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The One Factor You Haven’t Considered About Your Brand

Quality Certification Alliance

Your brand is your most valuable asset. You’ve invested countless resources developing it and cultivating it.

Are you protecting it?

The answer may surprise you.

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Brand Safety: It’s More Than Digital Media

There’s been much talk in recent years about protecting brand reputation when using digital media. Rightfully so. Your online presence is a major contributor to overall brand health.

But it’s not the only factor.

When viewed holistically, brand safety is about much more than content placement. It encompasses every aspect of a brand’s image. In fact, brand reputation is exposed anywhere a company logo, name, tagline, etc. are used.

Is this inherent exposure positive or negative? It depends. You must weigh the awareness of risks associated with each medium and the actions taken to mitigate the associated risk. (Check out the whitepaper Brand Safety: More Than Digital Media for more.)

What is clear is that focusing exclusively on digital media is not an effective risk management strategy, especially when multiple marketing channels and advertising mediums are being used to build brand awareness, convert sales and increase customer loyalty.

The Power Of Promotional Products

In addition to digital, there are numerous ways to take your message to market. There’s traditional advertising (TV, radio, print), direct mail, newsletters, email campaigns, pop-up events, and hosted conferences and education seminars.

But what’s the #1 most effective form of advertising to prompt action across all generations?

Promotional products.

Whether you call it promo, swag or merch, there’s a reason $24+ billion is spent on promotional products every year: Effectiveness.

Here’s proof. According to Promotional Products Association International:

  • 9 in 10 people who receive branded merchandise recall the branding
  • 8 in 10 recall the messaging
  • 7 in 10 recall the call to action

Why do promotional products work? They engage the five senses. And unlike other forms of advertising, branded merchandise is actually kept and used by recipients, which continues to drive home brand awareness every time the item is used. You can’t pour your morning cup of coffee into a digital ad. Only a logoed mug will get that job done.

As awesome as these beloved items are, there are potential risks.

Not All Branded Merchandise Is Created Equal

Promotional products literally carry brand reputations on the items themselves. Yet, advertisers have no real insight about the product from a manufacturing standpoint, although their brand reputations are tied to these products the same way they are tied to digital media. And there’s the rub.

If you’re like most marketers, you assume that the promotional products you purchase are manufactured responsibly, of high quality and don’t contain substances that could cause harm. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

In fact, the International Labour Organization has found that more than 16 million people are exploited in the private economy, and QIMA notes that workers’ rights and compensation rank consistently among the top non-compliances found.

These kinds of violations are quite important to consumers, as 87% will buy based on values and 76% will boycott based on values, according to the CONE Communications 2017 CSR Study. Furthermore, the study found that 90% of consumers believe companies should operate in a way that benefits society and the environment.

While many companies have robust quality, environmental and social responsibility programs in place for the products they sell, the products they use to promote their brand often get overlooked. This isn’t surprising since QIMA has found that an average business knows roughly 50% of their suppliers, and only 11% of businesses say they have full visibility of their supply chain.

There’s more. A recent industry study conducted by the Advertising Specialty Institute found that more than one-third of promotional products suppliers did not spend any money on product safety.

Looking ahead, the vast majority of these suppliers do not plan to boost product safety spending in 2019.

Can your brand afford this?

Image by Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI)  

Take An Active Role In Protecting Your Brand

Clearly, the promotional products industry has issues surrounding product safety and responsible sourcing. But branded merchandise is so effective, what’s a marketer to do?

Get educated on the issues, understand how they impact your brand and do the due diligence to ensure the branded merchandise you use doesn’t pose risks to your brand or recipients.

The good news? You don’t have to go it alone.

Quality Certification Alliance (QCA), the only coalition dedicated to ensuring accountability and independent validation of corporate responsibility throughout the promotional product industry’s supply chain, can help. (Check out this video for a quick overview.)

We can help you communicate your expectations to your vendors and/or help you choose an experienced promotional products distributor who is well versed on the issues through our Advocacy Council.

You can also participate as a QCA Affiliate, where you can collaborate with promotional products distributors and suppliers to advocate for brand safety. When you do, you can enhance your corporate responsibility and sustainability program as well as mitigate risk for your brand reputation.

You’ve taken the time to carefully craft your brand. Don’t overlook the need to protect it. Click here to learn how to join QCA’s mission and capitalize on the power of promotional products—safely, ethically and responsibly.

It’s time to hold an industry accountable. It’s time to protect your most valuable asset—your brand.

Quality Certification Alliance (QCA) is an independent, not-for-profit, accreditation/certification organization whose mission is to provide the promotional products industry with a common set of third-party standards in an effort to consistently offer brand safety assurances to organizations that utilize promotional products as part of a broader marketing mix.