Imagine that you’ve just signed a new agency and they send you a welcome gift. Inside is a branded pen, drink bottle, notepad and a small bag of jellybeans. You eat the jellybeans, but the rest of it will likely end up in the bin. 

When done right, branded merch and gifting can drastically improve brand identity, increase brand awareness and, ultimately, boost sales. So, how do you go about making better procurement decisions for your business? By approaching branded merch and gifts with a purpose-driven mindset. 

Identify your purpose, make better buying decisions

As with any marketing activity, branded products or gifts must be purpose-driven to succeed. What is the goal or target you want to achieve, and what products or content drive your business towards that goal? Instead of jumping in head-first, planning will help you avoid wasting time and limited budget, and ensure you make efficient – and impactful – brand procurement decisions down the line.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the goal or target? Is it brand awareness, brand expression or interpersonal appreciation? Pick a few strategic business goals or KPIs to focus on (think SMART goals) and ensure they align with your target audience. 
  • What is my brand and value offering? Your gift should create a hands-on experience of your brand – therefore, it needs to be designed to reflect your core values. 
  • Who is the target audience? Age, demographic, culture? Is the project internal or external, local or international? Get clear on your target audience to help focus on how to present your brand and the products you use.
  • Identify market trends and competition. With a SWOT analysis, it will be easier to create a product that provides unique value to the consumer and stands out in the market.

Best in breed 

To get you thinking beyond the branded bottle, here are some examples of well-considered promotion merchandise that not only sparked joy, but also delivered high customer and staff engagement. 

Dropbox: cupcake welcome kit

When Dropbox makes an offer to a new employee, the employee receives a special delivery at home: a cupcake kit in a beautifully designed box. It’s a literal reference to one of the brand’s five core values, represented by an image of a smiling cupcake – and a great way to delight its employees before they’ve even started. 

Lexus: all-terrain direct mail campaign

Lexus Canada used a simple manila envelope to demonstrate the hill-climbing ability of its Lexus GX – and it turned out to be the brand’s most successful direct mail campaign. 

Once unwound, an insert revealed the recipient had traced the elevation of a drive between Vancouver and Banff. It led them to a landing page to win an adventure on that same drive in a GX. The brand saw a huge lift in qualified leads and renewed excitement for the brand.

Think outside the box to find surprising and unique ways to promote your brand. Designed to poke fun at how difficult it is to get ketchup out of a bottle…the Heinz ketchup puzzle created a social media buzz that left everyone “seeing red.”

Heinz: the ketchup puzzle

Heinz knows that good things take time. During the pandemic, many of us had a little more time on our hands, so the well-known food brand created the Heinz Ketchup Puzzle. With 570 pieces, all identical Heinz red, it encouraged customers to share via social media who they would finish the puzzle with.

Nike: athlete welcome pack

Becoming a Nike athlete is a dream for any sportsperson, and the brand has a proud history and culture with its sponsored athletes. Its premium welcome pack ensures new athletes feel welcomed into the business relationship and understand the magnitude of their achievement as a member of the Nike family. It also provides guidance on the business side of being a Nike-sponsored athlete – from wearing and using the brand’s products to using social media to its best advantage.

Doing branded procurement better

There are many ways to deliver branded experiences using merchandise that resonates with your target audience, enhances your corporate identity and leaves a lasting impact. At HBPriors, we help our clients find on-point and on-brand merchandise and corporate gifts that are purpose-driven and convey the right message – so they create memorable experiences instead of gathering dust in an office drawer.  

For help finding the best-fit promotional products and gifts, get in touch with HBPriors.