A great laptop bag is the essential accessory for business people, and for promoting your brand.
The usual target of promotional merchandise is other businesses, often via conferences or client sales and support, usually called B2B or Business to Business. Inevitably, many promo items are business tools – pens, memory sticks or notebooks, for example. But what business tool these days is as essential than a laptop?
Now, while it's unlikely your marketing spend will stretch to a free MacBook Air or Asus Chromebook, a laptop bag is a great accessory and the ideal promotional platform because it will get used every day, and put your brand prominently on show every day too.
But it doesn't stop there, the end recipient might not actually be your customer or potential sales lead. Many of the bags we sell are used by company employees to simply carry out their daily work: remember, it's not just salesmen or managers that routinely use portable computers.
From electricians to plumbers, delivery drivers to washing machine repairmen (or women) computers are a part of their job, checking stock levels, consulting online libraries or filling in "paperwork".
At Bags of Ideas, we appreciate the demand for all types of laptop, ultrabook, notebook and tablet cases, from giveaway tablet sleeves – with branding – costing from less that £2 per unit, to tough, stylish and practical wheeled trolley cases, ideal for the international traveller, and competitively priced starting at less than £75 per unit.
What you need to look for
Notebook cases come in almost every shape, size, material and price range. Your ultimate decision will come down to the intended purpose, choice of material, protection level and brand customisation.
We recommend starting with a clear idea of what your target market is, by asking yourself these four questions:
- Will it be exposed to the elements?
If yes, best to avoid open-ended totes.
- How durable does it need to be?
If it's going to be used occasionally – for example, taking the equipment through an airport check-in – your requirements will be different to that required for the rough and tumble of the daily commute.
- Will it just be used to carry the notebook/tablet/laptop?
A simple sleeve used to protect a tablet inside a larger briefcase or rucksack will obviously be smaller than a travel bag on wheels, but in between there will still be a need to be able to store power cables and adapters, books, pens pencils and even a bottle of water.
- How long will the user be carrying it?
A Neoprene laptop sleeve may be fine if you're carrying it between lecture theatres, but a day spent with it under an arm will tire out muscles and fray nerves. If that's the idea then a backpack is more suitable.
Notebook computers are typically classified by screen size, with 14/15in and 16/17in being today's most common dimensions. It's important that the device fits snugly within the space, with no more than 2cm or so of "wiggle room". In the event of an impact, for example, with a desk or other furniture, the equipment should be held firmly in place.
Larger carriers like backpacks and briefcases usually come with an interior compartment for the laptop, notebook or tablet and as a general rule of thumb there should be 20% more capacity in the rest of the bag for all accessories.
Material questions you should consider
Your answers to the first two questions above are important; the more a bag is to be used, the more sense a well-made one makes. Take note of these signals of good – or bad – quality:
Seams and stitching: check the stitches on the leading edges. Quality bags will have heavy duty double-stitching and for durability the stitches will be on the inside of the seam where they are less exposed. And unless you're actually looking for an "artisan" finish, the stitching will be consistent, inside and out. Quality manufacturers don't cut corners.
Material: Many of the Laptop Bags we sell at Bags of Ideas are made of Nylon, a versatile man-made textile which comes in many different finishes and characteristics. It is usually rated by "Denier" – the same term used for spangly tights and seamed stockings – but instead of a sheer 10 Denier used for hosiery, exterior-rated Nylon is usually at least 500 Denier for toughness, meaning that the threads are at least 10 times thicker.
The Macau Laptop Bag is a well-made, modern, robust black backpack, which is great for the business traveller who wants to avoid aching shoulders or a grumbling back. Its large main compartment is separate to a sleeve which easily accommodates a 15-inch computer. It also has several smaller pockets for every accessory you can think of.
Another favourite is the Case Logic Nox Pavonis, a modern take on a laptop bag with a more feminine chic. It is attractively ergonomic, rejecting dull corners and embracing elegant curves, yet big enough to house a 15in computer. For those essential personal items there is an adjustable pocket, two detachable pouches, and a securely placed phone holder, keeping your smartphone safe though accessible: a great choice for the modern businesswoman.
Neoprene is another material with good wear characteristics. While it's usually employed for laptop bag interiors or sleeves, it is sometimes used on its own, such as the Lupus Tablet Sleeve. The Lupus is perfectly-sized to hold a standard size tablet such as an iPad and has a zipped main compartment, front pocket and carry handles, with generous print area to the front for your logo or message. Neoprene is also more familiarly associated with wet suits.
PVC is a material which appears at all levels of quality. The Halfar Success Laptop Bag is an on-trend, heavy duty shoulder bag, with a main compartment, a padded sleeve and Velcro fastening for a laptop, as well as two smaller pockets for accessories like a smart phone. One of the benefits of PVC is its colour versatility. The Halfar is available in three colourways, including black and brown.
PU is a durable plastic material with a leather-like finish which is used for much simpler sleeves like the Penhurst Tablet Sleeve. Available in black with white contrast stitching, it offers the most basic protection for an iPad or tablet and has plenty of space for branding such as a hotel logo or business trademark.
Lining: When the bag is inevitably dropped or knocked by passers-by you'll be grateful for a protective lining to keep your machine safe, possibly made from Neoprene or simply foam inside a nylon outer.
Closures: Quality pays here. Cheap zips will fail quickly, and if you want your laptop case to be shouting out your message for a long time, it's best to have one with a heavy-duty slider made of metal – not plastic – with thicker metal teeth. Nylon or plastic zippers are more prone to falling apart than their metal counterparts and more likely to come undone at unfortunate times. And if your holdall is meant to work in all weathers, look for weather resistant zippers with rubber sheeting. In some cases, flaps held down by Velcro fastenings might be a better bet to keep out the elements.
Keep Calm and Carry On
Anyone who has ever toted around a shoulder or Messenger bag for a day will know the benefits of a good cushioned shoulder strap. It should be constructed of a wear-resistant material and pay special attention to those leading edges: fraying is not a pretty – or professional – sight. The pad itself should be adjustable for position, depending on the length of the strap, thick enough to distribute the weight evenly, and slip resistant against your clothes to stop downward creep as you move.
Even a padded strap can sometimes be less than up to the job, and in recent years wheeled laptop cases – such as the Meeting Trolley Bag – have become a common site in the world's airports and train stations. The Macau Trolley Bag is another popular case although at the high end of the sector. Complete with a 17inch laptop compartment, it's ideal for the travelling businessman or woman, to pack everything needed for an overnight stay and a breakfast meeting to follow. The large available print area allows for corporate branding, allowing you message to be seen wherever you travel.
Other features to look out for in practical laptop bags or rucksacks should be internal compartments/holders for pens, pencils, business cards and mobiles. Better quality examples have securable compartments – usually with zip or Velcro fastenings – which come in useful if its upside down in, say, the overhead compartment on a flight. The addition of a easy access "carabiner" to attach keys makes it complete.
For ease of access to bulky items like water bottles, food or notebooks open exterior compartments come in handy, and larger laptop bags often sport mesh holders for this purpose.
Bags of Ideas has over 40 years' experience within the promotional merchandise industry so we're well placed to advise you on the best deal and most attractive product for your target customer. Nevertheless, if you do find a better like-for-like price, we'll do our best to ensure we beat any quote, and whether you're looking for 100 plain stock totes, or 10,000 full colour bespoke bags, we supply from only the most trustworthy and reliable manufacturers to bring you top quality products top quality prices.