Quick: when you think of promotional products, what comes to mind? Branded hats and pens? Tote bags? Many printers may not see these items going with their clients’ high-end image, so they may not give these complementary offerings a fair shot. But promotional items are more than this. Think luxury leather bags, vintage cameras, and masculine steel and leather bracelets. Think custom-designed wet bags: the kind of unexpected gifts that would turn the head of the CEO who has everything...but they don’t have that.

Inspired Brands opened my eyes to a different class of promotional products designed for high-end corporate events, C-level executives, and key influencers. These products are not only luxurious, but they are developed and produced from the perspective of sustainability.

“The key for us is looking at the lifetime usage of a product,” explains Brian Hollowaty, CEO of Inspired Brands. “Cost comes into play, but when we create something that is well designed and super durable and interesting, people will keep it much longer. They talk about it. They share it. When you are catering to the C-level executives, you need that.”

For the company, “sustainability” means more than simply using sustainable materials. Inspired Brands’ promotional deck states: “We seek to design a secondary purpose and reduce the environmental impact for every item we produce. Through innovative design thinking, we increase the chances that consumers will use, re-use, and love our products.”

As one example of sustainable design, Inspired Brands created a wine shipper that converts from a wine case to a wine rack. The sustainability element extends to the shipping, too. The rack is designed to hold the products in suspension, so the entire packaging can be slipped into the shipping box without additional packing and fillers. This saves cost, storage space, and raw materials used.  As another example, it offers branded notebooks made from paper crafted from waste stone from the construction industry. Velvety smooth or not, the paper is made from 85% calcium carbonate and 15% non-toxic resins used to bind the stone particles.

If you have customers unimpressed with traditional promotional products, you just might find something in this repertoire that will captivate them. If not, Inspired Brands will design it for you. The company is doing a project for a well-known business school whose target audience is “CEOs who have everything.”

“It’s easy for them to buy whatever they want,” says Hollowaty. “They all travel a lot, so the school came to us and said, ‘What can we get these people who have everything? Something they will use and find value in?’ Our designers came up with a modular zip-around packing cubes made of see-through rip stop nylon so you can keep everything organized and see inside. The bags are branded with the business school’s logo on them. It’s not something everybody has.”

Many of the beauty brands are gravitating towards luxury promotional products for bags and kits, adds Hollowaty. “They are doing packages and PR kits sent to agencies and influencers,” he says. “They see us in a different category from traditional promotional products.”   

While Inspired Brands does work with large print service providers (and is working on a project currently), the CEO was not willing to give details. But, he said, the company does develop partnerships with third parties like printers as part of a variety of campaigns.

So if you thought all promotional products looked alike, check out luxury promotional products companies like this one. Or check out the upcoming Printing Impressions webinar on printing technologies used to imprint your own luxury goods. Maybe you didn’t know promotional products as well as you thought.