How Merchandise Can Help Your Brand Recognition

Discover how promotional merchandise can improve your brand recognition and what products are the most popular among consumers.

Print Design
May 12, 2024

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From creating emotional bonds with potential clients to generating new leads, here are a few examples of how branded merchandise helps with brand recognition.

Go to any industry trade show, tech conference, or professional meetup event, and you will likely end up with bags of promotional materials.

The usual business cards, brochures, flyers, and stationery have been replaced with more practical and polished items such as hoodies, reusable water bottles, and phone gadgets. Still, their purpose remains the same: to promote a brand and reinforce its recognition.

Months or even years after a particular event passes, branded merchandise given to the visitors will continue to remind them about the specific brands silently.

With CPI as low as $0.005 and recall rate as high as 85%, branded merchandise is by far the most efficient and cost-effective type of advertising. With an average keep rate of over a year, promotional products are the least discarded marketing materials.

Branded merchandise for advertising purposes is no longer reserved for companies with big marketing budgets. From Coca-Cola to the local gym, everyone uses different types of merchandise to amplify and build brand identity.

Besides being used by the companies to boost brand recognition, branded merchandise is also used for fans to show their loyalty towards a particular brand. Google has an entire store where you can buy anything, from hoodies to masks for your phone.


What is branded merchandise?

Products that have a company logo, slogan, or any other element that is part of the brand identity and are used to promote the brand are called branded merchandise. The sole purpose of these products is to promote the brand, raise awareness about it and improve its recognition among the target audience.

Branded merchandise today can be considered as a business card, only more fun. The majority of these promotional products are handed out at trade shows and conferences to new or potential customers, influencers, and journalists from trade publications.

Their primary purpose is to spread the word about the company and remind them of your business.


Source: Anna Rudak at Behance

Source: tegusu Inc. at Behance

Source: Office Milano at Behance

However, you probably kept a good part of the promotional merchandise you received. A cleverly designed USB stick, a nice-looking bag for your laptop, or well-designed stationery likely found practical use in your daily life.

Source: Robot Food at Behance

Still, there are a lot of brands that shifted merchandising to a whole new level. Using their brand identity elements for different types of products, they created lasting personal experiences and connections with their audience.

They made an additional revenue stream by offering their customers branded products. An excellent example of this is Starbucks which offers attractively designed, seasonally themed drinkware and other types of merchandise.

Why is branded merch important?

You might wonder if it is really that important to print your company logo on a tote bag or a T-shirt. You already have the company website, social media profiles, and print materials, so branded merchandise might seem like pushing your budget a little too far.

Think about the last time you went to a conference, promotion, product launch, or trade show. You probably ended with more than a dozen business cards, brochures, and pamphlets. The majority of those ended up at the bottom of your desk drawer or in the trash.


According to ASI (Advertising Speciality Institute), the average time a consumer keeps a promotional product is about a year. This is why branded merchandise needs to be part of every marketing mix today.

Promotional products have the lowest cost per impression (CPI) compared to any other advertising medium. With the cost as low as $0.005 per impression, merchandise is an excellent choice for small businesses and companies that lack large marketing budgets who want to work on increasing brand awareness.

What types of merchandise are the most popular?

The same study by ASI shows that writing materials such as branded pens, pencils, notebooks, pads are at the top of this list.

Almost 9 in 10 Americans, or 89%, own at least one such item. 88% have branded drinkware, 80% have T-shirts with a company logo or a slogan, and 73% have branded bags.

Next on this list are headwear, outerwear, and polo shirts which can be found in approximately 67% of American homes. 64% of Americans have some branded desk accessory, 58% have at least one USB drive, and 33% have a mobile power bank that was given as a part of a promotional campaign.


And even though some studies show that millennials and younger generations prioritize experiences over stuff, the branded merchandise industry has had steady growth for the past five years. Today this industry is worth over $24 billion only in the United States.

How branded merchandise impacts brand recognition?

One of the goals of every marketing strategy is to build and improve brand recognition over time. Print materials, TV advertisements, radio jingles, website banners, and social media ads promote particular products or services and remind us of the company. That is why you can see campaigns that do not advertise anything but the brand from time to time.

Merchandise branded with company logo can be used daily and is usually kept much longer than other promotional materials.  So as long as your customers use the products you gave them, they will see your company logo and brand message.  But this is only just one of the reasons how promotional products improve brand recognition.


It helps you introduce your business

If you are starting your business, branded merchandise can efficiently introduce it to your potential customers. Products with your logo, such as tote bags, T-shirts, or anything that fits your business type and brand, will work much better than an ordinary business card. You can always print a QR code that leads to a specific landing page, your website address, or other helpful information to make it easier for your potential customers to find you.

Just make sure that the product is well designed and is visually connected to your branding. Putting your logo on a bag or a mug is not enough. You need to pay attention to the overall design of the product. You want your merchandise to stand out from your competitors and make it visually pleasing so your customers will want to keep and use the products.

It leaves an impression

According to Nielsen and OAAA (Outdoor Advertising Association of America) data, merchandise offers the best number of impressions for every dollar spent. While TV and magazine ads can cost you up to $1.8 per impression, the average CPM on social media is on the rise from $6.64 in 2017.

Still, the cost of impression for promotional products can go as low as $0.005. Outerwear generates around 6,100 impressions for every dollar spent.  T-shirts and headwear generate 3,400 impressions each, and bags on average generate some 3,300.


People under 55 prefer promo products over any other type of advertising. They also have 2.5 times more favorable opinions of promotional products than digital ads.

It has a tremendous life cycle

One of the biggest prejudices about promotional materials is that most of them end up in the trash. However, data from ASI shows that the majority of promotional products are being kept and used.

The determining factor to keep the merchandise for many people is quality and design. This is why more and more companies are paying attention when selecting products for potential customers. The better the quality and design, the longer the life cycle the product will have.

People keep outerwear the longest, which is 16 months on average. Umbrellas and T-shirts are used for 14 months on average, while mobile power banks and drinkware are utilized on average for one year.

Still, this doesn’t mean the end for these products. In many cases, they are usually given away to someone else, so their life cycle extends. 68% of polo shirts, 65% of T-shirts, and 61% of bags are given to someone else.

It helps brands be more memorable

85% of people remember the companies that gave them branded merchandise which doesn’t come as a surprise. Take into account the average number of impressions and average life cycle of branded merchandise. You can quickly understand why merchandise boosts brand recognition.

The Ad Impressions Study from 2019 conducted by ASI identified that an average household in the U.S. owns approximately 30 promotional products. Gen X households had on average 34 promotional items, millennial households had 30, while baby boomers had on average 28 such things.

These numbers might not sound that impressive at first. However, once you multiply those 30 items with 120 million households in America, you get a number of over three billion logos and promotional slogans being seen every day repeatedly.

Few tips on how to create brand merchandise for your company

Picking the right merchandise used to be a relatively straightforward task. You could place your logo on a T-shirt or a mug, and the job was done. Today, however, things are not that simple. To stand out from your competitors and attract potential customers, you need to pay attention to the following things to get the right results from your promotional products.

Pick quality over quantity. It is relatively cheap to make brand merchandise. For example, a plastic tote with your company logo can cost you as low as $0.5, while the cotton one can cost you less than $1. Tote bags with insulation cost around $2, while bags that mimic LL. Bean’s iconic canvas bags can cost you about $3.

It is always better to go with a smaller number of high-quality promotional products that your customers will like. Spending $3,000 for a thousand tote bags that your customers will carry everywhere is a much better investment long term than spending the same amount of money for 6,000 bags that will likely end up in the trash.

Pay attention to the graphic design. Picking the merchandise with better quality is the first step. It can help you set yourself apart from the majority of companies that give out similar products. But a good design will make the products more attractive to your customers and make them use more. The more people use the merchandise you give them, the higher your impressions for every dollar spent on the merchandise.

The simple placement of your logo on merchandise is not enough. You need to get creative and look out for inspiration. If you plan to give away any apparel, then there are more than a few websites that can provide you with ideas.

Be environmentally friendly. Try to pick merchandise that is made out of recycled or natural materials and that is durable and lasting. Consumers are shifting towards eco-conscious brands that not only preach but practice as well.

Merchandise can improve your brand’s recognition over time. Just make sure you picked the products that your customers will enjoy using daily. And if you have trouble or doubts about creating designs that will make your promotional products stand out, feel free to contact us. We at ManyPixels are always ready to help you with any creative work imaginable.

Discover how promotional merchandise can improve your brand recognition and what products are the most popular among consumers.

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