By Jeremy Bauer, General Manager of Embelex, Avery Dennison
This summer’s music festival finery included a range of unique Greggs-branded clothing and accessories available through Primark stores. In a clever collaboration of household names, fans could express their adoration of bakery chain Greggs by wearing the logo emblazoned on their clothing. The collection proved to be a quirky hit, and gave both brands plenty of publicity through national press coverage and thousands of social media photo-shares.
It’s a ‘random branding’ trend we’re likely to see more of. Thanks to advances in apparel embellishment technology, creative marketing teams and apparel manufacturers can easily develop limited-edition garment collections to share the ‘logo love’ during key calendar events, such as sporting tournaments and cultural landmarks. Avery Dennison’s Embelex garment embellishment division has the capacity to flex from producing a million items embellished with heat transfer logos, to just one, for instance. We’re hearing from a whole host of organisations keen to emblazon their brand on apparel and accessories in fun, innovative ways.
Messaging through apparel
Suppliers like us in the apparel industry understand how quickly brands want to get products to market, paying attention to customers’ interests and passions, and aligning with today’s ‘always on’ audiences. Innovative digital technology has come a long way in the last decade and is making on-product branding, graphics and trims quick and cost-effective to create and deliver.
Brands, bands and sports teams have long understood the power of messaging through apparel. From fashion designer Katharine Hamnett’s iconic ‘Choose Life’ t-shirts in the 1980s to Lionel Messi replica football shirts worn by millions, it’s clear there’s rich cultural value in wearing a famous name or slogan with passion and pride.
Coupled with today’s consumer thirst for personalised and relevant experiences, brands are pushing the envelope of marketing opportunities through embellishments on garments.
Applications enriching sports fandom
The sports sector is proving to be particularly pro-active in this respect. There’s strong recognition by the UK Premier League, and the US NFL, for example, which showcase how sports jersey customisation and personalisation can boost end-user satisfaction. In fact, according to GWI data, a third of global sports fans want brands to offer customised or personalised products, so it’s a trend worth jumping on.
With over 6 billion smart phones users worldwide, the opportunity for brands to engage with consumers is greater than ever. In the sporting realm, personalised experiences allow people to interact with their much-loved teams on a deeper level. Considering 2018 research by Episilon that suggests consumers are 80% more likely to purchase a product or service if a brand offers personalised experiences, it’s no wonder sports teams are capitalising on this.
With the advent of IoT, it’s possible to digitally enable physical embellishments on garments turning sportswear into digital portals in its own right. For instance, it’s now possible to embed smart embellishments into team numbers on backs of shirts and QR codes on sports jersey care labels. With a simple smartphone scan, the jersey owner can access an app or direct webpage and ‘unlock’ everything their team needs to celebrate its name and create unique digital experiences and offers.
Smart logos can unlock content
Today, every team in England’s Premier League wear digitally-connected shirts. Fans buying replicas need only scan the player name, number or Premier League lion logo with their smartphone to connect to exclusive ‘hidden’ content online, such as the Premier League’s Hall of Fame shirt competition which ran last season.
Offering these experiences adds interest and emotional value to fans’ garments. These digital triggers can also open up channels that enrich a team’s community focus or charitable activities. One great example of sports organisations engaging with fans emotionally and intimately is Common Goal’s tie-up with SoccerBible last year.
Common Goal is a non-profit organisation working to provide access to sports to under-served communities. The organisation’s first football kit featured a heat transfer QR code inside the shirt that directed consumers to a “thank you” message from Common Goal co-founder and ex-Manchester United player, Juan Mata.
Sealing social connections
Equally innovative was a US project Avery Dennison supported this July – the Stonewall Nationals in Cleveland, Ohio. Here, we partnered with Stonewall Sports as a Rainbow Sponsor for the 2022 Stonewall Nationals tournament and summit, a sports-filled weekend held for, and by, the LGBTQ+ community.
At the event, 1,500 Stonewall athletes travelling to the Cleveland area were given customised t-shirts on their arrival – with a range of specially made designs to choose from that would then be printed on-demand at the event. The gathering aimed to shine a light on the issues facing the LGBTQ+ community, and although only playing a small part, the customisable shirts were a novel way to spread important messages, creating a sense of occasion and inclusivity amongst the participants.
Suppliers are pushing the boundaries of embellishment tech, and at the same time, marketers are reimagining garments and logo embellishments as an interactive creative canvas and communication channel. It’s exciting to think about the endless opportunities to engage and entertain. It will be fascinating to see what stories unfold through shirts during the World Cup – Qatar 2022 – this November and which random brand logos will appear on music fans’ T-shirts during the festival season in 2023.
What’s certain is that every new emotional connection sparked by a garment and its logo is proof of the influential role heat transfer embellishments can play in our cultural landscape.