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When Buying Brand Names Brings the Biggest Benefit


What’s in a name? To some customers – everything. A name-brand promotional product can sometimes be the difference between an item that is tossed and an item that is kept, wariness and trust in your company, potential and acquisition. Sometimes it can be what makes or breaks your promotion… and sometimes the brand alternative can accomplish the same goal.

So how do you know which time it is? How do you choose? When does buying name brands matter?

The Value of Name-Brand Promotional Products

Let’s first explore the value of name-brand promotional products. There is no denying people love what they know. The end-game for most companies is to become a household name themselves, so it makes sense to align your brand with a well-known brand. But going beyond that concept, what makes a well-known brand so desirable?

building trust

For some it may be status. For some, quality. People trust brands they’ve had multiple good experiences with, brands that work to make the world a better place, and brands that demonstrate superior customer service.

Often brand-name items are rivaled by brand alternatives that are competitive in both form and function. In these cases, the only major differences are the price points and the perceived value.

Brand-name items tend to have a higher perceived value. Their prices are often higher. They experience discounts and sales less frequently. Their logos are recognizable… coveted even. This value is not just for the customer, but also for you as the advertiser. Name-brand promos can be great conversation pieces, which will lead to even more exposure for your own brand.

Retail and Promo Worlds Collide

The world of promotional products has come a long way in recent years. In our industry there will always be a place for affordable knock-offs and “tchotchkes,” but retail-inspired offerings are on the rise.

People tend to gravitate toward retail-level quality, and now thanks to the availability of top consumer brands, we finally have the power to deliver the latest trends and give your customers what they truly want.

With big box stores such as Toys “R” Us, Brookstone and Sears closing their doors, it’s clear that retail as a whole is evolving. Brands are looking for new ways to market themselves, and the promo industry is the way to go. The brands we all love are learning that we can work together to further success. This natural alliance between promotional products and name-brands allows those brands to live on and extend their reach while allowing us to offer recognizable retail-inspired items your customers will want to keep.

How to Choose Between Brand-Name and Brand-Alternative Promos

To buy, or not to buy, that is the question. Here are some guidelines to help you with that decision:

Set Goals: Before shopping for any promotional products or creating a marketing plan, you have to set goals. Is your goal to reach as many people as possible? How are you defining that reach? Sometimes less is more. Look to your own budget to determine if you can realistically afford to reach your marketing goals with a name-brand promotional item. If you can accomplish the same reach with a high-quality, lower-cost brand alternative, it may be worth your while.

Consider Cost: There are clear benefits to buying brand-names, but the biggest deterrent is almost always cost. Typically speaking, brand-name promotional products incur higher prices than brand-alternative products. Is it because the quality of the product is actually greater? Sometimes. But more often than not, it is simply due to the fact that it is a well-known brand and therefore has a higher perceived value.

Know Your Industry & Audience: Where and to whom you distribute your promos is a huge factor in deciding the type of promo that is most appropriate. If you intend to hand out items at a trade show or as a gift with purchase, you will get a bigger bang for your buck by shopping brand alternatives. If you intend your branded items as reward incentives, name-brands offer much more value. Even among the name-brand items, it’s important to look at demographics like age; younger audiences will value different brands than older audiences especially when it comes to apparel. It’s also important to know the expectations of customers within your industry. For example, clients of businesses like law firms and banks may be more brand-conscious than other industries. Know where you come from, and know where you’re going.

Understand Limitations: Some name-brand promotional products are limited in what they can offer in terms of imprinting. These brands may be new to the industry or simply don’t want to distract from their own logos. Whatever the case may be, you can often find more opportunity for multiple or larger imprint areas in brand-alternative products. It’s important to weigh your options and decide if the name or if the imprint will further your success based on the other factors above.

brand name versus brand alternative

It’s not always an easy or clear-cut decision to buy brand-name or brand-alternative promotional products, but we are here to help you make the right choice for your particular needs. Let us share some of our insight into the worlds of retail and promo with side-by-side comparisons and our vast knowledge of the pros and cons of each. Get in touch today!


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