Print merchandise – So much to print, so little time…

In the midst of the digital tidal wave, the right printed merchandise can be extremely effective in terms of enforcing your brand message. A targeted product for the right audience can be a great conversation starter and do wonders for top-of-mind awareness.

If you’re a start-up, or a small business with a plan to crank up your marketing presence, you may be wondering what on earth you should invest your money in.

I’m guessing you don’t want to be left with 3,000 novelty bottle openers that are quietly rusting in the corner of your garage…?!

You’re thinking, what will best represent my brand in print? What’s the latest thing?… A frisbee? A fridge magnet? A t-shirt? A yoyo? A coffee cup?

Firstly, forget about what the latest thing is. Be selective and look for a quality product that suits your style.

Here’s a few pointers you should consider before deciding on your printed promotional merchandise…

Does it say something about who you are?

Regardless of what the object is, it should add to the story of you as a company. If there’s no tangible point to it, then it’s not worth doing.

A cost effective place to start is the most basic of printed items – the Business Card.

moo cards hub heart cards





OMG I hear you say – this girl has rocks in her head – business cards are soooo 1998!!


If you haven’t got a business card because you don’t think you need one, then let me ‘splain my reasoning (rocks aside)… Doing business – last time I checked – still involves people. And what you want is for them to leave your first meeting with a little piece of ‘you’ in their pocket.

A business card presents the perfect opportunity to solidify their first impression and pique their interest in your story. Obviously it needs to be interesting and engaging …. And If they say absolutely nothing when you hand it over, you know you have room for improvement.

A great card will deliver a positive response and ideally start a whole new conversation about what you can do for them. It’s the ultimate in personal branding.

If I’m impressed by the business card, I always keep it… even if I didn’t like the person!

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Will it last?

Rather than printing thousands of flyers that will only add to landfill, why not go for something with a bit of stamina?

Ideally if you’re going to spend anything more than about $3 per unit, you want something that has a shelf life of 6-12 months.

So look for durable products with a supplier who will ideally send you out some samples. That way, you and your friends can test it out for a few weeks and see if it makes the grade.

Is it useful?

bottlePractical items are ideal and very worth spending money on. Obviously, these are perfect for event branding as well.

Some of my favourites in this category include:



1. Canvas shopping bags:

canvas bageataly canvas bagcanvas bag red print


Coffee canvas bag






2. Eco coffee cups: (check out Ideal Cup from NZ)

ideal cup






3. Lip balm or sunscreen:

3 sun screen malibu-rum-lip-balm sunscreen






4. Bandaids:






Remember that if it is a quality product and the branding is stylish people will enjoy using it more because it was free! In terms of printing, obviously if you can get away with one colour print then the price will come down, and it’s always economies of scale with these products too – the more, the merrier!

Items that might not be as practical as they seem…

Satchels: I always find conference satchels a bit naff. They are cheaply made, the handles are stiff and starchy and the logos have been slapped on in a tacky fashion. I’m happy to be proven wrong on this, but so far I’ve only ever been the recipient of the dud ones!

USBs: Also a word of warning about cute USB sticks… they can be awesome if you have the right product or service, but PLEASE test the design first. So many I have found either won’t fit into some ports because the design obstructs them sitting flush, or the pin is so thin it snaps off after two uses, or they only have 2MB of storage on them :/

promo usb plane usb green truck usb






iPhone Covers: Again, these can be awesome if you get a good quality product… and if Apple would stop changing the size of their phones every six months :/

iphone covers





Remember – it needs to be actually useful, not just pretend to be!

Is it unique?

What you don’t want is to be a walking brand cliché. For example, every pharmaceutical company on the planet has produced a golf umbrella and a stress ball in the shape of one of their drugs. These ideas are not new.

Something sooooo unique that they want to show their friends immediately should be your aim. Easier said than done, I know!


Next up – Is my website ‘mobile friendly’ and does it need to be?

Halcyon Creative