Stop Wasting Good Money on Bad Branding

Written by Zac Johnson
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Let’s be honest… no one loves your company and logo more than yourself! And that’s the way it should be… but how can companies better brand themselves and save money on wasted schwag. With Affiliate Summit coming to a close, and a massive load of money spent on promotional schwag and tshirts, it’s a good time to look back and at the good the bad and the ugly. How many times were you given a tshirt from a network that is just hideous and will only be used as a rag or night shirt? It happens all the time. As bad as some tshirts might be, they are still not as bad as half of the schwag handed out that is immediately tossed.

If you are going to order 10,000 shirts, stickers, mousepads or anything else… make sure you spend a lot of time doing research that it’s something people will actually wear/use and not just toss it into the trash after they pass your booth. To get a good idea of different types of promotional items and signs you can get custom printed, take a look at the selection at Signazon.com. Knowing what’s out there before you spend a ton of money on promotional items is the best first step to take.

Over the past several Affiliate Summits and marketing conferences, I usually end up tossing all of the schwag and promotional items into a box in my office room closet. Below you can see just a portion of what’s been collected over the years.

Mouse pads, high quality pens and USB plugs are always good items for keeps, but the same can’t be said about most of what is handed out. Tshirts can also be a good use of promotion, if they are done nicely. Go for the higher quality shirt, stay away from white and try to make something people would like to wear in public. As much as you want people to know your domain name, slapping your huge logo in the middle might not create a shirt that many people want to wear.

One example of a tshirt that was done effectively was Affiliate.com. The tshirts below were handed out during Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas. Not only did they create a tshirt for both men and women, but the front of it doesn’t look like an affiliate / branded shirt at all. The back view is where the branding is at, and it’s not completely in your face, but still gets the message across.

Billionaire Marc Cuban says the following about schwag: NEVER EVER EVER buy swag. A sure sign of failure for a startup is when someone sends me logo polo shirts. If your people are at shows and in public, its ok to buy for your own folks, but if you really think someone is going to wear your Yobaby.com polo you sent them in public, you are mistaken and have no idea how to spend your money.”

While I agree with Marc Cuban for the most part, it’s still a lot of fun to have product with your name and company on them. Don’t stop buying shirts and schwag to hand out, just make sure it’s actually something people will want to take home.

What are some of the BEST and WORST tshirts/schwag you’ve seen from affiliate and internet marketing companies?

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26 Replies to “Stop Wasting Good Money on Bad Branding”

  1. That is a great point. The majority of the stuff get's thrown away anyway. But those affiliate t-shirts are awesome!

  2. hi zac,

    I think the essence of this post have a great point. Yeah, i think if you want promote don't force and if it can be hidden that very nice.

  3. I do a lot of work for Microsoft and I love their promo items! Some are pricey like Zunes and software for special events but for the general public, even their notebooks and pens are nice.

    Personally, I love a free tee-shirt. Even the ones I don't like eventually get used somehow, like picking up the sweat under my hockey jersey or part of my protection while weeding the yard.

  4. Good point Zac. A lot of companies waste money on very useless schwag. If you are going to give away shirts, hats or other clothing, it definitely has to be stylish enough for people to actually wear. If it is a very simple shirt with just your logo, don't expect too many people to willingly be your walking billboard. It can be tricky creating something that people actually want and need though, especially something that will be used in public.

  5. awesome point zac, i like the t-shirt very beautiful and make me want to buy hehehehehehe 🙂

  6. So bummed you did not come out to ASW this year. Next year I will have to get shoe to send the Shoemoney jet out to pick you up. Honestly the only Shwag I got at ASW was stuff I begged for.

    One was the affiliate.com shirt. Their own webdesigner did it, and it came out killer.

    My favorite Schwag, which was impossible to get due to the popularity, was the Globalizer Snuggy. Anyone who puts it on looks hot it in it!

  7. My mom has been into promotional gifts prettry much for as long as I can remember, and corporate swag is her game. Some of the high quality stuff that companies give out to their premier customers is rather special, so I wont shoot all swag in general down, but the common cheap stuff, like the flimsy tshirt that will disintegrate after the third wash is just in plain bad taste.

  8. Nice post. I thought the best tshirt/schwag was the unique leads shirt. I would wear that. The worst would probably be from I think it was find a person. It was a plastic person cutout which actually was a sticky dart. Not sure where I'm supposed to use that.

  9. Looks like you get a lot of Swag… hopefully we will meet

    in a seminar one day, you've been an inspiration for a while

  10. Why make useless crap for the sole purpose of having SOMETHING to give away at a both. The only successful (cheap) giveaway we've ever used was a yo-yo. It's simple, something people can play with and not just stick in a bag, and something that makes people (well, parents) seek you out so that they can bring SOMETHING home to their kids (my customers tell me they still have them at home). It's also a great way to initiate conversation, as of course someone has to show you a trick to get a yoyo 🙂

  11. Makes a lot of sense, that one picture has a pill of some off looking stuff. Those shirts are decent though.

  12. That is very true Zac. I have so much swag, it makes me want to throw up. I dont know why i still collect it, but I do. I nver use any of it except maybe the notepads

  13. One thing that I hate to receive as a freebie are the key chains and caps with prominent logo. And you are so right about the T-shirt thing. I liked the pictures of the T-shirt u have and they are really good. The backside view was also great.

  14. Not everyone is too independently wealthy to toss out a shirt, like Marc Cuban. Most everyday hard-working person probably could use another pen, shirt, or coffee mug. Call me crazy (I guess you already have).

  15. I think those affiliate.com tshirts look great as you said. These are shirt people would actually want to wear. You will just have to be more creative to make a hand out that people really do like.

  16. Wow! Thanks for the advice and great tips. It's an interesting topic while most of us do choose to buy not branded or less quality items. This must be a good advice for my friends. Thanks for sharing!

    carol burnett

  17. Makes a lot of sense, that one picture has a pill of some off looking stuff. Those shirts are decent though.

  18. I would agree with Cuban. No one wears T-shirts which clearly market some company no one knows.. unless of course its awesomely done. But its very rare that we come across one of those.

  19. The Affiliate.com shirts are just amazing. They are unique and something I would actually wear outside (not just for a lounge shirt).

    I've seen some of the worst branding attempts in my local area of Columbia, MO. Most of them include a plain, bright-yellow tshirt with a simple logo. (No, the yellow doesn't catch my eye and make me notice your product. It burns my retina)

  20. The worst thing I ever got was at a conference last year. It was a diary… from 2007.

    Yeah, thanks… Might want to rethink your policy there guys.

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