Getting Strategic with Swag

Branding doesn’t end with your tagline and logo. How do you ensure your swag stands out in a sea of tees and tote bags to make your brand memorable?

You’ve got an exhibitor space secured and you’re ready to share your brand at an industry event. Elevator pitch? Check. Signage? Check.


Branding doesn’t end with your tagline and logo. Brand strategy should be a part of every decision made – including every attendee’s favorite conference perk – swag! How do you ensure your swag stands out in a sea of tees and tote bags to make your brand memorable?

I recently attended HubSpot’s INBOUND conference. The aforementioned totes and tees were available in abundance, but several brands knocked it out of the park and there are valuable lessons to be learned from the trinkets that caught my attention, each chosen with a unique strategy.


Consider one of these strategies next time you find yourself in a situation with swag to share:

Look beyond your logo

Anyone can throw their logo on an item and call it a day. Instead, think about what is fun or unique about your brand and transfer that quality to your swag.

Choose fun phrases

I saw many attendees walking around with totes saying quirky things like “I got 99 problems but closing deals ain’t one” or “B2B Boss.” Instead of just a logo, these brands chose fun phrases to delight the recipients that tied into the services they offer.

Lean into your name

Does your brand have a name or tagline that can connect to something more unexpected to delight attendees? An inbound lead conversion and scheduling app called Chili Piper leaned into their name and handed out “spicy” swag like mini hot sauce bottles and spicy DIY margarita kits. Fun, useful, and memorable!

Consider a pun

If humor is part of your tone, consider a pun: one digital asset management (DAM) company that uses the word “DAM” in their messaging regularly handed out headache kits “for your DAM headache” that included pain medication, earplugs, and hydration packets.

Let them choose

The booth with the longest lines went beyond the logo and took it a step further by giving customization options to each recipient. They printed T-shirts (and tote bags!) on site, allowing each attendee their choice of color and design. Design was the star of the swag with only a small logo on the sleeve to indicate who the sponsor was. By the final day of the conference, there was nowhere to hide from all the attendees who were eager to wear their new treasures immediately.

Show them how it’s done

One company made their service the swag: Sendoso, a gift-sending platform, invited attendees to win a gift via a game of Plinko. Once a prize was revealed, winners experienced a live demo from receiving a notification/acceptance email to receiving a gift at their doorstep a few days later. In my case, it was a dozen of the most delicious cookies I’ve ever had. The cookies may be long gone, but I’m sure to remember who sent them!

Meet a need

The conference ended with A Conversation with Barack Obama, the only session in which face masks were mandatory. One sponsor handed out branded face masks only on the final day to help attendees prepare.

Shortly before the final session, I found myself with a dying phone and a charger that was already packed and waiting at my hotel. I asked around if anyone had seen power banks as swag, and success! I found myself speaking to a sponsor I hadn’t noticed before simply because they offered what I needed.

What’s your strategy?

Colors and logos may be the building blocks of your brand, but every choice you make is a contributor from the tone you take to the gifts you give. Swag isn’t just a way to get your name in front of people, it’s an opportunity to show people who you are. How will you seize the opportunity?

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