Design Company Swag That's a Hit with Employees and Customers

Thomas Hilton

Thomas Hilton

Company Swag

Perhaps you're already familiar with custom "swag," another name for promotional products and company-branded gear, and chances are you have a collection of your own at home with various logos that you've acquired over the years. A consumer advertising impressions study that surveyed consumers in the US, Canada, Mexico, and parts of Europe found that promotional pens and drinkware, for example, are owned by nearly 9 in 10 consumers.

It's not just pens and plastic cups, though. Most categories of promotional products and corporate swag are owned by more than half of consumers. A whopping 85% of the consumers surveyed remembered an advertiser that gave them a shirt or hat; apparel items have the highest recall rate. When you design company swag that people want to keep, your business creates impressions on other consumers who see it each time the item is used or worn by the recipient.

What is Corporate Swag?

So, what is corporate swag, anyway? It's everything from your coffee mug that says "Mike's Mufflers" to the t-shirts they gave out at the company picnic, or pretty much any other custom branded product with a company's logo or message. As mentioned above, in addition to giving company swag to employees, many organizations hand out branded products to the public. Each time the item is used or worn, this promotes the company, gaining continued marketing exposure and impressions through subsequent use.

Some companies give their employees different types of corporate swag as a reward or incentive, or so their employees can be easily identified by members of the public or other businesses. For example, at a conference, job fair, or when canvassing a neighborhood, it's important that your employees are recognizable.

The better quality, more attractive, and useful an item is, the more likely it will be used regularly, so keep that in mind when designing company swag. Most people don't want another piece of junk to clutter up their workspace or home.

Quality Custom Swag and Merch for Employees and Customers

Branded merchandise is a great way to give employees something they'll use – even outside of work engagements, if you design company swag that's really cool or useful and of high quality. Whether your custom merch for employees is a small token of appreciation or intended to identify them to your customers, designing great company swag shows affiliation with your organization.

Many companies choose to create swag to hand out to their customers as well as their employees, which is a great marketing tactic. The ASI Ad Impressions study shows that promotional products, or corporate swag, are the highest impact with the lowest cost-per-impression advertising medium an organization can use to connect with their audience. Your brand gets continued exposure, and your employees and customers get a gift out of it that they'll associate positively with the company.

Whether you're just starting to think about the type of quality custom swag you want to create or know precisely what you want, we'll cover what you need to know about designing custom swag that works and give some examples of the types of products you can create.

It's not all coffee mugs and fleece pullovers, though those are classic, ever-popular examples. In fact, on average, promotional outerwear generates 6,100 impressions throughout the garment's lifetime and accomplishes these continued marketing impressions over the course of only sixteen months.

Why Should You Design Corporate Swag and Give it Out?

You should think about the swag you choose to give away to employees and customers as more than "just another free t-shirt." The type of swag you hand out represents the type of company you are and can be a great way to build and sustain loyalty among employees and customers. 80% of companies that gave corporate gifts during the pandemic said that giving gifts had a noticeable impact on improving relationships with employees and clients. 48% claimed gifting delivered a substantial benefit.

A study by Coresight Research of 300 corporate gift buyers from various industries focuses on the impacts the Covid-19 pandemic has had on corporate gifting and predicts the trends going forward. The study found that gifts became a vital method to keep employees connected and engaged and show appreciation for their perseverance through unprecedented working conditions.

Key Advantages and Benefits of Company Swag and Corporate Gifting:

The 300 corporate gift-givers surveyed were asked to rank their perceived benefits of gifting. The percentages below indicate how many ranked each category as one of their organization's top three benefits.

The top five advantages of corporate gifting emphasized sentimental or emotional benefits, followed by the more traditionally recognized benefits of giving out swag, such as increasing brand awareness and generating leads. Overall, 96% of respondents cited the benefits of improving relationships with employees and customers.

  1. 43% said gifting improved relationships with employees and customers.

  2. 39% — Improved employee productivity.

  3. 38% — Making the recipient feel valued.

  4. 36% — Improved customer loyalty.

  5. 30% — Improved employee retention.

  6. 27% — Nurturing new relationships with prospects.

  7. 26% — Improved sales.

  8. 22% — More effective new product launches.

  9. 22% — Increased brand awareness

  10. 16% — Lead generation.

How to Design Company Swag that Stands Out

The process for designing quality custom swag is relatively consistent, regardless of whether you're designing gifts for employees, souvenirs for a specific event, or branded swag to hand out to customers. Below we've outlined the general steps you'll need to take to design company swag that achieves its intended purpose.

Step 1: Identify the Audience, Your Recipients

  • Are you designing company swag for employees, customers, or both?

  • What are the attributes of your audience – your custom swag's intended recipients? Are they young, middle-aged, tech-savvy, wildlife enthusiasts, pediatricians, factory workers?

Step 2: Brainstorm Ideas for Swag, or Ask Your Recipients for Input

Trying to determine the best merch for employees can often be as simple as asking them. What do they want? What would they use?

T-shirts, pens, and coffee mugs are always good to have, but the options are virtually limitless for types of items that can be designed and customized with your logo, company motto, or whatever you'd like. At the bottom of this article, we've listed some of the most popular swag items in 2021 and 2022.

Step 3: Choose Your Design and Mock-Up Products to Review

Many promotional product companies offer ready-made designs and in-house graphic designers you can hire for an additional fee. However, that may not always be the best approach. You can also source a graphic designer through freelancer platforms like Upwork and Fiverr or create a design yourself using online platforms like Placeit.

If you choose to hire a third-party graphic designer, explicitly detail your vision to them for the best results. Remember, they don't know your audience, the purpose of your swag design, or what you're envisioning unless you tell them.

Best Company Swag Ideas for 2022

The examples below were chosen for a collection of qualities demonstrating their value, including the number of months promo items are kept, impressions over their lifetime, and cost-per-impression. The items are arranged by the number of months kept on average, with number one, Outerwear, having the longest retention period at sixteen months.

Note that for "custom face masks," data for the average number of months kept wasn't included in the ASI Ad Impressions study, as masks have only become necessities the last several years due to the pandemic, and long-term data wasn't available.

  • Outerwear

    • Months kept: 16

    • Impressions: 6,100

    • Cost-Per-Impression (CPI): 3/10th of a cent.

  • Custom face masks

    • Impressions: 4,235

    • Cost-Per-Impression (CPI): 1/10th of a cent.

  • Umbrellas

    • Months kept: 14

    • Impressions: 1,100

    • Cost-Per-Impression (CPI): 1 cent.

  • T-Shirts

    • Months kept: 14

    • Impressions: 3,400

    • Cost-Per-Impression (CPI): 2/10th of a cent.

  • USB Drives

    • Months kept: 13

    • Impressions: 700

    • Cost-Per-Impression (CPI): 7/10th of a cent.

  • Desk accessories

    • Months kept: 13

    • Impressions: 1,450

    • Cost-Per-Impression (CPI): 3/10th of a cent.

  • Mobile power banks

    • Months kept: 12

    • Impressions: 900

    • Cost-Per-Impression (CPI): 1 cent.

  • Drinkware

    • Months kept: 12

    • Impressions: 1,400

    • Cost-Per-Impression (CPI): Less than ½ a cent.

  • Bags

    • Months kept: 11

    • Impressions: 3,300

    • Cost-Per-Impression (CPI): 2/10th of a cent.

  • Hats and headwear

    • Months kept: 10

    • Impressions: 3,400

    • Cost-Per-Impression (CPI): 3/10th of a cent.

  • Writing Instruments

    • Months kept: 9

    • Impressions: 3,000

    • Cost-Per-Impression (CPI): 1/10th of a cent.

  • Calendars

    • Months kept: 8

    • Impressions: 850

    • Cost-Per-Impression (CPI): 3/10th of a cent.

Wrapping up the Company Swag Bag

As you can see from the numbers, companies have a multitude of reasons to begin working on a company swag design. From improving and strengthening relationships with employees and customers to gaining continued impressions throughout the lifetime of promo items that typically cost less than a cent per impression.

So, see what your people want – or surprise them; there's a lot to be said for the surprise factor. Your organization will see the benefits of gifting company swag across the board, all of which inevitably end up positively impacting the company's bottom line.

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