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  • February 13, 2020 6:59 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    "Creativity is intellgience having fun." - Albert Einstein

    2/4/2020 | Gregg Emmer, Marketing Matters

    No - that’s not a typo! Marketing may be the most complex part of any business, almost everyone thinks they are a marketer but rarely do people actually understand what it means to be “marketing”! The most succinct definition is “Absolutely everything that takes place creating an atmosphere where a sale can take place”. But marketing is better understood when broken into four segments.

    Product (or service) has to be developed, designed and produced ready for selling. The market for the product has to be researched. The USP (unique selling proposition) has to be determined. In many cases a high degree of creativity is needed because the marketing strategy and concepts for the product might have been established before the product even existed. People active in the promotional specialty marketing channel (that’s us!) are not normally involved in this part of marketing.

    Price is a substantial part of overall marketing. Pricing strategies may encompass market driven competitive forces, brand strength and reputation, guarantees, product support, availability and dozens of other considerations. Marketing’s job is to investigate all these modifiers and establish a price that will enhance the perception of the product. This is very complicated. A few years ago in our annual catalog I had six writing instruments that were essentially the same and all looked like an expensive European pen. I had six different prices with nearly 40% difference between the least expensive and most expensive. All six sold very well. Even when samples were provided and the nearly identical products were side by side, people selected the higher priced product because they believe that it was inherently better. 

    This same strategy is used to sell luxury automobiles, wine, first class seats on an airplane and almost every other “premium” product. 

    The opposite end of the pricing strategy is value. This is an area where you get involved in advising your clients about value at the same time you are actively engages in your own pricing marketing decisions. This is where the balancing between marketing and marketing comes in. While you certainly are not part of the manufacturing cost/price equation, how you represent the products we use as media to deliver messages for our clients is a major factor in promotion.

    Promotion, the concepts, advertising, incentives, endorsements and public relations that are used to build an appetite for the product also will have you balancing the work you do on your own behalf and for the benefit of your client. Whenever you promote your own business you are actually “auditioning” in front of your client. If your own marketing is well thought out and presented professionally, you stand a much better chance that your recommendations will have authority. 

    The highest value is perceived when you compare the cost/price to the desired results the client is looking for rather than the item being used. For example, a car dealer knows that the more test drives potential customers take, the more sales will take place. The promotion you may be suggesting to increase test drives only needs a few extra sales to more than justify the investment. The desire for those extra sales is what will motivate your client. 

    Sales Channel is the fourth segment of marketing. Promotional specialty advertising and marketing, considering suppliers and distributors together (they are actually two separate channels, but that is for another article!) is a sales channel for us - not our clients! Understanding the sales channel the client wants to stimulate is what will determine your recommendations. The target market for the clients products is the target for the marketing you are suggesting. 

    A client that manufactures whiteboards may look for marketing support in several channels - schools, hotels and corporate boardrooms for example. Understanding the unique aspects of each channel such as potential unit count (classrooms vs. boardroom), major concern (appearance, durability, mounting ease) and product selection may be different for each channel. Offering a “one size fits all” recommendation will likely not get well received by your client. Be ready with several different proposals. Determine if focus on a single channel is how budgets are to be allocated or if it will need to cover some or all channels. 

    Your own marketing should get no less consideration. While a general message might be fine if you see yourself “selling promotional products”. If however you are building a professional client relationship, you might increase success by being aware of the specific sales channels the client wants to pursue or strengthen and focus (as a specialist) on reaching the potential buyers your client wants to reach. I agree with Albert Einstein - start having some fun!

    Gregg Emmer is chief marketing officer and vice president at Kaeser & Blair, Inc. He has more than 40 years experience in marketing and the promotional products industry. His outside consultancy provides marketing, public relations and business planning consulting to a wide range of other businesses and has been a useful knowledge base for K&B Dealers. Contact Gregg at gemmer@kaeser-blair.com.

    This article was used with permission from PromoCorner. View the original article at https://www.promocorner.com/promojournal/Maintaining-the-Critical-Balance-of-Marketing-and-Marketing?i=3963

  • February 13, 2020 6:55 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Name: Johanna Villacis




    • What is your title/role within your company? I am the sales executive and I handle all the promotional sales for Kamshield
    • What do you like best about your company? I love that we are a Certified Woman Owned Business and our mission is to promote online safety. We are also the only webcam cover in the market that offers unique designs catered toward women, men and children.
    • How were you introduced to the promotional products industry? Prior to working with Kamshield as a graphic designer I was promoted to sales last year in August. So I am completely new to the promotional industry and I absolutely love it.
    • If you had to pick one, what is your favorite promotional product? Webcam Cover, because it’s the only way to protect yourself and loved ones from online hackers. Webcam covers are just the very latest accessory where we can showcase our personal style. Our covers are 100% customizable so new styles, colors, logos, etc. can be added to the product line at any time to meet market trends. One of the advantages of our webcam cover is that it’s a great opportunity to have your company logo in front of your employees or clients screen 24/7!
    • Tell us something about you that most people may not know. I am a cancer survivor and very passionate about living my life to the fullest. We only get one shot at life and it is my mission to make it best no matter what obstacles may come my way. My spiritual beliefs towards God has helped me overcome many battles and has opened up new opportunities in my career. I have a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising and worked in the fashion industry for 12 years doing visual displays, dressing mannequins and creating floor layouts for Bloomingdales. I have always had a creative side and decided to go back to school for graphic design after I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Working for Kamshield has given me the opportunity to combine my passion for graphic design and my sales experience. I have tremendous pride in working for a women owned business and having the ability to raise awareness about cyber safety specially towards women and children.


  • February 13, 2020 6:50 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    A sales kickoff meeting is your chance to get everyone on your sales team in one place to create a sense of unity. Many sales professionals think of these meetings as a review of numbers, products and marketing plans. However, Lynne Zaledonis, an SVP at Salesforce, says they can be so much more.

    In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we highlight Zaledonis' four elements to ensure your sales team is motivated, empowered and focused on the right priorities all year long.

    1. Inspiration. Zaledonis says that a key priority for any kickoff is getting pumped for an incredible upcoming sales year. To accomplish this, inspiration must run through the entire kickoff, from start to finish. Inspiration can come in many forms. You will most likely have senior leaders there to speak and engage with reps. But the motivation doesn't all have to come directly from the company. An outside speaker can really bring a fresh perspective and pique the curiosity of attendees.

    2. Strategic planning. A kickoff is all about planning—communicating the plans and goals for the year ahead and plotting the paths to success. According to Zaledonis, devising a kickoff starts with identifying the key goals. Ask the question, "What do you want attendees to walk away with?" Prioritize what may be most important, especially in terms of looking back at the previous year and sharing goals. An ideal agenda will include some must-haves such as engaging breakout sessions, networking events and panels. And don't forget to have some fun, adds Zaledonis.

    3. Enablement. Sales reps are only as successful as your enablement and support—and a sales kickoff is ground zero for delivering the information and training at one time. Remember that any presentations and content should be interactive and designed for information retention, notes Zaledonis. Look for ways to involve customers in the event, from live panels to individual sessions or conversations. Their perspectives and input are invaluable to informing sales reps on not only what customers want, but how they can do their jobs better.

    4. Future learning. A successful sales kickoff isn't one that ends after everyone goes home. Attendees should be inspired and ready to hit the ground running. However, Zaledonis says that even with a keen focus on quality over quantity and delivering more interactive sessions at the kickoff, there's a stark reality: People forget things. You can do several things to help mitigate this. Capture all of the sessions on video for redistribution or create a one-page cheat sheets to distill the content and information.

    Don't miss the mark on your next sales kickoff. Be sure to incorporate inspiration, strategic planning, enablement and future learning into your meeting. By taking time to map out a productive event, you set the course for a successful year.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Lynne Zaledonis is SVP, product marketing at Salesforce. She is an experienced cloud leader and marketer with a diverse background of more than 19 years in CRM solutions and sales.

    This article was used with permission from PPAI Publications and was originally published on February 6, 2020. See the original article at https://pubs.ppai.org/pc-today/four-components-of-a-powerful-sales-kickoff/

  • February 13, 2020 6:48 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    …look for sales opportunities when prospects announce changes in sourcing principles.

    2/10/2020 | Jeff Jacobs, The Brand Protector

    Raise your hand if your late-night hunger pangs have driven you through the Taco Bell drive-thru. If that passion for a greasy fix made you question your judgment later in the cool light of day, take heart. At least you were supporting a fast food chain going greener by choice—or one headed in that direction because their customer base told them they need to.

    If you “Run for the Border” on a more frequent basis, you may have noticed that Taco Bell switched to recyclable cold drink cups and lids two years ago. In addition, the fast food chain had vegetarian offerings on the menu, but these items weren’t featured in marketing efforts until last year. Taco Bell was also among the first in fast food to swap out plastic single-use bags for paper.

    But, what’s next for Taco Bell surprised me by how aggressive an initiative it is. As part of its 2020 commitments, Taco Bell says it will convert all consumer-facing packaging to be either reusable, recyclable, or compostable at all locations around the world by 2025. The company will install recycling and composting bins in restaurants where local resources allow. Note that not every town composts together as a community, and what actually is recyclable where varies by community. The new packaging materials will also be free of PFAS, phthalates, and BPA, the chemicals we’ve talked about frequently that research has shown to be associated with cancer, thyroid disease, and low birth weight.

    So, while you may not be looking to be qualified as a vendor at Yum! Brands (parent company of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut), it’s always a good idea to scour around for announcements of this kind of initiative by prospective clients. Check corporate websites for “latest news” or publicity releases. Your prospect, or your current client for that matter, might just be coming into the market for sustainably sourced drinkware, straws, lids, utensils, food containers—maybe a complete overhaul of their break room, conference room, or cafeteria. Don’t forget the hard goods and soft goods to help publicize the initiative to be 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable, which would, of course, fit one of those criteria as well. Getting the idea of just how big this could be at one of your prospects?

    For Taco Bell, this is a BIG change, the company has 7,000 restaurants serving 47 million customers a week. “With growing sustainability concerns including plastic use and recycling practices, we wanted to make these commitments, so our fans don’t have to choose between ‘craveability’ and responsible dining,” Missy Schaaphok, Taco Bell’s global nutrition and sustainability manager, told Energy Manager Today.  “We have a responsibility to leave a lighter footprint on the Earth. On top of that, there’s legislation happening across the US, mostly in the coastal states, related to packaging. Over the past few years, we’ve been working to ensure all of our restaurants are in compliance.”

    This is still a work-in-progress for Taco Bell. They’ve created a specific team focused on working with suppliers to rethink packaging through 2025 with a focus on sustainability, functionality, and communication. Your client, or prospect, may not have a sourcing need this large or complex, but they may have a responsible sourcing initiative just as important to them. Wouldn’t you want to be considered “on the team” to help reach that goal?

    Jeff Jacobs has been an expert in building brands and brand stewardship for 40 years, working in commercial television, Hollywood film and home video, publishing, and promotional brand merchandise. He’s a staunch advocate of consumer product safety and has a deep passion and belief regarding the issues surrounding compliance and corporate social responsibility. He retired as executive director of Quality Certification Alliance, the only non-profit dedicated to helping suppliers provide safe and compliant promotional products. Before that, he was director of brand merchandise for Michelin. Connect with Jeff on TwitterLinkedInInstagram, or his personal blog on Tumblr or jeffreypjacobs.com. Reach out to him on email at jacobs.jeffreyp@gmail.com.

    This article was used with permission from PromoCorner, see the original article at https://www.promocorner.com/promojournal/Keep-An-Eye-On-Sustainability-Initiatives?i=3966.

  • January 22, 2020 5:47 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    1/16/2020 | Lisa Schofield, Product Feature

    Nearly all senses are energized on the tradeshow floor of any industry, for both exhibitors and attendees. Inspiration and awe abound, ideas are generated, and new products are not just bought and sold, but are also incubated. 

    Booth exhibits so artfully designed can inspire gasps with the wow-factor. Others feature cozy sitting areas to take the load off feet. And one thing that most attendees look forward to is collecting promotional merchandise. 

    The team at Merchology.com have compiled its “Top 10 Custom Logo Trade Show Giveaways for 2020,” as follows: 

    Notebooks and pens: “prospective clients and business partners will need to a way to write down all the valuable information” they receive. 

    Portable chargers: With all the activity a tradeshow day entails (breakout meetings, booth meetings, spontaneous meetings, seminars) attendees are rushing and don’t have time to ensure their batteries are charged. 

    Candy:  OK – of course, your exhibitor client can just heft in a few bags of assorted candies at the local Sam’s or Costco. But the attendee who grabs a Snicker’s from your client’s booth later enjoyment will not be able to remember which company’s booth he/she got it from. Now, imagine your client’s logo on the wrapper or little sample baggie instead. When the need for a sugar energy rush occurs, the attendee will remember your client.

    Tote bags:  As society loves to collect and gather, bags are highly desirable, especially at tradeshows. Attendees may have lofty, austere goals of “traveling light” throughout the show, but such resolution dissolves quickly. On trend here are bags for re-use, made with sustainable and/or recycled materials.

    Can/bottle Koozies: Dry, recycled air in most convention centers, combined with heightened energy use demand hydration. Tradeshow time goes at warp speed, it seems, and cold beverages warm up quickly. 

    Water bottles/drinkware:  Have you noticed how … artsy … reusable water bottles and mugs have become? Many available for promotional use can look fantastic on a desk or side table. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy eco-friendly hydration bottles, too. 

    PopSockets and phone wallets: “Phone accessories are all the rage when it comes to promotional items,” according to Merchology. “Just think, how many times do YOU looka t your phone every day?”

    Audio devices:  branded Bluetooth speakers and wireless headphones will be used and prized. They are still considered high-end.

    Lip balm:  Again, that dry air in convention centers tends to chap lips. Plus all the talking we tend to do as both attendees and exhibitors exacerbates the need for lip moisturization. And then, often, there’s the plane ride back home, another lip-drying experience.

    T-shirts:  Quick, when was the last time you saw a person wearing a plain, blank T-shirt? Doesn’t happen anymore. As the desire for self-branding and identity continues to trend, wearing a printed T from a favored vendor, product or brand shows the world a little bit about who we are. 

    The beauty and brilliance of the promotional products industry is the sheer breadth and depth of products and garments it provides to enhance any and every company or association that exhibits at an event for face-to-face interaction.

    That said, there are still companies that purchase space to exhibit (and also pay for all attendant costs of exhibiting), that are happy to create a cute tabletop display with their executive business cards and dollar-store décor. If you have a client you know can increase their presence and post-show business through creative and compelling marketing that includes targeted giveaways, let them know that 81% ?f tradeshow/convention attendees h?v? purchasing ?uth?r?t? – four out of five people who walk by your client’s booth are potential customers. Also, your client’s competitors are also exhibiting a few aisles over; a quick competitive edge for your client is a targeted and desirable giveaway.  

    On Absolute Exhibits’ website, the team writes, “Giveaways can be a tricky subject.  Think outside of the box like unique items that may relate to your goods or services.”

    Additionally, the team points out, “after a while [on the tradeshow floor], attendees start to feel weary, worn out from being called to different booths by people like carnival barkers to sell sell sell.  People, places, and companies start to blur together.

    This is the crucial time to help your client ensure that that tradeshow burnout can be penetrated by clever marketing and that they dapple through the blur. And a key part of that clever marketing is engaging the attendees in ways where they can win logoe’d merchandise.

    Take time to find out about your client’s industry by reading the B2B media, visit the industry association’s website and social media as well as those of the tradeshow event host. This will help you sort through the thousands of products to narrow down potential offerings. Relatedly, every industry also has more than one show per year, so find out how many the client is planning on exhibiting. This opens up another avenue of creative promotions, and/or the client can order in bulk.

    Staff of course, should be outfitted neatly and in logoe’d apparel so as to be immediately recognizable.  Encourage your client to promote a friendly contest among sales staff for the event by providing a tiered award platform for first, second and third place.

    And finally, don’t forget editors, writers and producers who stop by to request commentary for media stories they are working on. Your client will help build strong relationships with their B2B media by providing a fun and useful logo’ed promotion. 

    Tradeshows are more than just the booth giveaway. Although that will always remain a crucial attraction for attendees.

    This article used with permission from PromoCorner, https://www.promocorner.com/promojournal/Tradeshow-Outlook-for-2020-Booming?i=3931

  • January 22, 2020 5:46 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for salespeople—when used correctly. Most sales professionals use LinkedIn for prospecting and research, but they fail to truly spark engagement. Fortunately, Stephen Key, an author, speaker and entrepreneur, says that sales reps can get more out of LinkedIn by making a few tweaks.

    Keep reading this issue of Promotional Consultant Today for Key’s three easy steps to spark engagement on LinkedIn.

     

    1. Get your profile right. Key says it’s critical to have a killer profile on LinkedIn. That’s because the people you message often view your profile to qualify you first. By including some simple personal branding on your profile, you can positively influence these brief qualifications, which often have long-lasting results, according to Key.

     

    Your profile lays the foundation of the perceived value of the marketing material you send and sets the tone for every interaction you have on the platform. How you present yourself either elevates the perceived value of your marketing material or ends up shooting you in the foot.

     

    Key says that people typically only spend about 20 seconds scanning a LinkedIn profile, so you don’t need a mountain of impressive information. You need a complete profile—one that showcases you as a professional and shows that you’re in the game.

     

    2. Make the right connections. Be sure you’re connecting with the right people. As a rule of thumb, salespeople are the quickest to respond. Marketing people are usually a little bit more helpful, but they’re not as active as sales professionals on the platform. Some presidents and CEOs take a hands-on approach to LinkedIn. However, they are usually the wrong tree to bark up, notes Key.

     

    3. Reach out the right way. When reaching out to contacts on LinkedIn, the best strategy is to pose a simple question, according to Key. Hard linear sales pitches don’t work on LinkedIn. You must let your marketing material do the selling for you. Effective scripts for sparking engagement can be as simple as: “Hey Jane, is there someone at [company name] who takes care of your self-promotion campaigns?” Messages that are short, specific and ask a reasonable question are infinitely more likely to spark engagement and elicit a response than long-winded, self-important rants.

     

    When you log on to LinkedIn, be sure to manage your expectations. Some people respond in minutes while others take months to reply. Remember that there will be slow days and days when you don’t have time to get back to everyone.

     

    Whether you’re connecting on LinkedIn or in real life, relationships are about people. With the right approach and the right mindset, you can use LinkedIn to stack the deck in your favor and strengthen your business-networking endeavors.

     

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

     

    Source: Stephen Key is an inventor, author, speaker and co-founder of inventRight, LLC., a Nevada-based company that educates entrepreneurs in how to bring ideas to market.

    This article was used with permission from PCT Today.

  • January 22, 2020 5:45 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    1/21/2020 | Steve Woodburn, Promo Ponderings

    For what seems like a long time, Millennials have dominated the workplace and forever changed the way work is done. However, there’s a new generation in town that’s about to dominate the business world. If you get as confused on defining various generations as I often do, here’s a quick primer. 

    • Those called “The Greatest Generation” were born between 1910 and 1924 and a great many of them fought in WWII (1941 – 1945). 

    • They begat the now infamous “Baby Boomers”, born roughly between 1945 and 1964.

    • Next came “Gen X”, born between 1965 and 1979.

    • “Millennials” started arriving in 1980 and wrapped up in 1994.

    • “Gen Z” is the generation just hitting the workforce and were born between the years 1995 and 2015.

    Our world is much different than it was in 1945. Back then, hi-tech was a very large black and white television in your living room that picked up three channels, and radio was still the dominant medium. Gen Z is the first generation to be immersed in a digital world almost from the day they were born and beginning in 2020 approximately 24% of the workforce will be from Generation Z. 

    Why should you care? If you own a business, manage people, or are in sales, you’ll need to understand what makes this group far different than the Millennials before them and what that means as they become co-workers and buyers.

    1. Hard to believe, but unlike most Millennials, Gen Z would rather have face-to-face conversations than text. This despite their being connected to the digital world since they were very young and spending on average, three hours a day on mobile devices. 

    2. Stability is important for them as they remember seeing their parents terrified on 9/11 and then facing economic uncertainties as the Great Recession hit in 2008. As a result, those in Gen Z seek financial security and job stability and will stay in a job longer than Millennials, but will look for promotions and raises to stay engaged. 

    3. Social justice is important to Gen Z and they want to make a difference. From race relations, to politics, to environmental policies, these young people are as vocal as Boomers were in the 60’s and 70’s. As an employer, this means when interviewing Gen Z’s, they’ll want to know why your company exists and how their role will contribute to your overall vision. They’re excellent team players if they see the bigger picture of their work and contributions to the company.

    4. They abhor student debt so are much more mindful in choosing an affordable college that will leave them with little or no student loans. While the numbers aren’t in yet, it’s looking like many in Gen Z are deciding whether a college education is even worth the time and expense. The digital world is their sandbox, a place they can learn the skills they need with just-in-time learning and oftentimes for free or at very little cost. Given that, why spend four years and tens of thousands of dollars when you can be gaining real-world experience right out of high school?

    5. Because of their having always lived in a connected world, Gen Z is able to multitask much more effortlessly than previous generations. They easily switch between tasks and can quickly check updates on a variety of apps to ensure they stay in touch. If your work environment requires multitasking, Gen Z could be a perfect fit. They also don’t delineate as much between work and home and may end up starting a task at work and finishing it up on the subway ride home or while they’re watching TV in the evenings. 

    You’ll find connecting with Gen Z will be a balancing act. While they crave face-to-face interactions, you will also need to engage them on social media to gain their trust and build rapport. 

    At the end of the day, we’re all human and have similar needs and values no matter which generation we hail from. Respect, integrity, trust, and loyalty are just a few of the traits we look for in others whether we’re a business owner, a leader, or a co-worker. And as John Maxwell, author and speaker on business and leadership says, “True success comes only when every generation continues to develop the next generation.” And that’s a worthy goal we can all strive towards.

    This article was used with permission from PromoCorner, https://www.promocorner.com/promojournal/Five-Reasons-Why-Gen-Z-and-Millennial%E2%80%99s-are-Different?i=3934

  • January 22, 2020 5:44 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Business, product and service names affiliated with a single word or acronym are more than ubiquitous in today’s brevity-and catch-phrase-driven consumer markets. The promotional products industry is chock-full of products that are imprinted, engraved or embroidered with a company name, logo or acronym. In an instant, the average American could likely recite a number of products or services based on a simple word, symbol or acronym: Apple, Cheerios, Nike, Bambi, IBM, NRA and so on. Promotional Product Association International’s widely-known acronym, “PPAI,” its “Mark of a Professional” logo and The PPAI Expo mark also come to mind.

    But, when is a mark or acronym protected from use by others? This article explores the trademark and service mark protection statute called the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125.

    Briefly, the Lanham Act, which was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1946, prohibits the use of protected marks (or similar versions thereof) in a way that is likely to confuse consumers. Someone who believes that a violation of the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)) exists must show (1) that the person’s business or service name, acronym or logo is entitled to protection and (2) that an alleged infringer’s name, acronym or logo is identical to those marks or so similar that they are likely to confuse or deceive consumers.

    You are likely thinking, “OMG! Are our service and product acronyms and names, and those of our clients, protected?” That can be a tricky question to answer, and the devil is in the details. Moreover, the analysis may vary, depending on the judicial circuit in which the issue is presented.

    As a general rule, legal protection is only available to “distinctive” marks. Distinctive marks are marks that serve the purpose of identifying the source of the goods or services, which can occur by word usage or market reputation. “Distinction” of a mark is not always easy to determine and, in many cases, the subtleties in this area of law could result in COB (closure of business) or SOL (sorry, out of luck).

    In the case of Welding Services Inc. v. Forman, 509 F.3d 1351 (11th Cir. 2007), the court described how or when a mark may be “distinct” as follows: “Some marks are inherently distinctive; some marks, though not inherently distinctive, acquire distinctiveness by becoming associated in the minds of the public with the products or services offered by the proprietor of the mark; and some marks can never become distinctive.”

    To determine “distinctiveness,” courts generally consider four categories of marks: (1) fanciful or arbitrary, (2) suggestive, (3) descriptive and (4) generic.

    Arbitrary Or Fanciful Marks

    An arbitrary or fanciful mark bears no logical relationship to the product or service it is used to represent. Examples include Exxon, Kodak and Xerox, each being made-up words crafted to represent a product or service.

    Suggestive Marks

    A suggestive mark refers to some characteristic of the goods but requires the consumer to take an “imaginational leap” to get from the mark to the product or service. In the case of Peaceable Planet, Inc. v. Ty, Inc., 362 F.3d 986 (7th Cir. 2004), a toy camel product named “Niles” was found to be a protected suggestive mark because it required an imaginational leap from the name to the Nile River. As the “Niles court” noted in its opinion, “‘Niles’ may evoke but it certainly does not describe a camel, any more than ‘Pluto’ describes a dog, ‘Bambi’ a fawn, ‘Garfield’ a cat or ‘Charlotte’ a spider.”

    Descriptive Marks

    A descriptive mark identifies a characteristic or quality of the service or product. Examples of descriptive marks are “Vision Center” for eye-care services and “All Bran” for a food product. In the 1992 case of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. McNeil-P.P.C., Inc., 973 F.2d 1033 (2d Cir. 1992), the court adjudicated whether the use of “PM” in the name of a nighttime headache medication was a protectable mark, and the court found that the “PM” was descriptive and not suggestive or generic.

    Marks that are fanciful, arbitrary or suggestive are inherently protected; there is generally no need to show secondary meaning in the marketplace. On the other hand, descriptive marks are protected only if there is a secondary meaning to the mark or usage.

    Whether a name has attained secondary meaning depends on many factors, and a non-exclusive list of factors considered by the courts includes: the length and nature of the mark’s use, the nature and extent of advertising and promotion of the mark, the efforts of the business owner to promote a conscious connection between the mark and the business, and the degree of actual recognition by the public that the name designates the business owner’s product or service.

    Generic Marks

    Courts generally find that generic marks can never become a protected trademark. Generic marks essentially inform the consumer precisely what class of product or services is marketed. “Light beer,” for example, has been described as generic, but the acronym “L.A.” used in low-alcohol beer labels has been described as a descriptive mark. In the 2007 opinion of Welding Services Inc. v. Forman, 509 F.3d 1351 (11th Cir. 2007), the court denied protection for a three-letter encircled acronym logo—“WSI”—because the abbreviation had not acquired a meaning distinct from the generic business name with which the acronym was associated: Welding Services, Inc. Thus, the WSI logo was also deemed generic. A generic name may also be a term by which the product or service itself is commonly known, such as “Kleenex” or “Escalator,” even if the mark was once registered and protected.

    Generic-ness, if you will, focuses on the use of the term and not necessarily the term itself. As the court in Soweco, Inc. v. Shell Oil Co., 617 F.2d 1178 (5th Cir. 1980) described: “A word may be generic of some things and not of others: ‘ivory’ is generic of elephant tusks but arbitrary as applied to soap.”

    Consider reviewing you or your client’s trade names, acronyms, symbols and other valuable business- or service-related identifiers. In your review, factor in your enhanced understanding of the protections for the various categories of marks and consider modifying your marketing efforts to enhance any “secondary meaning” that may be associated with descriptive marks. Consider also whether any secondary meaning remains relevant in today’s marketplace. As the court in Texas Pig Stands, Inc. v. Hard Rock Cafe International, Inc., 951 F.2d 684 (5th Cir. 1992) aptly described, “Whether ‘pig sandwich’ has acquired a secondary meaning greatly depends on whether the question is asked in 1930, shortly after the incipience of Pig Stands, or in 1990.”


    Read more about some of the cases cited in this article:

    Suggestive marks:

    Descriptive marks

    Secondary meaning:

    Generic marks:

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    Cory Halliburton is an attorney with Weycer, Kaplan, Pulaski & Zuber, P.C. (WKPZ), with officers in Dallas, Houston and Arlington, Texas, and he serves as general counsel for PPAI. This article is for general informational purposes only; it is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. There may be other federal or state laws that provide a means to protect trade or service marks. Each recipient is encouraged to consult independent legal counsel before making any decisions concerning the matters in this communication.

    This article was used with permission from PPB Magazine, January 2020

  • January 22, 2020 5:43 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    The labor market should remain tight in 2020, despite the pace of job growth easing off. And while The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index declined in December—now standing at 109.68, down from 110.51 in November and marking a 1.2 percent decline in the index over the past 12 months—its behavior is in line with expectations, given the labor market’s expansion.

    “The Employment Trends Index decreased in December and continues to be on a flat trend since the summer of 2018,” says Gad Levanon, head of The Conference Board Labor Markets Institute. “In the current state of the labor market, a flat index is consistent with an ongoing labor market expansion. We expect job growth to remain solid and the labor market to continue tightening. In Friday’s job report, the broadest measure of labor market slack, known as the U6 rate, fell to 6.7 percent, the lowest level on record. Such a tight labor market is a growing obstacle for further economic growth, but not a big enough obstacle to derail the U.S. economy from its two-percent growth trajectory.”

    In determining its Employment Trends Index, the Conference Board aggregates eight labor market indicators that it has found are accurate within their own areas. It notes that aggregated individual indicators are placed into a composite index to filter out “noise” and show underlying trends more clearly. December’s decrease in The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index was fueled by negative contributions from five of the eight components.

    On Friday, the federal government reported that the U.S. economy added 145,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate remained at 3.5 percent. Job creation concentrated primarily in the services and construction sectors, while the decline of 12,000 jobs in manufacturing shows that this part of the economy is still weak. The Conference Board notes that easing trade tensions between China and the U.S. may help to further improve business confidence in 2020.

    In 2019, the unemployment rate reached its lowest point since the late 1960s, and job growth was strong with an average of 176,000 jobs added per month, although just over 20-percent slower than the average of 223,000 in 2018. In its analysis, The Conference Board highlights that the labor market performance in 2019 should therefore be considered a significant achievement after an economic expansion of over 10 years.

    While The Conference Board expects employment growth to somewhat moderate in 2020, the labor market will likely continue to tighten further as the working-age population is barely growing and labor force participation rates are only slowly increasing. It says that employers hiring blue-collar and manual services workers will have a harder time recruiting and retaining current employees. For these workers it also sees strong wage acceleration, much faster than growth in the average hourly earnings, which stagnated in 2019 at around 3.2 percent and weakened in December to 2.9 percent. Slower wage growth for highly educated management and professional workers has held back average wage growth for all workers.

    This article was used with permission from PPB Magazine, January 2020

  • January 22, 2020 5:38 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Name: David Lever, CAS

    Title: Director, Sales

    Company: Otto International, Inc.


    What is your title/role within your company? 

    • Director, Sales, to drive our GTM strategy and assist in achieving our sales plan and goals

    What do you like best about your company?

    • OTTO is a family, driven by great customer service and while bring ”Retail Quality Hats at a Promotional Price” to the Promotional Products industry.

     How were you introduced to the promotional products industry?

    • I was introduced to the Promotional Products Industry by Frank Krasovec (Norwood, Founder/CEO). He introduced me to Glen and Laura Holt (Holt Marketing/Geiger) who became my mentors. I spent a week with them in AZ before I opened a Distributorship in Vail, CO. They showed me the ropes on how to achieve at the highest level through superior customer service and a foundation rooted in solid relationships. After four years as a Distributor I work as an Executive with Retail Brands in North America. Coming full circle I returned to the Promotional Products Industry 4 years ago on the supplier side.

     If you had to pick one, what is your favorite promotional product?

    • OTTO Comfy Fit hat collection in particular style # 83-1299. A flexible hat with a closure that’s “No Pressure” and the fit is amazing.

    Tell us something about you that most people may not know.

    • I was born in Wiesbaden, Germany.


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