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T-Shirts Highlight Fundraiser

It was a sea of white in late May for the Yonkers, NY-based Paideia School 15 annual charity event – a 1.5-mile walk followed by a spring carnival. With more than 500 elementary school students – and quite a few parents – decked out in crisp white T-shirts, the day-long event was designed to raise money to benefit the Ronald McDonald House. And that it did, in spades.

From sales of T-shirts, food and tickets to carnival games spread across the school’s playground following the walk – as well as donations and sponsorships of students for the walk – the school raised nearly $16,000 for its chosen charity of the year.

“It was really a great day that brought out the best in our school and in our community,” said Michael Shapiro, principal of Paideia School 15. “The purpose of the shirts was to demonstrate unity for the entire learning community.”

In fact, for some of the students the T-shirts even became a yearbook of sorts, as they had their friends sign the fronts, backs and sleeves. It was all-over imprinting at its most basic. The T-shirts also served a purpose to raise money, as the school sold about 100 additional shirts at $12-$15 apiece (advance sales got a discount) for a total of more than $1,000. Plus, the school gave its teachers and staff red shirts with the same imprints to help them stand out during the event.

“The fundraising aspect of the event really went great, and the T-shirts certainly helped to give the whole thing a celebratory feel,” Shapiro said. “Our impression of everything was very positive. It was a continuation of creating a culture based on the importance of civics and responsibilities.”

Raising Pints & Funds For Firefighters

Guinness USA and Diageo continued its partnership with The Leary Firefighters Foundation (LFF) this past St. Patrick’s Day to raise money in support of firefighters across the country. The Guinness brand increased the fundraising initiative by releasing a series of limited-edition, firefighter-inspired T-shirts, one of which is designed in collaboration with country music superstar Brad Paisley, as a tribute to firefighters everywhere.

The Guinness St. Patrick’s Day initiative was used to celebrate those of great character and heroism who want to be and do more – qualities firefighters showcase every day. Throughout this year’s initiative, Guinness has also been raising a pint responsibly with local community events in honor of those who make great contributions to their communities – such as community leaders, military personnel, EMS workers and, of course, firefighters.

Patrons of legal drinking age were invited to celebrate National Raise Your Glass Day on February 26, by sharing a photo of their Guinness pint on Twitter, tagging @GuinnessUS, or posting it on the Guinness US Facebook page. For each photo posted, Guinness donated $1 (up to $100,000) toward its fundraising effort in support of firefighters.

“Last year, we raised more than half a million dollars for The Leary Firefighters Foundation, and we’re looking to raise even more money this year,” said Guinness Brand Director Emma Giles. “Firefighters personify the Made of More spirit through their selfless and heroic actions and do so without the expectation of anything in return. These brave men and women carry on the same enduring character that Arthur Guinness instilled in our brand more than 250 years ago.”

This year, the Guinness brand teamed up with Paisley to add his own spin to one of the firefighter-inspired T-shirts available for purchase, with all net proceeds benefiting The LFF. Paisley comes from a family of firefighters. “My father was a volunteer firefighter and showed me at an early age the sacrifices made every day by firefighters and how important what they do is to their communities,” said Paisley, who offered artistic input on one T-shirt’s design. “I’m so excited to be a part of the Guinness initiative, knowing their work with The LFF has such an impact on the safety, effectiveness and overall lives of firefighters.

The T-shirts were available through St. Patrick’s Day for a $20 donation through more than 1,700 in-bar events held across the country and at – the online hub for all philanthropic efforts surrounding the Guinness brand’s commitment to firefighters. All net proceeds raised went toward The LFF to provide the much needed funding for fire departments nationwide to receive equipment, technology and training necessary for the continued well-being of firefighters.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Guinness for the third consecutive year to support local firefighters across the country,” said Denis Leary, actor and founder of The Leary Firefighters Foundation. (See Leary’s video on the T-shirt here: “The Guinness brand’s commitment to honoring these men and women who go above and beyond to help their communities has been fantastic. With the help of partners like Guinness, the LFF has been able to implement initiatives such as a First Responder leadership development program for fire departments in Boston, New York and Worcester, MA, as well as donating more than $260,000 worth of fire and safety equipment to the Detroit Fire Department. We look forward to accomplishing even more this year.”

Answer These 4 Questions for a Better Understanding of Your Brand

randing isn't just for big businesses. Every company, from Nike to Nick's Plumbing needs to understand its brand and what it means to existing and potential customers.

Figuring out your own brand and how well you represent it may be a bit tricky, but it's a worthwhile exercise. The following four questions can help you determine if you truly understand your brand and the impact that day-to-day behaviours can have on it.

1. Do you have brand standards?
Simple things, including font and colour consistency across all communications can go a long way toward establishing your brand. Here's an exaggerated example: If you were an investment advisor responsible for taking care of your client's financial future, would you want this to be your brand font?

Jane Doe - Financial Advisor

If you, as a potential customer, saw this, would it inspire you to trust the company with your retirement fund? Of course not.

On the flip side, if you're trying to brand yourself as the low-cost alternative to your competition, using fancy letterhead or a prestigious-looking font can actually work against you:

Joe's Discount Emporium

2. How do you address customers or clients?
A very formal brand always refers to clients by their last name with an appropriate salutation, such as "Dear Mr. Smith" or "Dear John Smith." A moderately informal brand will often refer to clients by their last name, unless directed otherwise by the customer: "Hello, Mr. Smith" or "Hello, John." An informal brand will usually refer to clients by their first name: "Hi, John."

Beyond that, there are subtle but important differences in how you greet and refer to your customers in correspondence.

As a greeting, do you use "Hi"? "Hello"? "Hey"? "Dear"? "Attention"? Each of these conveys something slightly different. If you want your business to be perceived as fun, friendly and carefree, you might use "Hi" or "Hey." However, most businesses would fall safely into the "Hello" camp. More formal relationships would use "Dear" or "Attention" as it conveys a less-than-personal connection.

And what do you call the people who buy from you? Do you refer to them as customers? Clients? Patrons? A simple word change can impact the formality of the relationship. Consider how "one of our premier clients" has a completely different feel to it than "one of our favourite customers." Which is more appropriate for you and your company?

3. Can you pick a pen?
If presented with a collection of different promotional pens, could you choose the one (based on size, colour, weight, quality, etc.) that best represents your company? You may be surprised to know that most business people find that very difficult to do. And when they do choose, more often than not, they pick the wrong pen. But if you truly know your brand, it's an easy, instinctive choice.

If your company relies on trust, you wouldn't pick a fun, funky or cheap pen.

If your company appeals to people's playful side, you wouldn't pick the most basic, corporate pen available.

If your company is known for getting things done right, you'd keep it simple but temper it with high quality.

To practice this approach, you can also look at everyday items, including furniture, artwork, even coffee cups, and ask yourself, "If I had a waiting room, would I want this to be what potential customers see?" As you get better at answering that question, you'll get better at instinctively knowing your brand.

4. Do you live your brand every day?
Maintaining a professional image is important if you want to portray a professional brand. This applies to any aspect of your business that your customer will encounter. Your stationery, your storefront, your logo, your vehicle, your employees — everyone and everything that connects you with your customers needs to match the image you're trying to convey.

Here's another good brand identity exercise: Spend three days paying attention to everything that customers can and will see during your interactions with them. Then play a game of "which of these things is not like the others" to identify the points of contact that don't fully support the image you're trying to create.

With practice, you can become your own brand champion. You probably already know most of what makes up your brand. Just give yourself time to think about it and then get used to living it every day.

The overall benefit of having a strong brand is that your customers and potential customers will know what to think of you and, more important, when to think of you, i.e. at the time buying decisions are made.
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