live chat

7 Best College Promotional Items

The key to a successful brand promotion through giveaways is the willingness of your prospective clients to use those items often and in public. 

The benefit of focusing on college promotional items is that those clients are already engaged with your brand on an emotional level and are willing to showcase your logo in a public setting. You just have to know which objects will make them most likely to do so.

Here is a short guide to the 7 best college promotional items to encourage spreading your college’s logo through the prospective students and alumni that already want to.

Advantages of college promotions

The first step to spreading a brand is getting people to recognize it, which is simple when the brand is a university. Students, their parents, and past alumni all already have an emotional connection to the university’s brand, which means that unique promotional items are more beneficial.

Normally, the opposite is true. A normal company usually takes care to make their promotions subtle – such as in a phone case or tote bag – since their prospective clients aren’t as willing to openly advertise their brand.

Colleges don’t have this disadvantage. The promotional items most valuable to them are those that emphasize the intended emotions: pride, nostalgia, and personal image. The best objects to accomplish this emotional response are showy, useful, and easy to incorporate into a daily routine, particularly on campus or during sporting events.

This is why a promotional item intended to be given away at a college fair needs to stand out.

1. T-shirt

A law firm doesn’t benefit as much from a promotional t-shirt since people aren’t as likely to showcase their brand frequently. Colleges, by contrast, are made for t-shirt promotions.

Students, parents, and alumni love to showcase their college on the front of a shirt. For the opposite reason that an unfamiliar brand fails to generate impressions based on wearing a shirt, colleges flourish through it.

It makes such an effective promotional tool because of how willing people are to take the action necessary to get the brand out there (wearing the shirt), which generates recognition and then emotion from the impression that people get from it.

Giving them out at college fairs begins to generate that emotional connection through the prospective students’ personal image, making them more likely to attend your campus.

Other clothing options like socks can also be a benefit. People who lounge around their dorm will want to do so in socks that promote their school at the same time.

2. Water bottles

Everyone wants to stay hydrated on campus. A college-branded water bottle makes some instant associations for those who see it. It promotes the college outwardly and in public, making for some easy brand impressions at sporting events and elsewhere.

However, the emotional response is key because water bottles carry specific connotations in a modern eco-friendly social space. They associate the college brand with environmentalism by saving plastic water bottles and even with health by subtly associating the logo with caring about people’s hydration.

3. Backpacks and bags

Backpacks and drawstring bags are all over college campuses, so it only makes sense to make use of brand recognition to use them as promotional items.

It’s easy to convince students to use these items, which is why they come with instant promotional potential. They even get taken on long trips for added brand exposure.

However, this easy usability is also something you need to be cautious about. Since they are so desirable to pick up and use, it means that they will be a popular promotional item at college fairs. Other colleges will also be using this strategy for a product that prospective students only need one of.

This is why it’s important to choose the design of your promotional backpack or drawstring bag carefully. Highlights, accents, multiple pockets, and nice zippers go a long way to convincing a prospective student to use the bag with your logo on it over the others.

4. Trending technology

Prospective college students are young, so promotional items you intend to draw them in with should focus on trending technologies that they want to use.

This includes anything to do with phones, particularly wireless chargers, which use new magnetic resonance technology to charge the phone by placing them in contact with the device rather than connected by a cord.

A device like this branded with your college’s logo can go a long way to associating your brand with advancement and trendiness. Not only will that convince prospective students to use these products and generate impressions for your campus, but it may convince them to attend your school in the first place.

Other than wireless chargers, there are less glamorous options in terms of technology that can get you’re your brand out there. Branded USB drives are a common sight in business meetings. Powerbanks with your logo on them could be seen at airports, in waiting rooms, and in tons of offices.

Taking advantage of technology that people are likely to use can help you associate your brand with practicality, while using that practicality in practice to convince people to use the products that advertise your logo every day.

Items like powerbanks and wireless chargers may seem like expensive objects to give away as a promotion but consider that being more valuable will increase the chances of them being used daily and in a public place. As opposed to a pen, which may have more promotional items in circulation, these gadgets can generate more meaningful impressions per unit.

When you give these to a young student, you are telling them that you know how important technology is to them. You are saying that your school uses that technology in a modern way. You may even be convincing them to choose your school over another.

Trending technologies may seem like a frivolous marketing cost, but you might want to consider them as an investment instead.

5. Lanyards and ID holders

Especially popular among new students, school lanyards go a long way to incorporating a promotional item into a student’s daily life. Custom badge holders and custom lanyards add to the usability of these promotional items by turning them into a necessary accessory for their daily life on campus.

The more useful you can make a promotional item, the more likely people will use it often and in public. This is why incorporating your brand into a simple object like an ID holder can make it essential, and therefore much more likely to generate impressions.

6. Pens

We sort of gave pens a hard time earlier, implying that they’re too subtle for use in college promotions and would be better branded with a law firm. This is only partly true.

Yes, pens aren’t showy, but they’re still useful. They accomplish the hallmark of a good promotional item, which is possessing enough utility to be used daily. While they don’t scream college pride, they are easy to incorporate into daily life and can still generate impressions.

Make sure your college logo is big and visible on the pen and consider alternatives to normal implements like combining the pen with a highlighter or investing in erasable pens. Anything that makes the item stand out (and therefore more likely that it will be used and noticed) improves the value of the promotional item.

7. Phone accessories

So much of college is online now. Phones have become a necessity in all our social lives and have even been integrated into the education and business spheres.

This means that aside from chargers, there are other accessories that you can brand in order to make phones your best friend in terms of getting your brand out into places where people are working, talking, and spreading your name around.

Clips, stands, and holders for phones are great, cheap opportunities to get your logo on something that a lot of kids will be compelled to use every day. If you can associate your brand with their phone, your impressions could skyrocket.

The Takeaway

College promotional items take a shortcut to normal industry trade show promotions by having emotional investment and client willingness already built-in. Prospective students at college fairs want to attach themselves to a brand and start advertising it as part of their image.

This is why choosing the right promotional item is so important – it could mean the difference not only between the number of brand impressions but the number of your enrolled students in general. You want promotional items that communicate the campus’s core values.

These values could include an interest in trending technologies, attentiveness to student health, and encouragement of school spirit. Emotional investment is the key to any good promotional item and that comes first from usefulness.

Whether you give prospective students a backpack or a pair of glasses, you want to give them something they are compelled to use. Only then will your brand promotion successfully generate enough attention (and impressions) to justify the upfront cost of designing college promotional items for your campus’s outreach.