Pens, pads, Post-Its, and plush toys… The array of items that companies will put their names on never ceases to amaze me when I walk through a tradeshow exhibit floor. Merchandising can go a long way toward getting your logo in front of potential customers. But what does a plush toy have to do with your services? Just because there is room for your logo on something or you can get it for a good price, that doesn’t make it a good choice.

Take care to choose the right place to put your brand. When looking at giveaways to put your name in front of potential customers’ eyes, here are some points to consider:

  • On-topic: The item should have something to do with your company or products. For example if you sell gardening supplies, put your logo on garden gloves, a soil pH monitor, or even a packet of seeds. [If you sell software, consider reference cards!] Look at this as an opportunity to show off your creative thinking and to get your customers to think about your brand in a new way.
  • Useful: The more useful the item is, the longer your brand will be in front of their eyes. For example, if you sell gadgets for quilters, put your logo on a tote bag or thread case. Make it something that they will actually use, and your name will remain in front of them.
  • High-quality: The nicer the item is, the more likely your customer is to keep it. If you decide to put your logo on a pen or a bag, make it a very nice one. Or think about it this way: Do you really want your customers to associate your brand with low-quality?
  • Audience-appropriate: The item should be appropriate for your main audience. For example, if you consult with companies on how they can be more ecologically-minded, make sure your item is recyclable or made of recycled materials.

The moral of the story:

When it comes to merchandising, the item you select becomes an extension of your brand. Make sure that it is something that reflects the quality of your brand and that it is something that your customers will relate to you.

Your turn:

The silliest giveaway I’ve seen recently was at Supercomputing 2010 where they had cute green plush fish with the Supercomputing brand on a ribbon around its neck. A fish? For Supercomputing? Huh?

Are there any great/terrible examples you can share?

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