Do you have a favorite pair of jeans or a favorite restaurant? Chances are you said something like American Eagle instead of skinny or bootcut, or Garden Grill instead of fast-food or sit-down. That’s because we think of the brand name before anything else. You see them all over the internet, on billboards when you’re driving in your car, or in line at the grocery store.
But, what about branded products? While they can be your Coach wallet or Vans shoes, we’re going to talk about the branded items that are promotional products! This means that even though Jeep sells cars with their branded logo, they can also put that same logo on pens, t-shirts, hats, and so much more. They can even bring these items along when it comes to advertising and use them as tradeshow giveaways!
Companies have continually used branded products to get people familiar with their company. It’s a great marketing strategy and it works!
It’s not just major brands that use promotional products. Small businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations can use them and to bring in new clients.
Check out how branded products add value to your business and keep customers coming back.
#1 Tell a Story
We are hardwired to love stories and anecdotes. That’s why telling your story should be a critical part when it comes to building your brand. Putting your logo on the right item can represent how your company started or who your customers are. For example, Walt Disney failed A LOT before he became successful. One of his famous quotes is, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” Branded items from Disney almost always have Mickey Mouse on them. Telling your story through branded products will make you more personable and memorable.
In 2012, the American Red Cross, an organization dedicated to providing relief and support to people in crisis, decided to tell their story using branded products. They did this through a series called “Stories Project.” Through this project, they sent out 300 kits to Red Cross storytellers, which contained a video camera, promotional pin, custom journal, and personalized pens. By doing this, the American Red Cross reinforced their mission statement of serving others by letting them tell their stories of how they were helped in a time of need. Even something as simple as a pin with a red cross lets people know, “I’m a survivor.”
#2 Engage Your Target Audience
Nobody knows your customers better than you do. Therefore, your brand should tell your audience, “We totally get you!” This will make them feel appreciated, noticed, and involved in what you offer. There are many ways to engage your target audience when it comes to branded products. Some of the most common ways is through humor or tapping into peoples’ emotions through TV commercials. However, with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and the power of hashtags, companies are being more creative with their giveaways.
Tony Hawk, a professional skateboarder and CEO of Birdhouse Skateboards, tweeted the location of a skateboard he left behind, which a fan found within 10 minutes. This inspired him to create an annual Twitter hunt from 2012 to 2015. He used his Twitter fan base and started the hashtag THTH12 (short for “Tony Hawk Twitter Hunt” with the number corresponding to the year). It was a scavenger hunt where 100 packages were hidden globally, and Tony tweeted clues about each package location. Every package contained an autographed skateboard and other items like koozies, golf gear, stickers, and shirts.
His audience ranged from skateboarders to teenagers to long-time fans of his career. Even though the campaign no longer takes place, it’s a great example of how branded products can go a long way when you know your target audience.
#3 Promote Consistency
When it comes to branding, chances are you’d be really confused if you received a skull stress ball from your doctor. That’s because doctors work with people to maintain healthier lives and achieve a long life. Even though a stress ball has its health benefits, it being in the shape of a skull isn’t consistent with the doctor’s message. The same goes for all branded products! You want your company and what you have to offer in terms of products or services to be in sync with the branded products that you hand out.
The Bolingbrook Tee-Ball Association, a tee-ball league run by volunteers, realized they needed some help and chose to seek out branded products. Through a program called Give Your Brand a Hand, Bolingbrook Tee-Ball received free color-changing water bottles, which they handed out to kids at registration. With any sport, it’s important to stay hydrated. Water bottles were the perfect selection because they encouraged people to sign up (who wouldn’t want free stuff?), ensured kids had a means of staying hydrated, and promoted their organization consistently.
#4 Show Personality and Voice
Showing personality when it comes to business is important in making relationships and reaching out to new customers. You wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who has zero personality, so why would you want to do business with a company that has no personality? People want to know they are dealing with and buying from real people, not robots or machines.
Branded products are a great opportunity to show customers who you really are and what you’re all about. A promotional campaign done in 2009 by IAMS Australia showed their creative side when they hit up a local dog park to hand out barbell Frisbees with the phrase “Strong Dogs – IAMS Dog Foods” printed on them. IAMS showed people that even dog food doesn’t have to be boring, and they reinforced the loving relationship between owner and dog. Promotional items can be more than just pens and notepads. Show your personality and give your brand a voice.
#5 Build Brand Awareness
Customers have no way of knowing about your business and what you have to offer if they’ve never heard of you before. You could have the best products or the best prices on the market, but without customers your business isn’t going to grow. The ultimate goal is to maintain long-term clients, but also reach potential customers, and you can do that by building brand awareness.
In a world that runs on time and money, getting free stuff is like hitting the jackpot! During “Oral Health Month,” Colgate gave away lollipops to children. Of course, this sounds silly because why would a toothpaste company hand out items that are bad for our teeth? As children finished their treat, they were left with a toothbrush that said, “Don’t Forget!” Meaning, indulging in sweet treats is totally cool as long as you remember to brush your teeth afterwards. Colgate’s message rang loud and clear and raised brand awareness because it was a branded item that parents and kids were sure to remember.
#6 Less Invasive
In this technological age, people are constantly bombarded by advertisements promoting products and services. You can find them browsing the web, watching videos on YouTube, playing games on your phone, listening to music, or when you turn on the TV. While consumers are always looking for quality, affordable products and services, they don’t want in-your-face advertisements and are more likely to choose a company that has given them a branded product.
Promotional products are a great way to get your business out there in a user-friendly way. Leo’s Helping Paws, a non-profit organization that helps fund animal shelters’ care for rescued puppy mill dogs, gave away bulldog drawstring bags during their Paws in the Park Dog Festival event in 2018. These bags were great conversation starters for people who might not know anything about the organization. Since other people are initiating the conversation about the company, nobody is being pushy or trying to “sell” anything.
Branded Giveaways Are Growing
Branded products should be part of every marketing strategy. Look at the numbers!
Customers want to feel like they’re benefiting from your product or service rather than the other way around. That’s why you should incorporate branded products into your marketing strategy. No matter what you decide, branded items are an investment with huge potential. You’re not only investing in yourself and your company, but also in your products, services, and customers. Every company has to go through the stage of branding and we want to see you hit the competition out of the park!