With all the challenges that come with running a company, it’s easy to feel as if branded merchandise is an unnecessary expense. Your corporate logo, website, printed materials and collateral might feel like an afterthought. But, here are four reasons why they shouldn’t be.
1. People are Biologically Inclined to Buy Based on Emotions
Consumers don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. As business consultant, speaker and author Simon Sinek explains in his Ted Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” humans are biologically inclined to make buying decisions based on emotions rather than rational thinking. What does this mean for businesses? That the effort you put into your logo and branded merchandise is far more than an extravagance. A company’s logo and branded merchandise are tools for a company to tell its story, creating unity among its sales team and evoking loyalty in its customers.
Not totally convinced ? Let’s look at an example. What is it about Apple products that elicits such loyalty from its client base? Year after year, devoted customers pre-order the company’s new products before they are available to purchase. As Sinek points out, the computer company has access to the same talent, product and media outlets as its competitors. And yet unlike its competitors, Apple has created more than just a computer product company with its die-hard, cult-like community of customers who consider Apple products part of their identity and lifestyle.
Sinek argues, “If Apple were like everyone else, they would say ‘We make great computers, they’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. Want to buy one?’ This approach is common among marketers who shape their marketing message around what they sell rather than why they sell it.
Instead, Apple says, “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”
Companies benefit from using branded merchandise to support their brand story– or the “why” of their product/service/message. When customers feel emotionally engaged with your company’s mission, they’re more like to purchase. Apple customers emotionally connect with the brand, and it’s no accident. The brand’s mantra “think different” is infused across the corporate culture, and is shared through its marketing message and products.
2. Branding Creates Brand Loyalists
There are many other brands utilizing their brand identity to connect emotionally with their customers, from Dove’s advertising campaigns that challenge traditional gender roles, to Airbnb’s logo that represents human connection and belonging. Why should business owners and marketers care? One word: Millennials. You know, the eighty million-plus Americans who represent about a fourth of the entire population, with $200 billion in annual buying power.
“Millennials are highly educated, career-driven, politically progressive and–despite popular belief–do indeed develop strong brand loyalty when presented with quality products and actively engaged by brands,” says David Arabov, CEO Co-founder Elite Daily in a recent article published by by Forbes, in a study that surveyed 1,300 Millennials.
The same study cited additional findings that give you reason to invest in your company’s branded merchandise to help shape your marketing message:
- Millennials are brand loyal. “Sixty percent [of survey respondents] said that they are often or always loyal to brands that they currently purchase. The sooner you build a relationship and deep connection with millennials, the better because they will continue to purchase from you as an adult.”
- Millennials review blogs before making a purchase. “Thirty three percent of millennials rely mostly on blogs before they make a purchase, compared to fewer than 3% for TV news, magazines and books.”
Loyal millennial consumers will share favorable reviews about your product on social media, which only attracts more shoppers.
3. Stand Out from the Crowd in the Noisy, Digital Era
According to Psychology Today each of us is subjected to anywhere between 3,000 and 10,000 brand exposures every day. This number was reported in 2008 before mobile devices were as prevalent in our lives, so imagine how many more brands, logos and advertisements we are exposed to today with the widespread adoption of social media and mobile commerce and consumption. So how does a brand stand out among the noise?
“Effective advertising doesn’t simply provide rational arguments in favor of a purchase, but works through emotions as well,” reported Psychology Today in 2013. “The most successful ads on the internet — the ones that go viral — are those that trigger the right emotions, such as surprise or amusement.”
Despite the excess of corporate advertising we’re exposed to on a daily basis, the fact is that cohesive, well-designed branded merchandise does set your company apart, allowing it to stand out among the competition.
4. Create Unity Between Your Brand and its Remote Sales Teams & Consumers
In the digital era, unconventional business models are beginning to take shape made possible by the Internet. More than ever, companies are abandoning the traditional brick-and-mortar storefront. Examples include subscription-based brands (such as cosmetic/beauty product company Ipsy recently featured in Fast Company which delivers beauty products tailored to shoppers’ taste on a monthly basis), to online-based commerce brands (like altruistic, affordable eyewear brand Warby Parker) to crowd-sourced services (like Uber and Airbnb), and direct selling model brands (such as LulaRoe) which allow individuals to make personal connections to sell product. In all of the models described above, strong brand identity is essential in creating consumer loyalty and trust for brands that lack the traditional brick-and-mortar experience.
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