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Entrepreneurs are by definition people who want to change the world. We feel that by our contribution to this planet, we can make a difference. This leads to creating businesses that are passionate about the future, and show it in the day-to-day.

Leveraging the Power of Branded Merchandise To Build Company Culture and Boost Employee Engagement

Entrepreneurs are by definition people who want to change the world. We feel that by our contribution to this planet, we can make a difference. This leads to creating businesses that are passionate about the future, and show it in the day-to-day.

But no entrepreneur, business owner, or brand builder ever set out to create a mediocre place for people to work, spending eight hours of the day wishing they were somewhere (or someone else).

Because we want our employees to be ambassadors of our brands, we do things that contribute to their happiness.

That can include some boring things, like vision or dental insurance (still brag-worthy!) Or a nice bonus at the end of the year.

But what if we told you that you could do something today that would contribute to your employee's happiness the other 364 days of the year? Oh, and that thing would lead to better workplace morale and company culture.

What is this mystical purveyor of loyalty?

Custom branded merchandise.

It's something that can create a sense of belonging to a newbie, or a sense of appreciation to a seasoned pro. But, let's not just slap a logo on a Gildan T-shirt and use it for a photo at a company picnic, never to be seen again.

How do you create something that enhances every day of work?

Vanilla Isn't The Only Flavor Available For Branded Merch

Logos are great, powerful even... from the Nike swoosh to Amazon's "smile", logos quickly make your brand recognizable and wearable.

But in this article, we want to challenge everything you think you know about company swag.

Throw away the outdated cheap ideas that have fueled many a yard sale free box, and let's hop into what is going to get employees excited and contribute to a positive company culture.

Employees Want To Belong

Just like all humans that have ever existed, and will ever exist, employees want to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.

A purpose, a compelling "why" of course starts at the top. A strong company culture sprouts from knowing who you help, how you help them, and why it makes a difference.

Employees are the lifeblood of the company and even if the feeling of culture starts at the top, employees carry it through all of the different departments creating little micro-cultures.

This creates a huge opportunity to develop employee merch that fosters unity among micro-cultures (departments) and the larger company eco-system.

According to BambooHR, "87 percent of executives and HR professionals said company culture significantly supports their business goals, and 94 percent said it’s important to their organization’s success."

New Employees Need To Feel Valued

There's one sector of the workforce that needs a little extra attention when it comes to creating a welcoming work environment, and that of course is new hires.

In the same study cited above; "33% of new hires quit their job within 90 days, and 32% of them blame company culture."

No employee wants to be on the job hunt again in three months, and no employer wants to be on the lookout for a new employee in three months. Employee merch can help.

Here are a few ideas on how:

1. Create a welcome kit that includes things that your new employee will actually use.

We put this caveat because so many companies think first with their wallet, and then with their hearts. Of course, business is business and the bottom line matters. But think of it this way; how much does a well-crafted welcome kit cost? Usually around $50-$100. In every role, an employee will make you much, much more than that.

2. Make it division or department-specific

New hires have what has been coined "belonging uncertainty", this is the volatile time when they are deciding if this company, or division of the company is really where they should be.

Make this decision a no-brainer by welcoming them from the get-go with some department-specific swag. By celebrating the micro-culture of a department inside the larger company ecosystem you solidify that the new hire is right where they need to be. A comforting thought to a nervous newcomer.

3. Make it personal

This may be different based on what size company you run, but the bigger...the more important this step is! No one likes to feel like a face in the crowd, so be sure to include something that has their name and new title displayed. This could be custom embroidery on their new favorite t-shirt or a personalized mug that doesn't get lost in the office kitchen.

4. Keep it going

Employee appreciation isn't a one-and-done kind of thing. We believe it's ongoing and necessary. It's important that employees feel just as valued 20 years in as they did on day one. Some of the companies we work with set up an employee swag store so that they can place their own orders for more branded merch. The reason this works is that most employees who are gifted high-quality merch want more of it because it is so darn great to wear.

Unexpectedly, Division Based Merch Unites The Company Culture

We've already touched on the fact that there are micro-cultures within each company naturally because not every part of the company serves the same purpose.

Accounting is very important, but they wouldn't have any money to keep track of or employees to pay if it wasn't for production, and production wouldn't exist if there wasn't customer service...the cycle goes on and on.

Because each part of the business is interconnected, it's crucial that they appreciate each other, and value the role they play in keeping the company running smoothly.

We practice what we preach here at Superior Ink, so for our employee appreciation, we made specialty shirts to celebrate the different divisions.

"The Pit Crew" as we like to call the production team here at Superior bands together to get our merch made, so it was their turn to get a custom piece of apparel that reflected their contribution to the process.

That can be easily replicated for other types of businesses as you give the gift of identity. Think "Serving Squad" for a restaurant or some other pithy sentiment that gets the department to unite.

This is also a cool opportunity to include any kind of inside jokes that may have formed within that division. It'll prompt of feeling of exclusivity and fun while keeping the inclusivity of the company culture in first place (they are after all wearing branded merch).

Remote Employees Stay Connected And On Brand

We can't disregard the fact that we are living in a world that has learned to work in many unique ways. Hybrid work locations are the norm, and it's often overlooked that even remote workers thrive on feeling like part of the team.

When not in the office, it can be easy to feel disconnected. Employees are still probably getting on video calls with clients, managers, and the team as a whole.

Why not help them feel like a true part of the team with branded apparel?

It's a simple way for them to get into work mode when they clock in for the day and a powerful way to remind the rest of the team and your clients that your business is a united brand ready to support each other!

And by making sure that your company swag is quality, it'll be their natural go-to uniform even on non-work days, bringing us to the next reason that employee merch matters.

Advocates, Ambassadors, and Advertising

One of the most boggling phenomena in the 21st century has been brands that have customers pay them to wear their brand, basically volunteering to be a walking billboard for the brand.

Wow, that's smart.

Let's use that idea, with a bit of a twist. Let's say that you invest in branded employee merchandise. It's so comfortable, high-quality, and amazing that your employees won't leave home in anything else.

According to research, although hard to estimate, the average person sees around 100 people each day, lower in rural areas and much higher in urban areas.

But using that estimate, say that you have 20 employees, and they each see 100 people each day. That's 2,000 impressions!

What were the impressions on your last social media post? We're going to guess under 2,000.

That's what makes custom merch such an investment in not only employees, company culture, and overall productivity...but it goes the extra mile and provides a source of free advertising done by your ambassadors.

Since you've built such a great company culture, and your ambassadors are passionate about your purpose and why...they are eager to talk to everyone who inquires all about the company they work for. Potential customers will sprout up from everyday life just from these simple gestures of employee appreciation.

What Branded Items Make The Best Employee Swag?

If you know us here at Superior Ink, we are all in on all things sustainability. And the most sustainable garment is the one that is going to be worn the most.

So with that being said here's a quick rundown of the things we see as Grade A employee merch:

1. Hats

Hats are mostly one size fits all and are re-wearable in a way that a T-shirt just can't be. From trucker caps to beanies, hats make a great canvas for embroidery and patches that stand out and show off the brand. Hats might not be a part of every company onto more options...

2. Graphic T-Shirts

A classic screen printed Tee is iconic for a reason. People wear them and re-wear them...and it's the perfect place to showcase those inside jokes or unique designs. Opt for Pima Cotton over stuffy polyester and you'll have a T-shirt that is a favorite for life. And more sustainable too!

3. Embroidered Hoodies, Polos + Professional Wear

Depending on the industry, t-shirts may not fit the vibe. That's where other apparel options can swoop in and save the day. Things like embroidered polos, jackets, or vests can be a perfect fit! Even athletic or outdoor gear, like Lululemon and Northface, can be embroidered and branded!

4. Backpacks, Duffle Bags, and Messenger Bags

Much more than a free throw-away tote bag, branding something that your employees will use every day and carry with them you provide them with something useful and on brand.

5. Drinkware

From coffee mugs to reusable water bottles, these are a great choice for both sustainability and functionality. Hydrated and happy or caffeinated and happy...either way it's a win-win!

How (And Where) To Buy Branded Employee Merch

If you've read this far, you've probably suspected that we are in the custom merch game ourselves! You'd be right! We are Superior Ink Printing and we do everything from Screen printing to embroidery. Don't have a design idea? We do that too.

We work with businesses, and brands every day just like yours to craft powerfully messaged and sustainable merch.

We even go so far as to do the fulfillment side of things with our sister company, Superior Pack. With a fulfillment partner, you don't have to worry about handling inventory or sending anything out. Simply make asking for a shirt size part of your onboarding process...and we will take care of the rest.

So, no matter how large or small your company is we have the solution you are looking for to start producing custom merch today. You can place an order through our dynamic catalog or reach out to us directly!

Watch as your team falls in love with their new swag, and don't forget to order an extra one for yourself...after all you made it happen!

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