Merchandise: How It’s Done

Branding

Yes. We sell logos.

 

 

But what is a logo when you can’t put it on everything?

 

It’s not supposed to be used only once

Get your logo in the hands of everybody walking down the street, everybody in your industry, and hopefully people across the globe using merchandising!

If you’ve wondered how we’re going to address you getting your logo on multiple items, and how you can get your hands on those items, here it is!

So let’s look at your product or service to begin with:

That? That’s just the start!

You may have done a beautiful job designing the colors and packaging of your product.

…or in other words branded it

But if your product is the only thing that branding is on, that’s the only way people can access your branding. And since 98% of people will not buy your product upon first seeing it… that wont be very many people.

How do you hook your potential customers? Get them interested?

 

Merchandise! Get their hands on it!

Merchandise is a physical piece of advertising you can spread out there in the world. If you recently put out your product and it’s not doing quite enough numbers, this may be your solution. It can put public acceptance of your product into hyperdrive.

You may ask…

How can I afford to produce other items when I’ve got my own product to pay for?

This is where ingenuity comes, to merge low cost with having the most impact. No worries, it’s been done plenty times before…

 

Introduction
Arranging Merchandise
Promotional Events
Material
Cloth
Metal
Stickers
Polystyrene
Liquids
Closing Thoughts

 

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Arranging Merchandise

Let’s begin with positioning your merchandise.

Where should it be so that people actually buy?

You will see merchandise around your store, obviously. But it’s not as simple as that.

Your lighting should be right no matter what. If merchandise is hidden in the corner of a dimly lit area, no one is going to care about it.

Make sure you light up only the merchandise, and avoid spilling light outside of it as much as possible. The most basic solution is a track system. These have multiple hanging, turnable lights. This way you can adjust the size of the bulb and turn it so it lights up the exact piece of merchandise you’d like it to!

Spot fitting lights are small and will focus on the exact area you want. Flood lights will light up a whole area, like a shelf, or even the entire store.

Spot fitting lights on a track conveniently light up any item you want

 

We’d like to put a spotlight on how creatively salons use lighting. Salons are a service industry, as you may know, but they also sell products on the side, namely shampoos, conditioners, waxes, etc. Often branded with the store’s name as well!

Look at how they will often light up the glass internally to give the bottles a glossy clean brilliance, often what you’d expect in your hair after visiting a salon! Not only that, but these lit up items are positioned right in front of where the customer sits for 30-45 minutes. This is genius merchandising that sells.

 

 

We know promotional events are one of the first things you think of when you think “merchandise”, so let’s address it:

 

 

What’s up With Promotional Events?

Many companies seize opportunity with the promotional event, and it has its pluses. These events can be attended by your average consumer or your industry peers. Attendees go booth to booth and walk away with some item with the company’s name on it. Many companies opt for handing out very cheap items, like bottles, little toys, and drink cozies that attendees immediately chuck in the trash. Understandably, you don’t want to spend as much on your promotional merchandise as your actual products. However cutting on costs by using cheap plastic or styrofoam is really not the way. Some companies’ solution is having passerby enter a drawing for a giveaway item, which is pretty great. You get to give a high quality item, and get many peoples’ engagement, which is the whole point. Companies just starting who barely have a product on the market will often give away an iPhone, or even a car. This can be good to drum up a general hype for your company. However, will the winner really remember you, or will they remember what they won? The best balance is having a giveaway for a real product of yours that is immediately usable by the winner after they walk through their front door. The promotional event only happens in one place, and doesn’t exactly spread your name out to the world. But it solidifies your brand in the industry as one to be recognized, and is pretty much ground zero for networking.

And NEVER give out drink cozies.

 

Where to get promotional gear

If you’re in need of personalized business cards, keychains, bottle openers, and the general variety of promotional merchandise we all know, it’s easy to get that. There are a multitude of websites that provide exactly this service:

  • Redbubble – What’s cool about these guys is all of their items are designed by independent artists, so you know you have a unique piece of merchandise that really can’t be found anywhere else. There is no customization with their products however.
  • PROMOrx – These guys are definitely oriented to the office workers who would be at a promotional event, specializing in quality tech items for longterm use, and bags, writing materials, and mugs, all with your logo on them. They even have an “Eco” section for recyclable and sustainable items that will surely be popular with your gift recipients nowadays.
  • Clove & Twine – Pretty much as premiere as it gets on the high quality spectrum. They are hooked up with pretty high end brands like Patagonia to give you custom designs on their clothes. They’re also known for their headphones, kits, and and very useful innovations for around the home. Rates for customization will vary, which you sort out with the “Contact Us For Customization” button on the product screen.
  • Zazzle – The big website with the best quality for the price. Items from well regarded brands you know can be found, with everything from their business cards to their baked goods (reportedly) of high quality, and in great variation! People especially love this site for its customizer, where you can add text, color, filters and more to your logo or image exactly as you please.
  • Alibaba – Probably your cheapest bet. This classic company sells just about anything, and if you’re in need of a bulk order of merchandise and corporate gifts by tomorrow, they will get the job done. There are no options for customization however.

 

Material

 

Remember how we talked about the colors and branding you used on your actual product? Extend those themes and visuals to other items, to extend your brand! Lets get to the fun part: the different materials you can use

 

Cloths

Clothes, bags, and hats are among the most basic merchandising items. Having your name on something people wear all day is definitely of value. But how do you get ahold of these threads?

With clothes, there are of course plenty of online options. If you want to DIY it, blank shirt producers like Gildan or Tultex in the US sell shirts for usually under $10. You can get them for even lower buying in bulk from a distributor, taking advantage of freight incentives.

This is true with almost all blank shirts however, as you will need to find a distributor in your area to pick them up from. Then, when you want to print your brand’s name on these blanks you will need to find a garment printer. The infrastructure is absolutely there in most towns to support this popular process, but you will have to take the steps on your own and do some accurate calculations with the prices of production and estimated sales. This option is best for those who want to sell 100s clothes merchandise.

Other websites seamlessly do the whole process of blank shirt ordering, printing, and shipping directly to you. The highest quality one right now is probably Zazzle, whose design customizer (click “Add Image”) is almost on a Photoshop level, where you can create layers, put images through filters, and print on the front and back. They also provide the higher quality range of blank shirts, such as American Apparel and Bella Canvas. Higher quality clothes with very high quality prints come at a higher price, though you can still take advantage of numerous. discounts. This is probably the option if you want to have a more minimal collection of clothes merchandise.

Regardless, if you get customers interested enough to buy your clothes merchandise, you can turn a very generous profit with this method.

What it costs: Negotiate with a distributor in your area to buy cheap blank clothes in large bulk for between $5-$10 an item, then spend a little extra getting your design printed on them. Order individually at prices of $15-$25 for the process seamed into one order, and higher quality fabrics.

 

Metals

You certainly pump up the perception of your brand when you have metal merchandise, with customers guessing at the effort that goes into it. Guessing that you have the resources to commission a manufacturer cut a personalized deign through aluminum or even stainless steel projects value. That you’ve earned the capital to do so.

Many want a metal sign of their logo hanging outside the store. You will have to find manufacturers who can cut any typeface, color, or design into aluminum, or even stainless steel. Ideally you find someone in your area, but as these businesses can be few and far between you might have to get it shipped. If you do find someone close by, the bonus with these companies like these is that they very often provide the service of hanging the item so you don’t have to do so.

You can also get your logo etched into small metal items like dog tags, that people get to take with them.

With your brand name now in a 3D form, it will literally “pop out” to observers.

What it costs: One look at Etsy shows that metal sign makers are willing to do it for a large variety of prices, often differing per country. If you look at people’s prices plus shipping costs, you might find a great deal for yourself.

 

Stickers

What about when you want to blow up your logo in supersize? Want an easy way to apply your logo anywhere? Stickers are arguably the biggest you can go with your logo, assuming you aren’t building some massive structure out of metal or wood.

The impact is instant

The printing process can take a while, and getting the right resolution for viewing from all angles and distances can be tricky. So make sure you’re providing a clear enough image to your local graphic printer.

At the very least know the difference between a vector image and a raster image (paths vs. pixels).

If you manage to get the process set up, it should be cheaper than any other materials as you’re working with paper pretty much. Though some makers may use expensive fabric-based paper to protect from any tearing at all, which is perhaps a good idea if you have many customers poking and prodding at your graphic. In the end you have a massive image of your logo or brand that you can stick anywhere you have the rights to, like the outside of your store!

Installation of these graphics is definitely not for the untrained. With the majority of large scale stickers like these, you only have ONE opportunity to get it right. That includes centering, pressing it down cleanly using soap and water, and taking into consideration the temperature of the glass among other things. You can train your employees to do it, but they better know what they’re doing before they mess it up. You don’t want to be trying to even out a massive bunched up sticker. Otherwise hire professionals, and definitely check if the manufacturer of your graphic also offers the service of installation.

You can find use for small stickers as well, like these hang tag stickers that can be distributed around very easily without sticking to people’s fingers! Of course, things like these can be found can be found ALL across the web. Just Google for “sticker merchandise” and you are bound to find something.

 

Polystyrene

Specially designed store props

If you’re really wild and aren’t finding any of the available materials or channels attractive, and want to do your own thing entirely, polystyrene is the most popular material for shaping any design you can think of. It’s not so unusual though! Advertisers and merchandisers love solid polystyrene (“XPS” in industry terms) because it can be molded into any shape, and is also very easy to apply paint to! Maybe some cool small objects with your logo engraved? You could even give people a literal 3D model of your logo to take with them if you’re so compelled!

Polystyrene is also the material used to make mannequins, or any creative store props. These are the fixtures you can present and accentuate your merchandise on if you want to make the scenery more interesting than just shelves. Go ahead and Google who makes polystyrene objects or props in your city. “Bespoke” is often the associated word with custom made items here. Many people in this business already make a selection of shapes  If you have the creativity and the funds to commission a producer, what’s to stop you?

What it costs: Custom designed or bespoke polystyrene items will likely run you from $500 – $1000 dollars. If you have your own accurate design beforehand, you might cut the costs of  design. If you choose to paint or apply stickers to the items yourself, you can potentially save money depending on how those costs are added.

 

Liquids

In doing the research for this article, we came to the conclusion that liquids are basically the merchandise that satisfies cost effectiveness best. We’re talking those super useful ones, like fragrances, cleaners, oils, etc. Think of it. If you produce bikes, you can stack your shelves with little bottles of chain oil with your brand name on them. People will definitely thank you if you hand them out for free at a promotional event!

Liquids are divisible to the smallest quantity, so you can save as much money as you want bottling them up. If they are non-replicable by the general public and produced in huge quantities in factories, oftentimes people only need a little amount. They don’t want to buy the whole bottle at retail price!

Imagine you offer cleaning services. You could sell bottled cleaning solutions, getting the rights to put your label on them. Companies do this with water for example all the time. What liquid merchandise factors into your product or service?

 

 

What’s the point of having a logo if it can’t be replicated and sent out into the world?

Many years ago shoppers used to dreamily window shop, checking their town store windows for updates. Now we’re in a global economy. Hand out, or sell, multitudes of merchandise, like mini advertisements people can take out into the world.

Finesse the balance between cost and effectiveness, and you can certainly come up with a merchandise solution that benefits you!

Some of our clients even gave us feedback. Gonzalo, co-founder of Culturfil, tried out some hats from the Brand Hub at checkout when he bought his logo two months ago. He gave some out at promotional events and they really caught on. Now he says he sells them out of his store.

Sofia initially ordered a stack of business cards, and then spiced things up with some Apple Watch bands. She wrote “I wanted a unique merchandise product to set my company apart in people’s minds.”

You see: In Gonzalo’s case people buy the hats because other people want them. In Sofia’s case, the watch bands are merchandise that is switchable, and add fun value.

Many entrepreneurs and companies out there may see merchandise as somewhat pointless. Why put out a bunch of smaller value items than your main product or service? Your company needs an aura of visuals and branding that surrounds it, in the customer’s mind at least. If you don’t employ this you might be sitting on a high value product that isn’t selling.

But why have physical merchandise when you can reach people worldwide with online visuals and advertising? Everybody looks at websites, but that’s the thing: they’re everywhere. Nowadays people are directed to websites all the time, and searching up your URL, let alone making an account, is too much of a process for many.

A physical item however can be placed in someone’s hands right now, right there.

So consider the things you can work with!

 


Jonas

by Jonas

Favorite Branding: Preem

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