‘Recognition Should Emit Emotion’; Cristaux’s Samantha Hausen Talks Trophy Trends

There are few events where smiles are unanimous—ice skating and charades perhaps. Another one is an awards showcase, the kind that SIIA held last month at the legendary Tabard Inn in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the presentation of our inaugural IMPACT Awards. A big reason for the smiles is the beautiful trophies you see here. In this Q&A, we ask the trophy maker’s marketing manager about industry trends.

“Something that we pride ourselves in is that recognition should emit emotion, and it should be something unique and modernized. And we’re trying to shed the weight of how the world used to be where it was like a wood plaque or an acrylic square, or you name it. And so we truly find unique ways of matching materials together for maximizing on whatever it is that somebody would like to see be put into the hands of the recipients.”

That quote comes from Samantha Hausen, marketing operations manager for Cristaux Awards, a trophy/awards company that has worked with SIIA for years—especially for the CODiES—and creator of the trophies for our inaugural IMPACT Awards this year (shown here with the winners).

The IMPACT Awards provide an extension of SIIA’s continuing commitment to support members in achieving better outcomes in diversity, equity and inclusion and to spotlight and develop outstanding young professionals across the publishing industry. And a big reason for those smiles is the trophy that each person proudly holds.

“Awards are very singular,” Hausen said. “We try to stay very—I don’t even know the word I’m looking for here is—but it’s on a grand scale. Recognition touches so many different parts of that space.”

Ronn: Can you talk about your process a bit?
Samantha: We’ll walk through people’s processes and suggest the best way to work with them in their program. And what’s unique is that we have a team that is able to share their knowledge on many aspects of a design to complete a vision. So we really take pride in teaching and informing in that sense to offer tons of different solutions… And within our creative designing phase, we have what we call our industry experts. They’re engineers in their space, where they understand material weight, space. How it can it be digitally printed, etc.

What are a couple trends you’ve seen over the last year or so?
Samantha: Materials have become [more] unique, and a lot of people are stepping into the 3D printing space. You can practically create any singular type of design that you want, any object. And so we’ve come up with some four-foot tall pieces to something that’s really abstract. People are expanding their minds to, “I want to do something with eco-friendly materials,” or “I want to do something that really showcases my brand with some bright colors instead of a wood plaque.” So that’s becoming more of the center focus—the brand storytelling. Also, the PMS color matching is huge. A lot of clients come to us and say, “I want to infuse this type of orange,” but it has to be the specific numbering for that. So you dream it, and we do it somehow.

Brand storytelling seems to be everywhere now.
Samantha: Yes, that has become a big, big trend. People want to embed their logos but in a way where they can create something unique. Like the actual piece becomes a logo itself. Functional awards are becoming big, too—things that can be used long term. So we’ve seen things where maybe it’s an employee recognition program, and you have certain magnets that are given for service. Whether it’s five years, 10 years, and then people collect those, and they could put it on, some sort of piece that’s been designed for the brand. There’s a few of them that build puzzle pieces over the years that you can collect. So these functional awards don’t just sit on your desk and look nice. They’re things that you can interact with.

What if people want additional awards?
Samantha: We run something called microsites, where recipients can go back and order extra awards—for the rest of their team or for additional partners or anybody who is involved in. We also offer inventory management, which is huge… We try to help make sure a program is running, and that they’re in the hands of your recipients when you want them… We actually had something in place before COVID called Drop Shipping, where we can send directly to somebody’s doorstep, and it’s a process that we’ve evolved over the years.

Was the DEI angle one reason you got involved with the IMPACT Awards?
Samantha: Absolutely. We’re definitely seeing more of those, and we’re actually a part of a DOBE [Disability-owned Business Enterprise] network [as well as the Disability Inclusion Network]. So we’re certified as a disability business. We’re seeing the diversity index [rise], and even just supplier diversity becoming a huge thing. Anything that’s a women-run business [is huge now]. It’s cool to see that things are ever evolving in that sense where we’re not just praising the companies for the money they make. There are so many different companies out there that are running some diverse recognition programs. And we’re thrilled to be a big part of those.

Thank you, Samantha.


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