Principles of Design
The design of your logo is a crucial ingredient when embarking on a new business venture or rebrand. In an instant, a well-designed company logo can distinguish your business or product from the competition or capture your target audience’s imagination.
Some of the greatest brands boast logos that have stood the test of time, while others have failed. Some logos are so etched in our psyche that they no longer bear a company name, preferring to remain subliminal or create mantra-like taglines.
This said, even some of the biggest brands are sometimes guilty of overlooking a key ingredient when designing their logo; branded merchandise. Ignoring a logo’s ease of application onto products and clothing can be an expensive oversight, especially if the design is intricate or contains multiple colours.
In this article, we’ll begin with a brief exploration of popular promotional products and their branding methods. We’ll then dive into some basic principles of logo design, before delving into the key ingredients required for promotional items.
The Role of Promotional Products
If you’re going to design your logo to be merchandise-friendly, it’s worth considering which promotional products and materials they are most likely to adorn.
This amongst other considerations, is of course relative to your target audience, budget and overall marketing strategy. The odds are however, you’ll be investing in one of the following items to promote your brand:
Branded bags are an effective way to advertise your business. They come in various styles and are used by everyone including children, making them a walking advertisement for your company.
Even inexpensive promotional bags like branded tote bags and drawstring bags are durable, providing long-term exposure for your logo.
Custom bags also benefit from prominent branding areas and can be printed on each side, which is great for full-colour printed logos and other artwork.
Most people have a favourite drinkware item, especially if they love a brew! Whether it’s their favourite coffee mug or sports bottle, everyone has their go-to option.
Lifestyle habits have also changed, with more people reaching for a travel mug as they drink on the go, while others stay hydrated throughout the day with reusable water bottles.
Although the branding areas on promotional pens and pencils are smaller than other traditional merchandise, they have benefitted from advances in digital printing and laser engraving.
Even if you have a full-colour design or intricate emblem, these can be wrapped around metal pen barrels with striking results.
If you’re after larger or novelty writing gifts, then you might consider colourful custom highlighter pens, available in various shapes and colours.
Branded hoodies and t-shirts are more often than not the go-to apparel for marketing events, especially when staff engagement with potential customers is high.
Each of these promotional items has broad appeal due to their style and colour choices, with comfort and price points to match.
If you’re looking for a more polished look or require everyday workwear, then custom polo shirts are the way to go.
Most office desks are notoriously neat or messy! Each, however, is home to branded desktop gifts such as printed coasters, mouse mats and desktop calendars.
While these low-cost promotional items are usually a permanent fixture, you’ll often spot a variety of printed paper products like memo blocks, notepads and sticky notes.
If you’re looking for cheap promotional products, it’s worth considering items with a novelty factor like keyrings. This is a great way to engage your target audience and make a tight budget stretch further.
You can’t go wrong with personalised stress balls either, available in hundreds of fun and colourful designs. Much like novelty keyrings, they are great for promoting a particular industry or sector.
If all else fails, give your clients sweets! Anything from a retro mix to gourmet jelly beans and branded chocolates.
Tech Gifts & Recognition Awards
Branded corporate gifts such as wireless speakers and charging products make ideal staff incentives, as they are personal and practical.
They also have a higher perceived value. If you opt for eco-friendly tech gifts like bamboo phone holders, this also improves the perception of being a sustainable brand.
If you’re searching for recognition awards, then the range and branding options are just as broad.
Branded Business Essentials
Not all promotional merchandise is utilised as a giveaway, sometimes it’s procured to reinforce company branding from within.
Printed lanyards and personalised staff badges are great examples of this, as they help identify personnel and departments, while subtly maintaining brand visibility.
On a more practical level, office organisers and notebooks are very effective and functional branded office items.
Merchandise Branding Methods
The world of promotional products is vast and so are the ways they are branded.
Popular items like ceramic mugs naturally lend themselves to a multitude of branding methods – everything from full-colour print to sandblast engraving.
Other brandable products such as seeds and plants are more constrained by their size or material, but with the right logo design, you can achieve impressive and stylish results.
At Purple Moon, we’re able to brand promotional merchandise using the methods below (this list is not exhaustive!)
- Screen Print
- Dye-Sublimation Print
- Transfer Print
- Pad / Tampo Print
- Direct-to-Garment Print (DTG)
- Laser Engraving
- Sandblast Engraving
- Embossing / Debossing
- Colour Infills
- Foil Blocking
- Digital Print
- Litho Print
- Epoxy Doming
You can learn more about these on our branding methods page.
Logo Design Principles
By factoring in the following basic principles of logo design, you can create a plethora of opportunities for promotional giveaways and corporate merchandise:
- Font Style
If you’re able to effortlessly fuse these elements, you can create a memorable and meaningful logo design for your company.
There is, however, a key logo ingredient that ties everything together; versatility.
As outlined above, the choices and branding possibilities when choosing promotional products are endless, so for big brands in particular; a ‘one-fits-all’ logo is not even a consideration.
This is where versatility is crucial, as many brands trip up when dipping into the promotional merchandise arena.
A large vibrant logo might sit nicely on a promotional bucket hat, but how would it look on a cuffed beanie hat?
Likewise, a portrait logo might ‘pop’ when printed onto a tall sports bottle, but will it be impactful on an inward-sloping coffee cup?
We’ve outlined some core considerations below.
Logo Design Considerations for Branded Merchandise
Tagline Length & Position
A long tagline may look great on larger or wider merchandise like bags and printed rulers, but might not be easy to accommodate on smaller or irregular-shaped items.
Even when a tagline can fit onto a small product like a pen, the text might not be eligible and certain letters might even fill.
With this in mind, it’s worth considering if you can reposition or rearrange your tagline to accommodate different promotional products and branding areas.
Perhaps it can be stacked or shortened without compromising the brand message. In some instances, can it be removed altogether?
Landscape logos naturally lend themselves to wider products like power banks and pencil cases, while portrait logos look great on merchandise like sports bottles and t-shirts.
If your logo is more neutral like a circle or square, this will give you more flexibility but might reduce the impact on the aforementioned shapes.
Use of Company Name & Emblem
Over recent years ‘more is less’ has been the trend in big brand logo design, with brands like Apple and Nike frequently dropping their name to subliminally strengthen their brand and market dominance.
However, this could be a risky strategy for a fledging or small company that is reliant on local or national trade and simply doesn’t have the same budget or brand recognition.
Despite this, it doesn’t mean core logo elements such as the emblem or crest can’t be used in isolation on some merchandise products to complement the core logo.
For example, when ordering workwear such as polo shirts and shell jackets, you could embroider the left breast with your main logo, while adding your emblem to a sleeve or below the neckline – this looks professional and smart.
Spot Colour Logos
If you consider the world’s major brands, they generally limit their logo to one or two solid colours, which are known as spot colours. This keeps them fresh and clean, which enables easy logo replication and Pantone matching reproduction when screen printing.
This also keeps costs down, as there are individual set-up and print costs associated with each colour in the logo. When printing more than 2 spot colours, the costs can rise, so it’s worth switching to a mono-design if possible.
The obvious question is whether it compromises visual impact. Another alternative is to use a full-colour print method like digital, although this has its limitations.
When designing a new logo, it can be tempting to produce a vibrant, multi-colour and/or intricate design that stands out.
While the reproduction of these is cost-effective on paper products like desk pads, memo blocks and seed packets, there are some limitations and cost implications when full-colour printing onto popular promotional products like mugs and pens.
Unlike spot-colour logos, full-colour logos can’t be Pantone-matched. Therefore, the reproduction of your logo colours may differ between different merchandise.
Furthermore, although this is cost-effective in small quantities; when ordering promotional products in bulk, this process can be costly and time-consuming. You will, however, save on set-up costs, as these are free or charged per design versus per colour.
However, if a logo is too intricate, it may inhibit the use of certain branding methods like embroidery, especially if they are very small. In this scenario, it may be worth considering adding a simplified/mono version to your brand guidelines.
Although the majority of logos have white background colours or more precisely, no background colour, some do have a coloured background.
In either case, when switching from a dark to light product background or vis-à-vis, it’s worth considering if the logo design be reversed out and/or if the background can be removed altogether.
Summary: Should you Stick or Twist with your Logo Design?
In recent years, there has been a significant shift in the desire for more innovative, diverse and full-colour branded merchandise. The industry has constantly evolved and the quality of promotional products and associated branding methods is noticeable.
In an ideal world, a logo would lend itself effortlessly to every product, branding method and media type – remaining untouched and intact. However, there are natural limitations and the demands on companies to consistently deliver and reinforce their brand image cannot be ignored – especially with the evolving impact and pressure of social media.
Even the biggest, bravest and most famous brands constantly tweak and evolve their logo design. However, for the other 99% percentile, this can be very expensive and a potential PR disaster.
Therefore, should a brand tweak or manipulate a logo to support diverse marketing campaigns, platforms and promotional merchandise? While to some this is an unimaginable compromise; many would argue it is foolish not to, or perhaps it’s simply clever!
If you’d like more information on the best use of your logo on our range of branded merchandise, please do not hesitate to contact us.