Bruce Fox Blog

Getting Into the DNA of a Brand

Posted by Kristina Hublar on Dec 5, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Estimated Read Time: 7 minutes

Getting Into the DNA | Promotional products marketing

True or False: Promotional products are a form of advertisement or marketing.

If you said false, then you have two options.

  1. You can click off this article and read something that aligns more with your views.
  2. You can read on with an open mind.

Obviously, we believe that promotional products are a form of marketing.  So, if you said truth, congratulations, we are on the same wavelength.

Promotional Products: A Form of Marketing?

Any time an object is branded, it is representing the company or organization in some way. There are good examples and bad examples to emphasize this.

A good example of when someone does promo products right is when you walk into a restaurant and you see the employees in branded hats and shirts. It shows conformity and professionalism, exactly what a chain restaurant wants to portray, while still putting its own spin on it, of course.

On the flip side, what would you think if an innovative website tech company handed out stress balls with their name on it? Does that scream trendy and innovative? No. It is boring and outdated. Not saying that stress balls are bad, but different companies, cultures, and industries need different products, right?

And why do you think that is? Why do you think certain things “fit” with a company while others don’t? Because promotional products are a reflection of the brand - see what we did there?

How to Represent a Company’s DNA

Promotional products represent a company in various ways; they are telling a story and representing the brand with stitches, lines on a paper, or a sculpture. So, how can a promo company tap into a company’s DNA?

Well, we are going to shamelessly use a custom award and how we do things at Bruce Fox as an example on how to tap into a brand’s DNA. Why? Because we do things a little different and it allows us to delve into that double helix which defines an entity.

The Conversation

We start every partnership with questions, maybe not in this exact order or wording; however, these questions are more telling than people realize. Here are some questions you can ask your potential clients.

1. What are you looking for? Are you looking for an attention-grabbing trophy? What about an award that fits on a desk? A shelf? A wall? Do you have a clear picture in your head or more of an abstract idea?

All of this is good information. But be sure to actually LISTEN, the last thing any prospect wants is to be lead down a path they don’t want.


 2. Who is this for? So, is this for your top sales people? An anniversary gift? How about a large Founder commemorative?

This helps them consider what are getting out of the product. And it hits two birds with one stone - find out the audience and how many for the order.


3. What is the deadline? Are you going to have an event, a ceremony, a presentation, or something else?

Awards are special, typically for celebrating events or occasions. Since these are given at special times, we need to know when these deadlines are to plan and produce accordingly. Also, this is a great time to see what other various products you can offer to help the event be even more memorable.

Please be aware that the more planning time, the better for everyone involved – do you really want to be stressing and finding a cheaply made last-minute award?


4. Where is this award or recognition going to be used? Where are you picturing for the recipient to place this award or recognition? On their desk? Does your office have a trophy case?

People often don’t think about the usefulness of an award or where it will end up. It’s usually just sitting on a desk, right? Wrong. We recently had a conversation with someone about ordering plaques to hang on a wall, but then we found that all of the employees are in cubicles. This means, that something hanging would not be practical for them. So, we then talked about alternatives that made sense for their company and employees, including a special hanger that works with the specific cubicles they have. Consider how the office layout and company culture can influence the product.


5. Tell us your story. What is your history? What’s your motto? Your company values?  Tell us about your company culture. What inspires your employees and makes them come to work each day?

We want to hear all about these details; the more information, the better. This is not a date or an interview where they have to basically pitch themselves. No, this like sitting down with a friend to learn more about them so you can get them that perfect birthday present.

Getting into the DNA | Custom Awards with stories

Take notes on everything, from the abstract wordplay to inspiring mottos like “Today, Not Tomorrow.” Get them to talk about their history, how it all started with a hammer, or at the end of the day, that they are a company built upon some concrete and rebar. It’s always about the story and tapping into who they are as a company. This is the true way to tap into a brand, hearing their story.

How to Design a Custom Award From Scratch

Here are two helpful skills to learn how to help get the story and some promo selling tips if you want to go down the rabbit hole further. If you’re looking for more question suggestions, then check out this page.

Creating, Defining & Refining

Something about their story, their passion, their motto, whatever it shall be, will inspire you. That is where the ideation comes in. Now, Bruce Fox can come in and assist you with the questions, so we can hear the story and get ideas alongside you, or you can bring us in for the idea stage – we’re experts in both. Once we get our questions answered, we can start creating, defining, and refining.

1. Ideation. Because we are a creative company, we brainstorm. We think. We create. We start with a blank sheet of paper with you and your client, then we sketch and produce ideas based off what is inspiring and what fits that brand. We take into account what you discovered from your questions, such as who, when, why, and so on. Then bam! Concepts and ideas of the products are born.

2. Back and forth. Nothing is perfect from the beginning – diamonds are not that pretty when they are first dug out of the earth; they have to be washed, cut, and polished. Because we are coming in and trying to tap into the DNA, we won’t get it perfect the first time. Do you expect a writer to capture your voice in one go? No, and we won’t either with embodying the organization’s voice into a physical entity. So, there are conversations, emails, and back and forth.

3. Production. Once everyone is happy with the design, then we create and ship your masterpiece –your beautiful new baby.


Here’s the big day. An award can steal the show, but there has to be a show to steal. For full effect, it’s good to have an atmosphere of celebration. Be excited and celebrate that 20 year anniversary or the new product launch. Be sure your clients are embracing their culture and enjoying the moment – that’s what awards are here for, to commemorate a special moment. Together, we are capturing their brand for a point in time that is special. Make it inspiring. Make it memorable.

And guess what, if Bruce Fox is brought in at the beginning of the event process, we can match everything for the event, such as theme, colors, font, and other details that make everything cohesive. That’s the great thing about planning ahead with custom work.

Boosting Events with Custom Awards


Tapping into a Brand’s DNA

So, did you see the secret sauce? The roadmap to getting into a company’s DNA? We told you earlier. In case you missed it, it consists of two things:

1. To ask questions and learn. The more you can get, the more inspiring the piece can be.
2. Creativity. That’s where artistry, experience, and craftsmanship come in to play.

That’s it, that’s the secret to creating a custom piece that really embodies a story and message.

Don’t believe us? That’s how we created these unique products that wowed clients and represented their voice.

Getting into the DNA | How to tell a brand's story with an award


And, if the client is happy, you are happy too, right? So, the next time you go into a sales meeting, ask our questions and you’ll see a difference. Who knows, you might actually build a relationship instead of just being an order-taker.

Learn how to become a custom award distributor or reach out to start a conversation today.

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KM profile image.jpgKristina Hublar is the Marketing Specialist at Bruce Fox, Inc., which means she is the person behind the keyboard for the social media, emails, website, and other marketing efforts. She’s new to Bruce Fox, but is an Indiana native. In her spare time, you’ll find her plotting her next road trip, bobbing along to music while crafting, spending time outside with loved ones, or with her nose in a book

Tags: Sales tools for distributors, Challenges faced by distributors