Ordering a sample deal toy is a wise move, but a pointless one if you’re not attuned to some potential issues and problems.
For an infinite number of reasons, there can be problems with deal toys.
One of the most egregious examples making the rounds long ago involved the mention in the deal terms of a bond…
….only it was spelled “bong”. More precisely, the line allegedly read “Inaugural Global Bong Offering”—in bold.
Not the type of thing you want to have to explain to a client—or your MD.
So you’ve been given the task of handling the deal toys for your team and, so far, things to be going pretty well.
You’ve found a tombstone company, helped finalize a design, and made sure the costs were compatible with your budget.
You’ve even ordered a sample piece in advance of the order—just to make sure that there won’t be any issues.
But let’s face it. Given the demands on your time, it will be tempting to give your newly-arrived sample piece a quick once-over, a perfunctory “looks good to me”, and get on with your day.
That would be a real mistake…
Your Sample Deal Toy Checklist
Yes, it’s true: odds are that you won’t be the only one vetting the tombstone sample. So if there’s a problem with the design someone on your team will most likely catch it.
But do you really want someone else on the team–let alone your MD–to be the one to spot the problem? The problem with something you have been given the task of handling, and of making your deal team, group, and firm look good?
Some of the items in the checklist below may seem painfully obvious; but again, you have a considerable number of demands on your time—and your attention. This is precisely why you should safeguard against oversights.
To help you do just that, we’ve compiled a 7-point deal toy checklist below.
1. Does the Tombstone Text Have Any Typos? (And Did You Use Any “Place Keeper” Terms?)
This is the type of mistake that can often be the most glaring—and embarrassing. Be sure to review the text word for word.
For instance, are all the entities identified by their precise names? Also, be especially alert for any last-minute changes made to the text—typically to the deal amount or date.
Finally, be especially cautious in cases where you ran the sample with provisional terms. Be sure to have those finalized before the order. You want to avoid running your entire order with the deal amount listed as “XXXX” or with “Date 2019” appearing at the bottom.
2. Does The Sample Deal Toy Match The Artwork?
Understand that deal toy production overwhelmingly involves low-quantity runs. Regardless of the materials involved—acrylic, crystal etc.—manufacturing “runs” usually involve relatively small batches with much of the processes being done by hand.
The fact that much of the production of your deal toy was done by hand means that slight discrepancies in dimensions are unavoidable. Pieces may have dimensions that vary from those given in the designs—and dimensions might also vary slightly from piece to piece.
What should concern you are significant deviations in dimensions, as well as complete departures from the agreed upon design.
This isn’t as dumb as it sounds: mistakes can be made, and signals can get crossed. The agreed upon design could have been a wedge shape (similar to a rectangle except the bottom is noticeably thicker than the tapered top), and the piece actually produced could merely be a straightforward rectangle.
Or the discrepancy could be a lot more subtle: were the beveled edges shown in the artwork actually done? Was the logo that was to be laser-etched on the back included?
3. Are All The Logos Correct?
Are all the logos of the parties correct?
Again, this seems like a fairly obvious point of examination; but checking on logos can mean more than confirming the entity name and the proper colors.
Keep in mind that the same logo/s will frequently appear more than once in a deal toy—and sometimes will appear in different media. Are the colors consistent?
Obviously you should also double-check your bank’s logo as well.
4. Is The Tombstone Text Hard To Read?
The deal text needs to be the centerpiece of the design—and not being able to read it is something more than a design flaw.
Also check font sizes. Are they legible and consistent? Is the bolded text consistent?
Finally, and most importantly, keep in mind that many deal toys will be placed in front of a dark surface, such as in a bookcase. When you do precisely that, is the text still legible? (This also explains why it rarely makes sense to design a piece with black text and a clear back: no one outside a 1″ radius will usually able to read the parties, let alone the deal terms).
5. Does The Piece Give Prominence to Your Client?
This is another crucial, though sometimes neglected point.
Your client needs to be the focal point of the design. Are there any legibility issues with respect to your client’s name or logo? Is your client’s name or logo in any way dwarfed by another party’s.
6. Does The Deal Toy Design Make Sense—Both Aesthetically and Practically?
Personal tastes, as we all know, can vary.
That being said, the aesthetic side of this equation is usually going to be pretty straightforward: members of your deal team are usually, on a gut level, either going to like the sample piece or not. In the vast majority of cases, the sample piece will either be approved without change, or with only a few tweaks.
The practical design aspects of the your deal toy sample can be somewhat trickier, and less apparent. There are many possible considerations here, but they might involve questions like: is the piece sturdy, or is it prone to tipping over? Does the design seem too fragile or prone to breaking with wear? Did a component of the piece arrive scratched or damaged—or did it break sometime after arrival with only normal handling? Did the spinning element that looked so neat in the artwork stick or fall apart?
7. Are There Any Potential Shipping Problems with Your Deal Toy?
Damage to the sample was mentioned previously; but this question goes a little beyond that.
Do you anticipate any shipping issues with the piece? Is it, for instance, fragile or prone to scratching or damage of any sort?
Any of these issues may point to a flaw in the design of the deal toy itself. On the other hand, they may simply point to some logistical alterations. For example, crystal pieces are almost by definition prone to breaking. Perhaps instead of handing the deal toys out to each individual recipient at a closing dinner or some other event, you can arrange with the deal toy company to have the pieces sent instead directly to their offices.
Keep this in mind if you plan to distribute the pieces at an event, such as a closing dinner. Inevitably, some or most of the recipients are going to inspect their deal toy right then and there. Are you comfortable with the prospect that they will most likely re-pack that piece hastily when leaving the event—maybe even carelessly?
After all, you’re the one who will be fielding requests for replacement pieces should any repacked pieces suffer any damage.
Again, having all but a few pieces sent directly to recipients–rather than the event itself—will minimize the likelihood of having to replace fragile deal toys .
David Parry is the Director of Digital Strategy for The Corporate Presence and Prestige Custom Awards, a designer and provider of deal toys and custom corporate awards, ranging from creative employee and client recognition awards to the NFL Commissioner’s Awards and ESPN’s ESPY.