Fresh New Ways to Recognize and Reward Your Employees
Hallmark Business Connections is excited to announce the latest refresh and expansion of its greeting card and award certificates to reflect the evolving needs of employees in the workplace.
The refresh of greeting cards and awards began with strategic planning and a deep dive into the ways corporate culture has changed over the last several years. “The workplace tends to be more casual than it has been in past decades,” says Shelley Patenaude, Product Manager. “There’s a greater percentage of Millennial employees than ever before, so we wanted to be sure we were developing new product that spoke to those employees and managers, as well as product that resonated with Gen X and Boomers.”
According to new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, Millennials have officially surpassed Generation X to become the largest percentage of the workforce. This growing group’s needs are different than those of previous generations, putting emphasis on workplace values like flexibility, authenticity, and recognition of the whole person—not just the milestones that occur from 9 to 5.
Armed with these insights, the team uncovered several opportunities to create designs appropriate for life events like birthday, wedding, baby, and sympathy, in order to give employees and managers even more opportunities to connect with each other in meaningful, memorable ways.
The team also explored ways to expand on employee recognition. Customer feedback pointed to a gap in the line for product that helps employees support each other in a casual peer-to-peer way—whether the situation calls for a “hang in there” level of coworker support or a “you’ve got this” type of encouragement.
In addition to expanding on existing employee recognition categories, the team created a greeting card specifically to recognize safety and developed a line of cards to celebrate milestone years of service anniversaries. “We know that recognition is a key factor in employee retention,” says Patenaude. “We wanted to introduce product that acknowledge and thanked employees for their loyalty and service.” The new Years of Service line helps employees celebrate workplace anniversaries from five to 25 plus years—and every year in between.
Creative exploration for the new greeting cards and awards began by examining the wealth of resources shared between Hallmark and its subsidiaries. This included taking a close look at current trends in the marketplace, as well as existing Hallmark assets and creative resources. “We’re a part of the same community and we’re all very aware of what each other is working on, how consumers are responding, and the buzz in general,” says Mark Mills, Editorial Director. His partner on the refresh project, Senior Art Director Helen Fahler, agrees. “Incorporating Hallmark’s unique design, lettering and editorial assets allows the product we create to be unique to our platform. Borrowing the work from Hallmark illustrators, lettering artists and designers was a way to bring warmth to our line of greeting cards and awards in the employee recognition space.”
Studio Ink, the Hallmark brand geared toward Millennials, was also on the team’s radar.
“Studio Ink is perceived to be more contemporary in its visual style and more casual in its voice,” says Fahler. “It was a great resource and influence when it came to refreshing our line to meet the needs of this growing Millennial audience.”
Not only did several of the new greeting cards borrow from Studio Ink’s trend-breaking designs, illustrations, lettering and editorial, but the team was also influenced by the non-traditional size of the cards, which Fahler believes gives them a more intimate, special feeling.
Award certificate formats were given a refresh as well, with the personal message space moving from center of the awards to left-alignment. “Opening the designs up to left-alignment really gave us the opportunity to have more creative freedom in bringing the designs to life, “says Abby Sweet, Art Director. “That simple shift really refreshed the designs in general, giving them more of a greeting card-like feel.”
Altering the format for award certificates also gave the team a chance to incorporate more card-like sentiments as well—including new editorial options that resonate with Millennials. “When the personal message space of the awards was centered, it was very difficult to incorporate more than a few words into the design,” says Dana Babler, Editorial Director. “Moving the personal message space to the left meant that we could incorporate warmer, more meaningful sentiments.”
Both the greeting cards and the award certificates went through several revisions between ideation and creation to ensure that the range was appropriate for a wide range of corporate cultures and industries, from white collar to blue collar.
“We would gut check the designs across a matrix that spanned from business suit to business casual,” says Sweet. “We wanted to be sure the line covered off on all of the varying corporate cultures out there, and that everyone had a voice.”
All in all, the refreshed line of greeting cards encompasses more than 56 designs, and the new line of award certificates includes more than 32 designs inclusive of both work and life events. Many of the new greeting cards include an area on the left inside panel for including a monetary value as an incentive, allowing the recipient to choose from a gift card from hundreds of top-name brands. Award certificates are available to send with our without an included monetary amount as well.
The individuals behind the refresh aren’t the only ones excited about the new and improved look and range. Hallmark Business Connections clients also love the new additions to the line, and their ability to connect within the workplace in more ways than ever before.
“The new additions to the line definitely expand the design and editorial range,” says Fahler. “We were able to help balance the more formal, tailored designs with casual, colorful, uplifting concepts so that people can connect in a way that’s more fun and more needed—especially in the workplace!”
We’re proud of the hard work between key players in Creative, Marketing, Product, Operations, IT, Partner Operations and our Print teams, and we hope that the final product gives employees plenty of ways to share big and small moments together.