3 Things to Remember When Designing Branded Swag For Your Event

Brian Pesin on 8/10/16 5:12 PM

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event-swag-bag.jpgThis is a guest post from Brad Wayland, the VP of Business Development at BlueCotton. Thanks for your contribution, Brad!

An event’s content should stand on its own, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give away some goodies. To do that, you need to keep a few things in mind.

Conference bags are often a dime a dozen – felt receptacles filled with knick-knacks and doodads that no one ever bothers to use. They’re boring, forgettable, and generic. But yours doesn’t need to be.
With a little bit of cleverness and effort, you can make your swag bag one that all the guests remember - and a reason in and of itself for people to attend your event. And trust us, that’s definitely something you want to do.

“Event goers will most certainly appreciate walking away with a bag full of free knickknacks and other useful items they didn’t have to pay for,” reads this blog post. “Swag bags might seem like a minor detail, but actually provide event organizers with a fantastic opportunity to create a memorable event brand. A swag bag that is well put together, will create a lasting memory on event attendees, speakers and VIPs.”

Today, we’re going to talk about what’s involved in creating just such a bag. Let’s get started.

1. Start With The Bag

ted-event-swag-bag.jpgAppearances are everything. As such, the first step to having memorable swag is designing some awesome packaging for it. If you want an example of how to do this right, the TED conference is a great place to start looking.

“Avoid any bag that’s commonplace, boring, and forgettable,” reads the Event Manager blog. “Go for attractive colors, interesting fabrics, and a stylish look. Surprise attendees with the design. If you display a logo, make sure it fits the design, and doesn’t look stuck on.”

2. Avoid Generic Gifts

Every great piece of swag has two things in common:

  • It’s unique - it’s something memorable, something that stands apart from the usual stuff that’s handed out.
  • It’s usable - your guests aren’t just going to toss it aside after the conference. 

With that in mind, there are certain gifts you’ll want to avoid at all costs. According to Hubspot, these include keychains, pens, USB drives, phone cases, paper weights, and backpacks. Whether dated, overly bulky, overly heavy, or simply useless, these are things no one really wants to receive – even if they’re free.

Items that you might want to consider in their place are as follows:

  • reusable-water-bottle.jpgFood: Non-perishables such as cookies, pretzels, etc. are great for when a guest is wandering around a conference and needs a quick pick-me-up.
  • Reusable water bottles: Attending a conference is thirsty work - you can take it from me that attendees will appreciate any steps you take to help them stay hydrated. 
  • Branded clothing: Don’t offer anything too tacky, but a well-designed branded T-shirt is a great gift choice. 
  • Notebooks: People DO still use notebooks - and a branded book could be just the ticket for your event. 
  • Phone pockets: These can attach to an existing smartphone case, and allow easy transport of stuff like business or bank cards.
  • Coffee mugs: Quick – name one businessperson you know who doesn’t start the day with at least a cup of joe. Can’t do it, can you? Caffeine habits aside, a coffee mug is a great option for your attendees, especially if you design one that looks cool.

3. Design - and Give - With Purpose

There’s a lot that goes into designing an effective logo. You need to ensure that it fits your target demographic in terms of its look and feel. You need to ensure that it portrays your brand’s look, feel, and culture. But most importantly, in the case of branded swag, you need to ensure that every piece of loot you give away is done so with a purpose in mind - namely, the purpose of the event you’re running, or the booth you’re operating at an event.

“The best brands use swag items to lure in booth traffic and get them involved in a conversation right away,” reads another post on the Event Manager Blog. “Start off by brainstorming what your event theme is going to be for the year.”

Closing Thoughts

Conferences and events already have an abundance of forgettable gifts and giveaways. Yours shouldn’t be among them. Provided you follow the advice outlined in this piece - stay away from generic gift items, design with purpose, and create a great bag - you should be more than capable of ensuring it isn’t.

And with that, you’ll be one step closer to ensuring your event is memorable, enjoyable, and entertaining for everyone who attends.

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Event pros, what do you love seeing in your event swag bags – and what goes straight to the trash? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @eventfarm.

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