There is a myth when it comes to branded merchandise. The myth is that branded merch is just a way to put a logo on a shirt or mug. The truth is branded merchandise is a culture building strategy that shapes how employees and clients think and feel about your business. So it is more than putting a logo on a shirt – it is a way of doing business. In this article we will cover the following:
- How leaders should think about branded merchandise to create and foster a strong company culture.
- The positive effects to company culture using a consistent branded merchandise strategy.
- Branded merchandise will positively impact what the outside world thinks and believes about your company.
- How to start using company branded merchandise effectively to grow and promote your business.
How leaders should think about branded merchandise to create and foster a strong company culture.
Branded merchandise is not something you buy. It’s a strategy you invest in.
- You Can Bring Valuable Attention to Your Company or Cause Using Branded Merchandise
- Increase Morale in and among Your Staff
- Energize Your Employees about Their Work and Your Company Mission
- Use the World’s Most Recognizable Form of Advertisement
You Can Bring Valuable Attention to Your Company or Cause Using Branded Merchandise
Quality design looks better on quality materials – and the combination of the two will capture the attention of everyone around. In a crowd of competitors, a creative branded merchandise strategy will get you noticed and highlight you from others. Next time you’re at an expo, take note of which booths are capturing the attention of the attendees and what each booth visitor is walking away with.
Increase Morale in and among Your Staff
Not only do you want to maintain a healthy and engaged atmosphere in your office, you want your team to bond together, work seamlessly as a unit, and see harmonized efficiency and productivity.
Positive morale doesn’t come by accident – it is created. In a healthy environment, shared experiences help create lasting bonds amongst team members. Company branded apparel that is both comfortable and trendy allowing your team to form these same bonds when they have a shared identity and purpose among their peers and co-workers.
Use the World’s Most Recognizable Form of Advertisement
93% of all Americans own some form of branded merchandise. You won’t be the first to supply a customer with a branded item. Your business can take advantage of this incredibly powerful marketing tool by giving your customers something that is valued and improves their lives. A branded merchandise strategy ensures your company moves beyond just being seen. When executed successfully, it drives clients back to you and your product or service. In short, your clients will want to work with you!
Energize Your Employees about Their Work and Your Company Mission
For a business owner or company leader, each day is full of decisions, meetings, handshakes, and lunches. Your daily schedule keeps you on mission. For many employees though, it is a daily grind as their days are blurred together and are indistinguishable from one another. Injecting branded merchandise into an everyday environment breathes life into the atmosphere and provides you with an opportunity to remind your team how their work is important and changing lives.
Maximizing the Impact of Branded Merchandise in Your Company
Valuable branded merchandise is a moving target. Every business is different. Every client is different. Know ahead of time what impact you want your investment to have, who the ideal recipient will be, and then make your purchasing decision.
Branded merchandise is most powerful when it is used as part of a larger company strategy
When you need to evoke an emotional response or mobilize a group of individuals, branded merchandise is an open invitation that pushes recipients to immediately jump on board. Action Items
- Write down your company’s most important initiative. What is a word or phrase that you could use to help your team see the importance of the project and inspire them to give their best effort? Once you’ve come up with something get behind it and promote it!
- Look at your calendar for your next opportunity to promote your company and to whom. What is one ‘takeaway’ item you could provide that would make the lives of these people better?
You should care about branded merchandise because…
You have massive amounts of direct influence over how employees feel about your company as a whole. Integrating branded merchandise will communicate management approval as well as demonstrate your pride in your team. Your business is so much more than a name or a logo. Your work is inspired by a big idea that resonates with others. Branded merchandise gives your audience an opportunity to be a part of your mission and express their support for you.
The positive effects to company culture using a consistent branded merchandise strategy.
There is a distinct difference between working in your business and working on your business. When you work in your business, you are caught up in the daily grind… email, paperwork, client support, maintenance. You hired staff to work in your business to keep things going, yet you continually find yourself pulled back into the grunt work. When you are working on your business, dreaming, creating vision, building a roadmap for the future, empowering employees, and shaping culture, your metrics for efficiency, profit, turnaround, and happiness increase! Two reasons business owners unintentionally revert to grunt work and sacrifice growth are:
- their staff isn’t motivated to go the extra mile leaving you to make up the difference
- working on your business is often lonely and the results are intangible.
Incorporating a branded merchandise strategy motivates your team to go the extra mile, connects you more closely to their work, and provides you with a tangible illustration of what shaping your company culture can look like.
Signs of a healthy internal culture and how branded merchandise plays a part.
So how does branded merchandise actually impact the culture of your business? Consider the following realities:
- Employees Show Their Excitement for What Your Company Represents
- A Strong Camaraderie between Team Members and Increased Moral
- Motivated Staff Performing at a Higher Level
- More Purposeful Conversations about Mission, Purpose, Work and Contributions
- A Stronger Sense of Belonging to a Larger Mission among Your Team
Employees Show their Excitement for What Your Company Represents
Do you ever think about how your employees represent your company to your customers? Or how they portray your company to their friends and family? Branded merchandise can accomplish two vital things for your business:
- Shows an individual that they are wanted, needed, and valued.
- Excites them about their work to the point that they become ambassadors for your company outside the office.
A Strong Camaraderie between Team Members and Increased Moral
There is strength in unity and a shared commitment to success when everyone works hard to achieve a common goal. When you’re walking around a mall wearing your favorite team’s hat and pass by someone else representing the same team, there is an unspoken connection, and sense of personal validation that you belong. Your company branding has the same power to create healthy office camaraderie among otherwise unconnected individuals.
Motivated Staff Performing at a Higher Level
Quality employees want to make a positive difference in their work from day one. Inspiring an employee to maintain a high level of performance over time is a typical management challenge. The excitement of receiving company branded apparel is palpable and re-ignites that drive and passion that existed on day one. It motivates them to continue to perform at a high level because they’re not doing it for a paycheck – they’re doing it for their co-workers, for their managers, for their customers, and for their company.
More Purposeful Conversations about Mission, Purpose, Work and Contributions
If something is important, dedicate real estate to it. The more space dedicated to your big idea, the more it will make its way into conversation. Want more collaboration and synergy in your office? Fill your environment with signs, merchandise, and apparel that captures your big idea in a compelling and functional way.
A Stronger Sense of Belonging to a Larger Mission among Your Team
When the message is lost, the people are lost. When the message is heard, internalized, and can be repeated, the organization can begin to move as one in a shared direction. By using eye-catching merchandise and high-quality apparel, you can align your staff closely to your organization’s mission and vision. They will begin to identify with their work as a part of who they are, and not perceive it as just paycheck.
Branded merchandise is a powerful tool for shaping the internal culture of your company.
The environment can be shaped, attitudes can be turned, and teams can be strengthened – it’s all about how you communicate your big idea. The visuals you use to reinforce and remind every member what the mission is each day is how you take control. Action Items
- What is one characteristic you would like your company to be known for? Come up with 5 ideas for creatively communicating this idea with your team, using branded merchandise for two of those ideas.
- Collaborate with 2-3 strategic thinkers. Come up with one item that you could give to your entire staff and the message tied to that item… so that every time they use it, they remember the message.
Branded merchandise will positively impact what the outside world thinks and believes about your company.
The world outside – clients, colleagues, acquaintances – are forming opinions about you. Branded merchandise puts you in greater control of what they will think and believe.
- Everything communicates – a strong branded merchandise strategy drives your corporate identity and message.
- The Quality of What You Create Informs Clients What You Believe about Your Own Company
- Let Your Clients Become an Integral Part of Your Marketing Team
- Clients can Champion Your Company’s Big Idea to Friends and Family
- Increase the Perceived Credibility of Your Business to the Outside World
The Quality of What You Create Informs Clients What You Believe about Your Own Company
What you place your company name on directly communicates what you think about your company. When you choose to print your logo on high-quality, useful, and attractive merchandise you communicate to the outside world that your company understands quality, is solution oriented, and desirable. The opposite also holds true. What do you want not-yet-clients to think about your company and what could you put in their hands that would further your desired narrative?
Let Your Clients Become an Integral Part of Your Marketing Team
So you have an active and engaged following and an ever-growing list of clients, products, and services. What comes next? Customers who fall in love with what you do and how you do it have a desire to connect with your company beyond working together – they want to feel like they are a part of what you’re doing. Branded merchandise allows your customers to promote your vision and mission and share in your success.
Clients can Champion Your Company’s Big Idea to Friends and Family
No amount of money can purchase anything equal to the value of word-of-mouth marketing. When you deliver a superior experience to a client, they are compelled to recommend you to their network. When your clients use or wear your company branded merchandise, you immediately give them a reason to bring your business up in conversation. Company branded merchandise is the invitation your customers need to mention your business to others.
Increase the Perceived Credibility of Your Business to the Outside World
When you first make contact with a lead they want to know how to categorize you and your business. A company with a strong and consistent brand has the unique opportunity to influence how others view them. Company branded merchandise allows you to shape perceptions, helping your lead know which category you belong. When they see your business as legitimate and successful, they will want to know you and how to work with you.
Make a good impression. When someone sees your company logo, what kind of thoughts and beliefs are formed?
You can positively influence the thoughts and opinions of others as it relates to your company through the quality of the items or materials you place your logo on. Be intentional with the message you want to send and plan accordingly.
- When a customer walks away from a meeting with your company, what five words do you want them to use to describe you? What type of branded merchandise could communicate these same words?
- Make a list of any branded merchandise purchases from the past and select five words to describe the quality, look, and feel of each item.
How to start using company branded merchandise effectively to grow and promote your business.
What does it take to get started? Branded merchandise isn’t a one-time purchase. It’s not something you do once and move on. In order for it to have a real impact on your internal culture and external perception it must be a part of your everyday marketing strategy. Design is important, but the quality and creativeness of the apparel or product is key to the success of your strategy. Pick an end result you would like to see in your business and make a branded merchandise purchase that will move you towards that result.
To Experience the Positive Effects of Branded Merchandise You Have to Start with ‘Why’
Businesses typically begin their branded merchandise strategy by asking, “What’s something inexpensive we can market with?” Companies who take this approach end up with boxes of unused merchandise sitting in storage.
When you approach branded merchandise with trying to find the most inexpensive product you can to market with you are setting yourself up to have boxes of unused merchandise sitting in storage. Start your process with the question, “Why are we interested in branded merchandise?”
Consider starting the process by asking, “Why are we interested in branded merchandise?” You will discover the core change you’re wanting to see and can then create a plan that gets you exactly what you want.
Prioritize Branded Merchandise With Other Initiatives
Your company calendar is filled with initiatives such as awards for top performers, assimilating new hires, honoring internal teams, customer thank you’s, and special events. To maximize your investments, discuss how branded merchandise will be used during the planning stages of it all. Using branded merchandise in your company’s growth strategy will give you added control over the developing internal culture. A few things you’ll want to consider to get started: Is your company made up of considerably more male or female employees? Is it evenly split?
- It’s no secret that men and women are different. If your staff numbers lean heavily one way or the other, gender should have an impact on the choices you make.
What are your company age demographics?
- What excites someone in their 60s will differ greatly from what a 27-year-old finds exciting. For example, say you are considering shirts – be sure to offer a couple of different styles that the vast majority of your company can enjoy and wear. This gives your employees options and allows them to make a decision on what’s best for them.
What type of working environment do you want to create?
- Everything you do communicates. If your company branded merchandise purchase for the quarter are stress balls for your employees, what kind of message does that send? Know your audience and know your intended message.
What type of budget do you want to work with?
- The narrower your targeted audience, the more unique and creative you can be with your purchasing options. The broader your targeted audience, the more you want to focus on high utility, high visibility, and lower cost items.
What products are versatile enough to impact internal company culture fast?
- No matter what your underlying goal for branded merchandise may be, t-shirts and bags/totes are great for nearly any marketing campaign. Let your company branded apparel and accessories facilitate change and promote your vision.
Popular Branded Options
T-shirts are a cornerstone to any branded apparel marketing strategy when used correctly. The three points of emphasis for making a t-shirt investment a huge success are: message, quality, and style. When all three points are aligned for one singular purpose you can inspire real movement within an organization.
Drinkware items are among the most popular and functional branded merchandise investments. Drinkware is extremely popular with both men and women and throughout all age demographics. Consider the climate of your location as well as the lifestyle of your clients or employees and select an item is best suited for your target audience.
Bags and totes are highly underrated, yet surprisingly effective branded accessory items. The three points of emphasis for making a bag or tote investment a huge success are: message, design, and build/function. Due to their form, function, and utility, bags and totes are highly valued and sought after in nearly every organization and setting. Using branded merchandise in your company’s growth strategy will give you added control over how your company is perceived by outsiders. A few things you’ll want to consider to get started: Who are you marketing to?
- “Would my ideal client use or value this?” Knowing your audience and their desires is essential for a successful marketing strategy.If you’re targeting lawyers, they won’t wear a t-shirt to work and most likely will never use a cheap pen. If you’re targeting students, they will probably want something that captures the attention of their peers.
What would the ideal client consider useful? What would they consider junk?
- As much as you may like the way your logo looks on a coffee coaster, does your client already have coffee coasters, or do they even want to have a coffee coaster with your logo on their table? Maybe yes, maybe no, but this is a valuable question to consider before making a purchase intended for others.
When is a good time to implement an external merchandising strategy?
- The best time was yesterday – the next best time is today! Making an investment that moves the needle requires planning and careful thought. That said, here are a few opportunities to consider using branded merchandise…
5 Ways to Incorporate Branded Merchandise
Making the decision to begin incorporating branded merchandise into your marketing strategy can be made today and getting started can happen as quickly as tomorrow! A few ideas for what events or moments you can start planning for:
- Anytime. “Just because” gifts are always appreciated and never untimely.
- Thank You’s. An opportunity to thank your clients for their business throughout the year.
- New Client Welcome. An industry relevant package that provides useful trade items.
- Corporate Milestones. Work anniversaries, birthdays, project milestones, and various individual and team recognitions.
- Corporate Events. Trade Shows, giveaways, and corporate promotions.
Be Intentional with Your Branded Merchandise Strategy and Eliminate the “Stuff” Mentality
Your goal is no longer to give away “stuff” – you are now in the business of creating memorable and enjoyable moments of surprise for others. Branded merchandise should evoke feelings of joy and appreciation that ultimately connects others to your company and mission.
Live the golden rule in your branded merchandise strategy: Only give things worth giving and do things worth doing.
Live the Golden Rule… Only give things worth giving and do things worth doing. The more awesome you are to someone, the more likely they are to connect with your brand, use your product or service, and tell others about your great company!
BONUS: 5 Branded Merchandise and Apparel Purchases that are Proven Hits
Our short list of proven hits gives you an immediate idea for where to start. Hats – Who doesn’t love a comfortable, trendy hat? Hats are highly visual and highly sought after. Custom Bags – A win for any recipient, especially employees. It’s something for gadgets, makeup, and other utility tools. PopSockets – Everyone knows someone who has one, but most people don’t actually have one of their own! Gift Sets – A collection of small, functional items delivered as one set – a huge impression piece with varying options. Branded Socks – Believe it or not, sock designs are a hit and gaining in popularity. A unique item that will set you apart.