• 2017, A year in review

    Last year was a period of positive change at Bright Sparks, we moved office and put our heads together to redefine what we stand for. All this change culminated in a rebrand, which cemented a new focus on integrity, loyalty, creativity and delivering genuine brand value for our clients. We were ecstatic to be accepted as life members into the World Advertising Gift Exchange (WAGE). We’re so privileged to be part of this global network of merchandisers and are looking forward too many years of sharing ideas and collaborating with fellow WAGE members. For our clients, this means we’ll bring you exclusive access to a wealth of ethical supply partners and the latest promotional ideas from all over the world. Last year, Ella travelled in search of the latest promotional ideas, sourcing suppliers and learning from promotional companies from all over. She visited the Hong Kong trade shows, scouting new products and supply partners that fit with both our company culture and client needs. Ella also visited the WAGE members facilities in Linz, Austria and attended the annual Urban meeting. Hosted by Austrian Wage members Istac Promotion, it was a whirlwind trip full of knowledge sharing, inspiration, and new ideas.
  • The 3 P’s of Corporate Giving - Planning, Personalisation, & Purpose

    Planning Spring is just around the corner and Christmas is something between a faint memory of good times gone by and the promise of a summer holiday in the distant future. Even so, now is the ideal time to make a plan for corporate gift giving this Christmas. By planning ahead, you’ll ensure your gifts arrive when planned and keep your time free for wrapping up your own work towards the end of December. This time last year, we gave you tips to avoid the 3 pitfalls of corporate gift giving which highlighted the importance of putting thought into the gift itself. A gift that hasn’t been thought through runs the risk of missing the mark entirely, giving rise to the horror stories of people discovering, too late, they’ve given a bottle of wine to a recovering alcoholic. Here are our tips for planning your corporate gift giving and making it count. Avoid falling into rank with countless gift baskets full of well-meaning chutney and water crackers. How many chutneys can one person use in a 12-month period? Who’s on your list? A comprehensive list of recipients is the first step in nailing your corporate gift giving this summer. When it comes to the size of your list, less is more. If you’re planning a gift for only 10 key clients, a higher value or more personalised gift is more achievable than if you’re sending to everyone in your contacts book.A short list lets you leverage your time and budget to deliver something thoughtful, memorable and useful. In contrast, a larger list risks spreading your budget too thinly and failing to elicit a positive response. Don’t be afraid to offset your timing Timing is another factor you can you use to your advantage in order to avoid getting lost in the crowd of unwanted presents, mail outs and cards that everyone receives around mid-December. Plan to send your gifts two to three weeks either side of Christmas and alter your message accordingly. In the first week back at work after a break, who wouldn’t be pleased to receive a little pick me up? Personalisation Make it personal A personalised gift doesn’t have to be a friendship bracelet, custom made and engraved with the recipient’s initials. It doesn’t even have to be the gift itself that’s personal. A personalised touch can be as simple as a hand-written card. Take inspiration from the endearing quality of the hand drawn cards children make for a thank you, apology, special occasion, or just because. Even if the message is echoed across each card, an impersonal, printed greeting card with ‘Seasons Greetings’ or ‘Merry Christmas’ will never be as genuine as a personalised message written with a nice black pen. If your list of recipients is relatively small, opting for hand delivery is well worth it. Why? Because it gives you an opportunity to touch base with your clients, suppliers or employees, ask them how things are and whether there’s anything else you can do for them. Advantages of gifting over donations A donation to your choice of charity runs the risk of making it about your company and your values. For instance, a donation to a cat rescue fund may not be appropriate for someone who considers themselves more of a dog person. A tangible item has less chance of a negative reaction because it’s not tied down to the values and agenda of the charity in question. Purpose Take a back seat Your corporate gifts don’t even have to be branded. Or if they are, think about how you can do this in a subtle way. If you’re given a mug with ‘brand x’ written all over it, you’ll probably use it less frequently than a mug that you actually like. Representing your company can be more indirect, which is again is where the handwritten cards or personal delivery come in into play. Ultimately, think about word of mouth. Will your gift go beyond the employee lounge? A gift that becomes a talking point can be a blessing and a curse - becoming a ghost of Christmas gifts past, haunting you forever or becoming a carol singing your praise for years to come. Finally, what does the gift say about your relationship with that person? Giving a gift is about expressing gratitude, it’s your opportunity to extend a token of your appreciation and a heart-felt thank you to the customers, coworkers, and suppliers that keep you in a job. Bright Sparks 2017 Christmas Catalogue is available to download below - keep an eye out for exclusive products and our take on this years festive gift giving! {module_literature filter="item" itemId="177525"}
  • A New Chapter

    We’re excited to reveal the outcome of our timely rebrand as we settle into our new office, back in the heart of the CBD. A clean, refined design, our new look represents Bright Sparks' ongoing focus on integrity, service and solutions. It also reflects our fresh, imaginative company culture. We continue to work on the ethos that there is no request too grand or difficult and we’ll never shy away from a challenge. This contemporary outlook, combined with a carefully developed supply network, supports us to bring you a breadth of promotional solutions that are full of purpose and creativity. Bright Sparks began back in April 1995 in Southwark St, Christchurch. This combustive moment was fired up by Grant Furlonger and Derek Manning, who decided to go off on their own and leverage their combined experience in promotional marketing and related industries. Since then, Bright Sparks has grown into one of New Zealand’s leading branded merchandise companies. As we finalised our move to a new office, fittingly back on Southwark St, we developed this look with a nod to the company’s history and a clear focus on our direction for the future. Our new headquarters at Qb Central is the latest project by the workspace masterminds at Qb Studios. They’ve curated a network of workspaces in Auckland and Christchurch, with a focus on multi-purpose, open-plan work environments. Accented with art, design, and music, with an onsite café and plenty going on nearby, Qb Central provides the ideal environment to brainstorm new ideas & find merchandising inspiration. We’re getting to know our neighbours and love being a part of the growing business community in Christchurch central. We also want to take this as an opportunity to thank our loyal client base, from the small local companies to our larger corporate clients and non-profits; we wouldn’t be here without you. Bright Sparks Brands is about creating bespoke products from idea generation right through to distribution. At face value, promotional companies like ours provide organisations like yours with branded merchandise. As well as increasing return on investment, the goal is to foster customer engagement and enhance brands in a way no other form of advertising can. By acknowledging these drivers, Bright Sparks Brands continues to develop relationships with clients and suppliers alike to deliver promotional products that fuel game-changing brands. We’ll strive to give our clients an edge on the competition with a personalised approach to delivering products, and ultimately experiences, that leave a lasting impression.
  • The Latest in Promotional Merchandise – Top 5 Picks from WAGE

    After our change in ownership back in 2014, Bright Sparks applied for renewed permanent membership as the New Zealand representative in WAGE, the World Advertising Gift Exchange. WAGE is a global network of merchandisers and suppliers that drives ideation and social responsibility within the promotional merchandising industry. Through WAGE, we gain exclusive access to ethical offshore supply partners as well as collaborative opportunities with other members in the network. We call it our secret weapon! Each year WAGE members meet at a 3-day forum to share ideas and discuss global trends in the industry. Following this year’s Hong Kong Trip, Bright Sparks has returned, triumphantly, as the official WAGE member for New Zealand. Not only did we find inspiration for our own work at the WAGE forum, it also brought to light some clever promotional merchandising ideas from WAGE members across the globe. Each member presented their best creative ideas based on versatility, originality, a quirky concept or the story behind the product. Here are Ella’s top-5 picks from the presentations: 5) Collapsible Ice Bucket - Brand Name Marketing, South Africa This product gives a new take on the standard “ice bucket” we see repeated each year during summer. It’s practical, light weight, low cost and provides huge scope in terms of design. The laminated card seals watertight to keep your beverages cold while allowing for full CMYK digital printing. No design is too complex or too difficult. 4) Homo Digital Evolution Set- Project 111, Russia A clever play on early humans using a “rock and stick”, this Homo Digital evolution set is a take on evolution. This gift set celebrates the modern age when selfies have replaced rock paintings and we warm our hands from the glow of a smartphone. Prehistorically, a rock and stick were used to make fire but in today’s world the ‘stick’ is a selfie stick and the ‘rock’ is a power bank for 24/7 device charging. Striking the balance between humour and functionality, this set was an ideal gift for Project 111’s technology client. 3) Illuminated Apparel - Van Bavel Gifts & Premiums, Belgium Like a hands-free glow stick, Illuminate Apparel turns party goer’s t-shirts into a glow-ink canvas, offering a memorable alternative to the standard promotional t-shirt. It’s interactive, low cost with low minimums and can be customised through colour or branding. Could there be a better product for University orientation events or music festivals? 2) Fidget Cube – High Peak OY, Finland This is our pick for tech accessory! A 6-sided take on the desk-toy, the fidget cube is a purpose-built tool for your resident desk tapper, pen flicker or finger clicker. Fidget spinners are popular now, but the cube is here to stay. This is great for people with anxiety, behavioural issues or restless fingers as keeping their hands occupied can help them focus on a single task. There are even options for silent fidgeting and a smooth-surfaced side for relaxation. 1) Plush Toy - Dicke & Partners, Germany When this plush toy for a local sports club came back from production, the team from Dicke & Partners thought it needed a bespoke touch. After some community-minded brainstorming, they asked women from a local retirement home to knit ‘Alex the Rhino’ some miniature scarfs and beanies. Working to a tight deadline, they still needed more help. They got in touch with the local maximum security prison, where inmates worked alongside the retirees to knit the finishing touches in their city’s colours of black and gold. As the promotional gift award winner, Alex the Rhino has become an unofficial mascot for the city of Dortmund and an ongoing tool for community engagement. There were so many other great products from our fellow WAGE members, so keep an eye out for more top picks to come.
  • Generational Selling

    PPAI (Promotional Products Association International) have many informative Blogs but this one we see becoming more and more relevant in our New Zealand economy. PPAI have a clear vision - "The Promotional Products Association International advocates the power and value of promotional products in the marketing and advertising professions to ensure the success of its members and the global industry.” Through this powerful network we share with you some insight into the new generation of workers, sellers and buyers we identify as “Millennials”. Fresh sales approaches are essential if you want to reach and influence a new, younger market. As the wants and needs of the people we sell to change, the way we sell is also changing. Today’s new market is driven by the Millennial generation, and they have taken the majority spot among U.S. workers and potential buyers. Members of the workforce’s youngest generation are helping to challenge traditional sales models and creating the necessity for new approaches to supply chain management within our industry. While there are tested methods within our business that have worked and will continue to work, there is now a need to focus on new and emerging trends to help our industry continue to compete. New Consumer Behaviors It’s a well-known fact that consumers want to be marketed to using a familiar and relatable approach. This is true of generational selling as well. Certain generations trend more toward a preferred method of making marketing and business connections. For Millennials, digital connectivity and constant communication are the foundation for their lives. It was once thought that certain channels of digital connectivity such as Facebook and Twitter were trends that would become obsolete. However, these channels have become so integrated into everyday life that social media has moved from strictly personal communication to become a viable solution for business and marketing, too. The level of interconnectivity among the younger generation also continues to grow and their use of technology is unprecedented. As a result, a new level of consumerism has begun to trend along digital lines. This does not mean the days of interpersonal relationships are over, but it does mean that the way we access these relationships may look different. One of the most common misconceptions about the younger generation is that they are removed from interpersonal relationships because of the distractions caused by the continuous stream of tweets, online messages, posts and alerts. However, a recent industry survey found that relationships are the most critical element when it comes to Millennial purchasing power. This group ultimately wants to buy from people, not businesses, and certainly not just from the little blue screen. Yes, most of us are guilty of purchasing something online because of the ease with which we can obtain the product. But that does not have to be the standard for our industry. There is tremendous value in purchasing products from a person with whom we are familiar—and there is a reason why our industry cannot sell itself well online. Promotional products are tangible; static images on a computer screen are not. So where is the proper intersection of technology marketing and relationship selling? Transactional To Relational It is clear that Millennials utilize their understanding of technology integration as part of daily life. Good or bad, this group’s connectivity will never diminish from the level it is at today. This means that in order to market and sell to this group, the seller’s level of connectivity must be integrated into a marketing and sales plan. A full 100 percent of the potential Millennial buyers in the market access the internet every day; more than 80 percent access some form of social media every day for any number of business-related transactions. They take pride in the fact that they can become educated on any product or business easily by using the digital platform they understand best. This means that the companies they want to do business with, the products they want to use and the people they wish to connect with must have some sort of internet or social media presence. It is almost a certainty that if a Millennial wants to learn more about a product, service or company, they will not pick up the phone to call and inquire. Instead, they will access the information online. This leads to opportunities to build the relationships they value. They get a certain level of comfort from learning about a person, product, service or company using their preferred methods. It is at this point that the opportunity moves from transactional to relational. Once a Millennial has better knowledge about you, your business or your product, the actual interpersonal relationship can begin. Without this ease of access to information about you and your business, the relationship outcome would likely be quite different, if it developed at all. The most useful elements to a company website are your company story (we all have one), introduction of your staff members, your industry philosophy or value statements, and finally, your product information. Remember, websites can be a delivery method for a relational sales approach. Using online channels optimally within our industry is also a critical factor. When working to develop a level of trust and understanding among younger customers, understand that Millennials care just as much about how a business develops its people and contributes to society as they do about the products. We operate in a product-centric industry. Odds are, if a person is researching your company, they already know it’s a promotional products business but they want to better understand your company’s principles and practices. Websites and social media are great places to demonstrate how your business develops its people and contributes to society. These are things that make even the most similar companies unique. If a Millennial researches a company to determine if he or she wants to do business with that company, the search will likely be for stories about the company employees and the community the business serves. When communicating your story, it is best to think small. Start with a picture from an event, company meeting or something from around the office. Then, let the words flow naturally. This generation is a civic-minded and socially engaged group. The reason social media has become so popular is because this group wants that constant understanding about people. We all have stories to tell and something to share. This is true of both the sole-proprietor distributor and the 5,000-employee supplier. Don’t Sell To Them Studies and personality tests have shown that most Millennials don’t want to be sold to. They want to work to develop common goals and ensure that there is continuous mutual respect in any transaction. Being able to sell without selling takes careful consideration and can be approached in a number of ways. Dan Reading, vice president of Boise, Idaho, distributor In The Bag Promotions, has taken a number of steps to better reach his Millennial customers, and as a result has been exceptionally successful operating within the collegiate market. “I don’t think we will ever get away from the negative connotation people have about sales,” he says. “The first thing we do at In The Bag is remove the word sales from our titles. Those on our team who are responsible for developing and maintaining client partnerships are given the title brand ambassador. We also train our brand ambassadors to take a consultative approach with clients and eliminate suggestive selling. People purchase from us because of our product knowledge, our expertise and our passion, not because we only have something to sell.” The idea of taking “sales” away from titles is a tactic adopted by many successful companies in our industry because, in order to connect with the new, younger market, new approaches like this are necessary. But even with a new title, how does a salesperson fit in this scenario? Millennials often make purchases online because they are comfortable with the process and it helps them avoid engaging a salesperson in the transaction. Thus, the best way traditional industry companies can sidestep losing out to the online marketplace is to help younger customers understand the need for building personal relationships with our industry. Through personal interaction with a promotional professional they get the added value of consultation, assistance with proper branding, decorating expertise, quality assurance and continuous customer support. These elements of the sale cannot be obtained through exclusively digital experiences. Even so, companies that successfully achieve this level of selling to new, younger clients also do so without alienating existing clients who prefer the more traditional salesperson approach. Those who have built successful careers in our industry have a strong understanding about the importance of relationships. However, the Millennial group is going to continue to challenge this approach as the primary sales tactic. Companies that will reign supreme among Millennial clients are those who maintain a solid online presence and revamp their traditional sales approach to match the needs of Millennials, while reinforcing the value of relationships. Focusing on the following qualities will help create that unified success: Make sure your sites talk to each other. Is there commonality between your social media sites and your website? Is there a way to access each site from all the others? Tell your story and take pride in it. Does your social media page or your website only talk about product? If so, start talking more about people and community; product is a given. When selling, do you allow clients to communicate with you through email, text or a phone call? If not, what are your reasons for the limitation? Do you give back to your clients in some way? Is there an opportunity for you to do this to form more of a relationship? Feedback is a gift. Do you provide feedback to your clients to help them better manage their business and your relationship? Seth Barnett is PPAI’s diversity development and engagement manager.
  • The Bright Sparks Guide to Chinese New Year

    As our working year begins, when summer swims and barbecues are almost a distant memory, our supply partners in China will be signing-off for their biggest annual holiday; New Year’s Eve. On the Chinese lunar calendar, January 28thmarks the official start of 2017. While this major event goes largely uncelebrated in the western world, the team at Bright Sparks has Chinese New Year (CNY) firmly penciled in our calendar. Why? CNY shuts down every single production facility across China. While we’re always keen for a celebration, worst-case scenario, this multi-day celebration can result in severe delayson supply out of China.The official holiday lasts 9 days and most workers take the opportunity to extend their well-earned winter holiday for another week or two. Many suppliers are not back in business until two, sometimes three, weeks after the official holiday. Afteryears working with supply partners in China, Bright Sparks has learned to work around CNY.To avoid the unwanted stress of delayed or missing orders, we’ve put together this trusty guide for managing promotional supply during China’s biggest national holiday. Know your Chinese calendar While the CNY is set on January 28th, 2017, the extended holiday puts a halt to mass production far earlier than many buyers anticipate. Many businesses will shut down from up to 2 weeks in advance. Letting Chinese New Year go unnoticed increases the risk of missed deadlines and subsequent losses for your business. Bright Sparks will have a hard time reaching any representatives, including the sales people, throughout the holiday period. If you need productsshipped at any point in the summer/autumn season, then celebrations in China could well impact your expected timelines.Bright Sparks mitigate this risk by getting client orders in early.It is essential you have a clear confirmation on your delivery schedule well in advance so we can ensure they’re shipped before the big event. Extend expected timeframes Getting things back to normal takes time. The truth is that many manufacturers struggle to get back to a normal mode of operations in the weeks following the new year’s festivities. Some workers enjoy the holiday so much they choose not to return at all! Depending on the number of workers departing in secret, this can cause severe disruptions across the supply chain. It’s best to add some ‘human resource issue’ padding to expected timeframes for orders required immediately after the new year. Be ready for the backlog A large number of orders will begin stacking up from early December onwards, so the quality control risks are very real. Come the new year, this is stretching the manufacturers to maximum capacity. Without diligent quality control, this backlog can often lead to quality issues or incomplete orders. This is where our trusted supply chain comes into play. After years working with our network of suppliers, we’re confident they can maintain product quality and get your orders delivered on time. Quick tips for avoiding severe delays around CNY: Place your orders in time:Work with your account manager at Bright Sparks and ensure we are aware of your required timeframes. If you need your products by a certain date let us know and we can work with you to develop an ordering time frame plan. Keep things moving: Approving visual proofs and physical samples in a timely manner puts you higher up on the manufacturer's list to avoid unwelcome delays. Avoid placing last minute orders in January:Factories will be starting up again and walking into thousands of backlogged orders. To safeguard quality and reliability, we recommend giving them some time to catch-up.
  • 5 Day Working Wardrobe

    Whether you’re after a corporate look, apparel for a sports team or hospitality uniforms, Bright Sparks have comfortable, stylish apparel to suit. In line with our corporate clothing range, we’ve put together these top 5 tips for work week attire. Follow this guide to get through the week in style and avoid that ‘aaargh I don’t know what to wear’ moment. Choose Your Colours Pick some core colours that work together. Limiting your colour palette to a few of your favourites reduces the risk of ‘colour clash Friday’. By borrowing principles from the capsule wardrobe movement, you can get more variety without having a spending spree. Think about finding separates in colours that complement each other. When buying a skirt or trousers, a good rule of thumb is that each bottom should work with at least 3 tops. This trick is ideal if you work on reception or in an office at a business with a corporate dress code. The Shirt A plain, well-tailored black or white shirt is timeless, versatile and works with just about anything. In the words of Coco Chanel, “Black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony.”To change up a classic, experiment with rolling up the sleeves or pairing a buttoned-up collar with a statement necklace. If you’re tasked with sourcing uniforms for hospitality, opt for shirts with concealed buttons to avoid the dreaded accidental button-pop. A Quay shirt, with the mandarin collar and hidden buttons, is a great option for comfort and freedom of movement in a busy environment. The Pants Choose tapered or cropped pants over a wide leg style. Fitted trousers are simply more practical and they work with both flats and heels. You’ll have more options to mix up your footwear and there’s less risk of damaging the hems. Plus, with a cropped pant, you can do a sneaky switch to flats after a long day in heels! Experiment with Layers New Zealand weather frequently throws us a curve ball, so layers are ideal. A cardigan on a cool Friday is also a great way to rework a look you wore earlier in the week. Remember you are far more aware of your outfit than anyone else. Layering is an easy way to get more wear from wardrobe staples throughout the week. Make it Your Own Even though you’re at work, you’re still you. Take the opportunity to add a personal touch. If you’re required to wear branded clothing or a uniform at work, make it your own with accessories and styling. A quick up-do and a pair of heels can go a long way to dressing up a basic look. Planning a work uniform or need to update your teams branded clothing? Get in touch with the team at Bright Sparks for advice and supply on a range of wholesale apparel that’s made to order.
  • WAGE ...... Our secret weapon!

    Promotional products can often feel like a tired, ‘me too’ exercise with limited stand-out choices available. And yet, an inventive or personalised corporate gift can cut through the noise to keep your brand top of mind. As part of the quest to provide interesting products, Christchurch-based promotional merchandising company Bright Sparks is a member of the World Advertising Gifts Exchange (WAGE). The WAGE network of merchandisers and suppliers gives Bright Sparks exclusive access to innovative, ethically-sound supply partners offshore. As the only New Zealand-based company to hold membership in WAGE, Bright Sparks develop creative solutions for business owners who are looking for a change from standard merchandising catalogues. Bright Sparks director, Ella Webster says “WAGE enables us to break down barriers and gain exclusive knowledge on successful branded merchandise in other countries. We have 20 Business owners from 20 countries putting their heads together to deliver branded merchandise that is both unique and effective.” Each year, WAGE members meet in Hong Kong for an intensive 3-day forum to share ideas on supply, discuss global trends, brainstorm marketing initiatives and drive new product development. Swedish WAGE member Jonas Fahlen of Rodemreklam says "In a small country up in the north, it is difficult to keep up with everything that happens in the world. We need to have the best network for finding the most reliable factory to turn to and that is what WAGE is doing for us." Since selection for membership in the group, the WAGE 3-day forum has been a key date in the Bright Sparks calendar year. The team collect product requests from clients and exchange ideas with WAGE members at the forum before returning to New Zealand with fresh ideas. Robert Orrell, managing Director at Sydney-based Brand Promotions, a member for over 20 years, finds WAGE helps his team punch above their weight. ”It’s perfect for us. We are a small company but we get to enjoy the USD300 Million + buying power of the 20+ members and now we share the supplier data base of 2,400 handpicked and accredited factories in China.The ideas sharing aspect also helps us enormously. WAGE members get together at least twice a year and share their best 20 creative ideas. This gives us great creativity and ideation when working with our demanding FMCG clients.” Membership in WAGE has seen Bright Sparks grow into one of New Zealand’s leading branded merchandise companies. It puts them in touch with reliable, ethical international supply partners for everything from corporate gifts to bespoke items for managed merchandising programmes. Ella Webster believes this separates Bright Sparks from their competition and enables them to consistently meet client needs. “We have all heard the horror stories; orders not turning up, logos being done incorrectly or contact just dropping off. WAGE gives us a group of trusted factories that members have been using for 20 years. The comfort and assurance this provides our clients is primary in the service we deliver.”
  • Company Culture as a Point of Difference.

    One of the highlights of our job is partnering with clients and suppliers that share our commitment to developing a strong company culture. It is something our team has worked very hard to create. It is this culture that drives our way of working and creates our point of difference. We’ve found culture provides a common vision throughout our organisation; from the higher level decision making right down to the day to day. When you get team buy-in to the company values, mission and vision, it creates a sense of ownership and pride in the work being done. At Bright Sparks, our culture attracts companies that share our enthusiasm, inspire us to continue to improve and include us in the excitement of their own company’s success. Earlier this month, we were lucky enough to attend the Top 10 Holiday Parks annual conference as a preferred supplier. Many businesses reference their commitment to company culture but this event presented an opportunity to really see a well-developed culture in action. So, what did we do? Well, the question is probably better phrased, what didn’t we do? We began with the opening nights sponsor’s drinks. The following day, we embarked on an Auckland wide treasure hunt before a nautical themed dinner (dress-up compulsory). The fabulous awards dinner on the final night rounded the whole thing off. It was a week packed full of fun. The event blew us away in many ways, but the one thing that really stood out was the culture of the company. The conference celebrated the hard work and achievements of all 46 Top 10 Holiday Parks throughout New Zealand. It was a real eye opener and honour to be surrounded by people who had such enthusiasm, honesty, passion and pride for the company they represented. Check out the highlights reel below to follow some of our time at the Top 10 Holiday Parks 2016 Conference.
  • Got a unique brand?

    Tired of just adding your logo to generic merchandise? Want to individualise your corporate or sports teams' branding? The term 'bespoke' means to design a product with a specific customer in mind. Whether it is the colour, the shape, or a completely fresh idea, with a bespoke product, your brand will stand out from the crowd. Create tactile experiences for your audience that are sure to leave a lasting impression. Whether it's a customised corporate gift for an individual client, your club's mascot immortalised in plush, or a one off product for an event, a personalised product will highlight your unique point of difference. Like a tailor-made suit, merchandise made with your specific needs in mind achieves a perfect fit. By working with you from idea generation right through to the final product, Bright Sparks can create something that is both useful and unique to your brand. Get in touch with our team to discuss different aspects of customisation, from moulds to colours and full integration of branding; on just about any promotional product you can think of. There is no request too grand or difficult. Bright Sparks offer low minimum quantities, sharp pricing and generous timeframes to work within your budget and maximise return on your promotional spend.
  • 3 Pitfalls of Corporate Gift Giving

    Have you received a business gift that ended up in the back of the drawer or, even worse, in the bin? Given a corporate gift you were certain would bring results, only to end up with silence? Bright Sparks have put together our take on the 3 biggest mistakes in promotional gift giving. 1. Cultural Disconnect Knowledge of the recipient or lack thereof is the #1 mistake made when gifting. In a world where people are spending more waking hours at work than at home with their families, more companies are focused on cultivating a culture that reflects who their people are, their values, and their goals. With everyone on board, company culture sets workplace etiquette and creates an environment the whole team can be proud of. This is what many companies identify as their "X-factor". If you don't have a sound understanding of your client's culture then how can you gift something that speaks to what they value? Who is receiving your corporate gifts: Auckland -based client, overseas supplier, or referral from your mate down the road? With each situation and each recipient comes a unique set of expectations and values to consider. If your client is a stationary company, it will hardly go down well if you give them a case of promotional pens. NZ wide, clients may have different expectations when it comes to corporate gifts. Auckland clients will likely have a different ideal gift to someone based in Invercargill. There is no “one gift to rule them all” so select your gifts on a case by case basis. Even the most common gift or seemingly safe option can fall flat. Take Alcohol; you are making the assumption your client consumes alcohol and the dual assumption that they enjoy the wine, beer or spirit you have chosen for them. Can you afford to get this decision wrong and risk causing offence? Before getting out the company credit card, take some time to research your client's culture and find out what makes them tick. 2. Quantity over Quality Does your gift represent the essence of your company? Remember the age old saying “quality over quantity”. Your business will be judged on the gift you present in terms of functionality, style, durability, and quality. If your gift is disappointing to your client or evokes a negative emotion this negatively influencesthe client’s view of your company. Have you misunderstood your client’s needs? Have you offended them? Have you given a gift for a female when your client is a male? Think about personalization rather than giving a generic gift. Why not make it unique to your client with individually personalised promotional pens? NZ themed gifts are a great option for international travellers. For one of our clients, we incorporated their logo and a koru design to represent their organisationand incorporate some Kiwiana. Quality also means that you understand what ‘quality’ means to your customer. Ask yourself these questions:Are they focused on sustainable eco-friendly products? Is their positioning high end or low cost? Who’s their ideal customer? The quality of your gift needs to match the qualities of the client. 3. Making it all about you Giving a gift is not about you - that's right. Your focus needs to be on your client, not on flashing your own company in their face. Yes, you want your customer to remember who they received their gift from but if your branding is too obtrusive clients are less likely to display their gift or put it to practical use. Practice subtlety, a useful gift from you does more for your brand than a useless gift with your name on it. Remember you are thanking your client and gifting to them as an acknowledgement of them. Don't make it about you!
  • 5 Reasons Why Millennial-Focused Brands Cannot Afford to Ignore Social Responsibility

    1. Millennials are a huge group with growing purchasing power Millennials, also known as Gen Y, are typically defined as those born between 1980 and 1995. Their influence on today’s global economy can hardly be overstated, offering huge pro t potential for companies that win their business: Millennials are the largest generation alive today, counting 1.8 billion globally. Millennials account for over $1 trillion in consumer spending in the United States alone, and around $10 trillion globally. Millennials will outpace Baby Boomer earnings by 2018, when their spending power is forecasted to exceed $200 trillion worldwide and $2.5 trillion in the US. 2. Millennials hold brands to a high standard of social responsibility Social responsibility plays an important role in Millennial buying habits. In fact, 87% of Millennials are more willing to purchase products with a social or environmental benefit, and don't hesitate to switch brands in favor of one they consider more ethical. However, when the Millennial consumer is satisfied by the brand's product and CSR efforts, they tend to develop strong brand loyalty. A 2015report shows that 60% Millennials are often or always loyal to their chosen brands, especially when they feel that the company behind it listens to their feedback. These figures show that socially responsible companies can strongly benefit from a good relationship with Millennials, and vice versa: 91% of Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause; 88% would stop buying a brand's products if they learned of the company's unethical or deceptive practices; 82% would tell their friends and family about the CSR efforts of a brand they support; 86% want companies to tell them more about their efforts to operate more responsibly. 3. Millennials care about multiple social issues Compared with other generations, Millennials are concerned with a higher number of social issues. Their formative years took place in the era of unprecedented globalization and child labor scandals. They are also the first generation to grow up with “cause marketing” carried out by companies in support of a wide variety of causes, from anti-trafficking to world hunger. These factors have shaped their expectations for companies – namely, that businesses should solve social problems, not make them worse. In fact, 86% of Millennials expect that companies must do more than make a pro t, but also address social and environmental issues.Among the top issues that Millennials are expecting companies to address are: Economic development Poverty and hunger The environment Human rights Education 4. Millennials are willing to pay more for ethically sourced goods Research shows Millennials will open their wallets more readily for ethically sourced goods. More than half of Millennials seek out products with social responsibility benefits and will choose them over unethically produced goods.Additionally, among the 55% of global consumers willing to pay extra for socially responsible products, roughly half are Millennials. While low-cost retailers remain popular, unethical manufacturing practices continue to generate negative headlines for many of them. Millennials are more likely to leave a brand after learning about its unethical conduct, because they believe that their choice of brands paints a picture of them as a person.This is also why they tend to actively seek out ethical labels and cause-oriented companies. For example, look at the popularity of Toms, a company that donates a pair of shoes for each pair purchased at regular price. A base model pair of Toms sells for $48–which may seem a relatively high price for fairly simple shoes, but one that consumers are willing to pay, knowing that their extra expense funds a charitable act rather than the brand's bottom line. In addition to their giving programs, Toms also emphasizes supply chain transparency, regularly auditing their manufacturers to prevent unethical labor practices. 12 This example clearly shows that higher prices do not deter Millennial consumers from ethically sourced goods. 5. Social media gives Millennials massive in uence on other buyers If there was one de ning attribute of Millennials, it would be their use of technology and social media. Not only do Millennials make decisions based on social media perceptions, but they can also use social networks to directly confront a company about irresponsible practices, launch petitions or boycotts, and quickly spread negative word-of-mouth advertising. Social media is a key outlet for Millennials' activism. Roughlytwo-thirds of Millennials use social media to engage companies on social issues. Even more importantly, 26% of them take to social media to share negative information about companies that fail to live up to their commitments. Millennials are constantly connected. Millennials spend an average of 5.4 hours on social media daily. Facebook remains a popular platform for getting news, but the younger side of the Millennials is shifting towards other social networks, such as Twitter, Tumblr, and Reddit. Millennials wish to genuinely engage with brands. Brands that use social media for transparent and authentic communication will get more attention from the Millennials. On the contrary, companies that are overly promotional, self-centered or dishonest will have a hard time connecting with this group. Millennials are also known for being strongly in uenced by peer perceptions, with 90% trusting their friends for product recommendations,and 1 in 4 being less likely to purchase from brands their friends disapprove of. This influence is not limited to the same generation: Millennials also frequently influence their parents' buying decisions. Now more than ever, consumers are leveraging social media to effect positive change. A Facebook campaign challenging Hershey on child labor issues collected over 50,000 petition signatures, ultimately forcing the company to change its practices.Interestingly, Hershey had already signed an agreement promising to ght child slavery in the industry, over ten years ago, but only took real action when faced with social media pressure.