How the new Nokia can make your promotional merchandise 3310 x better:

Gavin Drake

Gavin Drake

How can the popularity of an old phone be transferred to the world of promotional merchandise? Here we explore the factors behind the new phones popularity and how you can mimic this to promote your business:

At the end of February / beginning of March, the streets of Barcelona were abuzz with visitors from all around the world, all flocking to the Catalan city for one reason. Mobile World Congress. It’s the event of the year for those in the mobile industry. Scrap that, realistically, it’s the event of the year for anyone who is even remotely interested in technology. With many companies using it as a platform to launch new phones or technologies, MWC week has quickly become THE week for defining the technological changes, advances and trends for the upcoming year.

Yes, we were more than a little impressed with the innovations that were presented at the show. The advanced technology made it scarily easy for us to start thinking that the hoverboards in Back to the Future are somewhat so old fashioned. However, it has to be said that the most interesting take from MWC was not this. It wasn’t the never-seen-before inventions that drew in the crowds at all. Instead it was a 17 year old Nokia phone.

If you were at MWC of even checked Twitter during the congress, you’ll know where the busiest stand was – Nokia’s. The popularity and interest in the announced relaunch of the 3310 phone was, unexpectedly, astounding. All preconceptions of the MWC crowd attending the congress in order to be wowed by new technology were replaced. Instead, what arose from the event was the idea that a new trend is emerging in society – a trend of reversal.

Ok, so I’m guessing your thinking right now – “Cool, that’s er, nice of you to let me know. But what does this have to do with the fashion industry? Why are you rambling on when what I’m really interested in is promotion through printed merch?” Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten what we do. Strangely, the popularity of the retro phone can tell us an awful lot about what companies need to do to promote their business through merchandise.

Mind reading trick part two. Now you’re thinking – “OK, well that was obvious, you’re going to start ranting on about how retro is coming back. Great, you must think I’d been able to ignore the years of ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ being printed onto anything from T-Shirts to toilet brushes.” Don’t worry, unlike a hipster trying to convince you that they need those black rimmed glasses to see, we’re not trying to con you and fob you off with some long apparent fashion trend. No, the trend that the Nokia popularity shows us is something completely different. It’s not the idea of something just appearing decades old but the idea of what the item from decades ago had that items today oh so often don’t – Simplicity and reliability.

Think about it. The Nokia 3310 has long been used as a conversation point – “Remember when you used to lose your old Nokia and the battery would never die?” or “Candy Crush has nothing on Snake” (yes, there’s Snake on the new 3310). The common themes that people remember about this phone is the fact that it was trustworthy, reliable and simple. We’ve come through a period of rapid technological advancement, where increasing abilities have meant increasing complications of use. Now, that’s simply not wanted.

Realistically, is it any surprise that people are reverting back to the desires of comfort and reliability? If anything, 2016 has proved how fast the world is changing, how unexpected events becoming yesterday’s headlines can so easily happen. Isn’t it normal for people to look for some consistency in a time of uncertainty?

This is something that can be easily translatable to both the fashion industry and the business world. In terms of fashion, the idea of long-lasting, simply designs is fast becoming the dominant trend. In terms of business, you just need to watch a 5-minute ad break to see the growing popularity in businesses promoting their transparency and simple operational style.

So, if you really want your printed merch to bring high return on investment, simplicity and reliability are things you definitely need to consider. Here, we present to you two different ways you can achieve this, how design can promote simplicity whilst product choice can show your reliability.


Remember when the idea of having a T-Shirt with a glittery design, or even, dare I say it, the brightest neon colours possible, was popular? If you’re a similar age to me, I’m sure you’ll remember searching the high street for a neon vest to complement your glow stick bands. Did you just cringe? Well, at least at the time you could basque in the knowledge that, at the time, your fashion sense was spot on.

It wasn’t just teenagers that enjoyed the look-at-me-standing-out-trend, it was businesses too. For businesses, the popularity of printed T-Shirts with huge stand out slogans seemed like the dream. It got your company name out there, it got you noticed. Now? Model your merch strategy on this and you’re printed attire is sure to be shoved in the back of the wardrobe.

Yeah, the days of stand out designs are quickly dying. Just like the gold and black sparkly phone I used to have, it’s simply not cool anymore. People want designs that promote a sense of simplicity. Just take a look at the clothing that comprises the new spring season in the high street stores. Pastel colours and small, simple designs are dominating this seasons’ fashion trends.

So, if you want your merch to be used, this is something you really need to take into account when designing it. Go for simple logos, simple colours and delicate patterns.

Worried that if your merch takes this trend into account, you’re going against the rules of advertising and preventing your business from standing out? Don’t be. Creating something simple with a lack of a lot of information can actually encourage people to find out more about your business. When people get all of the information given to them on a plate, i.e company name, industry, photo of the owner’s dog, they are less likely to look that company up. Chances are this will quickly blend into the sea of advertisements seen everyday and quickly be forgotten. Creating a simple design can heighten the idea of intrigue, encouraging them to look the company up and put them on your trail for a sale. Thanks to smartphones, people are able to look your company up instantly wherever they are. Because, let’s face it, despite the popularity of the 3310, fashionistas are likely to have this phone as their show off phone with a secret iPhone hidden in their bag. By completing the simple action of a Google search, your company is sure to live on in, not just their search history, but their minds as well.


The idea of creating something that is long-lasting doesn’t just refer to printing technique, your product choice can also make a huge difference. You want to create something that people have the ability to use again and again, not something temporary or seasonal.

Pen? The ink runs out. Notepad? The paper doesn’t magically refill. Umbrella? I’ve lost count of the amount I’ve left in a bar or on the bus. All these items tie in with the trend of easy disposability, something we are trying to prevent. Did you get the new Nokia every few months because you smashed the screen? No, because unless you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger that’s pretty hard to do. They lasted, and this is what sort of products businesses need to focus on.

The answer? Clothing and bags.

Get high quality printed clothing or bags and you know they’re sure to last. A huge chunk of my wardrobe is full of promotional T-Shirts, hoodies and canvas bags that I’ve received. Giving away these items are always a sure favourite because the public known that not only do they last but they can get use out of them.


OK, I lied. I know I said that this article isn’t about the idea of retro coming back and the need for businesses to use retro merchandise. So far, I’ve lived up to the idea of writing an article about the comeback of reliability and simplicity in contrast to the comeback of things that look old. However, unfortunately, there is a still a part of Nokia’s popularity that is down to the fact that it just looks retro. Sorry. So, for my last suggestion, a quick look at a retro product you can use to promote your business.


Here, there is one product that comes to mind. A product that incorporates all previous points. A product that looks incredibly retro, can hold simple designs, can be printed on using high-quality techniques and is long-lasting. Are you ready for the reveal of this magical product?

A canvas bag.

Expecting something extravagant? Did you forget the popularity of the simple, one called brick-phone Nokia?

Yes, the canvas bag is the perfect way to promote your business whilst keeping on top of current fashion trends and public desires.

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