Hats make parties and events more festive, shield golfers from the sun at charity fundraisers and signal team pride at sporting events. Their total value as useful, everyday items is matched only by their sheer variety. From chefs’ hats and Santa caps to knit beanies and fedoras, there is a hat—or hats—for practically any occasion.
Of course, headwear works to bolster brand recognition, too. A PPAI research study titled “The Influence of Promotional Products on Consumer Behavior” found hats and caps are second only to shirts as the most-recalled wearable items among end users.
For headwear to be supremely desirable, and therefore supremely effective, distributors choose trendy head pieces and then deploy creative decoration techniques with the goal of designing hats and caps that are unlike anything their end buyers have seen.
When Regina Munroe, president of San Carlos, California-based distributor Inproma (UPIC: inproma), was selecting caps for a recent PPAI Pyramid Award-winning employee recognition campaign, she sought to offer one-of-a-kind options that couldn’t possibly have been plucked off of a retailer’s shelf.
“We used these caps to show off the best in the company,” Munroe says. “It would dilute the program to find out someone had the same cap and did not work hard for it.”
The purpose of Munroe’s campaign was to recognize field technicians working for a cable company, so the target market—men who spend a lot of time outdoors—was perfect for a baseball cap style.
Wearing the cap signaled the employee had achieved specific performance metrics, so Munroe sourced caps that fit with the latest trends so they would truly seem like rewards. The styles she gravitated toward included:
Flat bill. Caps with flat or straight brims on the front, usually made with six panels
Plastic snapbacks. Flat-billed caps with plastic size selectors that snap into place
Flex fit. Caps with an elastic-lined rim for a snug yet adjustable fit
After choosing the most fashion-forward styles possible, Munroe wanted to take things a step further and use unique decorating techniques to make the caps pop.
“Decorating multiple locations is a good way to increase the advertising value of a cap,” says Jeremy Laney, EVP marketing at Bentonville, Arkansas-based supplier Outdoor Cap Company, Inc. (UPIC: OUTD1200). “Whether it’s embroidered domestically on the crown front, back and sides or embellished with endless options overseas, multiple locations are the way to go.”
Munroe ultimately chose a step-and-repeat pattern across the bill and front panel overlapped by a large embroidered logo on one snapback style, and a contrast-colored panel paired with an embroidered design on the bill to create an asymmetrical effect on a second, curved-bill style.
Laney says the sandwich visor, undervisor and even seam taping are unique areas to embellish, but he warns that some decorating techniques are more easily done overseas. “Custom programs overseas also provide the ability to blend or layer techniques to create a dimension to the cap that is tough to do domestically,” he says.
Since the inception of its client’s program, Munroe says Inproma has produced 10 different custom caps for use as recognition awards at the cable company. Along the way, the distributor has focused on uniquely decorating each one.
“You name it, we have used it,” Munroe says. “We try to make every cap unique and therefore use as many decorating techniques as possible.”
>>Five Fun Ways To Customize A Cap
1. Decorate the back part of the cap above the closure, as well as the front
2. Use dimensional decorating, such as rhinestones and crystals
3. Add vintage appeal by using different font styles, such as college or cursive
4. Multiply the exposure of a logo or message by using step-and-repeat patterns
5. Use “steel threads”—custom die-stamped designs on metal disks or plates—for a unique logo display
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