Branding & Merchandising

Brand merchandise has always been an impactful and integral part of sponsorship and promotions. Great businesses or organizations implement a strategic approach that ensures their merchandise is a core part of their overall marketing strategy.

The best-branded items help a business or organization express their brand personality, emotionally connect with their target market, reinforce their message and engage with their customers & supporters.

To effectively use merchandise to its utmost potential, you'll need to think through your marketing goals, establish quality standards, and determine how to measure impact.

Here are some tips to make sure you use the merchandise effectively.

Do: Use Items That Have High Usability & Perceived Value

The best promotional products are lifestyle products with awesome functional features, such as water bottles, hoodies, power banks, bags, journals, shirts, and hats. The more use the recipient can get out of the item, the more likely your brand will stay top-of-mind.

Do: Implement An Effective Strategy

From the get-go, you'll want to create and use your merchandise in a way that communicates empathy, reliability, connection, and brand consciousness. To achieve this, having a clear understanding of who your target audience is extremely important. Defining their persona(s) will help you create branded merchandise that resonates with their demographic. You might want to avoid fashionable or "trendy" promotional products as they tend to lose their desirability after a period of time.

Do: Focus on Maximizing Return on Investment

This is the most critical aspect of creating great merchandise from a business perspective. It's important to start with the end goal in mind. Do you want to build brand value, increase brand recognition, boost sales, or inspire conversation? How do these goals factor in your messaging? How much budget will you have to spend and what will be your mode of distribution? It’s important that you are able to have metrics for the different goals that you are aiming to achieve already defined to truly maximize your returns.

Don't: Limit Your Theme

This is a tricky balance. On the one hand, you want to establish targeted messaging and distribution plans for your merchandise, whether it be seasonal or campaign-based or what-have-you, that will resonate with specific demographics, such as regions, age-groups, or seasons, to make the biggest impact. On the contrary, branding items that have cross-cutting themes will allow for ongoing use and reaching a wider pool of people.

A great way to satisfy both of these needs is to create a collection of merchandise made up of a few staple apparel and merch pieces that offer the widest acceptance possible, and additionally swap in more unique items on a campaign-by-campaign basis. For example, custom hoodies and water bottles can span visibility across all seasons and age groups, while the relevancy of branded board shorts can be limited to promotions during warmer seasons and to people in warmer regions.

Final Thoughts

Strong brand merchandise and authentic promotional messaging engages consumers, loyal clients, and potential buyers in ways that traditional marketing can’t. The long-term exposure tends to powerfully reinforce your product’s relevance to the end-users. Your merchandise need not be expensively done. It just needs deliberateness, planning, creativity, and understanding of the recipients of the merchandise. When done right, this could be the most effective advertising strategy which delivers high returns in terms of sales.

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