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The 2021 Field Guide to Incredible Brand Swag

Culture
17 min read
Nehad Zein
Nehad Zein
Guest Writer

Published: February 02, 2021

Great companies have great cultures, and great cultures are built with amazing swag. If you’re a savvy businessperson, you already know that word-of-mouth marketing trumps any other form of marketing. And where do the best referrals usually come from? Your employees, of course! Happy employees are more likely to promote the company’s mission and refer your products and services to their friends. Plus, happy employees also mean a positive work culture, all of which ultimately result in more profit for the company. 

Your brand levels up when the overall experience associated with it improves. Swag is an incredible way to interact with all of your stakeholders (including investors and customers) and can be leveraged well to create a great perception for your brand. 


How You Can Leverage Swag in 2021

1. Why use swag to boost workplace culture?

It’s simple. An effective swag strategy that helps new recruits get comfortable, enables performance-based employee rewards and promotes team-spirit through virtual and physical events will ultimately result in a more cooperative, happier office culture. It works to motivate your employees, boost overall morale and set expectations. All of which are incredibly positive for your company. Also, check out how our clients leveraged swag to build culture.




2. Besides boosting it, swag can also be used to set the tone for office culture.

A huge example of this is featuring swag in your onboarding process. If you’re handing out tools such as an official computer and specialised software, what’s preventing you from complementing it with a personalised welcome card and some basic branded goodies? It builds perception, establishes the office culture and makes your new hire super-excited to join a thriving team. And excited employees are what make thriving teams in the first place. It’s a Catch-22 you definitely want to exploit. 😉

You aren’t limited to using swag while onboarding just employees either, you can also use it as part of your client onboarding process. Check out how AdOutreach and Facebook did it.

We’ve also written on approaching culture in a post-2020 workplace.

So that’s how swag can be used to build and boost an office culture. It would be incomplete if we didn’t talk about how swag can maintain office culture. 

You’ve built up an amazing culture with swag and you can already feel the overall improvement.

But like anything else, even a culture needs to be maintained optimally and once again, Swag is the perfect catalyst. A lot of our clients periodically send out care packages to their teams and it led to seriously positive results especially during the remote-work transition this year. Imagine when you receive a gift from a dear friend when you aren’t leading your best life. Now replace that friend with your brand. It’s the same effect, with the added advantage of culture setting and community building. 

Here’s a roundup of the best culture and community swag we saw in 2020.




3. Yes, swag is a great community builder!

And the community building capabilities of swag are a byproduct of their capabilities to build culture. The strategy is simple, you hand out high-quality, branded stuff to a group of people and they’ll all feel as a part of your brand. You’ve created a brand community. Even though communities are more of a byproduct, they can also be the ultimate goal, especially for virtual events. Check out how Molis Coaching and Modsi Agency did it.

Virtual event swag can be further leveraged to build team-spirit. Hosting virtual events such as office happy-hours, a fitness run or even a comedy or concert night can be amazing team-building exercises. Here are a few more great ideas.




4. Swag isn’t just for companies

At first thought, swag might seem like something only companies can use. But that isn’t true. If you’ve got a brand, you can leverage swag. Hell, you can even leverage it as an individual to build your personal brand. Among all the strange things that happened in 2020, virtual convocations were a particularly unfortunate one. But Emory University approached us with an idea to use swag for their virtual convocation and boy, was that a memorable SwagUp first.




5. Leverage swag to impress clients 

Using swag to foster existing relationships with clients can be massively impactful. If a customer has purchased from you, they already trust you and your ability to deliver on what you promised. Exceed these expectations by sending out some branded swag every few months.

This approach can be used to rekindle stagnant relationships and maintain high-profile partnerships. Smartbug, for example, periodically sends out high-quality, branded swag to their lovely clients. Their justification is simple, “It humanizes the relationship. Especially being fully remote, we typically would never meet in person. When they receive that box of goodies, it reminds them we’re more than just a piece of paper, more than just a contract they signed.” And here’s what we think: Your best clients are just like your business partners. What’s your excuse to not gift them?




6. Swag can also be incorporated into your marketing strategy

Conducting swag giveaways, handing out branded swag to influencers and hosting virtual events complemented by swag are a few effective ways to do it. Check out how the teams at Nasdaq and Facebook used swag to drive social media attention. Interested in checking out how our clients have successfully used Swag in virtual events? Don’t miss this story. Curious about influencer swag? Here’s what Notion did.




7. Using swag for company celebrations is a no-brainer

Signed a big contract or fulfilled a massive order? Send out some swag to your clients and let them know how good of a job you’ve done! Did you hit 10m in revenue? Hand out some swag thanking all your employees and partners! Bonus points if an item can be kept on the mantelpiece as a constant reminder of the huge milestone they helped the company achieve. Again, this is an extension of the using swag to impress approach and sends a stellar message to both clients and employees, setting expectations and building reputation. Business is all about the relationships we foster, and swag provides a great way to manage them. See how these teams used swag to reward their top performers.

Apart from company celebrations, swag is also a great companion for team events such as virtual happy hours and virtual holiday parties. Schedule a virtual get-together, send out some amazing swag and then watch all your employees bond over the amazing branded goodies you sent them.

🚀  See More: 7 Swag Ideas for Virtual Holiday Parties.




8. Swag can help in times of distress too

Speaking of top performers, we loved seeing culture-first clients like Softheon manage the transition to remote work using swag. They sent out swag items to their teams that were designed to make the transition easier and more fun. And it led to increased productivity and happier employees. Imagine that, in 2020!

That’s eight different solid ways in which swag can be utilised to achieve different results. The next part contains some tips to help you get going easier.


So we’ve covered all the ways you can exploit swag to elevate your brand. But there’s a right way to do it and lots of wrong ways to do it. 

Here are a few practical tips to speed up the creation of your winning swag strategy.

Feel free to skip around 😁

Tip #1 – The Technical Design Considerations
Tip #2 – Defining your brand voice and featuring it on your Swag
Tip #3 – Packaging: It can make or break your swag experience
Tip #4 – Sending Swag from home
Tip #5 – Choosing swag for your remote team
Tip #6 – Quick turnaround swag helps you launch faster
Tip #7 – Swag classics can get you going fast
Tip #8 – Preset packs can decrease time and effort spent on planning
Tip #9 – Low minimum swag packs can help you get started cheaper
Tip #10 – Sending swag as a care package
Tip #11 – Quality is everything
Tip #12 – Swag can be automated
Tip #13 – Avoiding the perils of dropshipping
Tip #14 – High-End Swag may be better suited for certain occasions
Tip #15 – Using gourmet food as swag
Tip #16 – Tech Swag is a versatile swag option
Tip #17 – Consider including swag in your sales cycle
Tip #18 – Using Swag for virtual events and the power of redeem pages
Tip #19 – Nailing the swag experience is important


📦 SWAG CREATION 🎨

Tip #1 – The Technical Design Considerations 

Before you can get to the part of choosing the best swag, you must give some thought as to how you’re going to design it all. This means considering which brand colors you’d like featured, what your ultimate goals with swag are and how the design can help accomplish them and even technical details such as the size and format of your logo files. These processes can be lengthy but the best part is that they’re a one time investment. Lock them in place and your swag process will be a breeze until you decide to change your goals. 

Here’s how to know if you’ve got a vector file or not.





Tip #2 – Defining your brand voice and featuring it on your swag

Defining your brand voice is important not just for a successful swag strategy but also for running a streamlined business. It sets the tone of all your communication (both internal and external) and plays a vital role in determining your brand’s culture and personality. A well-defined brand voice is the stepping stone to a stellar reputation. 

Here’s six steps to defining your brand voice.




Tip #3 – Packaging: It can make or break your swag experience

You’ve got your designs sketched out and your brand voice worked out. You’ve even decided on the goals you want to achieve with branded swag. The last step before you dive into choosing the swag items is focusing on the packaging. The packaging is vital to your overall swag experience. The physical nature of swag provides a multi-sensory experience and well-thought out, unique packaging can help you elevate this experience, leaving a memorable impression in the minds of your receivers. 

Read up on why packaging matters and how you can do it right.




Tip #4 – Quick turnaround swag helps you launch faster

If you’re crunched for time, quick turnaround swag is an effective solution to get swag to your team faster. Choosing swag with faster turnaround is also a great option if you don’t want to be paralysed by choices and want to avoid unnecessary delays. If you’ve got no time, period, quick turnaround swag is the way to go.

Here’s a guide to quick turnaround swag




Tip #5 – Low minimum swag packs can help you get started cheaper

When you approach swag, it’s normal to ask for a minimum of 100 items. But sometimes you don’t need 100 and that where low minimum swag options can help. Low minimum swag can be ordered with less than 50 items. At Swagup, we’re mindful about waste and we have options available in quantities of 50, 30, 25, 12, and even 1.




🚀 SWAG USE CASES 🎉

Tip #6 – Choosing swag for your remote team

If you’re sending swag from home, chances are that you’re sending to a team that is spread out all across the world.  Remote work comes with its own set of hidden challenges and trying to address tasks like building a swag strategy can be lengthy and cumbersome. Not to mention the added disadvantages of social disconnection and Zoom fatigue. To breeze through the process of choosing swag for your remote team, hop onto our featured list of remote swag ideas

How to choose company swag that represents you




Tip #7 – Insider tips on using swag for virtual events and the power of redeem pages

Events are responsible for giving birth to the concept behind swag. And now since the whole thing has gone virtual, things aren’t as simple as they were. Sure, everyone’s doing virtual events these days but that shouldn’t be your only reason for doing it. You’re putting in time, money and effort. So you want to see good results. The good news? Swag can help you achieve them while also providing a vital physical element to your virtual event. Here’s how swag redeem pages can boost your virtual event. Looking for pack ideas? Here’s a few.





Tip #8 – Sending care package swag

Care packages were an incredibly popular form of swag in 2020. They were used by brands to send employees stuff that helped them get through the difficult times we encountered last year and also as a gesture of gratitude and assurance to stakeholders signifying that the company will pull through difficult times, intact. 

Here’s 17 care package ideas that you can steal 

Look at a few care packages our clients have sent




Tip #9 – Premium Swag for your VIPs

If you’re sending out any swag at all, make sure it’s high quality items that’ll last. An item that breaks too quickly or doesn’t last very long is going to work against your brand rather than for it. This gets especially true when you’re gifting functional items like tech accessories, coffee mugs and bags. Here’s an excellent list of premium swag options.




Tip #10 – Use High-End Swag at the Right Moment for Maximum Impact

If you’re looking to leave a strong statement with your swag, high-end is the way to go. They’re perfect for gifting high-profile clients and garnering some serious attention online. For example, if you’re giving away custom branded Airpod Pros, it would result in a ton of attention. While high-end swag does have its advantages, it also comes with its own caveats. Learn how to nail your high-end swag strategy.




Tip #11 – How to use swag in your sales cycle

How do you approach sales? Let’s take a guess. You source contacts based on a criteria they fill, enroll them in your sequences, and hope that they become a lead. Right? Well yeah, that’s exactly what everyone else is doing too, with minor tweaks here and there. Now here’s a kicker of an improvement. If you’re a B2B company and your cost per lead is more than $50, swag can be easily incorporated into your sales cycle. Even if you’re simply sending out a pair of branded socks or even just a sticker, the tactile nature of swag ensures that your brand will be better remembered.




✨ SWAG INSPIRATION 💡

Tip #12 – Choose swag classics for instant crowd-pleasers

Following up on wanting to avoid being paralysed by choices, you can opt to simply stick to the basics. This includes clothing, mugs, bottles, backpacks, stationery and cards. We’ve got a brilliant list of swag classics designed to impress. And they’re guaranteed to never go out of style. Check it out here.




Tip #13 – Preset packs can decrease time and effort spent on planning 

If you’d like to entirely skip the choosing swag items part of the process, going the preset pack route is a fantastic option. They’re designed based on our most popular pack combinations and they’re a cool way to provide a holistic swag experience with minimal effort. With preset packs, we’ve done the work for you and you can expect to receive a combination of high-quality swag items designed to win and impress. 

Read more on preset packs here




Tip #14 – Think outside the box and go with gourmet food swag

Food is a powerful swag gift. It’s emotional, thoughtful and has a whole another experiential appeal to it. And food is one of the few items you can’t go wrong with. All of us eat and everyone appreciates being given food. Food is also an excellent way to stand out with your swag. Items like branded beverages and cupcakes combine well with other essential swag items. Check out this guide on gourmet food swag to learn more.




Tip #15 – Tech is a Modern Swag Essential (and Extremely Versatile!)

Tech accessories are another solid swag option to give your employees and clients. We’re all leading heavily digital lives and anything that helps make it easier to get through is sure to be well-appreciated. While tech swag is easy to execute, there are a few things you need to consider. Mostly stuff like who you’re gifting it to and how you plan to ship the packages. Check out this 2-part guide for some tips and brilliant swag picks: Part 1 / Part 2.




🚚  SWAG DISTRIBUTION 🚢

Tip #16 – Sending swag from home

With the massive shift to remote-working in 2020, a trend that seems like it’s here to stay, you might often end up sending out swag from home. But worry not, we’ve got you covered here too. You might have to be a little more flexible with your approach and tweak your expectations a bit, but you’ll still end up with some amazing swag for your team members. 

Here’s what you need to know before sending swag from home





Tip #17 – Swag can be automated

That’s right! Swag can be automated just like any other work process. We’ve teamed up with Zapier, which means Swag is no more a cumbersome task for you. You can automate swag for any workplace situation that demands it (from onboarding to events) and also connect Swagup to over 2000+ other apps including Google sheets and Typeform. Revolutionary? You bet!

Learn more about our partnership with Zapier




Tip #18 – Nailing the swag experience is important

Most people think swag is a modern invention. But that just isn’t true. The concept behind swag has existed since the birth of human civilization itself. We’ve always been keen to find signs that bind us as a community and correspondingly, provide a sense of identity as part of that community. This is important because when your employees, clients and followers are excited about the swag you give them, they’re actually taking pride in being associated with your brand. 

Hence, if your swag is high-quality but the swag experience is low-quality, it’s a huge let down. We’ve already talked about how good packaging can help you achieve a better swag experience. But you must still have a system in place that encourages and ensures a seamless, memorable swag experience. Here’s how you can tweak your Swag workflow to ensure a good swag experience across the board





Tip #19 – How to avoid the perils of dropshipping 

If you’ve drop shipped before, you probably know that regardless of how well a fragile item is packed and labeled, a couple always arrive broken. It’s just one of those things you can’t avoid, effectively tarnishing your well planned out swag experience. The solution? Opting for items that aren’t fragile. And there’s great alternatives for almost any item you can think of. Here’s a list on the good ol’ classic mug




Summary

And there we go. That’s a lot of different ways you can leverage swag to level up your brand and a collection of practical tips to best approach it. 

At the very least, swag works well to communicate to your employees that you’re invested in them. To convey that the journey is undertaken together and that the company will pull through the lows and celebrate the highs, as one. Everyone wants to be part of a firm that cares about its employees. We’ve experienced this firsthand and that’s why we’re on a mission to refresh swag. Learn more by listening to this podcast feature. Although we’re getting there, we’re not stopping anytime soon. Listen up on how we built an 8-figure swag business here.

Swag is an incredibly effective tool to manage the emotional and physical well-being of your stakeholders. And the returns of investing in swag, as you’ll find out soon, are well worth it! Before you head off, check out the swag pack builder to explore your options.

Are you ready to level up your brand with high-quality branded Swag? Start your brand’s incredible Swag journey. Reach out to a Swag Expert for help getting started!


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