promotional products to market your brand

Have you jumped on the “merch” trend yet?

From restaurants to retailers and from YouTubers to influencers — it’s common to see branded promotional products these days. Even marketing agencies are selling their own swag. (Shameless plug: Yes, you can buy your own Bragg Media swag!)

82% of people have a good impression of a brand after receiving their promotional merchandise. Under pre-COVID circumstances, branded swag — T-shirts, coffee mugs, stickers, notepads, mouse pads, etc. — can be used as a leave-behind at seminars and trade shows. However, social distancing and event cancellations aren’t slowing down the swag store trend. Instead, the retail industry is adapting. Brands are getting creative with masks and hand sanitizer.

More importantly, they’re taking this time to create a better online customer experience. According to e-marketer.com, shoppers want the digital convenience of “click-and-collect, easy returns, mobile order-ahead and cashierless checkout.” In other words, it’s likely that more brands will create e-commerce stores to sell their specialty merchandise.

But the question is: Why are so many businesses selling their own merchandise?

The benefits of “merch” are plentiful; and the costs are pretty minimal. The first — and probably most obvious — benefit? Selling merchandise is an easy way for a business to make some passive income.

But that’s not all: branded promotional products can help create brand awareness, increase consumer engagement and complement other marketing strategies. Promotional branded gifts to customers helps them recognize your logo easier, because it often remains in their office or home. Promotional items also cement customer loyalty, especially if the branded swag is high quality and useful.

Another great benefit about the merch trend? It works for pretty much any type of business.

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So how can you start selling your own swag?

First, make sure you’ve established branding for your business.

Proper branding and product marketing are crucial to creating great merch. Ask yourself:

  • What kind of message is your business trying to send?
  • What’s your business’ “personality?” Is it serious? Playful? Creative?
  • What services or products does your business already offer?
  • What makes your business stand out?

Once those questions are answered, make sure you have a branding style guide that includes fonts, colors and any other key design elements. Your logo is vital. It’ll be featured on all of your merchandise in some shape or form, so make sure you have a logo you love and that is aesthetically pleasing before you move on. Read more about our logo design services.

Next step: Think about your audience/consumers. Who are your current customers? Who are you trying to sell to?

The type of merchandise you sell should depend a lot on the type of business you run. Pretty much any type of business can sell t-shirts, but if you really want to take your merchandise to the next level, think about selling products that go hand-in-hand with your brand.

For a few examples:

  • A bar, brewery, winery, coffee shop or restaurant could sell branded glassware (like pint glasses or wine glasses), branded coffee or travel mugs, or even branded dish towels, oven mitts or other branded cookware/kitchen accessories.
  • A pet store, veterinary clinic or dog grooming business could sell branded dog handkerchiefs, branded collars and leashes, branded pet-themed photo frames, or any other pet accessory.
  • Hotels sell branded toiletry bags, tote bags and other simple travel accessories.

Really, the possibilities are endless. Just be creative — and really keep your customers in mind!

Finally: How do you design & sell merch?

Work with a graphic designer to start creating your graphics, illustrations or even typograph. Then, partner with a merchandise company to sell your swag.

Your designs can include your logo, other artwork or even words or phrases that have meaning for your business.

Lowcountry Made, created these shopping bags for their local summer night artisan markets.
Starbucks; they always sell reusable travel cups and mugs in store. In this case, they used their merch as a promotion: Buy a coffee, get a free reusable travel mug.

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