In this post, we’re going to dive deep into the world of branded merchandise and why it’s important.
More specifically, we’re covering the following:
- What branded merchandise is and why it’s important
- The history of branded merchandise
- Promotional items that companies often use as merchandise
- Successful branded merchandise examples from companies you already know
Let’s get right into it.
Table of Contents
What Is Branded Merchandise?
Why Is Branded Merchandise Important?
The History of Branded Merchandise
8 Promotional Products That Companies Use as Merchandise
7 Branded Merchandise Examples to Inspire You
What Is Branded Merchandise?
Branded merchandise, or promotional merchandise, is sets of objects branded with a company’s logo, a company name, or a motto.
Promotional items can range in value from inexpensive to VIP gifts.
Either way, they’re usually distributed to raise awareness of a brand and/or promote an event.
It’s like sharing business cards, but more fun and inventive.
In other words, branded swag is all about giving away high-quality freebies that people love getting.
Such products can be given away at conferences – both digital and in-person conferences – trade shows, as a little extra to clients that have already made a purchase, as samples to influencers that’ll help with spreading the word on social media, and so on and so forth.
More on why branded merchandise is important coming right below.
Why Is Branded Merchandise Important?
You may think, is it THAT important to print my company logo on a t-shirt or a tote bag and distribute it?
Oh, I can’t tell you how much.
Let’s go through four reasons why branded merch can be highly beneficial to your business.
Reason #1: Establish an emotional connection with your customers
The first reason is that branded swag helps you establish an emotional connection with your customers.
Well, branded swag can be anything from decorative items, such as desk accessories, candles, and Christmas decorations, to everyday items that are actually useful, such as water bottles, power banks, and umbrellas.
Exactly because they can be that diverse, they can quickly become your brand ambassadors, in a way that, even when you’re not there to speak highly of your products and services and make sure your clients remember you, your swag is there and your clients can have a piece of their favorite brand with them at home.
Why is establishing an emotional connection important?
An emotional connection with a brand makes people feel that the brand cares about them; that they get them; that they are special.
Have a look at the bar graph below:
This sort of emotional engagement makes customers feel connected with a brand, whether they’re long-time or first-time clients.
This might make you think what such emotional engagement could mean for a business.
Yes, emotional engagement between a client and a brand can really be key!
In fact, check out some some of the benefits below:
It doesn’t only differentiate you from other brands, but also helps you maintain brand loyalty and customer retention.
Amazing, isn’t it?
We therefore understand that companies need to create emotions and engage with their audience.
A way to do so is through thoughtful branded merch and corporate gifts.
Given that branded swag is very often given as a reward for online giveaways or as a customer gift, it’s highly likely that it can make a client feel that the company appreciates their love and support.
Also, it feels fantastic to know that a company you’re supporting has found a way to give back and express their gratitude.
A study on how rewards can impact the behavior of a customer reveals the following:
As you can see, receiving a reward can lead to repeat business and customer advocacy for a brand.
Additionally, it can lead to leaving positive reviews online and spreading the word on social media.
Reason #2: Raise brand awareness for your business
The second reason why branded merch is important is that it helps you raise brand awareness.
First things first, let’s look at a definition of brand awareness by HubSpot:
In other words, brand awareness shows the level of familiarity the target market audience has with your brand, how well and easily people recognize your products, logo, services, and whether they know a thing or two about your brand.
Raising brand awareness is a must for small businesses that might have recently started operating.
As we’ve said already, branded items are printed with a company logo or any design that might be connected to a brand.
The fact that companies share such products for free helps them put them out there, stand out, and attract potential customers.
Put another way, visual elements, like your logo printed on a hoodie, can lead to your target audience recognizing you, thus making them more likely to trust your brand in the future.
Reason #3: Build a strong brand identity
The third reason we have for you is that brand merchandise can help you build a strong brand identity.
Similar to what retailers do with brand merchandising, branded merchandise is a great way to build brand recognition and enhance brand identity building.
Giving away branded t-shirts with a company logo printed on them is a sort of messaging that highlights some of the main aesthetic elements of your brand as well as your brand philosophy and your brand’s perspective on things.
To put these visual elements out there means that you help your audience become familiar with your brand as a whole, and that helps you build a strong brand identity that’s recognizable and stands out from competitors.
Reason #4: Add a new revenue stream
The final reason why branded merchandise is important is that it’s basically a new revenue stream.
A revenue stream is a source of income for a company.
By adding branded merchandise to your marketing strategy, you can increase brand visibility and make sure your brand takes the exposure it should get in a cost-effective way.
More than helping you create brand loyalty, distributing branded merchandise can also lead to companies selling their branded stuff after they’ve become bigger and recognizable.
Here’s an example of Dunkin’ Donuts advertising their branded stuff on Instagram:
More on that a little further down in this post!
Huge sports leagues like the National Hockey League (NHL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), the Toronto Maple Leafs, to mention a few, generate billions of dollars in branded merchandise sales.
According to the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA), the numbers are impressive:
In a few words, try to think of distributing brand merch as a low cost marketing effort with high potential to bring in new customers or help you do repeat business with long-time clients.
With your business growing, you can take this to a whole new level and actually start selling your merch, thus adding a new revenue stream.
You could consider setting up your own pop-up store where you could sell your merch both to customers as well as audience and employees.
Let’s now discuss a few highlights in the history of branded merch.
The History of Branded Merchandise
In this section, we’re looking at a few pivotal moments in the history of branded merchandise.
Let’s see how people have used the power of branded merchandise since the late eighteenth century.
George Washington, 1789
In modern times, the first person to have used promotional products to promote an event, in this case the first presidential election in 1789, was the first president of the United States, George Washington.
A commemorative button depicting his portrait was made after his inauguration.
This might remind you of modern branded items that are distributed during conferences as a way to celebrate the event and allow attendees to keep a sort of a souvenir from it.
Abraham Lincoln, 1860
Abraham Lincoln was the first to use his photographic image on a promotional item, back in 1860.
The item was a campaign button that was used to make Lincoln better-known.
Have a look:
Such a button would allow people around the country to recognize the face of Lincoln, thus creating an emotional connection with him, exactly the same way brands build connection with their audience through branded merch.
Jasper Meek, late 1880s
In the late 1880s, a newspaper owner who wanted to keep his business running, Jasper Meek, decided to apply an original marketing idea. He created tote bags that were used to advertise a shoe business in Coshocton, Ohio.
A promotional slogan was printed on the bags.
Here’s Meek along with the first promotional bag.
Meek is considered the ‘Father of Promotional Products’.
The local community celebrates the birth of promotional materials in the area.
Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), 1903
In the early twentieth century, twelve promotional products representatives combined their forces and formed an association that was initially called the National Association of Advertising Novelty Manufacturers.
The industry trade association was formed to address issues in relation to promotional products ideation, pricing, and operation procedures, to mention a few.
Today, the association is called the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) and organizes educational seminars and trade shows to support merchandise professionals.
There has been an upward trend in promotional products in the last century.
Companies all over the world use branded items to promote their products, events, ideas, and their brand identity as a whole.
The eCommerce boom hasn’t stopped people’s interest in receiving physical goods, thus making marketers keep using them to promote their companies.
In fact, the current physical restrictions due to COVID-19 might create emotional distance between people.
We therefore understand that thoughtful items, like branded merch, can help make these unprecedented times more comforting for people.
Let’s now move on to the most popular promotional products that companies use as branded merchandise.
After having discussed a few important moments, we’re going to present you the top eight promotional products.
Product #1: Water Bottles
The first promo product is the water bottle.
The water bottle is one of the most popular because it’s reusable and durable.
This basically means that someone can use it for years, thus making it an advertisement that lasts for a long time.
Product #2: Hoodies
The second product is the hoodie.
Check out this super cool dual-purpose hooded windbreaker that easily becomes a drawstring backpack.
The hoodie is a walking advertisement and that’s why companies love giving a branded hoodie to their customers and audience.
It’s cozy and provides people with comfort.
Product #3: T-shirt
In a like manner, the old time classic tee is a must when it comes to promotional products.
People love wearing branded t-shirts from their favorite brands, as long as they’re cool and of high quality.
Product #4: Drinkware
Drinkware couldn’t be missing from this list.
From tumblers, to coffee mugs, wine gift sets, tea gift sets, and glasses, drinkware is a great way to enter your audience’s homes with products they can actually use both at home and during their outdoors activities.
Product #5: Accessories
Accessories is also a very popular promo items category.
What kind of accessories?
From hats and socks to phone cases.
They’re great when you’re on a budget and are fun items.
Product #6: Home accessories
There’s a wide range of home accessories and decorations that companies use as merchandise.
What’s great about these items is that they help make one’s personal space more beautiful and that’s really important in terms of creating an emotional connection between a brand and its audience.
Product #7: Tech gadgets
A category of products that companies are extensively using for conference swag and employee gifts – especially now that people are working remotely – is tech gadgets.
It can be a bluetooth speaker,a Kindle, or a pair of earbuds.
They’re considered high end promotional items and are great for companies that want to give their audience or employees useful equipment and gadgets that’ll make their lives easier.
Product #8: Tote bags
The last product in the list is the tote bag.
In the section of the most important moments in the history of branded merchandise a little further up, we talked about the first promotional product ever created to promote a business; a tote bag.
Bags and shoppers are so popular among advertising professionals because people carry them everywhere they go and so the chances of more and more people seeing them are increased, and so increasing brand awareness and recognition.
Let’s have a look at some inspiring merchandise examples.
7 Branded Merchandise Examples to Inspire You
After having established what the most popular promotional objects that companies use as merch are, let’s now discuss seven examples of branded merchandise that are produced by companies we all know really well.
Example #1: Adobe Branded Merchandise
The first example comes from Adobe.
Most of us know that Adobe is a software company and we’ve most probably used their tools more than once.
What some of you might not know is that the company has its own merch online store (AKA pop-up shop) where people can buy promotional products with the company logo or slogans printed on the items.
Have a look:
Their online store offers a wide variety of promotional products including some of the most popular branded swag, like socks, hats, and drinkware.
Now we’re talking about adding a new revenue stream from your end-users and fans, right?
Example #2: 3M Branded Merchandise
The second example is 3M.
3M is basically a house of brands that’s using the power of branded products to add up their revenue and grow.
Their merchandise online store is a heaven for 3M fans and, again, offers a truly wide variety of products, from apparel to journals, office supplies, etc.
Example #3: HP Branded Merchandise
The third example we have for you is HP.
From seasonal ideas to products that would go perfectly with other HP tech products, this merchandise store is truly well-equipped.
Example #4: Google Branded Merchandise
Our forth example comes from search engine giant, Google.
You wanna know how Google is using branded merchandise?
Well, they go all the way with it.
Their online store offers pretty much everything that someone might need with the Google logo printed on items.
Take a look:
The company is building on the familiarity and emotional connection people have with the company logo.
Based on that, it gives people the opportunity to buy and wear something made by Google as well as offering them items that are useful, like water bottles and journals.
Example #5: UPS Branded Merchandise
Multinational package delivery and supply company, UPS, is yet another example of a successful company selling branded products.
Their online store offers drinkware and outerwear for those who want to walk around dressed in UPS apparel.
Example #6: Dunkin’ Donuts Branded Merchandise
An inspiring merchandise example comes from Dunkin’ Donuts.
Alongside their food and beverages, the company is selling their branded swag, which is as fun and colorful as their doughnuts.
And here’s some Instagram merchandise highlights:
And another one:
You might think that it’s slightly tacky but it also manages to be cute, and it works.
Example #7: DHL
Last but not least, one of the most successful merchandise examples comes from DHL.
Here’s the company’s swag:
Why is DHL one the most successful when it comes to merchandise?
Because they managed to make their branded t-shirt a must-have fashion garment.
Have a look:
Needless to say that the DHL merchandise store sold out quickly after the DHL shirt became popular streetwear in 2016.
That was the seven examples we wanted to share with you.
If these companies are selling and promoting branded products, there must be a valid reason.
Keep in mind that, whether you own a small or a bigger company, you can use branded merch too.
Keep reading to find where to start.
Looking for Branded Merchandise?
In this post, we’ve taken you through the history and meaning of branded merchandise.
Additionally, we’ve discussed why branded merch matters and how internationally known companies are using it to promote their products even further, as well as add a revenue stream.
We’ve been working with branded products for almost three decades now.
Honestly, we couldn’t be more convinced that branded swag can really make a difference for small businesses that want to promote themselves.
Additionally, it can be key for bigger brands that want to enhance their brand recognition and/or offer promotional appreciation gifts to their clients and employees.
In a few words, we’re here to help you find the best merch solution, the one that fits your brand and covers your needs.
Feel free to contact us and discuss what some of your options are.
Branded merchandise is important because it builds brand awareness and because it is an incredibly cost-effective form of marketing. Companies can also use the right branded merchandise to build relationships with clients, promote their services and boost employee morale.What is an example of branded merchandise? ›
You can see examples of branded merchandise everywhere. Basically, if you see a logo printed, engraved or embroidered on any product, that item is considered branded merchandise. The intent of branding a product is to advertise or promote a company and to generate brand awareness.What is meant by branded items? ›
made by a particular company and sold under a particular name: Most supermarkets sell branded goods such as Heinz ketchup or Kellogg's cornflakes as well as own-brand goods. Opposite. unbranded.Is branding part of merchandising? ›
Brand merchandising can be simply described as the act of creating an authentic, identifiable company logo and brand identity, and then incorporating this recognizable visual aesthetic on products or services that are used by customers.What is the best definition of merchandise? ›
: the commodities or goods that are bought and sold in business : wares. sells a variety of spring merchandise. archaic : the occupation of a merchant : trade.What is the purpose of merchandise? ›
Branded merchandise, or promotional merchandise, is sets of objects branded with a company's logo, a company name, or a motto. Promotional items can range in value from inexpensive to VIP gifts. Either way, they're usually distributed to raise awareness of a brand and/or promote an event.What is branded merchandise called? ›
Branded merchandise is also known as promotional products because these items are used by businesses to establish brand awareness or promote an event. Branded merch is all about giving away high-quality products as freebies that customers and potential buyers love getting.How do you create branded merchandise? ›
- Clarify Your Brand Identity.
- Understand What Your Audience Wants.
- Design Your Merch and Select Your Products.
- Pick a Merch Platform That Fits Your Needs.
- Scheduled Posts.
- Use Simple Links.
- Create Engaging Visuals.
- Vary the Content.
The top five types of merchandising are product, retail, visual, digital, and omnichannel. Though classified into five different categories, they are primarily interrelated. For example, visual merchandising is correlated with product merchandising.What is branding in simple words? ›
Branding is the process of creating a distinct identity for a business in the mind of your target audience and consumers. At the the most basic level, branding is made up of a company's logo, visual design, mission, and tone of voice.
Human branding or stigmatizing is the process by which a mark, usually a symbol or ornamental pattern, is burned into the skin of a living person, with the intention that the resulting scar makes it permanent. This is performed using a hot or very cold branding iron.What is brand definition example? ›
A brand is an intangible marketing or business concept that helps people identify a company, product, or individual. People often confuse brands with things like logos, slogans, or other recognizable marks, which are marketing tools that help promote goods and services.What are branding 3 examples? ›
Branding is the process of communicating a unique selling proposition, or differential, that sets a product or service apart from the competition. Examples of branding techniques include the use of logos, taglines, jingles or mascots.What are the types of branding? ›
- Personal branding.
- Product branding.
- Service branding.
- Retail branding.
- Cultural and geographic branding.
- Corporate branding.
- Online branding.
- Offline branding.
Merchandise is the term used for any product that you can sell or buy. Any good for sale is merchandise, some examples include groceries in a supermarket, clothes in a retail store, electronics on a website or raw materials in a manufacturing warehouse.What type of word is merchandise? ›
The noun merchandise refers to things that can be bought or sold, like the merchandise that's for sale at your local record shop, or the merchandise sold by sidewalk vendors in a big city. When you go into a store, you're surrounded by merchandise, whether it's food, clothing, or books.What is the meaning of list of merchandise? ›
Merchandise List means, to the Knowledge of Sellers, a true and correct list of all Allegedly Infringing Merchandise and Violative Merchandise (including whether any such Merchandise is physically located at any Store, Distribution Center or office) as of the Closing sufficient to reasonably identify and locate such ...What are the benefits of merchandise to customers? ›
- Higher profits.
- More satisfied shoppers.
- More engaged buyers (longer on-site time)
- Faster inventory turnover.
- Increased brand loyalty.
- Increased brand recognition.
One of the most important aspects of Retail Merchandising is to offer its customers the products that their customers expect to buy. To do this, we will have to work on the planning, supply, purchase and storage and display of products.
- Convenience goods. Convenience goods are necessary items that people require for basic survival and health. ...
- Impulse goods. Impulse goods are items that customers buy without originally planning to when they entered the store. ...
- Shopping products. ...
- Specialty goods.
To merchandise is to engage in the business of buying and selling goods. Several stores have reported running out of merchandise.How do you make the best merchandise? ›
- Learn about your audience.
- Brainstorm cool merch ideas.
- Design and mock up your products.
- Find a manufacturer or print-on-demand partner.
- Generate word of mouth.
- Leverage your existing channels.
- Sell on marketplaces.
- Retarget your existing audience.
The easiest way to market your merch is, again, having that shop link or one-stop link in the description bar of your videos. If you want to really get the word out, you should create a dedicated video about your merch.What is the best merchandising strategy? ›
- Think About The Customer Journey. ...
- Support Your Product's Narrative. ...
- Understand Why Customers DON'T Buy. ...
- Advocate For Premium Shelf Space. ...
- Research Retail Merchandising Trends. ...
- Avoid Out-of-Stocks. ...
- Maintain Retailer Relationships.
The word merchandise comes from the Old French word marchandise, from marchand, which means "merchant."What are the 5 examples of merchandising business? ›
Some of the most recognizable stores that are merchandising businesses include: Wal-Mart, Target, Dillard's, Macy's, JCPenney, Kohl's, Michaels Crafts, Lowe's, Home Depot, and Toys R Us.What is branding and why it matters? ›
Branding is the nuanced art of actively shaping your brand. With creativity, skill and strategy, a brand can establish an identity that sets itself apart from the competition and sparks a connection with its audience. Even the best businesses would seem dull without good branding.What is branding answer in one sentence? ›
Branding is the process of giving a meaning to specific organization, company, products or services by creating and shaping a brand in consumers' minds.Why is branding important with examples? ›
Your branding is the first thing your customers will experience and will help them to form an opinion on what you're about. For example, it provides a visual clue about the products or services you offer, your intended audience and your values.What is the best definition of a branded title? ›
A branded title says the car was once declared a total loss or comes with some other major problem. Cars with branded titles have been repaired or rebuilt and sold. A branded title can mean the car was damaged in a flood, its odometer was rolled back, or it was involved in a major accident.
branded (adjective) brand–name (adjective)What is a branded person called? ›
A brand persona is a literal depiction of a brand as a person, giving a face to the abstract characteristics, values, and voice that businesses cultivate. It involves constructing an imaginary person, complete with a fictitious name, hobbies, likes and dislikes—much like how a writer might create a character profile.Which best describes a brand? ›
*The correct answer is C. How a company is perceived by the public. A brand is all about how a company is perceived by the public.What are 2 purposes of branding? ›
The purpose of a brand position in marketing is to establish trust within your consumers and create loyalty. A good brand purpose gives your buyers a way to remember you, creates an identity for your business, and sets you apart from competitors.What makes a strong brand? ›
Having a strong brand is all about consistent and recognizable company expressions; to offer not only products and services but also meaning. In many ways, a strong brand is the nucleus of a company's success and is the result of an effective brand strategy.What is the best branding strategy? ›
- Target audience knowledge. ...
- Strong unique value proposition. ...
- Passion is observable. ...
- Out-of-the-box thinking. ...
- Consistency. ...
- The brand's objective comes first. ...
- Exceptional brand slogans (or taglines) ...
- The brand always provides value.
Why are brand names important? They're important because you and/or your customers can use them to identify a business, as well as what it offers. Logo Design of the brand and its name can influence your customer's decision to buy something or an intern's decision to either continue working for your company or not.What is the role of branding in marketing? ›
The goal of brand marketing is to build a brand's value – and the company's value as a result. The channels available for a brand marketing strategy are the same channels that companies can use for product marketing activities, such as digital, social, and paid search advertising.How does merchandising promote brands? ›
It helps you introduce your business
If you are starting your business, branded merchandise can efficiently introduce it to your potential customers. Products with your logo, such as tote bags, T-shirts, or anything that fits your business type and brand, will work much better than an ordinary business card.
Successful brands do not only offer spectacular products, but an emotional feeling that continues to entice their client after they walk out the door. By offering masterpiece branding and product marketing your client receives aesthetics and clear communication that gives your brand it's emotional roots.
The top five types of merchandising are product, retail, visual, digital, and omnichannel. Though classified into five different categories, they are primarily interrelated. For example, visual merchandising is correlated with product merchandising.What is merchandising in simple words? ›
Merchandising is everything you do to promote and sell your products once the potential customer is in your store. When we talk about merchandise, we are talking about products available for sale, typically in a retail setting.