Nov 12, 2015

Keeping Your Swag Sustainable

In today’s world, most companies have included environmental sustainability as a part of their corporate responsibility.  As a result, we know that companies are always on the lookout for easy ways to bring sustainable practices into their daily routines.  In response to this increase of sustainability awareness, sustainable swag has hit the promotional products and branded apparel industry. 

Swag, meet Sustainability

Few trends have taken over the swag industry with the same intensity as the sustainability movement. It started in 2004 with roughly 100 green or environmentally-friendly products and expanded to five times that number by 2008. Today, there are thousands of sustainable products available in our industry.

What makes swag sustainable? Simply put: any products that make a conscious effort to preserve the environment are considered sustainable.  Below are a few of the core materials used in these products:
  • Organic Cotton - Suppliers who grow organic cotton avoid the pesticides, herbicides and insecticides usually used during the growing cycle to help boost cotton production. The benefit? Products made from this type of cotton don’t play any role in adding more harmful compounds to the environment.
  • Recycled PET - Polyethylene terephthalate plastics (known much, much more commonly as PET plastics) use recyclable plastic, helping lower the amounts of waste in landfills. Many plastic items such as pens and water bottles can be made with PET plastics. 
  • Biodegradable Fabrics - These include any fabric that can quickly decompose into elements naturally found in the environment. Bamboo Fabric, Soy Silk, Fortrel EcoSpun and Ingeo Corn Fiber are just a few common examples found in the market today.
    • Bamboo Fabric - Made from bamboo cellulose fibers, it’s naturally antibacterial and 100 percent biodegradable and sustainable.
    • Soy Silk - This material is made from protein fibers spun into a thread-like material
    • Ingeo Corn Fiber - This fiber is created by extracting starch and then sugars from corn, and then processing them into a form that can be spun into a yarn or woven into fabric.
    • Fortrel EcoSpun - This polyester is made from recycled bottles and is commonly used to make fleece.
Just as the promotional products industry has grown over the years, so has the variety of products under the banner of sustainability. Textiles and plastics still lead the way as the most popular, but other innovations have found a foothold in the industry.

For instance, solar power plays a key role for a lot of our sustainable electronic products. Flashlights, lights and calculators can all benefit from trading disposable batteries for renewable solar power. Along with that, biodegradable corn plastic has a role in all sorts of plastic products from golf tees to barware.

It’s worth making the change

We have to be honest here: for the supplier, going green doesn’t mean saving green. It’s part of the tradeoff that comes with taking an environmentally responsible approach to your promotions. Cheaper options often go hand in hand with cheaper production, and that rarely means sustainable practices.

But the bottom line isn’t everything. Taking an environmentally conscious approach to promotional swag connects your brand to a positive cause.

This is a win-win given the fact promotional products are designed to improve your brand and get it in front of as many people as possible. If you want to boost your brand’s visibility, do it in a green way that your customers can support.

And the same thing applies to suppliers and manufacturers. If you’re already in the business of creating and selling swag options, adding sustainable products to your inventory is a necessity. Not only does it help distinguish you from your competitors, but it also gives you the opportunity to cut down on the amount of “stuff” that’s thrown out across the world.

So, what’s next?

The decision whether to take a sustainable approach is entirely up you. If you’re asking us, we say it’s worth going the extra mile — at least for the products that have sustainable alternatives. And as sustainability becomes the norm over the next few years, you’ll have even more opportunities to make it a part of your promotional decisions.
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Nov 2, 2015

A Uniform is More Than Just a Uniform

A well-designed uniform packs a powerful punch.  Whether you’re creating polos for customer service reps or designing custom aprons for your deli counter team, get your creative gears moving as it's time to start thinking of a uniform as more than just a uniform.

Uniforms Extend Your Brand

Branding is more than packaging, advertising, social media and the look and feel of a website. Considering the attention paid to the store layout, d├ęcor and signage, it’s easy to forget how important employee uniforms are. The impression your team makes is huge.

That’s where uniforms come into play. A t-shirt can’t do it all, but it will help people recognize your organization. A well-crafted uniform can actually help define your brand.

Apple is a perfect example of this. Even though their uniforms are branded, the design is subtle and stylish. Additionally, when you make clothing that looks good, non-employees will want to wear it around — even if it’s part of a uniform.

Uniforms Boost Employee Happiness

A uniform that looks good isn’t just a matter of branding and free advertising. A stylish and comfortable uniform is one that employees actually want to wear and instills pride in their work. It can be as simple as a baseball cap or as complex as a flight attendant’s outfit.

Design with your employees in mind. It will boost employee morale and establish a greater sense of belonging within the company.  In turn, employees who are happier at work provide customers with better experiences.  Along with the benefit of happy customers, uniforms mean employees don’t have to buy clothes for work. This can help save a substantial amount of money for your team.

Lastly, company-provided uniforms can be a massive help for jobs with safety requirements. Scrubs and personal protection equipment can be standardized across an entire company, saving employees money and helping prevent accidents caused by having unregulated gear.

Uniforms Improve Customer Experiences
We can’t forget the customer experience. After all, without customers, your business wouldn’t exist. Making their experiences easier and more meaningful should be top priority for organizations across the board.  Uniforms are one of the most cost-effective ways to do this.

Why you ask? Let’s look at Best Buy as an example.  Walk into a Best Buy and it’s likely packed with customers testing out everything and anything. This could be a chaotic mess. Yet, it works. The reason why lies in the iconic blue shirts every employee wears.  Customers immediately know that when they see someone walking around, even amid the chaos, in the "Best Buy Blue" that they are a store employee and can quickly get assistance if they need something.  This satisfaction increases the customer experience and customers are more likely to shop there again.

Believe it or not, this isn't a unique tactic.  More and more businesses are recognizing that one of the most important aspects of designing a uniform is creating something that’s easily identifiable. That’s why some grocery stores have employees wear aprons and why Target employees all wear red. It makes it possible for customers — who are already busy — to quickly identify people in charge. Whether it’s for a customer service question or an emergency of some sort, knowing whom to talk to will definitely help your customers out.

Let Us Help You Get Started
Looking to re-evaluate your current uniforms but not sure how to go about it? The Icebox is here to help! We can design, fulfill, ship, store and source any and all of your uniform needs. Let us know what help you need and we’ll make sure the process is as simple and helpful as possible. Contact us today to get started.
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