Every time I work on design for a new marketing product the question almost always arises, “shouldn’t we put our URL on this?” The answer is usually no and I’ll tell you why, the URL is dead or at least it’s dying. From an occult prospective, your logo (sigil) and product name are exponentially stronger than your web site address. Adding the .com to your product can easily weaken your all important sigil. It draws power away from the logo, brand name and image that you have worked so hard to cultivate.
Putting a website URL on Merchandise was an advertising strategy of the Dot Com boom/bust in the 90’s. Its outdated and no longer necessary, if it ever even was in the first place. If your product name is on your product and your website and social network is optimized for search engines, 99.9% of people can easily find your website by searching for your name. That is exactly how the vast majority of people will find you online. Statistical research also shows that the majority of website visits are either from referral sites like a blog, facebook or a news story or from one of the Big Three search engines. People will usually Google your name before they try and type in a URL. If they want to revisit your site later, they will either bookmark it or it will be saved in their browser history. I’m sure you’ve noticed that when you type something into the URL bar at the top of your web browser, that handy list of visited pages will pop up underneath. Putting your website on your product is usually a waste of space, time and sometimes money. If you can hide your website address somewhere on your merchandise it doesn’t really matter that much if it is there, but if it’s visible to the casual viewer then it is considered tacky and dated. Marketing research has shown that the 16-30 year old demographic not only does not want to be a walking billboard, it turns them off to your product, weakening the sigil you worked so hard to create and release out into the world. This demographic is more willing and more likely to wear your sigil if they consider your product a badge of loyalty than if they consider it blatant advertising. It is an added plus if your product and logo are modern and fashionable.
There is an exception to the rule if you are dealing with SWAG or “Stuff We All Get.” Most companies already have a strong and loyal costumer base that needs to be rewarded, maintained and utilized for spreading their sigil. Merchandise for your costumer base can act as a badge of support, straight up advertising or a combination of the two. There is also a large potential costumer base which needs to be looked at much differently. With a new company, it is essential to build that loyal costumer base quickly. Merchandise is a great way to differentiate these two costumer bases. Loyal costumers want more than SWAG merchandise but new costumers need ways to remember why they liked you in the first place and then take the extra step of entering your online social network and coming back for more. SWAG products like buttons, re-usable shopping bags and coffee mugs can have your web address on them, if you are giving them away for free. This type of marketing is okay if your only purpose is attracting new costumers to your website. The major problem arises when a company chooses to treat products that they are selling as SWAG.
We’ve moved way beyond the Dot Com era of the 90’s. Marketing and advertising your product has to be modernized. Putting your web address on all your products will certainly devalue your brand. Be careful not to cross the line and you’ll be okay.