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Promotional Products

Promotional print products are a perfect way to communicate the brand. Summer Brooks finds out how businesses can offer top quality print, no matter what the medium

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Mimaki’s heritage in printing direct-to-object means its portfolio allows for multiple applications for promotional products

Making a mark

Branding is important. No matter which industry a business serves, in today’s modern world communicating what your brand does, and what it means, is important. Using promotional print products is a tangible and memorable way to remain in the customer’s mind. So how can sign and display businesses produce a whole range of promotional print products without compromising on quality?

Print with a purpose

Promotional print refers to anything that can be branded using print which could mean a range of mediums. From tote bags and t-shirts to pens and hats, brands can put their name to pretty much anything, but it has to be relevant to the audience and it has to be high quality – otherwise it goes in the bin.

Phil McMullin, pro graphics sales manager for Epson, comments: “This [promotional print] is a huge and ever-expanding area. Digital technology has ushered in a new epoch of economic print runs as low as one. From global brands to one-man bands, modern businesses are seeing the potential of bespoke promotional items to drive sales and retain margins. From an Epson perspective we have always been a ‘digital’ print company, so we have always championed the cause of personalisation to maximise returns.”

Your logo here: brands are looking for unique ways to make a lasting impression

Brett Newman, chief operations manager at Hybrid Services, Mimaki’s UK and Ireland distributor, says promotional print products give brands a chance to be personal. “These days, the term promotional product printing encompasses a broad remit – from small, low cost items such as pens and other ‘giveaways’ adorned with corporate branding, right through to high value, bespoke products that may include some decoration that’s personal to the recipients as well as the giver’s identity.”

It is the quality that can be achieved with printing on everyday products that has excelled the promotional printing sector, as McMullin adds: “The quality of output onto myriad surfaces is now at an all-time high and offers staggering levels of opportunity to promote a brand. Printed products require no power source and are often very easy and cheap to ship to the customer.”

… the functionality of the item isn’t altered – a pen still writes, with or without decoration, however its perceived value increases considerably once print is applied

Newman echoes the sentiment – products increase in value once print is applied, and even more so when different techniques are applied, as he explains: “Typically, these items will be ready made objects that are printed onto and the functionality of the item isn’t altered – a pen still writes, with or without decoration, however its perceived value increases considerably once print is applied.”


Epson’s range of wide-format printers can be utilised in a range of applications, from the SureColor dye-sublimation range for garments, rigid media, and 3D objects, to the S80600, designed for use in signage, vehicle graphics and décor. By supplying all printed brand requirements, a printing business can lock in a customer, says McMullin.

Epson’s F2100 dye-sublimation printer for printing branded t-shirts

He adds: “If you have the design capability and colour knowledge, it is relatively easy to add an output device that gives you all these solutions. Epson products have low TCOs and we partner with companies who can supply peripherals, training and consumables to run your business.”

Mimaki recently launched a new metallic ink for the UJF-7151plus printer which allows for further creativity when it comes to promotional products. “Adding a point of difference, such as the ability to print a high shine metallic ink can add substantial revenue to a job too, with a premium finish making promotional items attractive to an even broader array of clientele,” says Newman.

The UJF-7151plus from Mimaki can add a silver finish to increase the value of a simple notebook

“Mimaki also offers a great choice of highly creative UV inks that produce stunning effects and enable very artistic opportunities,” Newman continues. “The company’s clear ink is perfect for producing a spot varnish or creating an embossed effect which automatically makes a product look more desirable. The company’s bright and opaque white ink enables reverse printing onto clear substrates, ensuring vibrant colours can be achieved – which in turn opens up a whole host of creative opportunities such as printing photos or logos onto acrylic blocks and wall-mounted panels, as well as other bespoke promotional items that use clear substrates.”

OKI has developed a range of printers to suit a number of different applications. Rob Brown, head of speciality print for north west Europe at OKI, says that the nature of promotional print often requires a quick turnaround and so consistency must be key. He comments: “A short-run, high quality yet versatile media handing machine is critical – promotional printing tends to be needed quickly, needs to be high quality to represent a brand name or logo colour accurately and needs to be able to print onto the widest range of media from very heavyweight to various finishes or types, such as waterproof or tear proof materials.”

The future of brands

YR is a concept that helps event and retail brands to build loyalty by offering in-store customisation at live printing events. Using Epson printers, the organisers aim to create immersive experiences for customers of big fashion brands such as Topshop, Nike and Liberty. By offering promotional print products through an organised event, YR manages to bring the customer into the process of designing and customising their own products – whilst still keeping the brand at the heart of it all.

Shutterstock collaborated with YR at digital marketing event Dmexco to offer premium customised water bottles as a take-away gift

With offices in London, the USA and Japan, YR is unique in that it can bring its services anywhere to help a brand strengthen its position and offer customers a chance to own a one-off piece of promotional print using either YR’s own products or ones supplied by the company. Whilst these are often paid-for promotional items, the event, combined with the freedom of design, keeps the brand in people’s minds long after the print has dried.

Whether the target is a long-standing customer or completely new to a business, turning a commodity item into a promotional product that reminds them of the brand on a daily basis.

The trend of personalisation comes into play within promotional too, as Newman comments: “Printing promotional products opens up the opportunity to supply a whole range of personalised and bespoke goods, whereby customers request a specific design or details to be printed onto an item, making it unique to them. The Mimaki UJF MkII is perfect for printing individual items or small batches because of its efficiency when printing short to medium runs.

O Factoid: According to a 2016 study by the Advertising Specialty Institute, consumers are nearly 2.5 times more likely to have a positive opinion of promotional products compared to internet ads.O

“This isn’t just the case with supplying individuals though, as many businesses large and small invest substantial funds into the production of branded marketing collateral. Whoever it’s intended for, adding print to a product adds value and if you can offer something a bit unique, like embossed effects or spot varnish, it will increase profits.”

Brown of OKI agrees that personalisation is indeed driving success within promotional print. “Brand visibility, accuracy of communication and brand consistency is key, but also print is still quick, relatively cheap and easy to install, so it plays a big part in promo,” he says. “Promotional print which is personalised, presents the largest growth opportunity for print companies, retailers and in-house print-for-use organisations.”

The Pro8432WT from OKI, which uses a white toner, serves the garment printing and giftware sector

So where does the future of promotional print lie? It still has a very important part to play – and thanks to developments in print technology – it should play a part in every brand and businesses’ promotion. Whether it is for a one-off campaign or a special event, promotional print can give brands an extra boost when it comes to making an impression. Adding branding to an everyday item like a pen or a tote bag also keeps the brand in the consumer’s mind here – whilst also advertising the business for free.

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