The Challenge of SWAG, or alternatively, How To Really Treat Your Future Clients

my life's logos

I went to visit my parents this last week, and my mom and I were sharing some views about the fact that as admins, we find ourselves sourcing some things to give away at trade shows and conferences, and that the both of us aim to choose things that meet the trifecta of quality, consistency of brand, and usefulness.

You don’t want whatevertheheckitis you buy to end up in a trash bin, and this whole conversation was inspired by a slightly terrible umbrella she had come across. A cutesy idea, this thing was a plastic wine bottle, wherein the body of the bottle, when removed, was an umbrella and you can imagine that the handle of the umbrella was the neck of the bottle.

Immediately, as a lady who enjoys food and drink, I saw a problem here. Normally the roles are reversed. Especially during prohibition times, you’d be hiding the alcohol inside the umbrella, not the umbrella inside the alcohol. On top of all that, the quality was BUNK.

Back when I was working for a laboratory, our most popular piece of swag was a double-ended Sharpie. Not a knockoff marker, but a high-quality pen with the ink we all know and love to be permanent (important for environmental samples in the field). Our logo was in the middle, nice and legible with the phone number, and everyone was using them consistently. They asked for a new one if it was lost or ran out of ink. THAT’S a nice piece of swag.

My mom remembered one, too- she was working with a lot of software engineers  and hardware designers, and she found a pocket-friendly multi-tool that was a screwdriver/magnet/LED light/etc. It was so useful that people would come by the conference booth after seeing one of them, roped in by the siren song of usefulness.

There are lots of amazing items out there to pick from, and many aren’t even offered by the traditional “slap your logo on this piece of plastic junk” companies. My advice? Think of the object, the gift or sales item you would give to current and future clients, and then figure out how to get one that’s distinctly yours, rather than looking through random objects, trying to figure out how your logo would look on them.

And in the meanwhile, do check out Decomposition Books, and how you could send high-quality notebooks into the world with graphics on them or google up/pinterest search some neat ideas. I found some outside-o-the-box stuff here and here.

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