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!

Apparel/Accessories

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

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

Sports/Outdoors

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.

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

Drinkware

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.

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:

Technology

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.

You 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.

They 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

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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!

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.