Melamed Riley buttons up (and so should you).
I’ve been working with Chicago’s own Busy Beaver Button Co. for a couple of years now. Button pioneer and dynamic entrepreneur Christen Carter has turned her dream of making buttons for her musician friends into a thriving small business that has overseen more than 50,000 unique designs for clients as diverse as Threadless, Burger King, and Missy Elliot, to say nothing of myriad other designers, non-profits, and small businesses. Busy Beaver produces, on average, three million buttons a year, which no doubt explains the company’s industrious mascot!
One of the reasons I love working with Carter and Busy Beaver is how environmentally friendly their products are. Their Chicago headquarters includes eco-friendly insulation, recycled-tire flooring, geothermal heating and cooling, and solar panels. Each and every button contains recycled local steel. Beyond that, customers have the option to request 100% recycled paper with their buttons. Busy Beaver is also active in the non-profit community, and will go above and beyond to deliver a positive customer experience.
One way they do that is via their Golden Button Awards, where they highlight the best buttons they’ve produced in a given year. Their most recent presentation included a people’s choice contest. One of my previous buttons was nominated, and for finishing in the final 10, I was fortunate enough to receive a $50 gift card from Busy Beaver. So I did what came naturally — design and produce a Melamed Riley button! What you see above is the handsome result, a one-inch button bearing our initials. If you look closely at the side, it also includes our website’s URL.
Another thing I love about buttons is how — in the modern ad world of augmented reality, QR codes, and other high-tech means of customer engagement – they remain proudly analog. You don’t need to scan a code to enjoy a button. You don’t need to reach an altered reality to appreciate their message. Buttons are as put-up-or-shut-up in their delivery as they are low-fi in their presentation. (Though, to be sure, you can put a QR code on your button, but you see what I mean.) As a creative, designing for the button is a wonderful challenge, one that puts an emphasis on simplicity.
Beyond simplicity, buttons are an affordable way to engage your audience in a memorable way. For instance, I was able to use my $50 Busy Beaver gift card to order three distinct sets of 50 buttons. That’s a lot of value. You can experiment quite a bit with them, too, as they offer buttons of all shapes and sizes — even with a glow-in-the-dark finish — and in a variety of custom packages. They make for a memorable impression, especially given their low cost. So the next time you’re considering promoting your clients (or yourself), don’t forget to consider the humble and versatile button.
And if you’re ever in Chicago, stop by Busy Beaver’s headquarters to visit their button museum!