Company News

Promotional Items on Display at ‘Ignite Your Brand’

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio – The latest technology is transforming the promotional items that companies give away to reinforce their business brands.

At the Ignite Your Brand trade show Thursday, sponsored by Safeguard, account executive Brian Governor said that “anything electronic” has been incorporated in the “latest and greatest” promotional merchandise.

Safeguard has offices in Youngstown and Streetsboro plus Greer, S.C.

Ignite Your Brand, which attracted 25 vendors, was held at Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course.

“Promotional products are the fastest growing category I’m working on,” said Governor, whose agency also provides traditional printing on forms, tags and labels.

The products on display Thursday ranged from items as simple as a pen to a Bluetooth speaker. All were designed to have the name, logo or both of a company affixed or stamped on it.

Branded portable power banks, phone chargers, USB hubs and ear buds were among the new tech items displayed.

The power of a promotional product depends on the client. Governor explained, “A pen can get 23 imprints in a day if that person is at a trade show like this where they are constantly writing notes down.”

Dard, a subsidiary of Evanston, Ill.-based Tagmaster, offers more than 500 promotional items. A Dard representative, Alvin Muniz, said, “The past couple years have been more of a contraction period because there have been a lot of changes with what products are being offered.”

For the past 66 years, Dard’s biggest-selling product has been the Tuff Tag, a plastic tag on a key ring that advertizes a brand.

With markets and technology always in flux, Dard continues to develop promotional products such as portable power banks and phone chargers that incorporate the latest technology, he said.

“We’re trying to make more functional items that will be used for a longer period of time, like a phone charger but it all depends on the demographics,” Muniz said.

Most Dard products are made abroad because labor costs are lower elsewhere, Muniz said.

However, Dard also sells products it manufactures in the United States, such as koozies, because of the growing demand for products made in this country, he added.

Independent Folders, based in De Pere, Wis., specializes in high-quality presentation folder products, said senior account manager Joe Lancour, who showed off the newest American-made product of the past six months: a box sent through the mail that invites the recipient to an event. The mailer is stamped with a design that promotes the event.

Technology has reduced the costs of items once too expensive to produce in mass. “Because of laser cutting technology, we can make 100 of these products for $4 or $5 apiece,” Lancour said. “Creating a new promotional product starts with a concept, then you have to think what’s the target audience, how do we want to approach them and what do we want the message to be.”

Ball Pro from Eden Prairie, Minn., and Keystone from Muncy, Pa., both promotional product industries were among other vendors, at the trade show.

The director of promotional products for Safeguard, Forrest Fairley, spoke about the importance of marketing a business through promotional products. “You want to get people to talk about your brands,” he said, “and the gold standard in advertising is creating advertising impressions: How many eyeballs can you get on your brand?”

Sales of promotional products totaled $22 billion in 2015, Governor said, expressing optimism about greater growth as branding efforts increase.

Pictured: Steve Slimak, Brian Governor and Alyssa Koval are with Safeguard, which sponsored the trade show.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.