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  • Melanie Hardcastle

Swag 101



Swag: consumers love it, and if you work in marketing, you may find yourself in charge of sourcing it. Brands can benefit from giving out promotional items at events, conferences, guerilla-style activations or through direct mail in certain cases. While this can be a fun project to own (everyone wants to be friendly with the person with swag access), understanding your customers and having a purchasing strategy is key in making your money go further.


To start with the obvious, your swag should always be branded. Make sure there’s room on the item for your logo; you can typically find the specs on the item listing page and should be sent a proof before finalizing the purchase. When possible, order items in your brand colors (we'll talk more about brand kits in a future post). Many sites allow you to filter by color which can help you narrow down the options.


This leads us to our next point. Whatever item you select should be something useful and something that isn’t disposable. What do I mean by that? If your brand color is orange and you order bags of orange m&m’s with your logo on them, yes, they will look adorable. But, they will also disappear quickly (duh, they melt in your mouth, not in your hand). Pens, coozies, water bottles and pins will stay where you want them; on the desk or otherwise in clear sight of your customer. They serve as a subtle reminder throughout the day and keep your brand in the customers periphery.


Finally, as a branding expert, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of keeping swag items on-brand. Who are your customers? Where are they in life? What do they do for fun? For a brand focused on health and wellness, they may want to reconsider a branded bottle opener and instead opt for a reusable water bottle or gym towel. Tech companies should make sure their giveaway items are current and useful; think a wireless charger instead of a stylus. And while fads like fidget spinners can be fun, they change quickly, so opt for more evergreen items when possible.


I’d love to hear what swag items other brands have found success with and any questions you have on this topic! And for fun, below are a few items that have caught my eye recently.


Budget options

Chip clip magnet

Silicone smartphone pocket with strap


Mid-range

Pop sockets (they're here to stay)

Cork bottom mug


Luxe - Good for holiday gifts, important clients

Plush blanket

Reverse umbrella




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