Having a nice logo isn’t going to do all of the work.

Have you ever bought a shirt that only had the brand’s logo on it? It could have been for a band, or a brewery, or your favorite sports team. You think about it, but when you decided to buy that shirt you weren’t just paying for a cool design, but something deeper than that. Being able to sell branded merchandise isn’t about just putting your logo on it and hoping people purchase it. If you want to get people to buy something with your logo on it, it’s important to understand what motivates your audience to do so.

Nike can do it with no effort

A company who can easily do this is Nike. They can print their logo on a shirt and easily sell it for over $20, it takes more than just a nice looking logo or flamboyant colors (anyone can do that). Put aside the technology in the material for this example as well. I’m talking about about a simple t-shirt with the Swoosh printed on it and that’s it.

Let’s figure out how it is possible for them to take a blank 100% cotton t-shirt, print their logo on it, and get however much they want for it.

Your brand needs to have meaning

Continuing with the Nike example… The shirt isn’t just about having a logo on it, it’s what that logo stands for – the Nike brand.

It isn’t just that their products are worn by the best athletes in the world, but the Nike brand is known for encouraging a healthy lifestyle and pushing yourself beyond your limits to improve yourself.

Even Nike’s tagline is “Just Do It” encouraging their audience to quit the excuses and get out there and work hard.

When someone puts on a shirt with a big Swoosh on it, it’s because symbolizes that they believe in being healthy and pushing themselves to constantly improve.

For people to want to purchase merchandise with your logo on it, you need to have a brand that stands for something people believe in.

Being Unique is Good, But Being Authentic is Better

Having a unique brand will help you stand out, but as it’s said, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” So as much as you want to believe you’re the only business out there doing your thing, there’s very likely someone else doing what you do and probably doing it better. Even though it’s nice to be able to say you’re the only one in the world, it’s not what you should focus on.

To build a brand people can believe in, you need to be authentic.

Having a brand that stands for something and actively reinforces your values gives your brand purpose and a reason people for to support it. It not only makes your brand genuine, but unique to the way you go about achieving that goal.

Local Example – Old 99 Brewing Co.

Let’s look at another example of how a business can sell branded apparel, but this time, it’s brand new and not very well known.

There was a brewery that opened up in my hometown back in 2013. At their grand opening they had some merchandise including t-shirts with their logo on it. As you can probably guess people bought them, and you’d be right, but they almost sold out.


Even for a brand new business, how were they able to sell simple gray t-shirts with their logo on the back?

Just consider their brand:

  • They make a high-quality product
  • It’s craft beer (not one the macro breweries like Budweiser or Coors)
  • The business is owned and ran by great people
  • They’re local
  • It is unique for the area

Since Roseburg isn’t that large of a town, anything new is noteworthy. On top of that, there weren’t a lot of craft breweries in town, so it was a big deal to those who appreciate it. But people weren’t buying the merchandise because it was new or because it was unique.

People were buying up all of the swag because they believed in a high-quality, local product by great people and they wanted to show that they support it.

It takes time

My example of Old 99 isn’t something that happens for every business. They had the perfect setup of having a brand that the local people would quickly support. Just because you opened up shop doesn’t mean people are going to immediately buy all of your shirts in stock. A lot of the time, your audience is going to need time to learn what your brand stands for and witness your values. Just look at Nike and consider the years it has taken them to get to where they are now.

Every business is different, but one thing is for certain: build an authentic brand that people can stand behind. Then with an appropriately design logo that represents your brand, your audience will see your logo not just as a symbol for your business, but a symbol for something that they believe in.

And that, my friend, is how you get people to by a shirt with your logo on it.

Have you tried to sell your branded merchandise, but no one bought it? Or have you been able to sell all of it?

Tell me your story.

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