Speak has been in the biz for over 20 years, so we’ve seen our fair share of branded swag. Employee swag, client gifts, and outreach gifts featuring a company’s logo and/or branding are all relatively common for organizations to dole out. But often, these gifts earn the reputation of being poorly made, unuseful, or boring.
As a growing company ourselves, we’ve learned the ins and outs of branded gifts and freebies, and, as an agency that specializes in branding and marketing, we take good swag seriously.
We love sending little gifts to our partners and prospective clients—we’ve found a mug, a sticker, a tasty treat, or other small surprise can go a long way in making the organizations and people we work with feel valued and seen. We’re often asked when we send Speak-branded freebies our clients’ way what the secret is to getting high quality, beautifully branded swag every time. So today, we’re breaking down a few tips and tricks for creating branded company swag and gifts your employees and clients will actually enjoy.
1. Give it a purpose.
Create branded swag or gifts that your team or clients will actually want and see value in by giving it a clear reason for being. This can look a number of different ways, but when you’re thinking about what freebies you’d like to order, ask yourself:
Let’s break down what this looks like when choosing swag.
Does it fit in with the work/mission of your organization?
The swag you choose, just like anything you invest in or create, should support your overall mission and values and/or highlight your services.
Clients love receiving a physical reminder of the work you do, so consider ways that you can get creative and do just that. For example, nearly every company has their own branded pens, but if you’re a construction company, you could get creative and take a branded pen to the next level by opting for a multitool pen with a ruler and a level built into it. (Next level – see what I did there?)
Images courtesy of QualityLogoProducts.com
Or, if you’re a company that offers on-the-go solutions, opting for a travel mug rather than a classic ceramic mug can be a subtle touch that better suits your mission.
Potential clients will love the creative angle on a classic freebie, and the unique quality of the item goes one step further in reminding them of the services you offer. This is just one example, but there are plenty of ideas and options out there, so get brainstorming and researching!
If you want to do something a little more unique than simply putting your logo on an item, consider using swag to showcase your company values. If your values are relatable, this can be a great way to connect with the masses and put your message into the world. Check out how we did just that to display one of our core values, Work With Heart, on our sleeve... er, swag.
Is it useful?
Remember, swag only benefits you as a marketing effort when the people who receive it keep it and interact with it.
It’s like that classic question, If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, did it actually make a sound? If you put your logo and branding on a product and give it out to potential customers, but the product doesn’t get used regularly enough to remind the person where it came from, is it doing the work it’s meant to do?
Creativity is great, but it’s also important to consider the function of the swag you choose. This is in part why pens, mugs, sticky notes, and notepads are so commonplace in the world of company swag. Even if they aren’t the most creative products, they’re likely to benefit and be used by the people you give them to.
Items that don’t have a use will be more likely to be stashed away, hiding your company name and logo from the people you intended to see it. This isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of other creative, unique, useful options out there though. Have fun exploring, and keep in mind while you do whether you yourself would use the product if it were given to you.
Does it help promote a message you want to send?
At Speak, we regularly use two types of swag: evergreen items and seasonal or limited-time items.
Evergreen swag is exactly how it sounds—branded products that we can send to anyone at any time. These are items like our Speak branded mugs, pens, stickers, and notepads. For these items, we make sure they use our brand colors, typeface, and logo.
We also regularly design seasonally-relevant or event-specific swag when we want to pack an extra punch. When we attended the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Mid-Year Conference this year, we designed stickers specifically for this audience. We also designed seasonally-relevant gift boxes themed around road trips that we sent out this summer to many of our clients.
Going the extra mile by creating memorable and relevant swag can be a special way to connect with your audience. The people at the AZA Mid-Year conference loved that our otter stickers directly aligned with their work. We also received tons of messages after we sent out our “In It For the Long Haul” road trip boxes – the timing was perfect as many of our clients were about to embark on road trips themselves.
So, consider your audience and what they’ll be excited to see, and don’t be afraid to get a little creative!
2. Don’t skimp on design.
In many cases, it’s perfectly fine to opt for just including your logo on a branded item. However, when it makes sense, take your design a step further to really pack a punch. Customize items to match your brand colors or tie items to your messaging with clever turns of phrases that make swag items feel even more special.
If you don’t have a designer on your team that can help in this regard, it can be tempting to go the easy route. But tapping an agency with an expert team of designers who can work with you to conceptualize and create unique, custom swag can result in a major ROI for your branded swag.
Speak would love to hear your ideas and help you create something amazing.
3. The cheapest option isn’t always the best.
Once you’ve decided which swag item you want to customize and order, it can be tempting to find the cheapest possible option to go with. But cutting costs on the front end may not mean money saved or a better ROI in the long run.
Companies frequently fall into the trap of ordering cheap swag items that look completely different than what was advertised online, that break in the first use, or that take ages to arrive. Remember that ultimately, anything you put your company’s name on, people will associate with your company.
Opting for a nicer option can improve your brand’s overall impression, which is definitely worth a few more bucks in the end.
Pro tip: When ordering through most custom branding companies, you can request a sample before you buy, so you can interact with an item yourself before you order 1000 of them to be given to all of your clients or employees.
Custom branded items are an investment either way—make sure it’s one you’re pleased with by doing your research, considering all your options, and making an informed choice rather than simply choosing the cheapest one.
Speak can help you make it happen.
Our expert team of designers and creative thinkers can work with teams of any size with any budget to create custom branded swag their team, clients, or potential clients will love. Whether you’ve got ideas in mind or are starting with a blank page, give us a shout. We’d love to help.