Are Your Promos Skateable? Lessons in Logo Integration from Street League Skateboarding
How easily skateable are your promos? As in, if I were to come up to your booth at a trade show with a skateboard, how easily could I use your promotional products to grind, jump, kickflip, etc.?
This probably isn't something you thought of before.
The world of skateboarding is so tied to the promotional products world, but a lot of the people in that subculture aren't as aware as, say, a writer for an industry publication about the promotional products world who also has been skateboarding for more than 20 years and obsessively consumes video content on social media. The T-shirts are embroidered and screen printed. The helmets and boards are covered in die-cut stickers. The competitions have medals. The list goes on. Logo placement is everything. Companies pay their riders premiums on logo visibility in magazine ads and in clips. Red Bull requires team riders to wear a branded hat at all times while on the job!
What the competitions also have are giant promos that double as obstacles, creating some of the most gnarly promotional products displays on Earth.
While watching a few clips from the practice rounds of this week's Street League competition in Sydney, I saw a video of a line of skaters doing the same trick one after the other on a ledge made to look like the Boost Mobile logo. The skaters dropped in on a ramp printed with the Boost Mobile logo on it, too.
— Street League Skateboarding (@StreetLeague) October 5, 2023
"That Boost Mobile ledge is just a giant promotional product that doubles as an obstacle," I thought.
Instantly, I remembered footage from previous Street League events this year. In Tokyo, it was a giant Nikon sign that skaters could grind or jump over. In Chicago, the ledges and rails were painted to look like Nissin Cup Noodles container. Other obstacles are painted to match the branding, with orange for Boost, yellow for Nikon, and so on.
— Street League Skateboarding (@StreetLeague) August 25, 2023
— Street League Skateboarding (@StreetLeague) July 15, 2023
In skateboarding, public property and signage are so often forbidden to use, but in these instances, it was encouraged to scratch up the sign, because it meant the camera and millions of eyes were on them.
Now, just like it's not practical advice to get Taylor Swift involved in your customers' brands and gain an army of Swifties as customers, it's not reasonable for me to say that your customers should all just sponsor high-profile skateboarding events and turn all of their promotional products into skateboarding obstacles.
The lesson here is about brand integration and placing a brand identity, logo, or general aesthetic into an event or other immersive display. You can do it so well that it doesn't even stand out as a logo, it just fits into the whole event and the consumer subconsciously digests it, until suddenly they realize they remember seeing the logo before while they were having fun watching skateboarding (or any other activity).
Yes, obviously, this applies to events where branded displays will be present, and in those jobs you should think about how the logo can do more than just sit in the middle of a sign. But this lesson extends to any promotional application. If the end-user isn't interacting with the brand itself, what's the point? Go deeper than just printing a logo on an item with your design and product choices.
Turn every promo opportunity into an event, not just a thing.