Corporate gadgets, or speaking through an object. And what do they say? Gadgets are fundamental tools for corporate communication and events are the best moment to distribute them. But… are they good value for money?
1. What Are They Used For? Promotional, advertising, anniversary gadgets… when we speak of gadgets we speak of a complex and multifaceted world. There are gadgets to suit all tastes, budgets and needs. Not everybody is aware of how important the choice of the right gadget can be and not everybody knows how to make this choice. However, everybody is worried about the cost. Why on earth – they wonder – should we invest more money on a single gadget when we have already given our all in order to please and pamper our guests in this event? Isn’t the gala dinner enough?
Isn’t the four/five star hotel enough? Isn’t having a celebrity, singer, or performer enough? The answer is NO, this is not enough. And do you know why? Because oblivion is looming, tomorrow is another day and everything will go back to as it was before, and finally because with just a little extra effort you can keep the memory of your event alive and make that memory “work” much longer. Just a simple cell phone case, a key ring or a pen, a gadget displaying the name of a corporate, product or event brand provides good communication and ex post visibility. Events come and go, gadgets remain.
Customized gadgets work for us for a long time, also when the event is over, they continue to be easy to carry around and will not go unnoticed.
2. Expectations.If you want a gadget to be really effective you need to make your choice bearing in mind clear ideas about its role and what your expectations are. Basically, gadgets can serve four different purposes:
- gadgets as a memo to their recipients (they remind them of the event and of you)
- gadgets as a medium for the brand (the brand makes use of the gadget to say something about you to others)
- gadgets as a behavior (they say something about you, about the kind of person you are)
- gadgets as a cheap or valuable gift (they speak of your relationship to the recipient).
It goes without saying that the perfect gadget should be able to do it all 100% and if possible in an economic way, too. Be realistic, though, and prioritize your expectations.
It is fundamental to be aware of what you want to achieve with your gadgets and, more importantly, what you want to achieve with your gadget + brand mix. Ask yourself: “can I expect my brand to be displayed?”. Who would wear a T-shirt with a supermarket brand on it? If the brand is of a disco it is reasonable to expect people to wear it, but even so the artwork needs to be really cool. A plumber may be willing to carry a bag with the brand of a state-of-the-art tools and equipment company. A lawyer will not.
A pencil, a key ring or a pen can be effective memos, that is to say they will remind the recipient of your phone number and what you do, but no more. Is that what you want? Is that what you need?
You also have to consider the brand size very carefully. The larger it is the more visible it is, true, but this also means it is less likely to be displayed. Conversely, if the brand size is unobtrusive, the gadget will be used more readily. It is up to you to find a good balance according to your objectives.
3. Corporate Values. The benefits of gadgets for the purposes of building brand awareness and brand personality are greater than this. A gadget can also convey the so-called corporate values, which are so popular these days. When it comes to social responsibility, gadgets speak for you: eco-friendly materials, ethnic, natural or fair trade items, specific important social messages – from the need for tolerance to responsible alcohol consumption – can be “printed” on the gadgets, depending on the type of industry you are in. Gadgets are more effective in the event of incentive trips. The items distributed tend to be of practical application during the trip, so can help build a sense of community among the trip participants.
Sometimes gadgets and company products may be coincident, especially on the occasion of the launch of a product particularly suitable to its target audience (e.g. a perfume, a designer bag, a tie, etc.). Otherwise, the receive a formal “dignification” (e.g. a silver bolt, or an engraved print depicting the product).
4. The Tone Of Voice. Gadgets mean communication, so their tone of voice, allusions and style are crucial. Irony and humor are appreciated to a great extent, especially when it comes to “self-depreciating irony”, i.e. when they are self referential. To the extent that they can reverse the “unwearable” aspect of some brands. The only rule is: good taste.
Generally, it is effective to communicate “modernity” subtly, provided that this is consistent with your company’s real state of modernity otherwise you will just look ridiculous.
But be careful! A USB key is modern but will not say much about you if you are a hauler – whether it has a brand on it or not. It will be more consistent with your image if you work for a software company or if you are a young fashion designer.
5. Costs. However, the real drawback is that of cost. Cost should be evaluated on the basis of the objectives and the cost per contact, something which is absolutely affordable. Non multa sed multum, the Latins said: quality is better than quantity. It is not the value that counts, it is the content, the idea, the message, the intention that counts. The more you work on this front, the less money you need to spend. It is true that gadget and budget rhyme, but they also work together in other ways.