostalgia can be a winning combination. Simply look at the rebooting of old cartoons or movie franchises such as the Power Rangers movie or the new Ghostbusters to see how Hollywood is leveraging on nostalgia to bring in dollars. When creating fandom-based patches, this could be a good approach to follow.

What it boils down to is congruence between your brand, the fandom you choose to celebrate, and your target audience. If all are in alignment, developing limited-release clothing patches could be a successful new venture for your company. You could even end up creating a new fandom for your patches!

Images by: tunechick83, 3dman_eu, tunechick83, NeuPaddy

The post How to Connect With Dedicated Superfans With Limited Edition Patches appeared first on CBF Labels Inc.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How to Communicate Brand Values Through Apparel Tags and Labels

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Starting or managing a clothing brand is a multi-faceted endeavor. From finding affordable manufacturers to managing distributors and choosing fabrics, the logistics aren’t always easy. But as you design and plan your company, there’s one important aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked: labels.

Whether it’s a woven shirt label or a cardboard hang tag, the branding elements on a garment have a huge impact on how customers feel about your brand. And as How to Start a Clothing Company explains, marketing and advertising simply aren’t enough to sell your product. So instead of relying on external factors, here’s how to create a garment that communicates your brand values through labeling and brand elements.

Using Brand Values to Stand out

People purchase clothing from many different stores and retailers throughout their lives. As an apparel company, your brand helps you stand out from competitors and create loyal customers. According to Ben Scrivens, owner and operator of the horror T-shirt company Fright-Rags, today’s apparel brands need to showcase their authenticity. “Branding is as simple as finding those things you do that sets you apart and honing in on them.”

For apparel companies, labels and tags are one of the best ways to communicate and reinforce brand differentiators. In the same way that your homepage is your marketing piece online, Peter Renton, founder of Lightning Labels, explains that your label is your marketing piece out in the world. That’s why it’s so important to create a label that attracts people’s attention and shows how your values are different from your competitors. But what exactly are people looking for, and what attracts their attention?

Brielle Yang of SilkCards says that effective hang tags include company information and details that a customer wouldn’t normally expect. For example, you may decide to explain how your product is made or describe the unique materials it’s made from. You also could add information about where the product is made and how that place supports the brand story, or how the brand originally came about. All of these details are unique to your brand, and they’re what help you stand out from competitors. Your clothing label and hang tag can work in conjunction to support a brand’s ideas and reinforce a strong, clear message.

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Labels and Product Image

Your labels are an important aspect of your brand’s visual communication strategy. Pulkit Rastogi of I Love Fashion Retail explains that labels, brand tags, fabric material and fasteners all portray your product’s values visually. In professional product shots, these elements influence the buyer and leave a lasting impression.

Labels also provide your brand with an opportunity to establish emotional connections. StartUP FASHION explains “great branding offers acceptance, provides a sense of comfort, and yet challenges a customer. Branding inspires a customer on a level that is not solely about the brand.” And if you want to establish strong, emotional connections with your audience, it’s important that you understand their needs and desires.

Real Thread adds that understanding your audience is one of the most important aspects of owning a clothing brand. If your customers are outdoorsy and adventurous, they may desire clothing tags that are durable and simple. If you have an upscale, city-oriented audience, then it might make sense to choose a high quality tag that evokes class and luxury. Understanding your target market and how they go about their day can help guide you towards the right label and tag design.

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Label and Tag Design

Regardless of which materials or styles you use, Print Aura explains that simple is always better. Rather than taking up the entire tag space with a long product description, keep it succinct. Choose a few key product features and summarize them in a handful of words for a powerful message that customers remember.

Color Psychology

All apparel companies should have a basic understanding of color psychology. Because no matter what color the clothes are, your branding materials and labels can make or break how a customer feels about your brand. Graphic designer Nick Spence reveals that a signature brand color can boost recognition by as much as 80 percent. If you want to establish security and trust — values that are especially important for selling clothing online — blue is the best color to choose. If your labels are a consistent blue color that align with the rest of your brand, for example, you’re much more likely to establish trust and stand out in customers minds.

If it’s excitement and independence you want to portray, red shades can do the trick. Smile.io explains that red is associated with passion, life and energy, so a red label could be well-suited for a brand seeking to define a new niche or be seen as a trendsetter in the industry. When it comes to creating happy customers who associate your product with joy, Help Scout says yellow might be the best choice. In fact, yellow is psychologically the happiest color in the entire spectrum.

But just because yellow evokes happiness doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for your brand. If you’re marketing to children or millennials and your brand mission is about helping people enjoy life while they wear your clothes (a bathing suit or exercise company, for example) yellow could be a solid fit. If, on the other hand, you’re creating high end suits for corporate executives, yellow isn’t exactly aligned. Your label colors are also a part of establishing brand loyalty, because a customer will continue to rely on you to evoke a certain image once you’ve told that story through a color.

Eco-Friendly Options

If you’re an organic cotton shirt brand or a company committed to sustainable practices, a label made from an eco-friendly material can help reinforce your message. Lindsay Patton of One Green Planet says that hemp and soy are two plants that have minimal impact on animals and the environment. Creating labels from these materials can help reinforce your values as a brand committed to sustainability.

You can also communicate earth friendly commitments by letting your clothing label’s natural color shine. Author Marissa Stapley explains that organic cotton usually comes in pale, cream or light green naturally. Instead of following suit with other brands and dipping these labels in chemicals to change their colors, let their natural hues shine. These colors already evoke a sense of calm, so it’ll help reinforce your message.

Consistency

Another important way to communicate your values through labeling is to ensure that all labels are consistent. This helps a brand uphold its values and ensures that all customers receive the same brand message over time.

According to Retail Insider, having all of your clothing labels and hang tags designed by the same company is one way to ensure consistency. From the label color and material to its overall quality, working with a reliable manufacturer is key to sending a strong and consistent message. It’s easy to adopt a branding or label trend just because all of your competitors are. But adopting trends can have serious implications on your business if they don’t properly reflect your brand.

Images by: Tim Wright, Matthew Henry, Crew

The post How to Communicate Brand Values Through Apparel Tags and Labels appeared first on CBF Labels Inc.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Apparel Rebrands: Inspiring, Successful Examples to Follow

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Rebranding is one of the most powerful ways to reposition your image, attract new audiences and stay competitive. In the apparel industry — where trends are changing with every season — it’s critical to maintain a fresh visual brand that excites and entices customers.

If you’re thinking about rebranding, there are many important factors to consider. Make the job easier on yourself by using these successful apparel brand makeovers to guide and inspire you.

Krimson Klover

Based in Boulder, Colorado, this women’s outdoor apparel brand has always been geared towards an adventurous audience. But with athleisure becoming more popular with young women, Krimson Klover decided to rebrand its image to better appeal to younger, sportier audiences. In addition to undergoing internal changes, Krimson Klover updated its logo. The clothing outfitter’s previous logo was its name in a script-style font. The new logo is comprised of two mirrored K’s, which gives a clean, modern and minimal appeal.

Ministry of Supply

This clothing company began designing high performance, professional men’s apparel that won’t wrinkle, shrink or sag. When Ministry of Supply launched a line of women’s work clothing with products like the Easier than Silk Shirt and a line of Structure Your Day pants, it needed a fresh brand to match. They opted for a more minimalist logo by shortening their name to Ministry. This change helped the brand remain modern and further reinforced their approach to simple, reliable basics.

ScrapLife

Sometimes a rebrand is due to a new name. Case in point: FlipsWrestling, which began selling headphones and earbuds to wrestling teams. Now with an established social media following, it features custom wrestling team apparel co-created with brands like UnderArmour.

To reflect these changes and new product offerings, FlipsWrestling has changed its name and rebranded as ScrapLife. The company is fully focused on creating high quality wrestling apparel and marketing it to the professional wrestling community. The new ScrapLife logo retains the same water puddle print that was featured in the FlipsWrestling logo. However, the mirrored F’s have been replaced with an S and L to reflect the new brand positioning while maintaining familiarity for long-time customers.

Asics Tiger

Born from the classic running company Asics, the Asics Tiger brand launched a new logo to further differentiate itself from its parent company. The new logo draws from the retro typography aesthetic of its original in order to maintain its legacy and appeal to lifelong customers. It’s different in that it adopts a custom font that evokes character and originality. By masterfully leveraging its brand legacy for a fresh look, Asics Tiger effectively stands out from the crowd in an approachable and familiar way.

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Milly

This designer label was first lauded for its blend of American and French vintage styles. Since gaining a larger following, parent company Sagmeister & Walsh decided to give Milly by Michelle Smith a more dynamic image. This goal is accomplished through an updated logo that keeps the same shape, but is more flexible and dynamic. Specifically, this allows the mark to translate into different colors and design environments. As a result, the Milly brand can expand its story and reach new audiences in digital contexts.

Kaibosh

Kaibosh is a trendy Norwegian eyewear company that makes stylish, affordable prescription glasses and sunglasses. Although Kaibosh was founded on the principles of bold, unapologetic style, the market quickly became saturated with similar eyewear brands seeking the same goal. To stand out, Kaibosh completely revamped their logo with two distinguished eyelashes and a playful font that speaks to originality and freedom. This look is paired with strategic copywriting and plastered across the brand’s signs, ads, packaging and more for a consistent, cohesive feel.

Sword Maclean

As an apparel brand that calls itself “a premium and distinctly Scottish clothing label,” having a standout logo is essential. Sword Maclean is an up and coming retail brand that revamped its logo to include a Scottish-inspired text that evokes thoughts of castles, knights and rolling green hills. This helps the fully traceable, single origin company stay true to its roots and homeland-inspired clothing offerings: handcrafted leathers, woolen knits and woven textiles.

Industrie Clothing

Industrie Clothing is an Australian-based menswear brand geared towards the fashion-conscious modern man. Industrie Clothing has all the class and sophistication of high fashion, yet its adventure-geared apparel sets it apart from typical runway fare. Industrie’s revamped logo reflects its not so ordinary customer with a stark, modern logotype.

Brioni

Brioni is an Italian fashion house with enough brand power to outfit celebrities including Will Smith, Michael Phelps and Milo Ventimiglia. But like all fashion brands, Brioni still needs to maintain its image in order to stay relevant. Brioni decided that it required an updated visual brand in order to better solidify its creative vision and reflect the company’s historical branding. The new brand reflects the house’s evolution with a scripted, timeless typeface that echoes the history of the past while suggesting what’s to come.

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School of Sock

School of Sock was the original company to offer a sock of the month club. But before being called School of Sock, the company went by Sock 101. The company decided to change its name to reflect its broader focus of help its customers excel at sock fashion. Men and women can learn everything from how socks are made to how they should be worn. Hyperfocused on this initiative, the new School of Sock logo reflects the educational standpoint with a pennant logo evoking memories of high school gym class.

Thought

Formerly Braintree Clothing, Thought is a sustainable retailer that changed its name to establish a stronger presence in both the men’s and women’s fashion markets. Since Thought had changed so much since its original debut, it only made sense to reposition the brand and create a visual image that better reflected its current image. The name Thought directly reflects the idea of sustainable clothing, yet also echoes the philosophies of ethics and sustainability. The hovering “O” in the logo also reflects the idea of the earth, continuity and respecting nature’s cycles.

SMYTHE

SMYTHE is a Canadian ready-to-wear women’s brand with a focus on practical fashion. Starting out with blazers and jackets, the company quickly gathered a cult following. After experiencing such sudden popularity, SMYTHE launched an entire collection with dresses, pants, skirts and more. Part of this rebrand included establishing a stronger online presence, so SMYTHE launched an ecommerce site in addition to a new brand. The logo is classic and direct in black lettering, evoking timeless style that’s still approachable.

Butterfly Twists

This popular British footwear brand is known for its playful and spontaneous shoe collections. Butterfly Twists acquired a minimal, angular logo to better represent the brand’s bold, multi-dimensional personality. This geometric, modern logo is accompanied by a new tagline, “Never Twist, Stick” to evoke its daring and unapologetic nature. Butterfly Twists also divided its shoe collections into three different colors and style niches to cater to different consumer groups.

Images by: Gabriel Alva, Ucmao, Adina Voicu

The post Apparel Rebrands: Inspiring, Successful Examples to Follow appeared first on CBF Labels Inc.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Small But Mighty: Custom Branded Patches Pack a Punch at Trade Shows

If you’ve ever attended a tradeshow, you know that pencils, coozies and lanyards are nothing new. In fact, these types of disposable branded items are so common that they’re often forgotten soon after they’re acquired.

And that’s the exact opposite effect of what branded materials are supposed to do.

As an agency, you need to design memorable materials that ultimately help your customers close deals and ramp up business. To make sure your clients stand out, here’s how they can incorporate custom patches into their next trade show booth.

Why Patches?

Ordinary promotional materials, like branded pens and mugs, have very little impact on people. In fact, Marvin Amberg of startup Caseable says that pushing these lackluster items on people can actually be frustrating for them. After all, how many pens do they really need? Carrying around an armful of junk isn’t exactly the most pleasant experience.

Instead, Nimlock Louisiana says brands should give away something unique and memorable. It should be something that’s relatively inexpensive to make, yet it should still be high quality.

Then, these items can be customized with a company logo to create customized, memorable giveaways that have an impact on attendees. Imagecraft Exhibits suggests thinking of things that are useful to people throughout the conference and even after they leave. So instead of ordinary pens, enter the next greatest trade show giveaway: custom patches. There are many types of custom patches, including sew on, iron on, and peel to stick, but the right patch for your brand depends on your intentions.

Emphasize Your Brand

When planning for your booth and choosing swag, it’s important to remember that you’re marketing your brand, not your product. Post-Up Stand explains that trade shows aren’t necessarily about selling your services and closing deals. Rather, they’re about selling a mission, solution and story. When a customer resonates with what your brand has to say, they’ll be more likely to remember it when the time is right for them to purchase.

River North Business Association adds that it’s also important to be specific with your tradeshow booth. Concrete ideas and images are easier for people to grasp and recall later. Whether you choose to include a specific concrete word or an associated image, custom patches are a helpful way to reinforce the ideas set forth in your booth.

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Show Your Logo

As you inform potential customers of your brand, having your logo visible is a must. AllBusiness recommends putting your logo everywhere possible: signs, display backgrounds, business cards, and promotional materials like patches. This repetition will make your logo seem familiar and approachable to customers.

James C. Gibson of Metro Exhibits adds that promotional materials that show your brand are an easy way to extend your booth’s reach. Patches are something that people put on their clothing, bags and other belongings. Here, they’re in a space where they attract attention from others. This creates a sense of intrigue, and other attendees of the trade show will wonder where the colorful, creative patches came from.

Make Your Patches Accessible to All

No matter how great your patch is, your booth is the very first point of contact between you and potential customers. Don’t make it a barrier.

Trade show expert Vern May knows it’s crucial to get visitors into your booth. Rather than putting a table between you and them, he says make people come in to get their free patch or pair of sunglasses. This opens up more opportunities for conversation while visitors browse your product offerings. Self-adhesive patches are a fun, easy way to get people wearing and talking about your brand. They can easily be stuck to clothing or bags during the trade show, helping your brand stand out from other booths who have sub-par giveaways.

Create a Theme

It’s important that your patches send the same message as the rest of your booth. One way to make your brand more memorable in people’s minds is to design your booth, patches and other giveaways around a certain theme. Perhaps you’ll be in an interesting city or at a popular annual event. Classic Exhibits Inc. suggests creating a relevant theme that your patches and other products can center around. This will make it easier to catch people’s eye and people will have something to associate your brand with.

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Create Eye-Catching Designs

When designing booth elements, portable trade show maker Skyline Exhibits says that brands shouldn’t shy away from bold elements. Readable text, bright colors and flashy illustrations are all ways to draw positive attention to your corner of the show. It’s also important to consider quality versus quantity.

The same design sensibilities should be used when creating a custom patch.

This can be used to great advantage if you have fewer items in your booth. More space means you have more room to make elements, including patches, large, bright and eye-catching. For tips on which colors to include, Catalyst Exhibitions suggests opting for warmer colors. If a brand already uses reds, yellows, pinks or other colors nearby on the color wheel, these should be played up in patches and other items. If a brand is cleaner with white or grey elements, consider adding warm wood accents.

The strategy behind a bold booth and product design is simple: people come for the visual appeal of your booth theme, patches and swag, and leave with a memorable experience.

Step Away from the Booth

It’s easy to hide inside your booth and wait for customers to come to you. But, that isn’t the most effective way to attract customers. John Ruhlin reminds brand marketers to step away from their booth and mingle out on the tradeshow floor.

The great thing about patches is that they’re intriguing and different, and they provide a great conversation opener for people who are walking around and exploring booths. When you approach someone and engage in natural conversation, it also helps people see your brand as more human. And even if you don’t bring patches along, wearing them clearly on your shirt or a sleeve is a subtle but powerful way to make an impression.

Eco-Friendly and Evergreen

Another benefit of patches is that they’re a durable product with a long shelf life. Rather than small items or those made from plastic, patches have more value. Iron and sew-on patches are particularly valuable because they become a permanent logo emblazoned on an item of clothing. Patches are also more environmentally friendly because they last much longer than peel and stick patches. They don’t require packaging, so you can reduce the amount of plastic your brand uses and gives away.

This fits into the growing trend of virtual swag (like coupon codes and online brochures). As The Trade Group explains, virtual swag is a completely waste-free way to market your brand. If you still want to have one physical item for visitors to hold and take home, patches have longevity and quality that make them perfect for an eco-conscious booth.

Finding the right bag for your products can also help you reinforce your brand. The Better Software Company explains that if it’s an eco-friendly message you’re aiming for, biodegradable bags or reusable fabric totes can enhance your message further. Creating a bag that has the same color, logos or theme of your patches can also help reinforce your brand message. This is also an important element to consider if you’ll be handing out swag bags with multiple materials included.

Images by: Bruce J. Hadley, Purple Gillian, Petra

The post Small But Mighty: Custom Branded Patches Pack a Punch at Trade Shows appeared first on CBF Labels Inc.