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Please Don’t Give Me Another Crappy Cup

Logoed gifts are great, but if they result in repeated trips to the dry cleaners or frequent keyboard replacements, just say no.

Swag — pens, pins, pint glasses, stress balls, golf balls, t-shirts, blankets, socks, and other logoed objects are commonly used for branded giveaways. How many times have you received things like this that were useful and long-lasting? Probably not much, because sadly, most of it sucks these days.

Don’t get me wrong, logoed items can be incredibly impactful and I highly recommend them. When chosen thoughtfully and used creatively as part of a well-aligned marketing strategy, items bearing your brand’s logo, icon, and tagline are far more memorable and for all the right reasons. When selected based on cost, quantity, and quick shipping timelines alone, succumbing to low-quality promotional items puts your brand at risk and potentially devalues it. Worse, they will turn off trade partners and prospective clientele and leave a potentially long-lasting negative impression.

Travel mug
Photo by Daniel Balakov/Getty Images

Overly dramatic? Maybe. Maybe not. Here’s a story I bet you can relate to: Recently, I was gifted a sweet-looking tumbler from a well-respected, high-end brand whose products are sold to the luxury consumer market for a premium price. I was stoked to get this cup and couldn’t wait to fill ‘er up with a shake, which is my typical midday meal that I guzzle while working at my desk. These are important details because no sooner had I whipped up my lunch and settled back into my routine than I realized I was dribbling fruity, sticky, protein goodness down my shirt and all over my desk and keyboard. Super cool.

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Perhaps I didn’t seal the lid properly? Yeah. No. Neither the lid, the spout, nor the gasket sealed the contents of the cup, no matter how much I tried (and try, I did, repeatedly). I keep that (empty) cup on my desk as a reminder of what not to do and have advised several clients of the same using it as an example. Sadly, every time I see it or tell the tale, the brand name goes with it. And that, my friends, is the moral of this story.

Unless your company is in the “dribbly cup that leaks like a sieve” business, your brand should never appear on anything that leaks like a sieve (so to speak).

Instead, seek out high-quality, fun, and functional items that do the following:

  1. Appeal to your clientele and trade partners
  2. Serve a purpose or solve a real problem
  3. Align with your products or offering
  4. Will last a long time
  5. Bring joy

Finding the right giveaway items can take some time, but you will find that once you start looking, you will find more options that fit the bill. Start a list and keep an eye out for things as you travel, shop, or scroll your Instagram feed. Peruse small shops in your town or when you visit new cities. Meaningful items can be found in a myriad of places, and often the most intriguing are found where you’d least expect them.

Here are some ideas:

  • Well-made cheese knives and wood or slate charcuterie boards engraved with your logo
  • Wool blankets with a patch featuring your logo and a fun tagline aligned with a season or sentiment
  • Wine or wine club subscriptions featuring lesser-known, high-quality producers in up-and-coming regions (check the laws regarding alcohol shipments and abide accordingly)
  • High-quality pet items like bowls, beds, or indestructible toys if pets play a prominent role in your clientele or trade partners’ lives (again, never, ever be tempted by low-cost, low-quality toys — this can backfire and be potentially catastrophic)
  • High-quality aprons, grill mitts, wireless thermometers, and BBQ accessories are a great consideration, especially if your clientele or trade partners enjoy outdoor cooking, grilling, or BBQing
  • Metal alloy bowls, trays, and serving utensils engraved with your logo can last a lifetime
  • Beautifully wrapped, pre-configured tablets to control systems installed in the home, engraved with your brand’s logo, tagline, and service-related contact information as a way to encourage clients and trade partners to enjoy technology, music, and movies to the fullest and to contact your team whenever they need support (so they always have an exceptional tech experience, which ties directly to your brand)

Above all else, always choose quality over quantity, no matter how compelling the offer may be. Swag is a powerful tool to have in your marketing bag, but buyer beware. Unless you’ve touched it, tried it, and know it will last, move on. Your brand should never be aligned with low-quality products that deliver poor user experiences.

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Unless you’re in the dribbly cup that leaks like a sieve business, that is.

Curious about where to find items similar to what I’ve noted above or want some help with the hunt? Drop me a line, I’m here to help! [email protected].

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