Remember when business cards were the most efficient tool to spread the word about your brand? To introduce your brand identity, you simply reached in your wallet and presented people with a bit of stationary. Today, branding lives all around us — and even on us! Of course physical and digital business cards are still relevant, but branded merchandise has become a powerful marketing tool that tells a much more interesting story about your brand.

Branded merchandise has countless benefits besides displaying your business in an original way. It holds the power to increase brand awareness, strengthen customer loyalty, improve company morale, and reinforce brand identity. That’s probably why it’s grown into a $21 billion industry. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, here’s a more in depth look at the value and benefits of branded merchandise.

The Value and Benefits of Branded Merchandise

Branded merchandise is necessary for anyone interested in growth. It’s often the first impression you make on potential customers and gives people an instant glimpse into your brand’s identity. Here are four benefits of incorporating branded merchandise into your marketing strategy: 

Brand Awareness and Recognition

A brand is identified by its logo, name, tagline, color scheme, and more. These elements and merchandise work together to boost brand awareness and recognition. When you build a strong and consistent identity, consumers should be able to recognize your brand by simply seeing its logo or hearing its tagline. 

Merchandise reinforces your brand’s identity by displaying its elements on products that are worn or used out in pubic in everyday life. Well-executed brand merch can increase brand awareness by more than 96%! Strong brand recognition ultimately leads to greater sales and a more robust customer base, which leads us to our next benefit…

Customer Loyalty

To be blunt, gifts sweeten the deal and keep ’em coming back. Branded merchandise is a powerful tool to foster relationships and increase customer loyalty. Whether you’re saying ‘Thank you,’Welcome,’ or ‘Hi, remember us?’, leveraging branded merchandise is an impactful way to get the message across. According to PPAI, loyalty gets a boost for 83% of consumers when they receive promotional products from a brand with an existing relationship.

Cost-Effective Marketing

Compared to traditional advertising, branded merchandise is a cost-effective strategy that lives on long after its initial execution. Digital or out-of-home advertisements require continuous investing to maintain visibility and effectiveness. Physical merchandise that promotes your brand is a one-time investment that can be used and seen again and again for years to come. Plus it’s effective: One study reports that 75% of customers are more likely to buy from a company that gave them a promotional product than from a company they knew equally as well but did not give them a promotional product. 

In order to get the best return on your investment, the quality of your merchandise is extremely important. Spending a little more money on a premium product will result in brand exposure over a longer period of time since quality directly impacts the product’s life cycle. Additionally, the quality of your merchandise affects the perceived value and quality of your brand, so make sure the products you pick represent your business as best as possible! 

Employee Morale and Pride

Not only does branded merchandise boost customer acquisition and loyalty, it has compelling internal benefits as well. Branded apparel and products foster a stronger sense of community and pride among employees and provide tangible recognition for their hard work. But this investment opportunity is often overlooked. New data from Gallup and Workhuman reveal that only 34% of employees say their employer has a recognition program.

Using branded merchandise as tokens of appreciation will set you apart as an employer while strengthening company culture and boosting employee retention. Read more about how recognition prevents employee turnover here.

How to Create Branded Merchandise for Your Company

The ‘Why?’ is clear, so let’s talk about the ‘How?’

Step 1: Clarify Your Brand Identity

Your brand identity is the foundation for every piece of branded merchandise. Before investing into apparel or other products, make sure your brand is well established with a consistent logo, color scheme, and messaging that create a cohesive brand experience. Leveraging merchandise as a brand awareness tool only works if your brand is consistent and recognizable! Once your brand identity is clear, you can get creative with how and where the branding is displayed. 

Step 2: Consider Different Types of Merchandise

When a lot of people think about branded merchandise, they’re picturing the typical products like zip-up jackets, golf polos, water bottles, or (yawn) keychains. These items are popular for good reason, but consider what makes the most sense for your brand and consumer. Our clients have access to endless unique merchandise possibilities such as tech gadgets, personalized gifts, niche products, you name it. 

One of our values is to minimize our impact on the planet, so we partner with sustainable vendors and opt for eco-friendly products in our merchandise strategy. Choosing products that align with your brand’s values will better communicate your overall brand identity to your end consumer.

Step 3: Create a Promotional Budget

Set yourself up for success by including promotional brand merchandise in your overall marketing budget. Consider future events or campaigns that would benefit from merchandise such as trade shows, giveaways, team apparel, holiday gifting, or periodic internal appreciation gifts. Make sure to leave room for incidental merchandise like VIP customer acquisitions or recognition gifts for company wins.

Read more in our blog post, What is Promotional Budget? An Essential Guide for Businesses.

Step 4: Partner with a One-Stop-Shop Distributor

Brainstorming, sourcing, designing, producing, and distributing high quality merchandise that surprises and impresses customers and employees sounds like a lot of work, and that’s because it is! 

Partnering with a one-stop-shop distributor like Imprint Engine makes your life, and the overall project, a whole lot easier. Our process is meticulously designed to seamlessly execute your brand experience from ideation to fulfillment. We’ve also already done the heavy lifting by establishing relationships with the most efficient vendors that produce the highest quality products so that your merchandise continuously puts your brand in the best light.  Read more about how we work

Amplify Your Brand with Imprint Engine

Branded merchandise has evolved drastically in the last few years. Consumers expect more recognition at much higher quality than ever before. Thankfully, unforgettable and sought-after brand experiences are our bread and butter. Contact us to get started.