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  • Branded merchandise, such as gimme caps, have increasingly grown in popularity and may even be more popular than they were when they first started being used by feed stores in the 1960’s.
  • The secret sauce to good branded merchandise is designing merch that people will actually want to wear, keep, or show to a friend.
  • Things to consider when designing branded merchandise include: knowing your customer, branding, and designing items that are a little different than what has already been done.
In the Ag, Western, and Outdoor industry we know Branded Merchandise. In fact – the first caps used for promotional purposes was done so in the 1960’s by feed and farming supply companies. They become so popular during that time that they had a nickname just for that type of free headwear, they were called “gimme caps” (as in “give-me”).


Vintage Gimme Cap
Photo credit: Pinterest

Branded merchandise such as gimme caps, may be even more popular than they were in the 1960’s. You don’t have to look very far to find a trucker cap being worn or sitting on a pickup truck dashboard in our industry. Although these caps are still just as popular as they have been for the last 6 decades, there are some new features and options for branded merchandise.

The secret sauce to good branded merchandise is designing merch that people will actually want to wear, keep, or show to a friend. Here are some things to consider when designing branded merchandise for your company-

Know Your Customer

Just like with any good marketing, it is so important to truly understand your customer. For example – if you are giving away your merchandise it is important to design merchandise that is unique to your business but still generic enough that no matter which customer you give it away to they will wear it, or even better –  keep it on their dash of their truck (i.e. what marketing manager doesn’t love a free billboard driving around)! If you are selling your branded merchandise it is important to make sure your designs offer more variety and is extremely current with your industry trends. For example, a hat designed for men that has a vintage patch design on it will hands-down outsell a cap with flat embroidery right now in our industry.

Branding, Branding, Branding

Just like branding is key to your overall marketing story and message, the same is true for your branded merchandise. This is one of the main reasons we believe in working with custom factories who build the merchandise from scratch instead of value-added options such as cap blanks with added embroidery. Since your giveaway items will be seen in public, good branding as part of your overall design will make your merchandise more memorable. Ways you can include branding in your design include using custom fabrics, custom thread colors, and private labeling on the interior of the merch that matches your overall brand identity.

Examples of private labeling for additional branding.

Photo Credit:

Be Different… But Not Too Different

If there is one thing we have learned from designing branded merchandise it is that branded merchandise recipients don’t want the same thing that everyone else has. They want something different, but not too different. For example, if there is a trend of heather fabric – a great way to be different is using heathers that are new to the industry and have never been seen before. This will ensure that your design is still on-trend, but will still stand-out from the other branded merchandise that people see. On the other hand, it is probably a little too different to try bringing the pom-pom ball on the top of the hat back. Once again, we strongly suggest working with a company that designs and builds custom branded merchandise so that you can truly customize the merch with new materials, looks, and colors.

For more information about custom branded merchandise for your company contact us at  or checkout


Author BRANDcowboy

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