The secret to branded swag success

When you think about corporate merchandise, you’re probably thinking about the cheap branded pen that you found down the back of the sofa last month. It doesn’t all have to be so dreary. For many new businesses, half of the challenge is making people aware of your brand and getting users on board – the number of apps or new tech offerings with free trials is a testament to that. 

Branded merchandise can be a great freebie for potential customers, ensuring strong engagement and retention, but it can also be a perk for employees, who spread news of your brand far and wide. Here at ICON, we’ve created company swag for some of the biggest and brightest players in the UK’s tech and startup world, such as Transferwise, whose tote bags count amongst our favourite startup merch and are featured in this post about some of the best examples of custom cotton totes.

Whether you’re a startup poised to launch, or you’re running a new business that’s already clocked up some mileage, here are the key reasons you should consider branded swag for your company. 

Brand recognition

If you’re a startup, increasing awareness and building a profile is essential to underscoring your brand identity and bringing in your early revenue. Creating merchandise with your logo is one of the simplest ways to get the message out. A t-shirt, for example, is a walking advertisement, turning anyone into a brand ambassador who will attract curiosity wherever they go. If you carefully target who you give the merch to, this tactic will be even more effective. (Extra reading: our tips on the best free graphic design software here; our tips on designing an awesome t-shirt here.)

A space for creativity

Your merchandise is a perfect opportunity to show potential customers how creative you are as a brand. You don’t need to be limited to cheap toys or stationery: how about hoodies, caps or water bottles? One of the most versatile possibilities is the tote bag, suitable for all occasions, and you may add a stylish design tweak like a pocket on the inside for valuables — something that shows you go the extra mile and think about what you put out into the world. If you give people something they can use in daily life, they will develop a stronger emotional bond with your company. 

Project your values

You’ve probably considered how you want people to feel about your brand. Do they see you as playful or serious? Cutting edge or pleasingly old-fashioned? You can communicate this identity through the type and style of merchandise you create, with plenty of different options.

Ensuring that the merch you give out is high quality will give a good impression of your brand — you don’t want to give people a t-shirt that falls apart in the wash or a tote bag that can’t carry the shopping home. Also, if you’re a company that’s eco-friendly, you can produce your merch sustainably, to show customers you care about both them and their planet.


It doesn’t break the bank

Many say the future of advertising is online, but the impenetrable algorithms at the heart of social media promotions mean they can be a real money sink. Even if you’re a tech startup, building your business on cutting edge innovation, merchandise is a cost-effective way to get your message out people in your city, an investment that often compares very favourably to the capital you’d put into making brand impressions on Facebook, TV or even posters and billboards.

Keep employees happy

Who doesn’t like free stuff? You should be giving out your merch to potential customers, but it can also have a powerful effect on the inside of your company. Think about what your employees might want or need, and you’ll find you rapidly build loyalty and help them feel good about where they work.

Want to create merch for your startup? ICON Printing offer fast turnaround printing on a range of garments, counting clients such as WeWork, Habito, Cuvva and Hive. Get a quote in 2 minutes online.