Do you already have a branded merch program, but it is not quite working as you had hoped? Perhaps you have recently decided that it makes sense for you to implement a branded merch program, but you are not quite sure where to start. Quite honestly, unless you have a branded merch program that is up and running perfectly, this post is for you – whoever you are.

You only need two key things to ensure you have the best possible branded merch program.


Chris Farnworth, Marketing Director

Marketing Director for Huge Brands and industry expert. "I have a passion for driving success in areas where I see potential and take pride in the work I do." -Chris F.

1. A Partner as Opposed to a Vendor or a Supplier

There is a huge difference between the two. Vendors and suppliers provide products. Partners provide you with products, but also with

Experienced Account Managers

who listen to what you want to accomplish and then make suggestions based on your goals and what they know is hot in the market right then. A vendor or supplier simply takes your order, whether electronically or in person. They leave it up to you to figure out what you want. When they do make “recommendations” they are limited to the small number of options they can deliver.

A Dedicated Point of Contact for All Your Needs

This can be your Account Manager, Customer Service Rep, or whatever you want to call it, but it is one person who is designated to be your quarterback for whatever needs you may have. You don’t want to have to call different people for different things, or even worse to call a rolling support desk where you don’t even speak with the same person from one interaction to the next.

A Full Range of Account Services

from ideation to order fulfillment and everything in between. A partner can do everything on your behalf if you want them to, thus leaving you free to do what you do best. True partners don’t just focus on one part of the process such as producing your branded goods while providing no support on product design, consulting, or fulfillment. Some vendors position themselves as creative agencies. They work well with you in that area, but then they outsource all the rest of what is needed. This leaves you with far more risk regarding your end product than you thought you were signing up for.

The Ability to Source All Your Product Needs

from apparel (shirts, hoodies, hats, childrenswear) to drinkware (tumblers, coolers, water bottles) to stickers, coasters, Christmas ornaments, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

Flexible Financial Arrangements

that match the role you need them to play. Ideally, you want a partner who is willing to take all the financial risk off your plate by setting up a straight royalty agreement if that is what is best for you. Alternatively, as you are comfortable with the volumes of what you can sell, a good partner allows you to take on increasingly more financial risk in your branded merch program in return for an increasingly bigger piece of the profits.

2. Retail Quality Merchandise

If your customers aren’t all in love with the merch itself, it doesn’t really matter what you do with the rest of your program. Your customers have got to love wearing, using, or displaying your branded merch. It’s all in the details.

Quality Design

Spend to have an experienced graphic design professional work with you. You will never regret it. Unless you are a graphic designer yourself, don’t try to pretend you are. If you only have enough budget to go all in on one area, put it toward getting a good graphic designer. Poor design = sub-optimal sales.

Quality Blank Goods

If a shirt doesn’t fit right and feel good, your customers are not going to wear it. If the drinkware you provide feels cheap, your customers are going to put it in their cupboards and never get it out again – or worse, ask for a refund. That is counter to the reason you are selling branded merch. The partner you work with should provide a wide range of blank goods from an even wider range of wholesalers. If you want it, you should have input into which products and wholesalers they choose.

Upscale Quality Add-Ons

For example, for your branded tees make sure your partner can provide you with custom private label size tags, hem tags for a retail finish, hang tags for additional branding, and bag & sticker for inventory integrity.

Skill in Multiple Processes

When you are doing screen printing, make sure you have a partner that can provide just the look and feel you want. Do they work with both Plastisol and water-based inks? Can they match exactly the colors and detail you have in your designs? Do they work with all types of specialty inks such as discharge, metallic, sueded, puff, glitter, crackle, and even glow in the dark?. For hats, can they do embroidered patches, woven patches, leather patches, etc. – whichever best represents who you are? You get the idea. Too often vendors will “recommend” what is best based on their own limitations.

Branded merch is always a good idea. When done right it gives you a secondary income stream and more awareness of your brand as represented by your most avid supporters. What could be better? If you feel like your program is lacking, start with the two areas we just discussed in this blogpost. Make sure you are working with a partner and not just vendors or suppliers, and focus on demanding that your merchandise be retail quality.  

At Huge Brands, we practice what we preach. Give us a call at (801) 355-0331 or shoot an email to if you want to talk more about how to provide the best branded merch in your space.