I picked up a rubber bracelet at my biz school reunion. I thought it might be kind of fun. You'll recall these items became really hot in 2004 with the Lance Armstrong LiveStrong campaign. Once a promotional item reaches a conservative bastion like a business school, you can be sure that it is anything but trendy, right?
The bracelet says, "Ivey Business School 90th Anniversary."
[Truly, irredeemably boring. Why would I wear it? Why would I share it? Why would I even engage with it?]
What a promotional item should do for you
Even something as small as a promotional item should have a genuine purpose. A promotional item like this can be used for a few purposes:
- Raise awareness of the brand -- simply show off your name
- Be a pass-along item
- Reinforce an emotional connection or association
- Reinforce existing positive brand associations
- Create new positive brand associations
I thought this could have been done a LOT better. So on the drive home, I tried to think of how to do it better, as an exercise in creative thinking. Then whiteboarded some stuff as seen in the photo above.
There were a few other things I thought the school might have done with this, to showcase the brand better. Some possible objectives that made sense to me were:
- Reinforce the sense of community that the school is always talking about.
- Say something brainy, or at least witty, in the message.
- Say something about the massive new building that was just unveiled.
Yes, your promo items should have objectives. If you are just buying something to give away, you are not making the expenditure work very hard. And in fact, it could be sending the wrong message (I.e. we're boring!)
Brainstorm it better
Here are the things I came up with during the drive home. If you are really doing an exercise like this, you should come up with at least 2 dozen ideas and then choose the best ones.
Ivey turns 90, gets a facelift [witty reference to the new building]
22,930 graduates | 5,154 female grads | 98 countries [select some interesting statistics.]
Campuses in London, Toronto, Hong Kong, Mumbai. Coming soon: Ubuntu [global growth in campuses, and emerging efforts in Africa]
Kevin O'Brien, Sarah Morgenstern, Timothy Hodgson, and me [Highlight current year alumni award winners, and suggest that the attendee could be among them in future]
Multiple bracelets could have been used to get people looking at each other's bracelets and talking, "which one did you get?"Even small initiatives in your business can support your brand, if you give them a little creativity. Don't just put your logo on a pen. You can do better than that, right?