The Art of the Leave-Behind

We've all heard the phrase "love it or leave it", but in the world of advertising, we prefer to  "love it AND leave it". In this case, "leave it" refers to the leave-behind, a tool used to promote your brand, portray a message and just do fun stuff! 

In my position as the Print Production Manager at TXC, I’m often asked to recommend options for what I so fondly call “trash and trinkets”, with the goal of ultimately making sure those items get produced, printed and delivered on time. 

Things I might consider when I start to look for options:

  • If this is for a special event? Does the item connect both creatively and interactively with the theme?
  • Does it connect with your brand or identity and leave an impression of whom or what this represents?  
  • Can you really use it? Gotta love a good gadget.
  • You don’t always need to have the most expensive item to leave a good impression. A lower price point can be just as effective. Decals or notepads can travel and have good staying power, and if bought in bulk, the cost savings (and always having it on hand) can make them successful all the way around.

Here are a few unique examples of options we found successful recently:

  • We provided a canvas bag for an event/client whose focus is the environment in Galveston Bay. They wanted a tote bag. Priority? Make sure the bag is recyclable or made from natural materials to bring home their message. Also, who can’t use a good tote bag? 
  • For a recent luncheon, we created a lunchbox container that could not only hold lunch for that event but the container itself was something that would leave with the attendee and keep branding visible. We used a tin lunchbox (the retro kind) with a custom imprint on the top and a refrigerator magnet on the inside. Granted, it may turn into a child’s Lego carrier, but it’s a reminder just the same.

Then, there is always the usual: pens, notepads, etc. With all that in mind, any of these items should be consistent with your branding message and be something people would want to keep, serving as a friendly reminder of the event or your company.

In addition to coming up with what these items should be, I also have to make sure they are printable. In this digital age, we love how convenient it is to be so creative. Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign can do amazing things. But whether you are producing a t-shirt, brochure, book or leave-behind, the bottom line is that it still has to be printable. A common hurdle in translating designs to print has to do with color. Namely, how colors are translated into the digital design and the final printed product (see Josh’s blog on translating spot color to process color). For instance, a press or imprint system produces either 4 color process (utilizing cyan, magenta, yellow, black) or Pantone Spot Colors. And if that item is originally designed in spot colors but needs to be printed 4 color process, the conversion can be kind of tricky and best done by the creator, not leaving it to chance at the vendor. 

So, at the end of the day, a good leave-behind is more than just “trash and trinkets”. It is a tool to keep your brand or company top-of-mind, while also providing some real-world use to the client. Afterall, what use is a leave behind if it just goes straight into the trash? When done well, the leave behind can be a powerful tool and should be produced with the same quality and forethought as any other element in a campaign

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