brand·ing | \ ˈbran-diŋ
The promoting of a product or service by identifying it with a particular brand.” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
As professionals in the promotional products world, we know branding is just as important as advertising and marketing – and they often come hand-in-hand. Plus, when branding is done well, it makes a super powerful statement. But it can be a little tricky to get there – especially with more and more brands popping up every day, ready to steal the spotlight.
So, we selected five brands that go above and beyond to bring you a little inspiration.
Did you know that NASA makes no money from the branded merchandise other companies produce? The NASA logo brand is free; all a company has to do is submit their designs to the space agency for approval to make sure they’re using the assets correctly.
While they don’t bring in any revenue from licensing their logo, that doesn’t mean their brand isn’t a shining star. Any time you see a NASA shirt, pin, or mug, their mission message of space exploration is spread further, creating an interest in expanding humankind from Earth and exploring what is beyond the reaches of our solar system. They even do a great job bringing other brands into the mix, like Vans shoes, and Peanuts. Did you know Snoopy is going to be the zero gravity indicator on Artemis I and go to the moon?
Mokuyobi is an LA-based brand founded in 2006 by Julie Pinzer, focusing on bright colors, fun patterns, and high-quality products. They believe just like smiling at a stranger on the street brightens their day – so do bright, happy colors! They have brought this philosophy into their products, storefront, and social media and have made it a mission that all of their products are made within 40 miles of their HQ to support their local economy.
Their brand invokes a sense of nostalgia with patterns and colors that are reminiscent of an 80s mall or 90s elementary school classroom. They bring back memories of simpler times for those born before the 2000s, like the carpet at movie theaters, the smell of Blockbuster, tempura paints, and the taste of Kid Cuisine!
If anyone has perfected the art of turning themselves into a brand, it’s Trixie Mattel. First appearing on Ru Paul’s Drag Race in season 7, she went on to win Ru Paul’s Drag Race All-Stars in season 3. Known for her super-campy, vintage-inspired looks, Trixie has taken her brand from the stage to television and beyond. In 2019 she released her makeup brand: Trixie Cosmetics, and in 2021 she began to renovate a motel in Palm Springs, California, with the process documented for the Discovery+ show titled The Trixie Motel. The motel opened in 2022 for reservations and even has 100% custom promotional products for guests to purchase.
Like her, her cosmetics brand and motel are fun, campy, and vintage. Pink is her signature color, along with her makeup, and she ensures that it is consistent throughout the motel, cosmetics, and social media.
Popminded by Hallmark
With the birth of streaming, the Big Bang Theory airing, and box office hits like The Avengers and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, pop culture and nerddom are at an all-time high. And with that, come the collectibles. From Funko Pops to high-end action figures – if it’s a favorite character and screams cool, someone will buy it!
Some stores have pivoted to meet this demand and have continued to carve out their spot in the niche world of collectibles, while others have not (looking at you, Game Stop). One of those is Hallmark and their brand Popminded. Popminded focuses strictly on nerd stuff, and their branding reflects the punchy colors and comic book-esque designs often associated with pop culture. Popminded’s booth can be found at comic book conventions showing off sneak peeks of upcoming ornaments, plush, and selling convention exclusives. Hallmark has even made Christmas ornaments cool.
The Cambridge Satchel Company
The Cambridge Satchel Company was founded with one thing in mind: excellence. Needing money to ensure her kids had the best education possible, founder Julie and her mum Freda founded the company when they realized they couldn’t find any good satchel manufacturers.
100% made in Cambridge, England (hence the name!), their vision is to make quality bags that last a lifetime and will survive through education, adventure, and memories. Their branding truly shows their British heritage throughout.
Branding is essential – not just for your customers but for yourself too! Presenting yourself as a business with an out-of-this-world brand will not only make you proud to show off what you do, it’ll give your clients confidence in your services. You can find more information about perfecting your brand here.
Editors Notes: This post was originally published in April 2015 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.