Promotional items: How to win the game

While proactive marketing through promotional giveaways can be effective, it doesn’t mean that any random item will generate results. Freshwater’s studio manager, Anna Bowler, looks at the dos and don’ts of creating and sending items in search of new business…

Have you ever received a promotional item that made you feel embarrassed for the sender? Or received a freebie in the post that you use every day and now can’t see life without? We asked around and collected examples of the good, the bad and the bizarre and pinned down the lessons we can learn from them:

  1. Poor quality is poor show
    Pens that don’t write smoothly, lanyards that fray, notebooks with cheap paper in – not the best impression for any company. Ask yourself, if you wouldn’t use it, then why would anyone else?

  2. Treasure your brand
    Your brand is an asset that needs to be protected. Make sure it’s clear that your brand is showcased accurately, that the colours of your promo item complement your logo and most of all – and it does happen – make sure your brand is included somewhere on the item!

  3. The promo winners
    USB charger docks, quality notebooks, oyster card holders, nail files, calendars, trolley keyrings. Items that are perceived to be high-value and are actually useful are the most memorable.

  4. Just don’t bother…
    Phone holders for your desk… Why? Sweets in wrappers with logos on while nice to eat, have little longevity.

  5. The highest standard
    Personalised items of good quality always go down well with the business audience as office envy quickly kicks in at the sight of someone getting something made specifically for them. The most impressive we’ve seen was a personalised, monogrammed notebook. Classy and high-quality. Of course, use with caution, high-value items need to be reserved for hottest leads or existing clients.

  6. The unfortunate
    That said, we’ve seen personalisation go wrong and an incorrect letter here or there can leave a bad lasting impression. One of our very own staff, whose surname is Mehigan, was sent a calendar with the surname ‘Michigan’ embossed on it. Awkward.


Freshwater’s in-house branding and design team can create unique promotional items as well as meet any creative task you throw at them.

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Impact Report 2017

Impact report 2017