Girl wearing a cap

Branded Caps: Your Buying Guide

Girl wearing a cap

What is a promotional product? A printed pen or mug and a branded cap.

Caps are such a promotional standard that they have transcended their original purpose in many ways. Today, branded caps are a collector’s item, a symbol of fatherhood, a good luck charm, an expression of solidarity. Caps have the potential to be so much more than just a promotional product.

Caps began as a lightweight and aerodynamic option for sports. It seems that both baseball and cricket evolved their headwear into the modern style of cap at the same time, around the turn of the 20th century. Since then, the informal and functional cap has become one of the most popular styles of hat in the world. What started as a way to keep the sun out of the players’ eyes, became a way for fans to support their teams and now is a marketing opportunity for everyone from restaurants and car dealerships to start-ups and tourist locations.

As promotional products, cap styles and pricing vary dramatically. To help you choose the snappiest snap-back for your brand, we’ve put together the below buying guide.

Why are some branded caps cheap?

Being so high in demand, it’s easy to find cheap and quickly-made caps. There’s a plethora of options, but the cheapest caps are polyester, cotton or a combination polycotton. Plastic brim inners are the norm for modern caps. This means that they’re more durable and easier to clean, as well as being easier on the pocket.

Style-wise, an inexpensive branded cap is simple, six panels around the crown with embroidered eyelets (the little holes in the sides) and a simple Velcro crossover or snap back. Standard, basic designs made from basic materials mean that caps are available for all budgets. However, when things start to get very cheap, the quality also declines. Loose strands, warped peak and a skewed, awkward fit are the main signifiers of a cap that was too cheap. In this case, no matter how striking your branding is, cutting corners on the cap itself will do more harm than good.

Why some are expensive?

The quality of an expensive branded cap is clear. The fabric will feel sturdier and more well woven. Eyelets are firmly embroidered or metal, and the stitching is straight and symmetrical. Some brands leave it up to the specialists and will only buy from brand name manufacturers like Flexfit, Stormtech, or the Italian-made Atlantis Headwear. This option is great for brand credibility if that’s what you’re after. The brand guarantees consistent quality and service that you can pass on to your customers and clients.

Branded caps are known to be cheap and cheerful, but their potential for high-end brand representation is huge. Classic styles that fit well will endure many wears without losing their shape, adding to their longevity and increasing their value. Specialised styles can cost a little more but will better represent your brand. Flat caps, sandwich peaks and A frames, while still affordable, are priced slightly higher than a standard hat and will be a better fit for your clients and customers. After all, you know them best.

What pushes our price up?

Taking the above into consideration, a cheap standard cap can still become expensive. But how, you ask? Once you have it, you need to make it yours and that’s where branding comes in. The way you decorate your company’s caps will increase the cost, even if it’s just a simple logo.

It’s important to note that embroidery isn’t always more expensive than a print. However, because embroidery pricing is determined by the number of stitches, a large or detailed artwork will be more expensive than a small and simple one.

There are so many ways to decorate a cap. More than just print or embroidery. There are also metal, PVC and leather badging, silica lettering, embossing and woven patches. Then when you do get to embroidery there is 2D, 3D, metallic, chenille, textured and felt applique. Each one of these decorations will push the price up between $3.50 and $20+ per cap, but will also increase the value you give your clients and customers.

Caps have such great space for branding. They’ve got multiple panels, a peak and a crossover that can all be decorated. Where you choose to brand your caps will influence the end cost. For example, if you want your logo on the front and your slogan on the back, you’re doubling the set-up (the cost of setting up the decorating machine for each different decoration and location). Having a custom ribbon in the middle of a sandwich peak cap, or an embossed buckle to hold the crossover will also increase the cost.

All the little details are important to you because these products are an extension of your brand. Get the details right and your branded caps will have the desired effect.

What pushes our price down?

Part of the answer to that question is ‘the opposite of above’. Going for a print or digital transfer instead of large embroidery, just on the front, no other bells and whistles and a simple style. These will keep the price down. But there are also a few other things that will keep your branded cap well within budget.

Long lead times are great for the hip pocket. If you order well in advance, our manufacturers can make your caps and ship them off without the need for express service or delivery. Both of those cost you money. That being said, shipping to one metro location only is the cheapest way to have your caps delivered.

Buying in bulk is another way to lower the cost. Yes, the overall cost increases with the quantity, but the unit price goes down considerably between MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) and the next few quantity breaks. Also, the full cost of the order absorbs decoration set up and any other incidentals, like poly-bagging well. Bulk ordering is great if you know you’ve hit a winner with your branded cap and they’re sure to be divvied out.

Basic pricing examples

You want to know what the price actually is when it’s all said and done. We’ve put together some standard pricing to demonstrate what your regular 6-panel, flat cap and Atlantis Headwear cap will cost. These amounts include embroidery up to 5,000 stitches and do not include shipping or GST.

Branded Caps Pricing

Why are branded caps a promotional staple? What makes them stand out?

Large decoration area, available in different colours and styles, highly customizable – these are the characteristics of great promotional products. Caps tick these boxes.

The large area on the front of the cap is prime real estate for branding. The peak is also good, but harder to see when someone is wearing it. Speaking of wearability, caps are so visible that a single branded cap rewards its brand with 3,400 impressions over its average ten months of ownership. Every time it’s worn, walking through town, playing sports, doing everyday things, your brand is seen by potential clients and customers.

Here is something caps can do that pens, mugs and mousepads can’t. They become a part of personal branding. If your branded cap is incorporated into someone’s personal style, congratulations, you’ve won. You’ve created a high-value product that will guarantee ROI for a long time to come. How do caps do it? How can your caps be that valuable?

Tap into a cap’s versatility. They can be youthful, sporty, fashionable, on-trend. They can also be functional, distinguished and sentimental. Your branded caps can be whatever your audience need to express themselves. Because their owners make them their own. They put their own personality in to them; and sometimes it becomes their whole personality – we all know the guy who never takes his cap off. NOTE: Don’t forget branding on the back if your audience are the ‘wear them backwards’ kind of people.

Caps come in a wide range of styles for all budgets. This means that you can splurge if a brand-name cap and stand-out decoration is what your clients would resonate with. Whichever way you go, consider what quality, style and decoration would increase longevity. More time spent in your clients’ hands and on their heads means more impressions. More impressions equals more business. And the path to more impressions? Value. The value that your clients see in your product and your business.

Our team can help you find the best branded cap for your business.

Tritan bottles against usual plastic bottle background

What is Tritan? And how does it compare to other plastics?

Tritan bottles against usual plastic bottle background

Plastics are hard to get away from. The truth of it is that plastic is an inexpensive product that is often more durable than the ‘environmentally friendly’ counterparts. Plastic makes your life easier, and when it’s reused and recycled, it’s even better.

There are many kinds of plastic, fit for different purposes. One of the most celebrated, is Tritan. You might have seen the name about but have not realised that it is actually a type of plastic.

The Eastman Group intorduce Tritan as an alternative to BPA plastics in 2008. Since then, it has grown to be a popular plastic for drink bottles and other kitchenware. It boasts many great qualities. How does Tritan compare to other plastics available, though? Is a Tritan drink bottle really better than any other? We’ve done the research to make sure you have all the information you need to decide if Tritan is the plastic for you.

This is what we’ve found.

What is Tritan?

Tritan is a copolyester. That means that a combination of diacids and diols (acids and chemicals) have been added to the base plastic. These additions lend their own properties to make the new material strong, clear and resistant to heat and chemical degradation.

Thanks to its strength and clarity, and other attributes listed below, Tritan is a favourite material for food and beverage containers. It is available globally and, in the world of promotional products, we see it most in the form of drink bottles.

According to Eastman, “while it has the looks and clarity of glass, [Tritan] won’t break when you drop it or toss it in the bottom of your backpack. It can take all the bumps and drops of daily life and even survive some of the not-so-typical stresses.” They say it will survive hiking trips and “even a few really long falls.”

Third-party and laboratory testing back these claims. Therefore, you can be confident that whatever your activity, a Tritan drink bottle will take whatever you throw at it.

What are Tritan’s Competitors?

Polycarbonate (PC) and Styrene Acrylonitrile (SAN) are Tritan’s main competitors. Popular in tableware, both PC and SAN are see-through, rigid plastics. They are glass alternatives that are cheaper, lighter and more heat resistant – better suited to the frequent and hard use of restaurants as re-usable drinkware.

PC is known for its tough but clear structure. It is commonly used for glasses lenses, machinery guards and LED light pipes. Manufacturers favour PC for its versatility and especially, its flexibility. It is easily shaped, even at room temperature, without cracking or breaking. Testing has proven that Polycarbonate is eight times stronger that PET and four times stronger than acrylic. It can be made to be literally bullet proof!

SAN was developed in the 1950s. You may have seen some of its early forms in the back of your grandmother’s kitchen cupboards in the form of food containers. It has impressive heat and solvent resistance, perfect for leftovers and washing up. Today, it is used in just about anything – from printer casings and cosmetics packaging to pens and insulated cups and bottles. In the promotional product industry, SAN takes colour exceptionally well and produces a crisp, durable print.

 

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) and Polypropylene (PP) are other common plastics. They are inexpensive and lightweight, great for bottles and consumer goods. PET is a preferred plastic because of its food safety and recyclability. As a polyester, PET is easily recycled into clothes and headwear. You can enquire about Impact’s recycled PET apparel here.

PP is also recyclable, though not through curbside pickup. Its primary benefits are based in its impact and moisture resistance. PP is also used to make film for confectionery wrapping and clothing (known as polybags).

 

So, what makes Tritan stand out from these other types of plastic?

Tritan is BPA Free

What does that mean? What is BPA?

Bisphenol A (or BPA) is chemical used in plastics and resins to protect surfaces from deterioration. The issue with BPA starts when it seeps into food and drinks stored in BPA-coated containers. Rigorous testing has found that BPA can affect the brain and prostate health of fetuses, infants and children.

However, global health authorities report that there is no significant danger at the level to which we are commonly exposed. Still, the Australian government has been phasing out the use of BPA in baby products since 2010.

Polycarbonate is not BPA free.

Tritan is Strong

Tritan is impact, heat and chemical resistant. As such, it has exceptional dishwasher durability. That’s important for your employees or clients who will be using your branded Tritan products regularly.

According to the Plastics Technology Magazine:

“Testing revealed that under a 1% strain, PC often breaks after two to three dishwashing cycles in a residential dishwasher using a common household detergent. Under the same conditions, Tritan endures more than 250 cycles with no sign of crazing or breakage.”

Recent improvements to Tritan have increased that number to over one thousand cycles.

SAN matches Tritan in the dishwasher durability test, lasting for over one thousand cycles, as well. However, SAN (and PC) is prone to scratches and is not impact resistant. It is known to crack when dropped on a hard surface. While this is fine for tableware that is handled carefully, drink bottles are prone to knocking and dropping during activity.

SAN also loses out in the next category.

Tritan Has Crystal Clarity

As a substitute for glass, Tritan must be clear. While other plastics may discolour or turn murky after washes and use, Tritan boasts lasting clarity with ‘outstanding gloss.’ What makes Tritan so clear is the amount of light that can pass and reflect through it. This creates a crystal-like brilliance. Comparatively, both PC and SAN have been known to become cloudy over time and can stain.

Tritan is also odor and taste resistant, so your clients’ water won’t taste weird after a couple of weeks.

When you’re next looking for plastic drink bottles will Tritan be on your ‘must have’ list? Stronger than glass, better for your health and beautifully clear. Tritan makes a durable, attractive and easily branded product that will carry your brand well for years to come.

 

Contact our team and ask about what Tritan products we have available.

Sources:

A marketing group around a desk

Marketing Agency, Specialist Partner or Product Supplier: Which is better for you?

A marketing group around a desk

You’ve got your campaign all drawn up. You know who you’re targeting, when and why. You may even know what the whole campaign will look like. Now, you want to really give your campaign some punch and add a product or two. Something your audience can take away. It could be a thank-you gift, awareness building give-away or a prize for the lucky winner. Whichever it is, a physical gift will wow your consumers and cement your relationship. So, how do you go about finding that perfect product? Do you have a regular specialist supplier who is always ready to meet your needs? Or do you jump online and grab some pricing off a webstore? Maybe, this time, you let a marketing agency find the right one for your brand and work it in to your plan?

The good news is that all options are valid! All avenues will lead you to a product that is on-brand and suits your message. But which is better? To help you decide which option suits your situation best, we’ve compiled a list of pros and cons.

Full-Service Marketing Agency

An agency can definitely get you the right product for your campaign. Agencies can also design your entire campaign for you. Besides sourcing pertinent products, a full-service marketing agency has the ability to coordinate the entire marketing of a brand from conception to delivery.

Logo, voice and tone, corporate colours, fonts and visual assets, content and scheduling are all part of the agency package. And of course, you can pick and choose which of those services you require.

To help your brand or campaign reach its potential, a marketing agency will employ its own promotional product team. Depending on the size of the agency, it could be one or two very talented individuals doing the heavy work. They might outsource any jobs that they can’t fit in, as well. In bigger organisations, each arm could have its own team to look after you – from designers to content writers and SEO experts. All your bases will be covered with a full-service marketing agency.

Pros of full-service marketing agency:

  • You don’t have to organize all the aspects of your campaign yourself (printers, manufacturers, product designers).
  • You don’t have to vet the vendors yourself or take the time to build relationships.
  • There is one channel for reporting – You will have one point of contact who understands your goals and vision. They will guide you through the whole process.
  • They can coordinate the entire campaign to have each aspect launched simultaneously.
  • One point of contact means details are consistent across the campaign (colours, designs, sizes etc. through the print, products and digital assets), which gives the end product a critical cohesiveness.

Cons of full-service marketing agency:

  • Marketing agencies aren’t usually specialised for products. This means expertise may be lacking in some areas.
  • Contacts and relationships for outsourced services may be fewer than a single service provider. This issue is mitigated when the company is big enough to have a whole team for one area. For example, a large marketing agency may have a promotional products team with the same knowledge and background as a promotional products company.
  • You are entrusting the look and feel of a product and the branding on it to someone outside of the organisation.
  • You pay more for the agency to be your go-between with outsourced services.

Specialist Promotional Products Partner

A specialist promotional products partner works closely with you to find or create products tailored to your campaign. Most often, you will send them a brief that includes what you’re after, who it’s for and what you want it to do for you. With that information, your account manager (and the team, if it’s a bigger company) will source or create the best product for your campaign. A promotional products partner will coordinate the design, manufacture, decoration and shipping of a product for you. Additionally, your account manager should be following up on the success of your campaign and looking to your next one.

Like marketing agencies, a company’s size will affect the level of service you receive. Small businesses have a one-on-one feel but may lack a larger organisation’s buying power.

Regardless of size, expertise is a promotional product partner’s best asset. Some (like Impact) have been in the game for decades. Years of experience mean that they’re on top of the trends in the industry. It also means that they’ve had time to develop strong relationships with their supply chain, delivering you better quality and prices.

Great specialist partners, whether their specialty is products, SEO, copywriting or design, also have complementary services that make your life easier. Content writers will have schedulers, SEO specialists give you custom reports and promotional products partners can give you warehousing, online portals and other helpful things.

Pros of products partner:

  • You have more control over the production and ordering process.
  • Can be cheaper than a full-service agency.
  • You can guarantee the look of product and presentation of logo through the proofing process.
  • You get a dedicated account manager to oversee every aspect of the process from conception to delivery, and including follow up.
  • A custom product can be made for your brand with every detail considered – down to the design on the swing tag.
  • You get access to a team of individuals with specialised knowledge of the products industry. Their contacts across the world get you the perfect product at the best price.

Cons of product partner:

  • A large range of options and styles can be overwhelming.
  • A product supplier cannot coordinate the full campaign with digital and content assets.
  • You may be repeating yourself for every vendor you’re working with. Especially if you’re getting multiple quotes.
  • A products partner may be biased in which product they present to you. That bias may be based on price, personal preference and ease of supply.
  • Products may be considered outside of the context of your whole campaign.
  • Large projects can take time from design, to manufacture, to delivery.

Product Only Supplier

A product only supplier is your one stop shop for general products at great prices. While they may not offer custom-made products, their ease and speed of service is exceptional. Many product suppliers operate through online stores. This means you can have pricing and place orders without the back and forth of dealing with salespeople – great for when you need a quote ASAP and have multiple approvals to navigate on your end.

Product only suppliers make bulking up your campaign, or stocking your office’s branded merchandise an easy job for a Friday afternoon.

On the other hand, some product only suppliers offer a single niche product. If it is something that aligns perfectly with your brand and resonates with your customers, that thing could be the only promotional product you need. Products like that often come at premium price, but are worth it for the ROI they will give your campaign.

Pros of product supplier:

  • Almost immediate quoting.
  • What you see is what you get.
  • Self-service with online stores.
  • Well priced standard products.
  • Specialty niche products with great quality that can’t be found anywhere else.

Cons of product supplier:

  • Little opportunity for customisation outside of branding.
  • Customer experience may feel transactional.
  • Limited product range from one or two manufacturers, or a single product.
  • No understanding of whole campaign and objectives.
  • Do not offer any other services outside their product.

Ultimately, the decision is up to you.

If you have the budget, but not the team or connections to create the campaign you want, an agency may be the right fit for you.

On the other hand, if you’ve got the details of your vision clearly, you like to control the process from beginning to end and you only need someone to handle the creation and integration of the physical assets, a promotional products partner will work well for you.

If it’s the last minute and you don’t need any of the bells and whistles, go for the product only supplier.

All are correct and all will deliver you a product to complement your brand.

Become an Iconic brand in 2022

How to become an iconic brand in 2022.

Become an Iconic brand in 2022

2022 will be an iconic year for many. The light at the end of the dark tunnel is in view. As businesses and countries re-open, the opportunity for growth is everywhere. Now is the time to re-invigorate your brand and create something recognisable, quintessential – something classic. If you’ve got the vision to build your brand into one that will last the ages, you cannot go past these eight pieces of advice. Here is how to become an iconic brand in 2022.

Make it versatile

Take your logo, your colours and fonts and make sure they are as effective on screen as they are on paper. Ensure your imagery translates across platforms and is immediately recognised on Instagram, Tik Tok, Shopify and Magento. You need strong and clear brand guidelines, so nothing is lost in translation.

A versatile brand embraces all its channels and presents consistently across them all. Varying the tone and voice of company messaging can be confusing for consumer. Mis-matched visuals make your brand look disorganised and chaotic. Neither of these things instil trust in your brand. In 2022 your consumers need to be able to know it’s you, without seeing your logo, wherever you are reaching them.

Make it simple

Is it time for a rebrand? With all the excitement of the possibilities before you, remember to subtract – rather than add – to what you’ve already got. Iconic brands are simple. Many have logos that are nothing more than a single word or image. Get rid of the fluff and get down to who and what you really are.

Go easy on the colours too. From a promotional products point of view, more colours are more expensive and don’t always look better. One or two signature colours really pop on products. Online, monochrome branding with a simple font is easy to read, recognise and remember. Simple is timeless.

Make it heartfelt

Hopefully you know your market. You understand their motivations and their pain points. You understand their emotions relating to your market and your product. That is good, because tapping into the emotions of your consumers in your marketing can increase sales by 23%. A 2017 study by Nielsen shows that consumers favoured brands that had higher emotive power in their marketing.

“Consumers who are emotionally connected to a brand are worth two times more to a business than the average highly satisfied customer. They will trust the brand more, make more purchases while exhibiting lower price sensitivity and follow different communication channels more intently.”

Forbes writer, Omar Jenblat, emphasises that a campaign must feature emotions that are aligned with the brand. The inclusion of emotional content has to be a “natural extension of the marketing strategy.”

Make it visual

An iconic brand can be identified by a colour or image alone. Thanks to the internet, humans are now experts at interpreting images both consciously and subconsciously. For marketing, that means less work for copywriters and more for designers. Hubspot claims that branded images – that is, visual marketing with your brand in it – yield 67% more attention than straight-up advertisements. Not only that, but people retain 65% of the information presented to them if it is paired with a relevant image.

However, be sure to stick to your branding guidelines and keep your brand consistent.

Make it social

You can’t expect your consumers to come to you 100% of the time. You have to go to them. Discover where they like to hang out and go there. An iconic brand will engage with their audience through social media. Once you’re there, try not to throw ads at them, hoping to get their attention. Instead, engage with your audience like you would in person. Be helpful, friendly, have conversations. You can build a community around your brand.

Also, don’t be afraid to reach out and partner with your audience’s shared interests. That’s how making friends works after all.

Make it authentic

In today’s world perfection is seen as suspicious and disingenuous. Consumers know when something is too good to be true, it usually is. Showing the reality of your brand builds trust with your market. Consumers are smart. They know life is messy, complicated and evolving, so your branding missteps and hurdles won’t come as a surprise. Instead, they’ll be a welcome insight into your brand.

Over the pandemic period trust in businesses increased – according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. Consumers felt they could trust businesses to do the right thing more than government and media. Transparency is the buzz-word for an iconic brand looking to increase trust and strengthen their following. So show your process.

Make it sustainable

A brand with a clear stance on local and global issues will win the trust, and business, of passionate customers. According to that study just mentioned, consumers place a lot of trust in brands to make good choices and be a force for positive change. 86% of consumers expect CEOs to make a stand against societal and environmental issues. An iconic brand will make good on that trust. Throughout your supply chain, from product to marketing, corporate to warehouse, opt for the most sustainable and globally conscious avenues.

Make it real

An iconic brand is an experience. It will extend past the logo and the product you sell. While online interactions are necessary and invaluable in our time, you must give your consumers something tangible to experience as well. Trade shows, store openings, product launches and demos link what customers have seen on their screen to how it will fit into their lives. Positive interactions and physical experiences give your brand value and make your consumers feel valued.

Do you want to make your brand even more powerful and memorable? Coordinate and combine your online and real-world marketing.

Every brand has the potential to become iconic, but not everyone makes it. You need a clear vision of who you are and why you do what you do. Combine this with simple, versatile visuals and powerful consumer engagement on- and offline, and you’ve got something that will last. For the details that will win your audience over and build your brand into the icon it can be, Impact can help.

Browse our blog for merchandise ideas, or contact our team today.

Calico and canvas

What’s the Difference Between Calico and Canvas? and Other Common Cotton Questions.

Calico and canvas

Cotton is cotton. But it’s also brushed and twill, and denim and calico. When cotton fibre is woven into fabric it is used to make everything from clothes and accessories to bedding and towels. Such versatility means that there are many names for the cotton end product. In the world of promotional products, cotton is found in bags, apparel, uniforms, hats, face masks and a lot more. We hear words like herringbone, chambray, fleece and jersey. But what do they mean and what is the difference between calico and canvas? We’ve got the answers below.

Firstly, what is the difference between Calico and Canvas?

The confusion stems from the finish! Both calico and canvas are commonly produced undyed. Their natural look makes both calico and canvas popular, eco-friendly material for totes and shopping bags. But the difference between calico and canvas, though, is in the weight of the thread and the density of the weave.

Calico is light, loosely woven cotton fabric. It is used in fashion for making test garments before moving onto the more expensive material. Calico’s raw look and light weight make it a popular fabric for carry bags and homewares.

Canvas, on the other hand, is heavier than calico and more tightly woven. A thicker and tighter weave makes canvas more durable and structured. Canvas products include backpacks and tote bags, sneakers, aprons, workwear and upholstery. Outside, waterproofed canvas is seen in tents, sails and tarpaulins.

You can read about cotton bags in our article, here.

What’s the difference between Brushed Cotton and Twill?

Brushed cotton is just as its name describes. Once the cotton is woven it is brushed on one or both sides as a finishing touch. Brushing gives the fabric a soft and sometimes fluffy texture that works as an insulator. Brushed cotton is perfect, then, for bedding, pyjamas and soft tees. Flannel, for example, is a medium weight cotton brushed on both sides.

Twill refers to the way the cotton is woven rather than finished. Twill is a sturdy and durable weave, mostly seen in chinos and denim, but it can be used in many ways. Depending on the weight of the thread, a twill’s signature diagonal ribbing can be obvious or subtle.

Isn’t Chambray just a lighter Denim?

Cotton chambray is often paired with denim in fashion because they’re both most commonly blue. Chambray differs from denim, though, by its weight and weave. It is plain woven with thin white and blue yarn. This makes the multi-coloured fabric light and crisp.

Denim is made in a twill weave with medium to heavy weight yarn. Fashion denim is often woven with elastane to make it more wearable, but this also reduces its durability.

What are Herringbone and Poplin?

Herringbone and Poplin are common terms seen in cotton dress shirts and uniform apparel. Poplin is another plain weave fabric. What sets it apart is its ultrafine horizontal ribbing that gives the fabric a sheen. Suit trousers can be poplin when made from a medium weight yarn.

Herringbone is a pattern made by alternating the direction of a twill weave throughout the fabric. Herringbone fabric can vary from light to heavy. Light herringbone is found in dress shirts, while medium to heavy herringbone is used for items from jackets and heavy coats to upholstery.

What exactly is Jersey Cotton?

Jersey is made from cotton that has been knitted rather than woven. This makes it soft to touch and gives the fabric more stretch. Cotton hoodies and tracksuits are made from jersey cotton with a brushed fleece on one side.

What does Rib Knit mean?

A very descriptive name, rib knit cotton is a knitted fabric where the loops appear alternating on the front and back of the fabric, giving it a ribbed look. The ribs make the fabric super stretchy without the use of elastane or Lycra (though many still use them for stretch throughout the garment). Hoodies and jumpers will have rib knitted sleeve cuffs and waistbands. Fitted tops and dresses will be rib knitted throughout.

Cotton is a functional, versatile and improving resource. It is used around the world in fashion, furniture, homewares, camping gear, paper and agriculture industries. Australian cotton growers are evolving their tools and techniques to reduce the amount of water they use, and their carbon emissions. Their efforts are creating the same quality product with a smaller carbon footprint.

Australian cotton is valuable to so many industries, including promotional products – where one 227kg bale of cotton can produce 1,200 tees, or 4,300 pairs of socks. With so much to be made from cotton, we hope you now have the vocabulary to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Employee Wellbeing at Home

Improving Employee Wellbeing – In the Office and WFH

Employee Wellbeing at Home

The last 2 years has thrown a lot at us all. We have encountered a lot of disruption in the business world. However, there have been a few positives to come out of this global experience. One of them being an unprecedented focus on employee wellbeing. The mental, physical and emotional health of team members has become incredibly important to help businesses maintain momentum. Companies that have nailed their health initiatives have thrived.

80% of large and 50% of small companies have implemented employee wellbeing programs among their teams. Whether in the form of activities, incentives or company-wide policies, wellness initiatives should be as varied as the individuals they’re looking to serve. Different though they may be, the desired outcome is the same: better physical health, greater resilience, and increased productivity at work.

We’ve seen and facilitated many effective initiatives at Impact. All are trying to have a positive effect on employee wellbeing. Generally, they can be divided into three categories:

Policies

Flexible work hours and paid parental leave are great examples that have employee wellbeing at the heart. Employer-funded professional development and education are effective at improving growth and satisfaction in the workplace. Clear and easily accessible feedback processes can also be included here.

Programs

Many workplaces have had success with in-house yoga, meditation and gym classes. These programs allow for a scheduled mental break in the workday and a way to get moving. Others have financially incentivised physical activities that can be completed by remote and WFH teams. Some companies offer money prizes and self-care bonuses for reaching goals and trying new things. Charity work, company retreats and allotted personal project time can also be opportunities to recharge.

Environmental Supports

Employers can support their team’s wellbeing by adjusting the environment where they work. Healthy snacks can replace lollies and biscuits in the lunchroom. More natural light, plants for air quality and making stairs an appealing option over the elevator will all support a healthier way of life. For employees at home, making sure they have an ergonomic workspace and the supplies they need can make their physical spaces more inviting and healthy.

 

“Soliciting feedback from employees on their interests prior to picking a wellness program is essential to its success. Everyone sees wellness from a different perspective and enjoys different activities.”

– Josh Awad, Depression Alliance

For those not in the office, maintaining relationships is top priority. Working from home, sometimes in literal isolation, has been seen to disrupt employee wellbeing in a major way. Therefore, programs that encourage individuals to be social and reach out are invaluable. All efforts need to be genuine, though. The Director of Health and Wellbeing at Price Waterhouse Coopers, Sharon Ponniah, gives the following advice:

  • Maintain connections.
  • Be authentic and honest.
  • Understand and acknowledge that circumstances and preferences vary widely. So be ready to address the actual needs of your team.
  • Encourage meaningful breaks throughout the day and facilitate time outs.

Wellness initiatives that actually work are intrinsic to company culture. Building an atmosphere of compassion and genuine care in the workplace and at-home workspace are essential for getting through this period with our health intact.

If you’re looking to reach out to your remote teams and boost your employees’ wellbeing, Impact can help.

Promotional Products in 2021

New Year Trends: Promotional Products in 2021

 

Promotional Products in 2021

2021 is an opportunity to strengthen the relationship your brand has built with customers and clients over the year that shall not be named. Last year was about meeting your stakeholders where they were. Because they couldn’t come to you. Promotional Products in 2021 are about looking after your people and their environments. Whether it is by helping them establish a new work-life balance or reducing the use of plastic in their day-to-day. Your brand can make a difference outside of your usual service or product offering. Here are the things that will set your brand apart in 2021.

Notebooks

Work from home (WFH) was a necessity in 2020. And we saw burnout increase due to the blurred lines between work and home. Without the commute to separate the timeframes and physical spaces, people are working harder for longer and ignoring their breaks. We’ve got more screens in front of us for more hours of the day and that fatigues our eyes and brains.

Your clients may be looking for a product to solve this problem for their stakeholders and a notebook is just what they need. A notebook offers the eyes a break from the screen, while keeping up the productivity. Also, the physical action of writing notes means greater information retention and a more organised WFH day.

Read our blog to find out more about why notebooks are a great tool for marketing and in general.

Plastic alternatives

Environmentally friendly promotional products have been one of the top trends for the last five years. It’s time to narrow it down for the big changes that are happening this year. In March 2021 South Australia is banning single use plastic. Straws, cutlery and drink stirrers will be the first to go. Thankfully, plastic alternatives are not difficult to find and branded plastic alternatives are widely available.

You can read more about reusable straws here and enquire about our range of reusable cutlery.

Not only are these reusable bits and pieces better for our environment, but they are also better for our health! We are responsible for their cleaning and carrying and so we are motivated to keep them in good working order. We know what cleaner we use and where the products have been. By looking after our reusable products, we are creating healthy habits and staying away from harmful bacteria.

Apparel

The business traffic slow-down that hit mid-year last year was an invaluable opportunity for many brands and businesses to refresh their look. From Adobe and Ampol to Kmart Tyre and Auto (now MyCar), redefining who you are and what you do is a valuable strategy when so much is changing around you.

Uniforms updates are an exciting part of rebrands, mergers and refreshes. There is an opportunity for your people to look even better, be more comfortable and represent your brand in a more meaningful way. Impact has a wide range of corporate and trade apparel including brands such as Gloweave, Stormtech, Van Heusen and Calvin Klein. View some of our collection on our online catalogue.

Brands have been reaching their customers in their homes with the help of social media. And their promotional product of choice? Apparel. Limited edition socks and hoodies carried brands through COVID, maintaining brand interest and building relationships. We love a giveaway, even more when its something we can curl up in. We predict this trend to continue in 2021 as businesses rebuild their brands and test out their new digital prowess.

Home and Leisure

Working from home since March last year, employees, clients and customers have become comfortable with the new way of doing things. While state guidelines are allowing workers to return to offices slowly, the WFH situation may be hard to give up. The ideal would be a happy medium where work and home are balanced to offer the best of both worlds. For that reason, we know that brands are embracing the home as an important space for their marketing.

Most notably they are looking to products that offer positive experiences in and around the home. Association between the brand and a good time is powerful. It will serve these businesses well into the future. If you’re thinking of doing the same, consider these wholesome, home-centred products.

The world is looking forward to a better year in 2021. Businesses especially are exploring new and better ways to reach customers and serve clients. Promotional products in 2021 are still an effective way to build brand awareness outside of the screen in a world that is increasingly digitally dependent. Put your brand in their hands and watch it grow.

Contact us today for more product ideas and marketing must-haves.

Products trending in 2020

The Wrap Up: Products Trending in 2020

Products trending in 2020

The year is ending and many of us are happy to see it go. On the eve of the new year, let’s review the promotional product trends that were must-haves for many of you in 2020.

Socks

They may seem unusual for a promotional product, but socks were trending massively in 2020. Perhaps it was the no-shoes policy many took up during their months working from home that led to their popularity. Or maybe it’s because they’re a fun, quirky promotion featuring an epitome of comfort.  Whatever it was, promotional socks have slipped onto our feet and into our hearts this year. One of our favourites were these, created for Mexican eatery Guzman Y Gomez.

Hoodies

Hoodies are another product that has gained popularity with more people housebound. They’ve always been on our radar, but in 2020, hoodies have really taken a front seat. The comfort, practicality, decoration potential and endless designs made them a favourite giveaway or apparel line for businesses – catering to their customers and clients.

Face Masks

An obvious trend emerged in April and continued through the back end of 2020. Face masks were not universally mandatory but were a justified precaution in a lot of places. Many companies saw the branding potential of face masks and purchased them for customer-facing staff. Keeping their teams safe and on-brand through the upheaval of COVID.

Sanitiser

Another product to trend in 2020 thanks to the pandemic was sanitiser. A clear necessity for every workplace and individual, pump bottles and tubes of sanitiser with custom labels began trending in February and skyrocketed in May.

Caps

The cap, a promotional staple, continued its popularity in 2020. Usually an easy casual product to add to any kind of giveaway, this year caps have been a favourite for staff in all industries. Caps offer effortless branding and are available in so many styles that it’s impossible not to find one that represents your brand. It could be a trucker, flat cap or classic six-panel curved-peak snap back. Whichever you go with, branding is effortless.

Drink Bottles

Drink bottles, especially metal drink bottles had time in the Australian sun in 2020. For our clients, branded drink bottles were distributed to clients and customers as merchandise and giveaways. The greater perceived value of metal drink bottles improves how marketing messages are received and gives the bottle longevity – so extending the promotion and increasing your brand impressions. If you need more convincing about how drink bottles work as promo, take a look here.

Our clients stand apart from competitors with superior products to promote their brands. They trust us to know what is going to help them make an impact in a crowded and sometimes uncertain market. 2020 has been a challenging year but we’re bringing everything we’ve learned into 2021 so look out for our product predictions coming in January.

Eco-friendly straws

Straws that don’t suck! A marketer’s guide to eco-friendly straws

Eco-friendly straws

As a marketer looking for promotional merchandise you want a cheap, easily-customised product that is used often by everyone. A few things match this description – pens, drink bottles and tote bags come to mind. Straws are another that fit the bill. While their troubled, plastic past may cause you to shy away, eco-friendly straws are the way of the future.

Below are the most common plastic-free straws that are perfect for your summer promotion. We’ve included details from recyclability to mouthfeel so that you can find the ultimate eco-friendly straws for your customers and clients.

Stainless steel straws are reusable, durable and long lasting. Their size and shape mean that they’re very difficult to dent, bend and almost impossible to break. They’re also resistant to rust and corrosion. Stainless steel is food safe and dishwasher safe. While it does use more energy than plastic to produce, a stainless steel straw only needs to be used 150 times to counteract the energy used to produce it. That is well within its life span because they are so durable.

On the downside, it is reported that stainless steel can give drinks a metallic taste. And they can be “jabby.” While they can have smoothed and rounded tops and bottoms, their rigidity makes stainless steel straws prone to poking mouths. This can be fixed, however, with a silicone mouthpiece.

Stainless steel straws often come in their own canvas bag with a straight straw, bent straw and straw cleaner. The bag is printed and the straws themselves can be both printed and engraved with your logo or message. They travel easily within their pouches, with no risk of being bent or broken in a handbag or pocket. They are great eco-friendly straws for everyday use.

Glass

A straw made of glass may be your clients’ favourite straw ever. Primarily because of its satisfying weight and smooth mouthfeel. Being see-through, glass straws are easy and fun to clean. You can watch as you brush away any juice bits or smoothie residue. They’re also endlessly reusable and 100% recyclable.

These straws are commonly made from borosilicate glass, which is shatter, bacteria and temperature resistant. That means your sparkling soda and creamy coffee can slide up that tube without sizzling or freezing your fingers. It’s also tasteless – which, in this case, is a big plus!

However, while they are shatter resistant, glass straws are not unbreakable. Any sharp impact, a fall on to tiles for example, may break your glass straw. Luckily, the pieces will be big so clean up is a breeze. The breakage factor does put people off glass straws because it makes them tricky for travelling and not the easiest for children.

Printing is simple on a glass straw. The most common way would be a pad print. For longer lasting branding, you could also go with etching. A clean and classy option.

Bamboo

Bamboo is a popular product for branded merchandise. It’s a barely-processed, natural material that can be made into many things. With its fine grain and soft colour, bamboo is perfect for brands looking to make a statement with an eco-friendly product.

As a straw, bamboo is a great reusable, sustainable and biodegradable resource. They are sturdy, not temperature sensitive and gentle in your mouth. However, they have been known to have a woody taste. Bamboo straws are hand wash only and have a limited life span, because of their internal texture. Their porosity means that over time bacteria will build up inside the straw despite regular washes. The final downside to bamboo straws is that there are no bendy or bent options. This might impact those needing straws for accessibility.

Silicone straws are a family and marketing favourite. The plusses for whoever is using it are many, so we’ve listed them below.

  • Soft on your mouth (great for kids)
  • Dishwasher safe (great for adults)
  • Made from food safe silicone
  • Reusable
  • Easily transported
  • Can be cut to size
  • Can be straight or bent

For marketers, silicone straws come in any colour you can think of. They are easily printed. They can even be debossed for more subtle but impactful branding. Thanks to their malleable construction, silicone straws also come with a range of carry options. Such as hard square and circular, keyring and carabiner clip cases. These all have solid branding spaces themselves.

Unfortunately, silicone straws are not recyclable and will one day end up in landfill. They must be washed often and well, too, because bacteria love silicone’s texture as much as you do. Silicone deteriorates over time and while its life span is longer than bamboo, it does have an end date.

Paper straws are the first we look to when sourcing a plastic straw alternative. When we want something single use for an event. They can be a great pop of colour in a glass and even greater when that colour matches your brand and décor. However, while they are biodegradable, there are a few things about paper straws that make people look elsewhere.

Firstly, we know how they feel when they get soggy…ew. Paper straws are not particularly sturdy and can collapse mid-suck if your beverage is on the thick side. While they do degrade, paper straws are still single use. The energy used for production (more than plastic straws) is not counteracted by a long, practical life. And finally, paper straws cost around 2.5c to produce and contribute to deforestation.

If you are still looking for a single use, biodegradable option for your event, paper is a fine eco-friendly, plastic alternative. They come in easy to brand recycled and recyclable card boxes and won’t end up in the ocean, up a turtle’s nose.

Wheat/Hay

The modern straw’s namesake is a simple length of wheat or hay. And since the world’s been looking for more plastic-free options, wheat and hay growers have made the original straw available again. The straws we’re after are a biproduct of wheat and hay production and would otherwise be discarded. Putting it to use instead extends its life and minimises waste. The downsides are that their production cost is about the same as paper straws, and like bamboo straws, there are no bent options. That’s it.

So, what are its other virtues?

  • They are a single use option but can be composted and will break down in 1-2 months.
  • They are taste-free – so no grassy after tones.
  • They are gluten free because the gluten in wheat is found in the seed and not the stem.
  • They can be easily cut to size and come in a range of widths.
  • They are made in Australia.
  • They come in a recycled card box with your name on it.

If you’re interested in how they’re made, this is the process. The hay stems are hand selected for length and width. The outer layer is removed and the straw is sent for rinsing. Once foreign particles are washed away, the stems are soaked and rinsed again. They are then air dried and cut to a uniform length for packaging. They are sorted and inspected and then washed again. After they are dry, they are disinfected and finally packaged in that recycled, plastic-free packaging.

Straws are not always the first product you think of when you want to make an impression. There are a lot of options out there. But in a world where individuals are trying to make a change for the world, straws are great. One person using a reusable straw like those above stops 584 plastic straws per year, from ending up in the ocean. Eco-friendly straws are great for people, great for the planet and great for marketing. For more environmentally conscious products, go to our online product catalogue. And have a read of our enviro bags blog.

Stress balls and shapes

Do Stress Balls Actually Work? Super stress shapes for health and education

Stress balls and shapes

Wellness is a hot topic as we look for ways to cope with everything that is happening this year. Keeping well during the displacement and uncertainty of bushfires and then the uncertainty and frustration caused by COVID19 has been a bigger task than many expected. Therefore, it might be surprising to hear that certain promotional products can help reduce this stress and anxiety. Even more surprising that they can improve academic performance and reduce pain in post-procedure medical situations. These are pretty bold claims for the lowly stress ball, but it’s been studied and proven, so here’s why you should include them in your merchandise offering.

The History

The stress ball has a long history beginning in Baoding, China during the Ming Dynasty. Still used today, Baoding balls are two smooth stones or weighted metal balls that can be held and turned in one hand. The movement and weight of the balls promotes concentration and relieves anxiety.

The modern version of the stress ball came about after the invention and increased availability of polyurethane. As an alternative to rubber, PU was bouncy, pliable and was the perfect material for a child’s ball. That ball moved into corporate spaces in the 1980s as workers recognised that stress was an issue and experts discovered it could be relieved through tactile self-regulation (more on that below).

Here’s an interesting fact – the original stress ball included a ‘glass shatter’ sound chip that would activate when the ball was thrown. Just to provide the satisfaction of breaking something in frustration.

Almost immediately, the modern stress ball was employed in marketing, branded with logos, slogans and contact numbers. And so it continues today, in many shapes, colours and material. Have a look at some of our range here.

The Science

Humans are great adaptors and one of the coping strategies we have always used is self-regulation. We all do it. It could be tapping your foot, twirling your hair, or wringing your hands to ground and calm yourself. Or it could be controlling the noise level in your workspace through noise-cancelling headphones and instrumental music. Clicking a pen or bouncing on a gym ball are also common methods of self-regulation. Fidgeting is what it is called in school. What it is, though, is controlling sensory stimulation to optimise your focus and manage your emotions.

Did you know that handling a stress ball offers enough distraction to ease anxiety in medical settings? Less anxiety leads to reduced pain and better post-procedure outcomes for patients. For stress, the action of squeezing a PU ball requires enough physical exertion to release tension and frustrated energy. That physical release helps to divert your mind from stressors and refocus on tasks.

For continued concentration, the best items are ones that you can manipulate without having to watch. These include stress balls, fidget cubes and Baoding balls. Chain loops, mini bean bags and hand brushes are also great sensory toys for focus.

A 2006 study found that a class of grade six students had better concentration and learning outcomes when using stress balls during lessons. The result? A 10% increase in the class’s average writing assessment score.

Fidget spinners are not on the list of focus-promoting products because they need hand-eye coordination to use. Their movement also distracts others and so are not great for group-learning situations. They do have benefits, however. Fidget spinners increase fine motor skills through repetitive movement, vibration and muscle memory. So not all bad. For recreation and a fun promotion, it’s all good!

The Marketing Opportunity

As we said above, stress balls have been a promotional product since the 1980s. Small, lightweight and very affordable, they tick all the boxes of a classic promotional product. Stress balls and fidget items have the bonus of physical and mental health benefits. Being so, they are great for a wide range of industries. As well as health, sports, education they would be welcome in corporate and trade event spaces too.

A stress ball shows you care about your corporate clients and understand the pressure that people in your market feel. Stress balls and fidget items are useful, helpful and are great carriers of your brand and messaging as we’ll talk about next.

How to optimise branding

Stress balls have evolved over the last 30 years. While they still exist as a small rubber or foam ball, their shape is unlimited. This introduces so many new opportunities to represent your brand.

From anatomical hearts to shipping containers, lightning bolts to farm animals, stress shapes are fully customisable. Have you got a mascot? You can have mini stress versions for giveaways and displays. Custom shapes are a fun deviation from the classic ball and give you an invaluable opportunity to express what your brand is about.

You can appeal to your industry or show off your specialty. You could also empathise with your consumer – If your business is device repairs, perhaps a stress phone is a good alternative when your clients want to throw something across the room. The multitude of options allows you to get really creative with your branding. Shapes, colours and messaging can complement or contrast the product, your promotion or your overall brand.

Stress balls, stress shapes and fidget items are versatile and functional promotional products. Their branding opportunity is great. Their industry relevance is wide. For such small items they have big benefits to your clients and your business. Take a look through our catalogue or get in touch to see how we can add stress shapes to your promotional merchandise.