Embellishment Options: Hard Promotional Goods
From the Production Department: You Know Your Brand, Now How Do You Make It Known
Your brand guidelines have been finished and published. The hard part is over, right? Maybe not so much… When it comes to translating your brand onto hard goods and soft goods, a lot of companies begin to fumble. Embellishment techniques are constantly evolving as the industry adapts to new trends and technological capabilities. You may be unaware of the fact that printing capabilities can drastically alter how your brand identity is perceived. So, where do you start? How do you translate the core values of your brand through your production decisions and techniques?
This week we are going to start with hard promotional goods. You know the stuff that sits on your trade show tables, the items your reps leave behind after door visits, the items you forget to order until last minute? Yeah, that stuff.
Technology has advanced in recent years that has made hard promotional collateral more exciting. From new pad-printing techniques to full color digital process printing, branded promotional goods have become a great way to showcase brand identity.
Current trending technologies allow for more bold and vibrant prints on your promotional items. Print suppliers are offering photo realistic prints on totes, coasters, lanyards, and notebooks - you name it. A lanyard is no longer just a giveaway that falls to the bottom of someone’s bag and is easily forgotten, it is now an art piece that, through modern technology, represents your brand in a new light and starts a conversation.
Since we are talking about lanyards, let’s use it as an example to discuss current print technologies that can be applied to a wide range of the most popular hard goods.
We will discuss the three basic printing techniques that can be used on lanyards and most hard goods - Silk Screen or “Screen Print”, Dye Sublimation, and Heat Transfers. Each of these application methods come with their pros and cons when it comes to showcasing your logo and brand.
Screen printing is the standard and allows for crisp, solid-color printing. Many brand guidelines require a perfect PMS color match and screen printing can be the best way to accomplish this. Since we are passing ink through a screen, a screen print is going to have a “hand”; meaning that the printing will be slightly raised on the lanyard. Varying degrees of hand can be accomplished through the type of ink you use, be it water based or plastisol ink, the pressure at which you push the ink through the screen, or the techniques your printer uses during the curing process. However, if you are NOT looking for a raised logo (or your artwork has gradients) you might want to consider printing via dye sublimation.
Dye sublimation technology vaporizes the dye into a gas and impregnates the fibers of the substrate with the dye via heat. Through this method we can print gradients and more photo-realistic prints onto the material. Though you can get more colors and gradients, obtaining an exact PMS color match can be more challenging. This method offers the most finished look and the end product is typically used for VIP products.
Lastly, heat transfers can be thought of as a slight hybrid of the first two application techniques. Through Heat Transfer or Heat Seal, we can achieve more gradients and colors onto the material but we are still going to feel a slight “hand” on the print. Heat transfers allow us to get a much closer PMS match and even offer High Density print options with aspects of your art raised. Heat transfers also offer other options such as reflective, glow in the dark, and even glitter applications. Ultimately, it all comes down to your artwork, target audience, and end-use you are going after.
This week we discussed some great printing techniques for hard goods to most effectively make your brand stand out in a crowd. In the following weeks to come, we will be discussing new techniques that apply to your soft goods as well as the top items that every company MUST have in their tradeshow booth.
Need more information? Reach out to one of our reps here at the Recon GRP to find out how you can make your brand known!