Holiday Gift Giving for All

Holiday gifts can be tricky and stressful. There are always the gifts that quickly make it to the regift or Goodwill pile. It’s also easy to lose sight of why a gift is being given. The thought around the gift and personalization can go a long way.

Here are some ideas to get started. You are not limited to these options, so work with us if you need to go beyond what is shown.

Reminder: Non-profit donations and sharing the gift with employees and clients is also encouraged.  We have a few in mind that we can put you in touch with if you need help with this.

bobble® Sport Bottle with a Filter

Blog post 1 - water bottle

Ideas and considerations:

- Give this gift of wellness to employees by encouraging water consumption. Make a friendly competition out of it.

- This product is available in other fun colors.

- Let us help you package this with holiday flair.


Blog post 2 - MoleskinIdeas and considerations:

- Who doesn’t love a Moleskin? Practical and popular – win!

- Various sizes and colors available.

- Write a personal message on the inside cover, or have the ‘Topia help in making this gift unique to the recipient.

On-trend Computer Backpack

Blog 1 - Backpack

Ideas and Considerations:

- This backpack is great for bike commuters or urban folks that are on the go

- Available in various colors


Volt Power Bank with Speaker

Blog 2 Tech - Volt Power Bank

Ideas and considerations:

- A phone charger and speaker combo.

- Gift box included.


Shop local (Indianapolis) – Just Pop In!


Ideas and considerations:

- Just Pop In! makes a yummy gift. Your recipients won’t mind the delicious cheddar, carmel goodness that’s left on their fingers as they’re devouring this popcorn.

- Options for custom tins and packaging are available.

- A ton of flavor options.

There are many more ideas where these came from. Get in touch with us and we’ll do the gift giving work for you.


Swag Truck Launch – Book Your Experience

Swag Truck for Mailchimp

The Swag Truck (she needs a name!) is being branded and decked out as I write this, so she’ll be ready to hit the Indianapolis streets in April 2014. Look for updates on her progress and the new website in the near future.

In the meantime, here’s the scoop on how she came to be.

What seemed like a typical client lunch turned into a conversation that got the wheels turning. Literally.

Trisha (this is the name that I’ll give said client to protect our delicious meal and “a-ha!” conversation) really “gets it.” As we were talking, she revealed that, even though she works in marketing for an edgy, fun, and remarkable brand, she still struggles to come up with new and unique ways to distribute merchandise that will engage her audience at a huge upcoming event.

Challenge accepted! What could we do that will make this experience stand out and give it some va-va-voom? Or should I say va-va-VROOM?

The idea for a Swag Truck did not come up immediately; however, seems so obvious now looking back. Food trucks and mobile pop-up shops have become a part of our culture – a sought-after experience and street staple. It would only make sense that companies could create their own mobile way of bringing their offerings to employees, clients, community, and more.

Swag Truck is a marketer’s blank canvas for bringing their brand to the streets, reaching their audience in a unique and more engaging way than other campaigns.

It’s much more than simply a way to sell or give out merchandise. 

If you’re wondering, Is Swag Truck just a fun way to sell or give out swag? You’re only half correct. While the merchandise can be a part of the experience, this vehicle will be yours to collect data by incorporating SMS text messaging, capture content (video, hashtags, pictures, etc.) for your social media campaigns, and more. Ideas are endless and are being discussed with other marketers as we speak!

Swag Truck is your blank mobile canvas.

  • Motivate and incentivize employees by using the truck as a memorable way of giving employees their rewards and gifts
  • Differentiate your brand at recruitment and job fairs
  • Stand out from a sea of booths at tradeshows
  • Bring your company cultture and uniqueness to guests and interact with them in a new, memorable way

There are many ways to customize the experience.

  • Customized truck options using your logo and graphics
  • A la carte menu of experience options (see below)
  • Reach an increasingly on-the-go audience

Just a few of those à la carte items:

  • Custom branded merchandise (or provide your own)
  • SMS text program and email integration
  • Full service graphic design for signage and collateral
  • POS
  • Merchandise storage and pick ups

There’s only one Swag Truck in Indianapolis, so beginning in April, marketers will have the exclusive opportunity to be the only company featuring their brand with a Swag Truck. Contact us to learn more, or book your truck. 

Swag: Do it right, or not at all!


I must warn you – I’m about to get my swag snobbery on.

If you’re going to buy crappy promotional products, don’t buy them at all!

Save your marketing dollars for something else. You should think of your swag as an extension of your brand. You don’t have to have the “Mercedes” of pens to get this right.

Now, before you go all “a cheap pen is all we have the budget for,” hear me out. If you still decide the el cheapo is for you, that’s your prerogative. I’m not going to get all judgy. Okay, maybe a little bit.

You do not have to spend a fortune to get a product that is thoughtful and well-made. Here’s a quick example of one my recent swag horror stories:

I participated in a really inspiring athletic challenge that offered a free shirt as part of their incentive for participants. The shirt wasn’t the hook for me, but I do love a good giveaway and it would be nice to flaunt my accomplishment.

So, the time comes to pick up my reward. Joyfully, I walked up to the desk to retrieve my shirt, and….YUCK! Blech! The logo was a blob, the shirt was crunchy, and it was a disgusting color. My next stop was Goodwill to drop off this mess. This shirt did not even make it to my “bed shirts” drawer. Yep, that bad.

This is certainly not the end of the world, but it is the last time that I’ll expect quality merchandise from this company. It was a bummer. I would have been rockin’ that shirt around town (free advertising!), and it wouldn’t have been a complete waste of their marketing dollars.

With this being said, there are a lot of companies that buy affordable products and do a terrific job at making sure it aligns with their brand and their purpose for the product. Consider why you are making the purchase. What do you want to happen as a result? Here are some examples of what you might ask yourself before buying company swag:

  • Tradeshow:  If it’s a tradeshow item, you want to attract people to your booth. You want people to remember you and your brand when they leave the show.
  • Social media incentive: Make it worth the effort to engage with you on social media. A pen is not going to spark a reaction.
  • Gift: If it’s a new client welcome gift or otherwise, you want this to be packaged properly and really be something that is thoughtful and engaging.
  • Employee reward: I have seen some really lame reward programs. Do you think a toaster really motivates your employee to increase sales, etc.? Think of something the employee will use on a regular basis. It’s free to include a “thank-you” note, so be sure to do that. It will likely be more appreciated than the gift.

Don’t get overwhelmed by making your purchasing decisions. Lean on your vendor to ask you questions and to know your brand, so they can make suggestions that will give you the outcome you’re looking for. If your vendor isn’t doing that, then don’t settle! I might just have one I can recommend… (Hint, hint! Wink, wink!)

I’ll leave you with an additional reads that will help you on your swag path.

Tips: Branding Promotional Products:

Also, watch for an upcoming post about five brands that inspire.

Rock on,


Spring Steals with Group Buy Deals

The birds are returning from their vacation homes, grass is greener and the icy snow is transforming, slowly but surely, into warmer rain. Spring is on its way and Brandtopia is gearing up for the warmer weather with sizzling Group Buy deals.

We’re all feeling the hole in our wallets after the holiday season and cranking that furnace all winter. So, why pay more for the promotional supplies you need? Here at Brandtopia, we’re shelling out the deals left and right, so you can save up for summer.
Check some of these great featured products and get ready to spring into action!

BUILT® Water Bottle Tote 12-18 Ounce 

This handy little number is perfect for hiking, biking or exploring nature’s rejuvenation into spring. This tote keeps your water bottle chilled and within easy reach for up to four hours. This machine washable tote is great for preventing the bottle from sweating, denting or breaking, so your adventures are never cut short.

Aluminum Card Case

As the temperatures climb into the summer months, so do crime rates. It’s true, as people become more pressured by constant heat, they are more likely to commit crimes and condone criminal activity.

It’s best to be prepared. Secure your bank account information from identity thieves with this radio frequency identification blocking credit card case. Keep your card numbers safe from sneaking crooks; better safe than sorry!

Owl® 100% Recycled Felt Meeting Tote

You can be Eco-friendly and Eco-fashionable with the 100% recycled material tote from Owl. Each bag is crafted with materials from the 51 million bottles that fill our landfills each year. With its fun pops of color, contrasting handles and recycled materials, this piece is great for fashionistas and incorruptible recyclers, alike.



What are your summer “promo” needs? Let us know! We’ll try to include it in the next Group Buy so you’re set through April’s showers, to May’s flowers.

Tips: Branding Promotional Products

Guest post by Justin Zalewski

Important Branding Considerations for Your Promotional Products

The purpose of distributing promotional products is to raise awareness of your brand. So when branding your mugs, flash drives, pens, etc… make sure you’re doing your brand justice. Here are a few considerations to ensure you’re getting the most out of your products.


Consistency is essential for effective branding. Consistent branding is what enables your customers to recognize your visual brand and associate it with your organization.

If you’re changing your color palette with each different promotional product you distribute, people may not recognize your organization and your branding will have failed.


The 2011 white Christmas Coca-Cola cans are a great example of how inconsistency can hurt a brand. The classic red Coca-Cola cans had built such a huge level of recognition with customers that when the cans were turned white, customers were confused. At first glance, it was very hard to differentiate the white Christmas cans from the silver Diet Coke cans. In the end, Coca-Cola realized their mistake and the cans were returned to their former red glory.

Color & Contrast 

The eye doesn’t take color into account when it recognizes shapes—only the contrast between light and dark. Therefore, when choosing colors, think in terms of light and dark.

Not only is this contrast important for general readability, but an estimated 7% of men are affected by red/green color blindness (plus a small percentage of women). So while you may be able to see your red logo on a green background, don’t assume that everyone will be able to see that same color contrast.

For this reason, it’s important to resist any urges to brand a green t-shirt with a red logo—no matter how festive it might look for the holidays. Even for those with perfect color vision, it strains the eye to read red text against a green background. Instead, try using a white logo on a deep red background or a green logo on a white background.


A logo needs to be effective at a range of sizes so that it can be used on large signage, small business cards and everything in between. Fine lines and intricate details might make your logo look beautiful on a billboard, but a small imprint on an item such as a pen, small sizes they will either disappear, or become indistinguishable noise.

If your logo is very detailed, then consider using promotional products with larger surface areas—such as mouse pads, coffee mugs and t-shirts.

Simplicity has huge benefits here. A clean, simple logo will always scale better than an overly complex logo. So when you’re choosing which version of your logo to include on the next batch of ballpoint pens for your company, go as simple as possible.

 Non-Visual Branding 

There’s more to branding than meets the eye. While your logo is an extremely critical part of your brand, don’t forget there are other factors that contribute to how your audience perceives your company.

Remember that actions speak louder than logos. For example, if your goal is an environmentally-friendly brand image, you could use promotional products made of recycled materials. It won’t matter how green your logo is if your company’s actions aren’t aligned with your brand.

Keeping these considerations in mind will help you get the most out of your promotional products and ensure that you’re reaching your customers effectively.


Justin is a web designer in Indianapolis, offering design and development services for small businesses and startups. He reads Kurt Vonnegut books and watches Wes Anderson movies. Check out his website and follow him on twitter.

A Bold Offer & Anti-Boring Swag

I don’t make resolutions for the new year; however, I do make intentions. One of my intentions is to live a bold life. I want to do things that scare me, add more value to my community, and expand my horizons in general.

In the spirit of kicking off my intentions, I am trying something BOLD in the current Brandtopia group buy. It’s bold in the sense that I may actually lose money doing this. I’ve never offered net pricing, but you’ll see why I’m doing it below.

Net pricing. This is the cost that I pay my suppliers for a product. I’m giving my 10,000 piece net pricing to you on the USBs. I will profit $0 from any order that you place. In fact, I may actually end up owing my supplier if I don’t reach the 10,000 piece order.


Reason #1: I trust that if you go with this offer, you’ll love the ‘Topia and come back to work with us on other products. And if you don’t, we will still be happy that you gave us a shot. I’m sure we’ll have fun either way.

Reason #2: I’m slightly obsessed with Zappos’ business philosophy, culture, and trust in their customers. They take returns at any time, no questions asked. That’s bold. I am inspired to try new ways of working with companies.

Reason #3: I can make a small contribution in eliminating boring swag without breaking your marketing budget. 2013 is the year of colorful, inspiring, and unique products that will make your brand stand out.

There you have it. It’s time for the first group buy of 2013. Let’s do it!

The items below are included on our current Group-Buy offer, January 11-21. If you haven’t received this, sign up for the ‘Topia. There’s no catch. Offers. Savings. That’s it.

Silicone USB Wristband

USBs are a practical and unique way to show off your brand. Pre-download your product mix on a drive and send it to current/prospective clients (yes, I’m taking notes as I type this…), hand them out at a recruitment fair with information about your company, or give them to employees to promote company culture. There are endless applications for these nifty wristband USBs.


Megaphone Speaker

This portable promotion delivers your message loud and clear! I gave these out as stocking stuffer and they were a huge hit.

T-361This portable silicone mini speaker amplifies the sound from your iPhone without any batteries. It holds the iPhone vertically, horizontally, and has opening reserved for charger. It also works well in hands-free mode.

*Compatible with the iPhone 3,4, & 5 models


NEW product! Cable Organizer

Cable organizers are not a new concept, but this funky design is. This silicone cable organizer holds cables in place at home, in the office, or in the car.


Thanks for checking out these colorful ideas. I would love to hear about your upcoming promo needs, and what items you may want to include in an upcoming Group Buy.

Rock Your Brand & Digital Marketing Strategy

Think outside of the mug.

No, that doesn’t mean you should give up that liquid goodness that is coffee. It just means that when it comes to incentivizing clients and employees and attracting visitors at tradeshows and events, think beyond the traditional for a customized gift they will truly appreciate.

A product with a wide reach, eBook Download Cards offer an inexpensive, personalized way to   provide the recipient access to the digital book of choice.

Here are four reasons these make a great gift, tradeshow giveaway, employee incentive and more:

1. Data capture: Our friends at Balance Marketing (awesome company, by the way) help companies with their email marketing systems and campaigns. They know that a successful marketing strategy includes capturing emails and data that will assist in creating and distributing relevant content.

How can you give current/potential customers an incentive to provide you with this information? Digital download cards, like the eBooks, can require recipients to enter their email and  other predetermined fields in order to receive their download. Boom! You can increase your list, and have data that can be exported to your email marketing tool/client.

2. eReaders are on the rise: The advent of eReaders, tablets and netbook computers have made eBooks more popular than ever before.

3. Options: Give your recipient options with their gift. With so many titles and genres, eBook Download Cards deliver a great deal of choice and make it possible to hit several demographics at once.

4. High-perceived value: By providing on-trend eBooks, you are giving a high-perceived value gift that comes with instant access and is easily accessible.

How it works:

eBooks | How To Redeem from Rock Your Brand on Vimeo.

Posted by Kelly Elsner

Technology & Spice (and an announcement)


This gallery contains 1 photo.

Happy fall! I am in love with this season and all that it brings with it – crisp weather, cozy sweaters, and beautiful leaves (and the crunchy sound they make when I step on them). It’s refreshing! It feels like … Continue reading

Group Buying 101

Group buying is like going down a slide - super fun!

Group buying, aggregating orders, bulk purchasing…whatever your terminology is, it’s all about economies of scale. More buyers –> higher quantity –> lower price. This is not a new or fancy concept.

However, one area that has been previously overlooked for cost savings via group buying is promotional product orders. By combining orders across multiple departments and/or companies, there is an opportunity to save 30-40% on each purchase.

Brandtopia is bringing group buying to the promotional products industry in a big way. We are sprinkling our purchasing platform with qualities we personally cherish: gratitude, balance, ease and, of course, cost savings.

Below are some thought-starters to see if group buying may be for you and your organization.

Are you ready for group buying? Do you:

  • Purchase branded merchandise frequently AND want to save money?
  • Have various departments that purchase promotional products?
  • Find it challenging to maintain brand integrity and logo standards?
  • Spend countless hours meeting with distributors to determine who has the best pricing?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, we can help.

With Brandtopia’s innovative group-buying platform, you can:

  • Combine orders within your organization and amongst our subscribers, which provides a per item volume discount of up to 40%.
  • Work with us on customized opportunities to address your specific needs – we can create an exclusive offer for your company, or include an item you are purchasing in our next group buy.
  • Have your respective company/individual/department logo and imprint requirements on your order while still taking advantage of the group-buy discount.
  • Rest securely in the knowledge that you are receiving the best possible price from us compared to any other distributor because of our group-buying solution.
  • Be part of a cutting-edge approach to promotional product merchandise ordering that will revolutionize the industry and provide YOU with more time on your hands and money in your pocket.

Hopefully we’ve sufficiently piqued your interest. Here are your next steps:

  • Stay informed of our group-buy opportunities and take advantage of the lowest pricing the promo product industry has ever seen (really). Sign up now at
  • Contact us at to schedule your complimentary ten minute discovery call. This will allow us to determine which part of our solution (internal group buying, external group buying, customized group-buy offers, etc.) makes the most sense for your ordering needs.
  • Become part of the ‘Topia, and do your own unique and surely impressive happy dance. We’ll leave you with this classic:

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

While we don’t feel it’s necessary to buy gifts just because it’s a holiday (hello, consumerism!), any day is a good day to show appreciation for mothers. Here are a few products that may inspire you to celebrate the mom(s) in your life in a thoughtful way. And remember, your own heartfelt words of love and gratitude for that special lady are one of the best gifts you can give!

1. For the artsy mom

Assorted card set by an Indianapolis artist and company, Inspire.

2. For the candy loving mom

Frittle is a new yummy treat that is nothing short of decadent…and addictive. (May we suggest the sesame version…)

3. For the rocker mom

An affordable and high quality speaker that fits in your pocket!

4. For the yogi mom

Yoga Paws are a unique yet practical product that mom may not buy for herself.

5. For the expecting mom

Warm bottle = happy baby. (Happy baby = happy mom.)

6. For the vintage-y mom
Well, vintage inspired. This necklace comes with a sweet personalizable message inside.