Making it real
One of the most fun things to do as an entrepreneur or a small business owner is to see your brand or your logo or your artwork come to life in a physical, tangible objects, whether it’s a mug or a tee shirt, or a big banner, the tanking up over your storefront.
Being able to see your business and brand in a physical way for all the world to see and enjoy is really, really thrilling. This is a really fun, ego-driven part of being a small business is to make stuff. And it is also a really important part of what makes brands special.
In particular brands versus businesses. Brands are often more concerned with the swag than a typical business. Why? Because they take time and money to create. And really it’s just about feelgood factor rather than some necessarily return on investment.
So today as we’ve been exploring brand cool, I want to take you through what I call artefacts, which are the tangible or sort of swag or physical objects that are a part of what make brand special and a part of what helps people have a more deep and fun connection with them based on this stuff.
So in these last few episodes we have been talking about brand cool and how that breaks down into words, visuals, experiences and artefacts. Today I want to dive into the artefacts piece, which is the brand swag or the physical or tangible stuff that exists in the real world that is connected to your brand, that makes people feel great and helps you communicate why you do what you do and gives people part of that brand experience that’s so fun.
So there are a lot of different pieces of brand swag or the artefacts, the tangible stuff that your brand will use in order to exist in the world.
And stand out.
This will include things that you would typically think of as like stationary, so your business card, your letterhead, a brochure, a postcard, that kind of thing. It will also include stuff that we kind of think of as swag or merge like a tee shirt, a mug, a button, a sticker or something that is kind of just for fun or a free gift for your customer.
Packaging is also a huge part of this category of brand cool.
Especially if you’re selling your product from a shelf or if you have a premium product and you’re packaging that product for your customer to take away as well as the little pieces that go into potentially making that packaging. Things like rubber stamps, stickers and tags or the fun extra stuff like having custom printed tissue paper or removable tattoos that you either gift or or use as marketing collateral to give your brand a tangible place in the world that you can actually hand over to your clients.
So as we look at this category of brand cool, it’s really important, just like all things to go in understanding. Why does it matter? Why should we do any of this? Because a lot of businesses don’t, and they do just fine. Well, this is an important part of your brand experience and a lot of this stuff you don’t have to do.
And a lot of it you won’t do when you’re in the grow your business phase of your journey as an entrepreneur because there just isn’t cash to do it. So if you’re looking at something like wrapping your car, for example, or if you want to make and give away free mugs to your clients, you’re going to need some extra cash flow to go and do that.
And that doesn’t make sense until you’re in a position where you’re making more money with more ease, which is all about that first season of growing your business. So this happens a little bit later on when you have a little bit more money to play with and you’re working on crafting and growing your brand instead of just your business. So keep that in mind.
This isn’t the first thing you run out and do when you start a new business.
Now, there will be some critical pieces. So let’s look at those. You definitely want to have a business card that is something that is an early piece of brand swag or an artefact that’s really important and you want to make sure that that business card represents you well.
So it doesn’t have to be fancy, but you wanna make sure that the visuals and the other elements of brand cool that we’ve talked about get translated properly so that that business card looks and feels like everything else you’re doing in your business. And I just a personal story, I have always, always, always wanted to have letter press, business cards. I’m a designer, I’m an artist, letter presses, super cool. But it wasn’t until year 12 of my business where I finally invested in them because they’re so expensive and I didn’t invest in them until I went through an entire brand refresh.
And I felt like everything was kind of on par and it was an important part of my strategy. I didn’t run out and do it just because I wanted it on day one because it wouldn’t have been a good use of that money. I wouldn’t have seen a return on that investment. But now it’s a much more important part of how I present. And what’s been really interesting is when I do speaking events and other sorts of gigs where I’m handing these businesses cards out, people notice they’re memorable. I’ve had several times where I’ve emailed someone after an event and they’ve been like, oh yeah, you had the cool cards. So it’s not pointless either, but you have to determine for yourself and your business where the balance is between having the cool fancy stuff and your budget and how much that is actually going to impact you on the other side.
Now let’s dig into some of the other stuff. If you have a brand, one of the things that’s important to you is to surprise and delight your customers. So brand swag can be one of those things that you can just do that absolutely thrills them. And remember, this does have an ROI, a return on investment, because it’s often really good for sparking up word of mouth. So, for example, if someone purchases something from you and you include a free sticker or a free tattoo or something light and easy like that, oftentimes they will tell someone about this or they will share it on social media because they weren’t expecting it and they think it’s quite cool. It doesn’t cost you, basically doesn’t cost you anything to just include that in the package and it’s a great experience for them. So that relates to what we’ve been talking about with brand cool experiences.
But there are other things that you can do that are a little bit of a step up from this basic surprise and delight that you can actually leverage and your sales strategy. So for example, if you make a mug or a tee shirt, you can also of course physically sell those things, but you can use them as incentives when you’re doing promotions. So if you’re trying to get someone to buy a particular product or service, you can use the mug or the t shirt as a free gift that only certain people get if they buy within a certain time. So some of these artefacts have real uses when it comes to your marketing. They’re not all just pretty nice to have. The other piece is something like packaging can have a really direct impact on whether or not people are picking your product up off the shelf or it’s product that you’re delivering.
For example, like if you’re a photographer and you’re, you’re delivering prints, um, or something that’s been purchased in advance and you’re delivering it later, the impression that it makes when that’s that stuff comes nicely wrapped. Or if you’re buying something in a retail store and it comes in a nice bag with tissue paper has a real real impact on your customers. And it sometimes is the reason that they come back. And often again, it is a reason that that word of mouth gets going and they tell people about it. So again, it can have a real impact on your marketing. So if you want to grab some resources for how and where to get really cool brand swag, cause this is a question I get asked all the time, make sure you go grab the PDF that’s in the show notes for this episode. There’s link below or you can go to Jane, Nicole smith.com/podcast and find this episode and grab the PDF there because I’ve got a ton of resources for you about how to, about companies that you can use to go out and order this stuff from.
Because I know it can be tricky to, I’m including the place that I got my awesome letter press business cards from. Um, so that you can create some of this stuff for yourself. But again, it’s important to mention that you want to look at the other elements of brand. Cool first. So we’ve talked about words, we’ve talked about visuals, talk about experiences, especially words and visuals. You’re going to want to have done that work before you get into actually buying stuff for your business because you want it to all look consistent. And if you’ve done some work with words, for example, you might have discovered that there’s a tagline or a Hashtag that you could be using on your mug or pen or t-shirt that people really connect with. So it answers the question of what goes on this stuff, what does it look like?
Equally, you want to make sure that your business cards and your letterhead and your brochure all have a really similar look and feel to say your website so that when people go from one to the next, it’s consistent and they understand that you are you. And again, you’ll want to have your colors and your logo and your fonts worked out before you go set about to get your stickers or t shirts cause it’s important that they all look coherent. So brand artefacts have a huge part to do with word of mouth marketing. They can be great leverage for promotions, they’re great for your customer experience and that surprise and delight. And to be honest, it can just be fun, right? It’s just fun to have cool stuff that you’re proud of. And that’s part of building a brand instead of just a business is to be proud of what you’re doing and to be able to show up in the world and say like, Yep, this is me and that is an important part of what you do because it’s part of what keeps you energized and keeps you coming back for more on the days that are hard because you get to have a little bit of that ego boost.
So this is definitely worth looking into. Again, the timing of when you invest in this stuff will depend on how comfortable you are with your budgeting and how far along you are with understanding your other elements of brand cool. But it’s definitely one of the things that sets brands apart from businesses. I’d love to know if you have seen any brand swag that you love from individual brands, cop over into facebook.com/groups/magicmakersHQ and show us or tell us about the brand swag that you love or that you’ve seen that you thought was really cool. We try and share this from time to time on our social media platforms as well. Cause it can be really inspiring to see what other brands are doing to get their customers talking or to show how proud they are of their businesses. And again, don’t forget to grab the show notes with the PDF with the super helpful checklist of places you can go to go get brand swag for yourself that is going to help with your brand.