Cheap Swag vs. Corporate Gifting

Promotional items, such as pens and mugs, ensured that your brand name is always visible to your customers because they’re likely to actually use those items in everyday life. However, these “classic” promos have been around for decades. Companies and clients crave fresh, unique ideas for promo items which will surprise the recipients with their originality.

On the other hand many promo items go into trash very soon after they are received. Either because of the low quality or they are irrelevant to client’s life style. Both hurt the brand image.

Enter corporate gifting. This increasing trend in recent years helps to reflect corporate identity, brand, culture and values which in turn creates a stronger lasting effect of brand engagement.

Unfortunately,  clients are so busy they do not have time to sit down and strategize corporate gifting. Items are mostly small in size they seem to play a small role in strategy as well.

Recently, I was talking to a client about customizing our notebooks for her organization. She showed me the promo they gave away to their members: Dumbbell stress reliever. She said that it looked cute but it was cast aside in her office soon after the event. Obviously dumbbell was not an item she “needed” in everyday life, let alone reflecting the “identity” of the organization.

There are 2 things to consider simultaneously when deciding on corporate gifts:

1- Customers’ Needs: “Human beings think of themselves 90% of the time.” says Dale Carnegie in his classic book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. Not being able to see the customer’s perspective is a common trap in business in general. In order to make a lasting impression, corporate gifts should be the ones clients LOVE (and need) to use over and over in their daily life. So they should be picked according to your customer’s needs (lifestyle, habits, functionality, esthetic taste etc.) not your personal needs (budget, sales, your taste etc.)

2- Your Brand Needs: First and foremost your brand needs to stand out among the competition. It’s not enough to have your logo on just something, the shape and design and color is also very important for making your corporate identity memorable as far as we register the world around us with our eyes.

In the above dumbbell case, that might be a perfect gift for sports-related organizations in terms of corporate identity IF and only if their clients are people who sit down and do brain work or creative work often. Why? Apparently, squeezing something benefits the creation of different ideas! (Check his article You see you need to strategize your gifts if you want to turn them into good investments rather than expenditures.

For my client, we worked on a nicely customized notebook for their next event. After all, what’s a better gift than a notebook for conference attendees? 🙂

By Sue Begum Bulut – Director, North America