It’s now time to choose ethical gifts that show you care about the environment.

I get very angry, when I’m out walking my two little pooches along the local beach, and find items of plastic that have been washed up on the shoreline. So much so, that I now carry a box with me, to collect discarded plastic items and take them to the recycling centre. I know this gesture isn’t as impressive as Rob Thomas, who recycles the plastic he finds on his beach to make kayaks for fellow kayakers to collect more plastic, but every little helps as they say.

Over the past 12 months TV programmes, like the BBC & David Attenborough’s excellent Blue Planet IIseries, have raised our awareness of the harm that single-use plastics are doing to the environment. Here at Redside, I make sure that all members of the Hartley tribe recycle the packaging we bring into our abode. And our beautiful home town of North Berwick is currently running initiatives for everyone to replace as much plastic as they can.

Thankfully manufacturers are now waking up to the public swell of unpopularity tow…

Why meeting in person to discuss branded gifts is SO important

Let me share a little story with you, about a prospective new client that I met recently. This recruitment consultancy, who work in the science sector, were contacting branding and marketing companies asking for their help. They needed to come up with giveaway ideas for an imminent trade show. To date, not a single organisation had offered them any assistance. Shameful! 
Those who know me, know that I love to brainstorm gift ideas with clients. So I grabbed my coat, hopped in the car, and braved the drifting snow from East Lothian through to Glasgow. It would be an understatement to say that the recruitment consultancy were literally blown away by the extra mile that I was prepared to go, in order to meet them. Especially as companies they’d contacted, and who were within their immediate vicinity, hadn’t even returned their calls!

Our meeting went on longer than scheduled. I know what you’re thinking here, and no, it wasn’t because I was talking too much! It was because we suddenly fou…

Bespoke gifts, handmade with love

When I’m not looking for exciting promotional gifts to brand for my clients, I adore getting all creative. And with Valentine’s Day almost upon us, that creativity is currently being channelled into my Heart Chunks. These are a little gift idea that I developed a few years ago, when I took a sabbatical to work with an up-cycling business and kickstart my artistic interests again.

I start by finding an appropriate piece of wood – it can be any size or type – which I then lovingly sand down. Next I paint a heart or two directly on the wood, before applying wax as a protective layer. Recently I’ve modified the design by adding wee cowrie shells, that I collect during walks on my local beach, to the heart shape. I love the different colours that their exteriors provide and the variation in texture they add. 

Thanks to the materials and colours that I choose, each handmade Heart Chunk I create is unique. I guess that’s why they've proved to be such popular gifts with friends. A couple…

Making sure your branded merchandise is fit for 2018

I adore working with clients from the hospitality and leisure sector, they’re always such fun! Like Hastings Hotels for example. My association with them stretches back over a number of years.

For those not in the know, Hastings Hotels is Northern Ireland’s premier hotel group. Established by Sir William Hastings more than 50 years ago, their portfolio now consists of six luxurious properties across the province. Two of their five star hotels - Culloden Estate and Slieve Donald – include wellness therapy and health facilities called The Spa.

January, and the start of a new year, is traditionally the time when people decide to embark on a new fitness regime. So it’s not surprising to learn that the The Spa, in both locations, are super-busy. Hotel guests and non-residents are enjoying the excellent facilities and wonderful array of therapeutic treatments, that they provide. It’s also not unusual to find the odd visiting celebrity enjoying these havens of tranquility too.

Originally Ha…

A bespoke seasonal gift that doesn’t cost a fortune

Photo Copyright: Rhona Hartley
I’m always surprised when people say to me “But I thought corporate gifts died after the Millennium!” I smile and tell them that branded gifts are very much alive and well. There will always be a time, in the life-cycle of every organisation, when it suddenly finds a need for branded merchandise or requires personalised incentives to reward staff achievements.

Often the next statement I hear is “But we can just go online to find what we need.” True. You can. But ask yourself will the items you select be original, appropriate and have longevity? Probably not. That’s why my clients come to Branding Up. They recognise my ability to think creatively, value my wealth of product knowledge, and rely on me to deliver to their time and budget constraints. To demonstrate all these points, here’s a little example of what I’m talking about.

I noticed that a UK high street retailer - the one that’s all magic and sparkle - is promoting its corporate gifts this holiday…

Helping to brand those, who are dedicated to helping others

Have I told you that Branding Up works with Erskine, who have been caring for UK veterans throughout Scotland since 1916? The observant readers amongst you will have looked at that founding date, and already worked out that this wonderful charity recently celebrated their centenary anniversary.

In the run up to their historic celebrations, Erskine contacted me and asked if I could source several items that they could incorporate into their 2016 Centenary Merchandise. My suggestions included a mini decanter set, a pashmina, gentleman’s tie, a compact mirror, and an Erskine Centenary pin badge.

All these items were stylishly branded with a logo that was derived from a broach worn by Princes Louise. Louise was the sixth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and gave her name to the Princess Louise Scottish Hospital, which was what Erskine was originally called when it was first established.

Thrilled to report that Erskine were so delighted with the quality of the gifts I found fo…

Halloween treats that will leave everyone screaming for more!

Photo: Copyright: didesign021 / 123RF Stock Photo

“Scary Biscuits!” The little girl shrieked.

“Yes,” said her mum, as she finished brushing the black and green hair and popped the witch’s hat on top of her daughter. “So don’t forget to take the basket for your goodies!”

“Can you remember your poem?” the mother asked.

The little girl thought briefly, took a deep breath and then recited:

“One dark cold October night,
Three little witches gave you a fright.
One was in red, and one was in green,
And the third one was screaming ‘It’s Halloweeeeeeeeeeen!’”

Traditionally Halloween was celebrated by the Celts. It marked the end of summer and the harvest-time with the beginning of the darker winter months. The Celts believed that this point in the year was also when the worlds of the living and dead interacted with one another, and ghosts returned to earth to cause mischief and mayhem.

These days Halloween is an altogether more commercial event. Parents now purchase elaborate costumes for t…