When I started out, I put my brand on everything possible. Hell, our name is DSR BRANDING isn’t it?! We had caps, polo shirts, notepads and even Titleist golf balls, at a cool $8 a pop! I was like a 4-year-old who had just learnt to write his name and was now scribbling it all around the house. Do I regret it? No, not really, except for maybe the golf balls (it’s even more frustrating hitting your own branded golf ball into the water on the 17th at Keperra).
In this article I’m going to give you our 5-step questionnaire to ask yourselves before committing to merchandise. I’ll show you a few of our favourite examples of exceptional merchandise, plus for start-ups or people on a budget I’ll show you how you can bootstrap a few branded products.
I regularly see the merchandise enthusiasm I had with our clients. We finalise their brand identity and it begins. Full steam ahead. Corporate collateral rolls into umbrellas, caps, totes, uniforms and laptop stickers. It’s exciting, but through excited over-ordering it can often mean the merchandise ends up collecting dust in storage. At a time where cashflow can be tight, that money could be put to better use.
I do think new brands and rebrands differentiate here. If you’re only just starting out, my advice is to err on the side of caution and take the merchandise order slowly. While the natural temptation is to launch with gusto, biding your time and learning more about your customers and what they truly value is safer.
Our approach to merchandise is the same as our approach to branding: do it well, less is more and don’t be cheap. Importantly, make sure it’s it appropriate to your business’ values.
Years ago I worked on a rebrand for a company who specialised in 4WD and mine-fleet rentals. Upon their rebrand they almost greenlit the production of 10,000 stubby coolers and bottle openers, quite a contradiction with their core value of ‘road safety’… Luckily we settled on caps and water bottles instead.
With any merchandise, we always want to design for the application, rather than just plonking the logo as prominently as possible on as many places as possible. Unless, of course, we’re doing a V8 Falcon at Bathurst.
5 questions to escape mindless merchandising
To avoid common pitfalls in your quest for exceptional merchandise we’ve put together a quick 5-step questionnaire to ask yourself and your team before putting your logo on something.
- Would you be excited to receive it and use it? If not, that’s probably your answer.
- Does it bring out the best in your brand? Does your logo look good? Are the colours on-brand?
- Do you have a reason for being there? Does it make sense for your logo to be on there?
- What’s the shelf-life? Will it quickly expire or become redundant? E.g. branded headphones with a headphone jack, or a 2019 wall calendar.
- Does it live up to your brand promise? If you’re trying to promote a high quality, premium brand, cheap merchandise that breaks or doesn’t last will poorly represent you.
I think it’s safe to say that our $8 golf balls wouldn’t have passed this rigorous test…
Here is some of our favourite merchandise:
Designer umbrellas and polo shirt for Lugarno Partners. Featuring a simplified version of the logo for a minimal, premium effect.
Gold foil leather diaries for Vitrinite.
QMC Logistics cap – Custom embroidery on a premium flexfit cap.
Dozzi Financial Advice debossed leather notebook, with a message on the inside, welcoming new clients.
Want to do it yourself?
The challenge with merchandise is unless you’re ordering in significant bulk, the cost per unit is often prohibitively high. We’ve got a few tips to have you looking the part but with minimal outlay.
Then get your logo embroidered. We recommend ABC Embroidery in West End, QLD.
Source your own blank moleskines from Book Depository (they sell in packs of 3 with multiple sizes available).
Then order a custom stamp and ink, we used Swift Rubber stamps.
Do a heap of tests before moving over to the real notebook!
At the end of the day, you should be excited and proud to wear your logo. Your business identity has lived in your head for so long, and now it can be proudly emblazoned on your chest or back.
My advice would be to get a designer (NOT the merchandise sales company) to design it for you ;).
— Oh, and skip on the golf balls!