Branding on pens — what’s the point?

Branding on pens

Did you ever wonder why brands McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and General Motors puts ads on TV over and over again, then repeats that strategy with radio ads, print ads and billboards? The answer is just as you might think. It’s because consumers have pretty short memories and they will quickly flock to the competition if that rival happened to advertise more frequently than they do.

At a glance, however, it seems preposterous. I certainly know the three brands listed above without a reminder every 30 seconds and I’m not likely to forget them without hearing or seeing an ad today. (The proof is, I haven’t forgotten them and I have yet to turn on a television or a radio today. )

Nevertheless, the public gets hammered with ads so often that the running joke is that marketing companies are running out of space. There are suggestions that ads will soon appear on the bottom of shoes or painted onto the surfaces of toilets. Some have suggested tattoos are the last frontier for the marketing industry. Personally, I’ve heard that the human tongue has been considered as a possible target for tattoo advertising.

But how does a company rise in brand recognition without spending $3 million dollars a month, which is reportedly what McDonald’s spends to promote its hamburgers and fries.

Well, certainly you will want to look at a the basic options and then study a cost analysis.

Each venue has advantages and disadvantages, some of them fairly obvious. Newspaper ads are quick to produce, hit local audiences effectively, but fade by the following day. They work well for promoting a sales event at a local business and promotions in general. But audiences are diminishing with the Internet replacing some of the functions of newspapers.

Televisions ads have pros and cons. The ads can be expensive to produce initially and audiences prefer new ads rather than the same ad over and over again. Like radio ads, they also require frequent airing, because they are broadcast to a distracted audience and typically go in one ear and out the other.

The more permanent ads are considered effective and they have better staying power. These ads include billboards, pens, T-shirts, and coffee mugs, and magazine ads, because consumers hold onto magazines longer than they do newspapers, which are even longer lasting than the more fleeting radio or television ad.

Even having a custom corrugated box, geared for retail and consumer markets helps keep the public aware of you. It is a part of your over-all brand, your marketing plan and how you present yourself and your business. Consistency is key.

This is where it comes to appreciate the difference between sales and marketing. Raising a public awareness about quality boxes does not fall into the category of sales. But a retail business owner when searching for boxes to have on hand for customers is going to seek out higher quality packaging if the public is more aware of options than if the public just accepts the idea that a box is a box is a box.

There is a sly trick that some people know when it comes to gift-giving, which may bring home an appreciation for long-lasting marketing techniques.

Let’s say you want a girlfriend or a boyfriend to be thinking about you. What do you send, flowers or a desk ornament? The answer is a desk ornament. It sits on the desk day after day reminding your love interest that you are out there, whereas flowers fade in three days and get tossed in the compost pile fairly quickly.

This is why logos, slogans and other brand information printed on pens, T-shirts, coffee mugs, calendars, shopping bags, cardboard boxes, should be part of your marketing strategy. The ads are out there as long as those products last.

Branding on pens

But there’s a meta-message that is there as a bonus. When a company advertises on the radio or on television, it is clear that a company with its own interests at heart is paying for the ad. When someone carries around a pen advertising a brand (or wears a T-shirt or posts a company calendar), it is implied that that person has endorsed your product. And that is one of the basic tenets of advertising, so tried and true that it is used in sale pitches millions of times a day.

The message is “your neighbor is one of our customers,” which can be a powerful endorsement, as it comes from someone that is generally seen as a colleague or a friend.

Joanna S. Tyler

Joanna S. Tyler has designed to allow guest bloggers to post their unique, interesting and informative content for peace park readers. He does blogging himself and contributes to several blogs including

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