Why Branded Merchandise is Important for Your Business
Businesses without branded merchandise must leave the marketing to their audience’s third eye. The importance of branded merchandising is like talking about reputation. In high school, for example, it was better to have a reputation than none at all.
You might be thinking, why do I need to brand my business? If you want your brand to have any chance of influencing the market, it should be a no-brainer. People are going to perceive your brand as either good, bad, or as nothing to write home about.
Two of those options aren’t really options at all. Incorporating branded merchandise into your marketing scheme is a prime example of controlling how you drive business and increase brand awareness.
It’s within the awareness that your brand becomes a living entity. When your brand is easily recognized by the customer, the faster your audience grows, and the higher your return rates are. Just ask Nike how it worked out for them.
What is Branded Marketing?
Now that we know how important branded merchandising is let’s take a quick refresher course as to what branded marketing actually is.
Primarily, the purpose of branded merchandise is to promote your company and its products and services. It’s how you put yourself out into the world and alert the masses to who you are, what you do, and how you’re different.
Of course, all of that is just the scenic route to defining branded merchandise as a promotional product. Before you can sell your product, you have to sell yourself.
For example, let’s teleport to a Cubs game in Chicago. Wrigleyville is flush with vendors promoting the Chicago Cubs with hats, t-shirts, sweaters, and really anything else that can be draped over the human body. It’s all about the logo displayed on that merchandise.
Now consider how many people go to Cubs games per year. In 2019, nearly 40,000 people bought tickets at Wrigley Stadium. These are people traveling from all over the country just to participate in a Cubs game.
Now consider how many of those locals and tourists purchased branded merchandise. They’ve just disseminated the Cubs logo into nationwide communities like a virus, which is likely why internet trending is called “viral.”
Oftentimes at promotional events like baseball games or even awards shows, attendees are provided with products as gifts or products at a discounted rate. That’s because the brand is merchandising to generate awareness. In the right hands, a product may go viral thanks to the presentation of an influencer.
Social marketing, especially in light of the pandemic, has shown great strides in hitting goals online. Eighty percent of social marketing goals are centered on increasing brand awareness, and 65 percent of those goals are to increase community engagement.
It’s imperative to explore as many channels as possible to promote branded merchandise and maximize the product’s influence.
Nine Reasons to Brand Your Merchandise
Builds Brand Awareness
Did anyone notice a major difference between the Chicago Cubs and their branded merchandising strategy?
They’re a baseball team, not a retailer. The Cubs aren’t in the business of making clothes, but they do. Why?
At least 50 percent of individuals use promotional products daily, like water bottles. Studies also show that six out of 10 people keep their promotional products for at least two years. Of those individuals who received promotional products, 15 percent had a higher regard for that respective brand.
Clothing is not just another channel for them to make money because they turn a profit off their merchandise. It’s all about the logo and how many fans they can put into their clothes. In a day, the Cubs have just generated a crowd of walking advertisements.
Moreover, that crowd is a community of people who will engage and identify with each other, which improves the overall perception of the brand.
Improves Brand Perception
Speaking of perception, for the purpose of this blog post, we’re going to skim over the Cubs winning the World Series and Chicago’s reaction to that success.
Our point is that the more people are aware of your brand, the better your reputation should become to new and existing prospects. Awareness and improving the way audiences feel about your brand are of equal importance.
Even the most promising brands can falter at the dissemination of cheap merchandise. Make the investment worthwhile, and audiences will be more inclined to return the favor.
Brand perception encompasses the physical products, the reputation of the company, and emotional connection to the audience.
The Three Ps: Products, Purpose & Places
Logos act like building blocks to awareness. Once a brand becomes a novelty, the easier it is to promote products, purpose, and places, or merchandise, services, and events, respectively.
There’s a reason the contestants on Supermarket Sweep get to take home the show’s branded sweaters. Not only is it fun for the participants, but it continues to promote the show outside of the studio where the show is filmed. The logo also connects emotionally with audiences and fans.
Building an emotional connection is a process in which branded merchandising helps to fill where there are gaps in strategy.
Even from a visual perspective, you are trying to connect emotionally and psychically. It’s how you choose to use those vehicles that will determine how customers inevitably react to your brand.
Cost Effective Strategy
If you’re starting a business without the desire to turn a profit, you’ve given up before you even started. Having branded merchandise does more than build awareness.
It’s also a cost-effective way to promote your brand, particularly when compared to other forms of advertising like TV, social media videos, billboards, etc.
In fact, the average cost per impression (CPI) for branded promotional products is $0.004 per impression. This is because branded merchandise uses word of mouth, including the hope that customers will pass on those products to other people and so forth.
There’s always at least one promotional t-shirt in every thrift store if you catch our meaning.
Statistics can be really fun when they’re working out in your favor. Without branded merchandise, gaining a new customer base can cost six times more than retaining your previous base. The good news is that with promotional products, 85 percent of customers will be inclined to do business with you again.
It also incites memory retention. Almost 90 percent of people who received promotional materials are more likely to remember the name of your brand within a one-year period.
Primarily, people like free stuff. It makes them happy, and in the future, they will correlate the joy of getting something free with how it might feel to shop your brand.
Much like a calling card, branded merchandise is a direct invitation for customers to explore your business. Yes, those branded pens at the bank have a dual purpose. Pens are just one example of offering something useful that could be a means to creating business.
Having more than one purpose increases the desire for the product itself, as opposed to having an arbitrary collection of business cards clogging up your wallet where money should be.
Customers are also less likely to throw these products away because they do have meaning and purpose. Mug? Useful. T-shirt? Useful. Canteen? Useful. These are things people can use every day, which is a daily reminder of the brand itself.
Generates More Leads
No company or business can rest on its laurels. There have to be additional steps taken to generate more business, which is why branded merchandise is such a helpful tool.
Providing free branded merchandise to customers makes them feel special and can attract them to your business in the future. Even using branded merchandise internally, like during company meetings, can improve the overall perception of your business.
Branded merchandise can improve office morale. Employees need to feel valued too, and they enjoy getting freebies just as much as the next person. It’s providing an outlet for them to discuss the company with people outside of work, and therefore creating a better image of the company.
They may be more likely to offer the same merchandise to friends or family who can help represent the company in a different way.
Starting a company is a lot like getting married. There’s the five-year rule: if a couple can get through their first five years of marriage, they’re more than likely going to last. It sounds foreboding and even a little cruel, but it might be true in terms of your business.
The U.S. Labor Statistics show that at least 20 percent of startups will fail in their first year of operation, and approximately 50% of businesses will fail by the end of their fifth year.
Obviously, a company can fail for any number of reasons, but differentiation is not going to be one of those. Standing out among your competitors is a strength not all businesses have the guts to manage.
Branded merchandise is a simple and cost-effective way to separate your brand from the rest, and it will show that you’re more involved with your customers because you care.
How Harper+Scott Can Help
Harper+Scott helps brands establish their voice in an increasingly saturated marketplace, and give them unique identities that accentuate their strengths and values. We can support strategic marketing goals with a host of private label capabilities, including product design, branded merchandise, custom manufacturing, and unique digital products.
The future is bright, and Harper+Scott is ready to help you get there. Contact us today to discuss branded merchandise for your company.