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Promotional products are a great way to advertise a business, but it's wise to avoid certain sure-to-fail missteps.

Every good marketer loves to have fun with promotional items! They help companies to think outside of the proverbial box to imprint their brand on the minds of their audiences. Depending on the approach a company takes, striving for ingenuity can lead to a giant success or an epic failure. To avoid a few universal missteps, you should take the time to thoroughly evaluate the lifestyles, mind sets, and humor levels of a target demographic.

10) Most Personal Hygiene Products

Toothbrushes and hairbrushes are usually okay, but hygiene products can take a serious wrong turn if a promoter looks to the bathroom for product inspiration. Items like toilet paper and feminine hygiene products should remain off-limits. While the vulgarity may be appreciated by some people, most will simply find toilet humor to be a disgusting association.

9) Shape-Shifting Products

Even though printing a logo on a balloon can be good in some cases, just remember that the image may become distorted and result in something unflattering once it's inflated. Similarly, products that change shape or wear away (like soap) will cause the image to slowly erode and fade, which alters the text and the company message.

8) Religious Artifacts

Unless your company sells products or services geared specifically toward one faith (and even then it's necessary to step lightly) promotional products printed on religious items can alienate any non-believers included in the target market.  Also, a company logo on a Jesus statue may incur the wrath of entire demographics! When it comes to religion, many people leave no room for anything but reverence in their approach to these artifacts and may take deep offense to their use in anything but worship. In the interest of appeasing the masses, it is usually best to refrain from attempting to brand a company on anything of this nature.

7) Items Associated with Political Controversies

There are plenty of divisive issues in modern politics—many of which are great fodder for late night Top 10 lists and New York Times cartoons—but these are terrible associations for marketing campaigns. Think very carefully before choosing a side on any issue. In the professional world, it's almost always best to leave the jokes to the comedians, so don't attempt to use Richard Nixon bobble heads to advertise a criminal attorney practice!

6) Dangerous Objects

Picture this: your company's promotional product somehow hurt a child and put him in the hospital. Now the company's name is all over the news, but that's not a good thing! It's easy to see the logic in avoiding dangerous promotional items; if a product with your company's name on it causes harm to someone, it's going to taint your business name whether you are legally liable for it or not.

5) Malfunctioning/Annoying Devices

Ever hear of killing the messenger? If your business chooses a product, brands it, and then finds out that it doesn't work or it annoys people, then people will forever associate your company as "irritating" and/or "unreliable". It is possible to inadvertently turn people off to a business by offering a promotional product that buzzes continuously, breaks, or refuses to work properly. Make sure you're choosing high-quality items that serve a purpose!

4) Disposable Products

Instead of customizing promotional products that are just asking to be tossed, it may be a better option to throw your money straight into the garbage; it's quicker. When a promotional product is destined for disposal, the name and message of that company is gone and forgotten. Personalizing disposable items means that very shortly your business name will be hanging out with empty paper towel rolls. Unfortunately, the memory of that great business will be gone by trash day.

3) Puny Products

Don't make people work too hard to read the logo or company info. It's not fun and most people simply aren't interested in investing the energy. Sometimes bigger actually is better; when it comes to printing information clearly, don't skip on readability for cleverness because it's not worth sacrificing the message.

2) Commodities That Might Be Considered "In Poor Taste"

Everyone has a different sense of humor, and what some might find hilarious others will find repulsive. Don't wait until a batch of promo items has been shipped to gauge the audience's sense of humor. Offensive promotional products will be deemed as poor judgment on the part of the business, and it will eventually call into question whether or not the business can be trusted.

1) Items That Contradict the Company's Message

It can confuse people when your promotional item seems at odds with the purpose of the business. It may not be the best idea to advertise a bakery on a logo gym bag or an automotive repair shop on a bicycle. Many people could miss the clever irony and receive the wrong message.

When selecting promotional products to advertise your business and to improve branding, it's usually wise to stick to items that are durable, long lasting, and in line with the message your company wants to send. While some businesses may be capable of building their reputation with an eye for the subversive, the majority of businesses are assured greater success by thinking less about cleverness and focusing more on durability and reliability.

Article By Bubba

Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on Google+.

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