How to choose awesome company swag people actually want in 2020
By Will Harris
Not all company swag is created equal.
It may seem like an obvious statement, but there are thousands of offices all over the world that are putting up with sub-par swag, usually only because whoever is ordering it doesn’t know any better.
There’s a huge difference between being thoughtful with your company swag items and just throwing your company logo on the cheapest thing you can find, and the benefits of doing the former go way beyond what you might think.
Both internally at your company and externally, when you’re thoughtful with what you put your brand on, it’s going to pay off.
Investing in high-quality swag has the potential to earn you extra brand impressions, build awareness, cultivate strong company culture, and build good rapport between your brand and your prospects.
So, with these benefits in mind, let’s look at five rules for ordering quality company swag, and how they’re going to bring a ton of added value to your brand.
1. Make sure it’s well-made
The number one rule when considering company swag is making sure it’s high-quality.
Whether it’s t-shirts, notebooks, or water bottles, the first thing you’ll want to be sure of is that it’s a well-made item that won’t start falling apart after one use.
I mean, there’s a big difference between a water bottle from Corkcicle or MiiR versus some generic brand.
So many companies assume that people will want their company gear just because the company logo is on it or heck, because it’s free, but this isn’t true.
While the initial excitement of a new or free thing might last a week or so, if it’s not something of true value, people will be over it just as quickly.
When you take the time to pick out swag items that are worthwhile, people are going to use it far beyond the first week, giving your swag more longevity and the chance to garner more impressions.
Plus, they’ll actually enjoy using your swag items, and when people enjoy the swag they get, they tell people, giving you some positive word of mouth buzz.
So, don’t cut corners.
No matter what, investing in company gear is going to cost some amount of money. So, if you have the means, front the little bit of extra cost to make sure your company swag sticks around for a long time, and doesn’t get tossed out in a month.
If you’re on the lookout for high-quality custom swag, consider these items:
- A notebook from Moleskin
- Stickers from Stickermule
- Oxford Pennant for some really sweet custom pennants
- A water bottle from Corkcicle or MiiR
- T-shirts from Next Level, Bella+Canvas, or American Apparel. (And be sure they’re printed with water-based ink.)
2. Think outside of the office
Our next rule for choosing quality swag that your team and fans are actually going to want is making sure it’s something that is useful even outside of the office.
Sure, company pens are nice, but does that get anyone excited?
Is anyone telling their friends about their branded flash drive? And is anyone still using the custom fidget spinners you thought you needed to have last year?
Think about how much more beneficial it is when employees and customers are taking your swag home and actually using it.
If it’s something like a t-shirt, water bottle, or cool stickers, not only is your employee excited about them, but they’re also traveling around using those items, exposing more people to your brand.
What a lot of people don’t consider when purchasing swag is the impressions you can gain when people like to take their branded gear outside of the office.
Check out the international exposure IMPACT got when members of its team wore some of their company swag during their vacations and trips abroad last summer:
Putting your logo on something that people might actually buy on their own anyways, though it might take more effort and investment, will absolutely be worth it in the long run.
A Patagonia jacket or a nice pair of headphones, for example, are things people would be likely to buy on their own.
They’re great items whether or not your company logo is on them, and have the versatility to be used inside the office or out.
3. Consider thoughtful details
When planning what kind of items you want to order for company swag, think about which items you can use to relay small details about the company or its culture.
There are so many ways to add small, unique touch points that will make your swag feel much more polished and thoughtful.
Creating a custom notebook? Have a small note or company value printed inside on the inside of the first page. A t-shirt? Have a unique note printed on the inside tag of the shirt.
Sports teams do this all the time.
For example, look at the redesigned jerseys the Milwaukee Bucks released a couple of years ago.
Yes, they look cool from the outside, but some of the small, finer detailers were even cooler.
On a hem tag at the bottom of the jersey, the Bucks’ slogan “Fear the Deer” is embroidered.
Yes, the slogan is silly, but to that team and fans it means something. Plus, it’s placed in a spot where only the wearers can see it, making it something valuable and motivating for them every time they put on their jersey.
The point here is thoughtful company swag can do more than raise brand awareness. It can also be motivating, unifying, and show your community you care.
4. Keep company culture in mind
This rule is pretty simple, but also worth stating.
When selecting company swag, be sure to keep your culture in mind. Knowing the general personality of the brand will help you narrow down and select swag items that fit.
Wistia, for example, gave out custom bicycle bells a few years back. Bike bells have nothing to do with their business, but it’s quirky and fun, just like their brand.
Another example is Belly giving out custom argyle socks. They’re unique, bold, and noticeable, making them a strong talking point. Plus, having “these dogs are always barkin’” embroidered on the bottom directly correlates to their brand, as their mascot is a dog.
These are strong examples of how to integrate your brand personality into items that don’t inherently have anything to do with it. Plus they’re fun, out-of-the-ordinary items that people are bound to remember.
5. Be inclusive
The word inclusivity has been getting a lot of buzz this year – and for good reason.
For the most part, people assume their own experiences and interests are the most common ones. This is not true, though, and people and companies are taking this concern more to heart.
For years, tech companies have struggled to create a working environment that is inclusive to women, but, in fact, women are being driven away from their field.
Consider this graphic from Girls Who Code:
The percentage of women entering the computer science field has been cut in half over the last 30 years. While this can’t solely be blamed on lack of inclusivity, it is certainly a factor that should be considered and improved.
The diversity problem goes far beyond women, too. Per USA Today, black and Latino employees still only make up a combined 3% to 5% of the workforce at top-grossing tech companies such as Apple, Facebook, and Google.
So, how does swag fit in to this?
Yes, the problem of inclusivity is much bigger than company swag, but inclusion can be promoted through small details, swag being one of them!
So, when you’re planning your company swag items, be sure to think of everyone in the office.
For example, if you know someone doesn’t drink because of their religious beliefs, maybe refrain from handing out company shot or wine glasses.
Or if you’re ordering apparel like t-shirts or sweaters, be sure to include options in a women’s cut, not just unisex.
Having options like this is a small way to promote inclusion and make sure everyone feels appreciated and cared for.
Choose wisely, friends!
As you can see, effective swag selection requires more thought and planning than simply what’s cheapest or easier. It could mean the difference between swag that’s loved and used, versus swag that’s in the trash can after a week.
There’s a lot at stake here. Taking the time to pick out the right swag will gain you impressions, promote company culture, and promote some positive brand buzz.
Follow these tips, and you’re bound to land some quality, thoughtful company swag that people will actually love.
Wondering where to begin?