Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

Get the Retail Look: 15 Brands You Didn’t Know You Could Get as Promos

The brand name vs. generic debate is one that is usually reserved for different foods (and medication) you buy at the grocery store. In contrast, when it comes to other products such as clothing or tech items, brands are held in pretty high regard, even if the store brand is virtually identical in features.

Brand names have been around ever since there have been products to sell, but there is a growing trend in the promotional products industry of more brands partnering with promo item suppliers to offer their products to more companies. Customers are also looking for brand name options to bring the credibility of an established brand as they look to build their own. I spoke with a couple of Quality Logo Products suppliers and industry experts to ask what is driving the trend.

You’ll find the answers below, along with a few brand names that offer promotional products in popular categories. If you’re looking to make a splash with a giveaway and want the recognition of a brand, these are the ones you should look for!


Whether it’s the Nike swoosh symbol or the Ralph Lauren polo player, the logo or brand name stands out on most apparel items.Image3-Apparel

Lisa LeMond, national sales manager for Polyconcept North America, said apparel is one of the promotional product categories that is growing in terms of adding brand names.

“Brands help sell a premium in any category, but it seems that [apparel] is the category where brands mean the most,” she said. “When you have products that you are using every day, the types of products that you can’t afford to have them break, tear, or fail, then there is an added confidence in your choice when you are buying a brand.”

LeMond also said brand name accessories like bags are also very popular right now. Like apparel, bags and other accessories tend to feature a brand name or logo, which helps add value to a company’s message.

Here are some popular apparel and accessory brand names:

  1. NIKE GOLF Pique Knit Sport Shirt
  2. Puma Golf Track Jacket by TRIMARK (Women’s)
  3. Guess Logo Affair Dome Travel Tote Bag


Nike and Puma could also fit into this category, and part of the power of some brands is their ability to offer multiple kinds of products.Image1-Sporty

From typical sports like basketball and baseball to outdoor recreational activities like hiking and rock climbing, promotional products with company names like New Balance or Titleist (or like Nike and Puma) all evoke a certain kind of confidence.

Wendy Farrell, director of marketing for Gemline, said that part of the allure for branded promotional products is more consumer recognition, which is then tied back to the company giving away the set of golf balls or the custom brand name backpack.

“The popularity of brands in the promotional market is due to the brand recognition and value of the product versus items that may look similar, but may be unbranded,” she said.

Check out these sports and outdoor brand name products:

  1. New Balance Workout Armband
  2. Titleist Velocity Golf Ball
  3. High Sierra Loop Backpack


Some brand names have become proprietary eponyms, which means they are synonymous with the products they offer, like Thermos or KOOZIE. Both are brand names, but they also more broadly can refer to any insulated bottle or can cooler.Image2-Drinkware

LeMond said if a well-known company is looking to offer their products as promotional items they want to be ensured that the “integrity of their brand” will be maintained.

On the customer side, it goes back to offering something customers are familiar with. Customers can get water bottles just about anywhere, but they are more likely to show off a brand name water bottle to others, LeMond said. And once a product becomes known by an eponym, you know customers are very familiar and comfortable with the brand.

“Customers like to show off brands, and are more willing to use the product if they perceive it to have a higher value,” she said. “Even if you know the product is exactly the same, a retail brand will almost always be perceived to be better.”

Some popular drinkware brands include:

  1. SmartShake Original Compartment Fitness Shaker (20 Oz.)
  2. Thermos Stainless King Beverage Bottle (40 Oz.)
  3. Collapsible Koozie Can Cooler


Overall, tech is a growing category within the promotional products industry. Brand name products tend to come with a higher price tag, and when it comes to tech products, people always think about the cost.

Image4-TechYou know when you buy the Apple iPhone that you’re going to spend more than if you were to get a different more generic smartphone.

“Customers are willing to pay a premium for a branded product due to the consumer recognition and value that the brand holds,” Farrell said.

Depending on whom you ask, that extra cost might be worth it when you consider the power behind a smartphone made by Apple.

That’s also true for brand name promotional products, and for some companies the extra cost might be worth it as well, especially if you’re looking to get an item in bulk (as is normally the case with giveaways).

Check out these popular tech-related products:

  1. Griffin Survivor Case for iPad Air
  2. Case Logic Cross-Hatch Compu-Case
  3. Energizer 5200 mAh Power Bank

Other (Food, Games)

This last category has a few items that didn’t really fit into the others but are full of brand name products that are instantly recognizable to just about anyone.

Image5-OtherThey all fit the type of brand awareness that both LeMond and Farrell talked about above. If you’re looking to give out a favor like chocolate at a wedding or dinner event, a name like Ghirardelli has the kind of quality you might be looking for.

Likewise, offering a Rubik’s cube over some other generic game or puzzle can give some credibility to a company.

“A brand often gives the (customer) some reassurance that they are getting a quality product because they see it at retail, they know the name, and they are confident that any issue can be resolved if there is one,” LeMond said. “It also is a way to help ensure that the person receiving the gift is going to use it.”

Check out these brands for some ideas:

  1. EOS Lip Balm
  2. Ghirardelli Gift Set
  3. Rubik’s 9-Panel Full Custom Cube


Both LeMond and Farrell said that they are continuously adding brand names to product lineups. LeMond said the driving force seems to be a combination of customers looking for more options and companies recognizing the opportunity to offer their products on a wider scale.

“Retail trends and brands drive consumer behavior and this has a direct influence in our promotional products space,” LeMond said. “We watch these trends and grow our assortment based on this demand. We don’t see this trend slowing down anytime soon.”

Farrell added that brand names are a little more valuable in customers’ minds because they recognize the name, even if there’s a product that looks similar but isn’t associated with a particular company.

“Customers are demanding brands as there is a desire to promote themselves and be associated with retail brands,” Farrell said.

You might not have known that QLP offers so many brands (and there are plenty more that aren’t on this list), but the next time you’re looking for a giveaway, think about the impact having a brand name next to your company logo could have on your customers!

Have you ever bought a brand name promotional product? Ever received a freebie that was brand name? Was it better than other giveaways you’ve gotten? Let us know in the comments!

expand your brand


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. Anthony

    This is a great post for anyone looking for a specific brand for an item they want printed. It definitely helps narrow down your search for things if you like the quality of that brand. However, some brands can be very strict with you custom printing on their items so it is always good to be aware of what we can and cannot do. It can also be pricey as well so if you have the budget, DO IT!!

    But I feel like more apparel related items are more of a demand for brands because there are so many different kinds of shirts for what you are trying to promote. It could be for an event that you’re handing out free T-shirts (like a festival or a parade) or it could be for your working staff and you would like them to look professional with a Polo.

    I think it is a great idea to go for a brand promotional item. But if you ever do need any help trying these kinds of items, just let us know and we will be happy to take care of you! Great post as always Shaun!!

  2. Stacy Gruca

    I have forwarded this blog to a number of my clients who are looking for more of a retail item than a standard promo item. Apparel is HUGE. I am constantly getting requests for name brand apparel for corporate events and uniforms. Golf outings are huge, brands like Titleist, Nike, and Puma make a great showing on the course. Other non-apparel items are great as well. Name brand tech and drinkware give the client added confidence in the quality of the product.

  3. Gina

    Nice post for clients looking for something a bit more specific! Sometimes it’s worth the increase in cost to incorporate brand name promo products into your projects. A lot of times this comes in handy when searching for gifts for employees or acknowledging special people in your life.
    It helps add to both the actual and perceived value of the item itself, and helps to send the message that you care! It’s nice to get free stuff in general, but it’s nicer to look at a giveaway and think “Wow, they really went all out for me/us!”
    While many promotional products do have the ability to withstand the test of time, it always helps to have the peace of mind branding provides. I recently helped a customer look over some of the Guess branded bags we carry that are mentioned above, and they’re at a slightly higher price point but really great-looking!

  4. Kat

    GREAT POST!! This just proves that not all promo products are “off brands”. I have customers all the time ask if we sell name brand items. I will for sure pass this blog onto the next to inquire!

  5. Chase

    Great post!! I love these blogs! Finding out that there are so many products that can be imprinted is pretty crazy! My favorite on is the Rubiks Cube! That thing is awesome! The drinkware is always a good way to get noticed as well! People keep those in their houses and will see them on a daily basis! Such a good options! Side note, anyone who wants to get me the printed golf balls those will always go to good use. 🙂 Thanks again for the great write up!

  6. Shauna

    Yes! I, along with Stacy, shared this post with a lot of my clients that consistently look for more name brand apparel and other promotional items. I think having your name or logo on a more high-end item really gets the word out for your company in a new way — and I also think it really makes your promotional product stick in the mind of your customer a lot more — and not only your customer, anyone that might see them wearing or using that cool swag is bound to be jealous and want one for themselves! Win win. 😀

  7. PMO


    I’ve already passed this along to a client looking to get those “Name Brand” products. To them, it was a familiarity thing. So, it was great to know we could help them out!

  8. Ashley

    Brand loyalty is weirdly a huge part of American identity for some. While there are others who certainly try to fend off any sort of leniency towards one corporation for fear they come off brainwashed, most of us cannot deny that the perfect cup of Starbucks coffee or any Disney movie can make our day better than anything else. No matter how similar products from different companies may seem, it is the trust that brings customers back. That is why promotions with popular brands are a perfect answer to a business’ promotional needs!

    Out of the ones Shaun listed, I know I only go toward the Energizers when it is time to buy a new set of batteries. And I absolutely LOVE lip balm! I can’t get enough of it! Honestly, I think I am addicted. So even though I am not brand-specific to EOS, I know I have been reaching for it when it’s time to get in line to pay for my groceries. Knowing that these two brands alone are available for promotional goods makes me excited because they are already reliable to my customers (and myself, obviously). I can feel even more comfortable than I already am with any of the items in our QLP catalog (which is truly wonderful, I might add) recommending these to help fill a promotional need. I just know that in those cases, brand specific promotions have all the potential of being successful! So why not try to get these in your customers’ hands?

  9. Jay

    This is a good one!

    As much as literally any item can be custom-printed, having a name brand attached to it really makes a statement. A lot of times even the higher-end stuff on our site is tough for a customer to order as much as we know they’re great items and come from a great manufacturer. I rely on the name brand stuff in those situations because the brands we carry are very well known by a majority of the type of clientele we have. I look forward to adding more in the future!

  10. Kevin

    Such an awesome article… .Brand names are so important and the first thing people see (I believe) when ordering or buying anything. Seeing the name that you can trust on the label for quality can totally put your mind at ease when purchasing something… I know this first hand every day when I pick up my iphone! 🙂

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