Top 7 Coolest Startup Merch Ideas to Get More Customers

Thomas Hilton

Thomas Hilton

Startup merch

We’ve all seen promo t-shirts, pens, coffee mugs, and windbreakers with “First National _____” on the pocket. But what else is out there to choose from? There must be more than endless t-shirts and coffee mugs, right?

Right. There’s much more to choose from – just about anything you can think of can be customized these days. So, open your imagination and get to work creating something truly special that will set your brand apart from your competitors and give you a permanent – or at least long-term – place in the minds of your audience.

Below are some of Stitchi’s picks for the coolest, most useful, most desired promo merch items for 2022.

1. Backpacks and Other Baggage

Backpacks have swiftly become the new briefcase. The 80s and 90s kids didn’t leave their appreciation for the simple ergonomics and convenience of backpacks behind. These days, you’re more likely to see a young businessperson in a suit and backpack walking down the street than toting a briefcase.

With options limited only by your imagination, you can give your customers a high-quality backpack or bag that compliments your brand with its association. Ogio makes great baggage and is a common brand for customizing, but nothing is stopping you from creating camera bags if that’s something your clients use. Perhaps you could make a line of sleek, water-proof shoulder bags if you’re in a wet climate.

If your customers are of the jet-set variety, a quality piece of luggage such as a carry-on or backpack is a great way to spread your company’s brand awareness campaign further and further with each subsequent trip your customers take.

2. Branded Water Bottles

Hydrate your customers and watch your brand recognition and awareness grow. There are countless puns we could make about water bottles sporting your company logo, a near bottomless well if you will. We don’t want to oversaturate this blog post, though, so we’ll keep it brief.

Everyone needs to drink water. Most people don’t drink enough. Get your logo onto a Nalgene or similar high-quality, BPA-free water bottle, and watch the wave of results roll in.

3. Tech Tools and Gear

It can be that simple to get your logo in the hands of your audience on devices they’re likely to use a lot. We all have a phone. We all need it powered. Many of us would gladly use headphones, a portable power bank, or a fancy new phone case with a company’s logo simply because it's something we need, and they’ve done us the solid of giving it away for free.

It’s generally a good idea to choose swag that will set your business apart somehow. Though it may seem like an oversimplification to give out phone accessories as swag, it’s a choice that doesn’t necessarily need to be super pricey but is likely to get used often, like a mousepad in the early 2000s. A great occasion to give away tech gear might be the launch of your mobile app, or new web or app functionalities.

4. Stickers — but like, good ones

Alright, alright. We know this isn’t a new or fresh idea. That doesn’t mean it isn’t an excellent way to get your brand awareness and recognition levels up. Think about the water bottle, phone case, or power bank you gave away. Why not give them a handful of stickers, too? They’re simple, relatively inexpensive, and people are likely to use them on another piece of swag.

You might not want to slap a sticker on the $20 or $30 water bottle or phone case you just bought, but if you were just given the swag, then who cares? Slap some stickers on there.

5. PopSockets

PopSockets can go hand-in-hand with tech-gear, though they get their own place on the list because they’re not technically technical. It’s a little plastic knob that makes it easier to hold your handheld mobile device. Add a sticker? Easy swag secured.

6. Candy — Yes, Candy

Candy customized with your brand logo, message, or company name can be a great way to get awareness about your company into the hands of your audience in the form of something sweet they’ll be able to share (or not share).

M&M’s are a commonly customized candy, with tools and a special section of their website dedicated to designing your ideal custom message. You can even upload a logo or clipart; it’s not just words available for customization.

Candy may seem like a curious choice for company swag, but it’s sure to be appreciated by the recipient or those close to them (“Mom, what did you bring me?”). If the candy comes in a clever little tin container that can be repurposed, even better.

Customized candy as a swag item can also be pretty inexpensive and is a nice touch to toss into a bag with a water bottle, some stickers, a pen, and a keychain. Sometimes business conferences can get a little boring. A sugar rush might be just the thing needed to keep people engaged.

7. Blue Light Blocking Glasses

A relatively recent trend, blue light blocking glasses have become a desktop mainstay for many people seeking to alleviate eyestrain from long hours in front of a computer screen. Like other types of eyewear such as sunglasses and prescription glasses, blue light blocking glasses can be “cheapos” or “throw-aways,” or you can splurge and get your logo onto the temple-hinge of some higher-end options.

Here at Stitchi, our content team subscribes to the “different colors of Amazon Basics” approach for our blue light blocking needs, but we’ve already submitted our MVMT glasses and branded Nalgene bottle request for next Christmas.

The Bottom Line is to Stick Out in a Good Way

The most important aspect of creating cool startup merch and branded company swag is to pick something that people want, will use, and they’ll want to show off.

You don’t need to break the swag bank on your first run. There are endless options available for startup merch that is cost-effective, stylish, and gets the promotional job done. The hard part is picking just one, two, or three.

Get the latest from Stitchi