very nonprofit wants their brand at the forefront of everyone’s minds. But that requires multiple touch points.
One way to help increase your touch points is through branded swag. This technique is often used by for-profit businesses and corporations to increase their brand visibility and attract new customers. But this concept also works for nonprofits and can help attract (and retain) new clients, volunteers, donors, and even staff.
It takes 7 to 8 touch points before someone really remembers your brand. Let’s think about how this works for a new donor. Someone has never heard of you before but sees a friend wearing a t-shirt with your nonprofit’s logo on it. This is the first touch point. They decide to donate to your organization. This is the second touch point. The thank you note you send after they donate is the third touch point. Your monthly newsletter is the fourth touch point. Then they visit another friend’s house and see a tote bag with your logo on it; that’s your fifth touch point. And so on.
As you can see, brand recognition takes a lot of work. But swag makes that process a little easier. An Advertising Specialty Institute study found that the average American home has 30 promotional products. Things like car magnets, stickers, buttons, t-shirts, hats, and more can all be found in most American homes. Every time someone sees or uses those items they’re reminded about your brand, and you’ve accomplished yet another touch point.
You don’t have to break the bank to do it. Most branded swag have low costs when ordered in bulk. And there are some printers that don’t have minimum quantity limits, which makes it a little easier for smaller organizations or first-timers to get started. Keep in mind that the more expensive the item, the more likely the item will be used and therefore provide higher visibility.
Are you thinking about embarking on your own branded swag journey? Or maybe you need to refresh your current swag? Then make sure you consider the following tips:
- Take advantage of swag drop-ins.
Every time your nonprofit reaches out to your volunteers, donors, and partners via postal mail you could include a small decal like a window sticker or car magnet that helps promote your brand.
- Incorporate swag into your events.
Staff a check-in station so participants can learn more about your nonprofit. Don’t forget to have some small, printed swag like buttons or magnets.
- Don’t forget about the holidays!
Your supporters love your organization. So, use the holidays to both thank them and help them share their love of you! Think about creative holiday gifts, like license plate frames.
- Create swag boxes.
This is one of my favorites because it’s usually unexpected and digging through the goodies is really exciting! Swag boxes typically include lots of fun little things like custom stickers, magnets, hats, shirts, etc. It’s a great way to welcome a new team member – whether a staff member, Board member, volunteer, or partner – or engage teams who don’t have the opportunity to get together often.
- Use swag to boost social media engagement.
Using products like custom printed keychains, dog tags, buttons, or other small items as a special giveaway is a great way to engage with your online fans and followers. Doing something like this once a month allows you to keep your users active on social media, generate user content, and engage with users in new and exciting ways.
- Know the purpose of your swag.The item you select for your swag could have multiple purposes, not just brand visibility: generating new donors, retaining volunteers, building awareness of your mission, or launching a new service. Each of these purposes may require a different kind of product, so know your goal before you start purchasing swag.
- Keep your design engaging.
Not all brands or logos are something supporters would want to display. In this case, select items that have long term use and make your brand more of a footnote. For example, most LGBTQ+ people would love a custom decal or laptop sticker that focuses on the message “Love Wins” with your logo or name smaller and to the side. Not all branding has to be large and center of focus.
- Choose items your supporters will use.
Consider what items your audience will love and use over and over. For example, if you’re putting on an expo, consider the items your volunteers will use like lanyards, t-shirts, or name tags. Or perhaps the swag bags that will be hauled away by attendees of your event. All of these items should be multi-use. So again, make sure the items you select and designs you generate speak to your audience and provide them with value beyond just your event.
- Consider how to make your swag timeless.
Items like vinyl banners, yard signs, and window clings are often used for specific events. Consider an evergreen design so the item can be used beyond the event. For example, avoid one-time-use information like dates. Some signage just can’t be evergreen. And that’s okay. Just consider your design and how it might be multipurpose before you commit to it.
- It’s ok to ask.
Your clients, staff, volunteers, donors, and partners all have unique perspectives that can provide you with insight and help you generate fresh content. Ask questions that help you understand what kind of branded swag might work best for your audience. For example, you might have a food-bank donor who says they usually think about donating every time they clean out their refrigerator. So, a refrigerator magnet or static cling might be a great promotional item for food-banks. There are many ways you can engage your stakeholders, like surveys, quizzes, or an online contest.
- Take advantage of swag drop-ins.
When it comes to custom printed swag items, most companies cannot accept returns. So always request a sample of whatever item you’re considering for your marketing needs before placing the full-size order. An even better option is to find a company that doesn’t have any minimum quantity limits so you can order one or two as a test run before purchasing your larger order. This way, instead of seeing an example they want you to see, you can see your own sample with your own artwork and your own brand colors to ensure everything remains on brand before placing a larger order that can’t be returned.
Natalee Fisher is the co-founder and CEO for StickyLife. StickyLife is a print-on-demand service without minimum quantity limits and caters to self-expression and the freedom of speech. They do, however, draw the line on hate speech and will kindly ask customers to take their business elsewhere. Successful Nonprofits® has purchased items from StickyLife because (a) they make great swag and (b) their values align with ours.
Additionally, check out the following Successful Nonprofits® resources if this post was helpful:
Podcast: Crafting Your Brand with Amanda Ross