by Milind Yohann

How to market your brand with Merchandise

Whether it’s giveaways to loyalists and fans, or rewarding employees with branded gifts, merchandise is the wearable brand visibility you need! 

DOs & DON’Ts

Here’s the thing about today’s young, earning millennial: if something is out of sight, it’s out of mind. Visual representation is key, and no- we’re not talking about spamming the city with billboards. Before we get into the details of merchandise, here are a few do’s, don'ts and tips for the face design of your merch.

  1. The Scrawl Test
    - Whether a logo or a slogan, the most memorable brand imprints are those that could technically be easily scrawled on a wall or piece of paper with a marker

  2. The Internet Test
    - Do a thorough search and check if your artwork doesn’t convey a meaning you don’t want it to (Google: Institute of Oriental Studies)

  3. The Instagram Test
    - Is it ‘instagrammable’? Does it Spark Joy? Do you see your favorite celebrity taking a photo in/of your merchandise and posting it on their social media?

  4. DON’T
    - Use clip art
    - Use a drop shadow
    - Use too many colors
    - Use too many words

  5. DO
    - Make an iteration in black & white
    - Seperate the words from the icon
    - Make multiple adaptations for different merchandise

WHERE do I fit in the world of Merch?

Now let’s dive into the different kinds of merchandise marketing: 

  1. The Logo
    Do you have a logo that you’re particularly proud of? Sometimes the best way to create a recall factor for your brand is through a mnemonic- Amazon’s arrow, Nike’s Tick-mark, McDonald’s ‘M’ or YourDesignStore’s brackets! (Pro tip- The best way to lock in on a mnemonic is to imagine how easy it would be for someone to scrawl it on a wall with a marker.)
    Brand logos make for great merchandise. You could launch a series with the brand name to enforce association with your brand and it’s logo, and ultimately just keep the logo in.

  2. The Slogan
    You wouldn’t need to spell out the brand if someone said ‘Impossible is Nothing’ or told you they were celebrating with ‘the High Life’. (Pro Tip- the best slogans are 5 words or less. Also, our ‘Scrawl’ test applies here as well.)

  3. The Experience
    This is a big one: creating merchandise for fans and loyalists by bringing your brand’s unique experience to the forefront. Here are a few examples of different spaces and interests:

    A. Art:
    This is literally the easiest and most appropriate way to market your art. It would look great in a frame, hanging over a mantlepiece. It would also look great on the front of a t-shirt. Bonus- you can call your patrons ‘Walking Galleries’

    B. Sports:
    >Custom printed Jerseys for a sports team make fans feel like they’re a part of the family. Stir up feelings of pride and fraternity with your fans.

    >Every great sports-person has their own legendary celebration. Idolize your MVPs by silhouetting their celebrations, and slapping it on a t-shirt.

    C. Music:
    Tragically, we haven’t cracked the technology for printing sound. But there are a bunch of other ways Artistes can market to their fans-

    >Rap Duo Run the Jewels created a gang-style hand gesture that became the face of their albums, and subsequently all their merchandise. Fans would throw up a fist and a 2-finger gun to response calls of ‘Boomaye’

    >Lizzo’s iconic lyric ‘100% that B!%@#’ blew up to the extent that it found it’s way onto t-shirts, tattoos, and even memes. What’s your best lyric?

    D. NGOs & Charities
    Merchandise fulfills two of the main focus points of an NGO: Awareness and Fundraising. Check out the good work by our favorite Animal Rescue heroes CARE.

WHAT do I sell? 

Firstly, whatever you want to sell, we’ve got it (#ShamelessSelfPromotion). 

There’s no rule of thumb when it comes to slapping your artwork on merchandise. But at the same time, you don’t really see a rock band doing calendars/diaries, or a charitable trust doing leather armbands. Here’s a breakdown of the different kinds merchandise and whether it suits you

1. T-Shirts

T-shirts are the OG Merch. These are easily the most versatile tool for merchandising. Over the years, the t-shirt customization scene has evolved from single graphic patches on fronts, to all out prints across every angle of the t-shirt.

T-shirts are the comfort food of the merchandising world. You can’t go wrong with a classic round neck! 

2. Pullovers & Jackets

Imagine a piece of plush fabric engulfing you. This is the feeling you’re hoping to evoke through a well branded Hoodie or Sweatshirt- a warm hug from your favorite brand. Just make sure your intention for the merch is clear- A sweatshirt to stay home in when it’s cold outside//or a sweatshirt to wear out with friends. 

3. Accessories

For lack of a better word- accessories are merch that you’d find in your pocket, or quickly at hand. These could range from masks and keychains, to custom credit card skins and mouse pads. The best thing about Accessory merch is that it’s so close to the user. There’s not a day that goes by when you haven’t had even the quickest glance at your keys, wallet or (in a post COVID world) your Mask. 

4. Something Different- Something YOU

There’s no way for us to put this into words, so here are a few examples of great merch with the perfect brand.

PlayStation Button Keychains 

Solves the problem of fidgeting with keychains by selling keychain-pads with haptic feedback, reinforcing their already famous Triangle-Circle-X-Square

Content House 032c’s ‘DIY Branding Kit’ 

032c created what they call ‘An authorized Bootlegging Kit’ which included their brand logo, and 2 safety pins, implying that you can brand anything at home with 032c. Super fun, very underground, and extremely on brand for these alt-content giants

The Bacardi NH7 Weekender’s #HappyAtHome Kit 

Tasked with bringing the experience of one of India’s biggest music festivals to people’s homes in a pandemic, OML & Bacardi created the #HappyAtHome kit that included staples like badges and bands, to fan favourites like the tin mug they sell at every edition of the festival