Corporate Eye

5 Corporate Brands that Know How to Merchandise

Branded merchandise is very popular within the entertainment industry.  Consumers love to wear T-shirts featuring images of their favorite bands or characters from popular movies.  However, merchandising isn’t limited to Twilight dolls and Harry Potter wands.  There are actually many corporate brands that make a nice amount of money each year by selling products with their corporate logos on them.

Check out the list below to learn about five companies that have found success in selling corporate branded merchandise:

1. Harley Davidson

The Harley Davidson brand represents freedom, rebellion, and a lifestyle that consumers want.  It makes sense that the Harley Davidson logo and related-imagery and messages would be popular on T-shirts, jackets, hats, jewelry, and just about anything else you can imagine.  In fact, popular automotive brands that have clear brand promises often find success in merchandising.  Brands like NASCAR, Ford Mustang, and more are examples of an industry whose consumer audience has demonstrated its interest in purchasing branded merchandise.

2. Playboy

Like Harley Davidson, the Playboy brand represents a lifestyle, but in this case, it’s a lifestyle that promises good things and good times.  Interestingly, the vast majority of Playboy merchandise is purchased by women, showing that the Playboy brand appeals to a diverse audience who choose to experience the brand in very different ways.  Today, merchandise sales make up a significant percentage of Playboy Enterprises’ annual profits.  You can learn more about the Playboy brand in my book, Building Brand Value the Playboy Way.

3. Walt Disney

While most people think of Mickey Mouse toys, Cinderella dresses, and Finding Nemo pajamas when they think about Disney merchandising, the Disney company also offers a wide variety of merchandise that features the corporate brand logo or imagery.  Consumers around the world have demonstrated that they’re happy to buy all kinds of products bearing the Disney logo.  In fact, the Disney Company is amazing at finding every opportunity to exploit not just its corporate brand merchandising opportunities but all of its sub-brands as well.

4. John Deere

Who would have thought that a company that makes lawn mowers and farm equipment would also find success selling merchandise with the John Deere logo on them?  Even celebrities have been photographed showing their love of John Deere while wearing Deere-branded merchandise like hats and T-shirts.  However, in an effort to expand the John Deere brand to a younger audience, the company also makes John Deere tractor and equipment toys as well as John Deere branded merchandise like the kids’ party favors pack shown to the left.

5. Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola merchandise has been around for a long time, and today, a lot of Coca-Cola branded merchandise items are considered to be collectibles.  You can find clothing, clocks, signs, furniture, toys, holiday decorations, ornaments, and more with the Coca-Cola logo on them, and consumers pay for these items and proudly display them all the time.  Coca-Cola sells its branded merchandise and offers it as part of the Coke Rewards program as well.

When consumers purchase, wear or display corporate-branded merchandise, they’re demonstrating their brand loyalty and advocacy.  It’s a brand manager’s dream come true!

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

All five are great examples. I’m surprised that the Harley Davidson brand was on a fanny pack though. I’m not a biker but this just seemed like a disconnect to me. Fanny packs have always been the opposite of rebellious in my mind. It may be a personal bias and I realize I’m a focus group of 1.

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