26 Company Swag Ideas Employees Will Actually Like

Research shows that company swag can be a highly effective tool for boosting engagement. In fact, in one recent study, 61% of survey respondents agreed that promotional products help build brand awareness, and 58% reported that they loved getting swag.

That being said, through my experience as the head of marketing at two different tech companies, I’ve found that not all swag is equally well-received. What does it take to make sure that you invest in creating swag that people will actually like?

In this article, I’ll start by explaining what company swag is and how to order it, and then I’ll dive into some of my favorite ideas for company swag.

What is Company Swag?

Broadly speaking, “swag” refers to any kind of gift or product that companies give away for free in order to drive engagement and brand awareness.

In many cases, swag is used as a sales tool. For example, giving gifts to clients can be a great way to make sure existing customers feel valued — and to keep your brand top-of-mind. Similarly, many companies give out small, branded items such, as pens or pencils, to prospective customers at conferences or other events.

However, swag isn’t just a sales tool. Another important application of company swag is as a tool for retention and employee engagement.

Whether as a welcome gift for new employees, a holiday gift for an entire team, or a congratulations gift for team members who’ve reached an anniversary milestone, giving employees swag helps them feel appreciated.

Plus, if the swag is something they can use or wear in their day-to-day lives — like a water bottle or hoodie with your company’s logo — it allows them to serve as ambassadors of the company wherever they go.

How to Order Swag

Clearly, company swag can be hugely valuable — but it’s also easy to get it wrong. Specifically, when it comes to ordering swag, it’s vital to make sure to consider the budget you can afford to invest, the quantity of swag items you’ll need, the best vendors to work with, and the lead time it’ll take.

Budget

The first important consideration to keep in mind is budget. While you may be tempted to launch straight into designing and ordering your swag, I’ve learned firsthand that it’s critical to start by making sure you know how much you can spend on the project.

In some organizations, there is already an established budget for swag, whether on a monthly or annual basis. That said, even if the budget is set, it’s still essential to avoid making assumptions: I recommend getting explicit approval for the exact amount you plan to spend to avoid running into problems or misaligned expectations down the line.

In other cases, there may not be a predefined budget. For example, I worked with a startup that had never ordered swag before, so my boss wasn’t sure how much we should be spending on it.

If you don’t have a budget, you can benchmark against other major line items in your team’s budget, do some online research, and ask for input from colleagues to get a sense of what would be reasonable.

Then, you can share that estimate with the relevant decision-makers — and again, be sure to get explicit approval before clicking “buy.”

Quantity

The next question you’ll need to think about is quantity. How many shirts, hats, or pens do you need? Answering this question will depend on how you intend to use the swag.

If you want to get something for every employee on your team or in your department, start by counting the number of expected recipients. Remember to account for potential new additions to the team, as well as some extras, in case you’ve forgotten anyone.

Alongside the number of recipients, there’s also the question of timing. When I’ve ordered swag in the past, it’s sometimes for a single, one-off event, but more often, I’ve planned to use a single order of swag for multiple events.

For example, if you’re buying branded water bottles for new employees, it probably doesn’t make sense to just buy enough for your current cohort of new hires. Instead, it may be worth estimating how many new hires you expect to have over the next six months or even the next year, and getting enough swag to last you through several cohorts.

Vendors

Once you’ve determined how much you can spend and the rough amount of swag you’ll need, it’s time to start thinking about vendors. There are countless options for swag vendors, all of whom offer different types of products at different price points and quality levels.

If you’re not sure where to start, a quick Google search can get you some initial options. In addition, I always recommend asking friends or coworkers for their advice. They may be able to tell you about a vendor that you wouldn’t have found on your own, and input from someone you trust can help boost your confidence that the vendor will deliver as promised.

Plus, some vendors offer referral deals and discounts, potentially saving both you and your colleague some cash.

Lead Time

Finally, don’t forget about lead time, or the time it will take for a vendor to make and ship your swag to you. This is especially important if you’ve got a hard deadline, like a conference or holiday party where you plan to give out the swag.

In my experience, you’re unlikely to find a vendor who can offer a lead time of less than 5-10 business days — so make sure to plan ahead, and build some extra buffer time into your schedule in case of delays.

Best Company Swag Ideas

All right, so you’ve set a budget, decided on quantity, chosen a vendor, and accounted for lead time. But what exactly should you order? Below, I’ve shared some of my favorite company swag ideas, from apparel to wellness and beyond.

Apparel

One of the biggest benefits of apparel is that if employees like the swag, they’ll wear it for years, spreading awareness of your brand everywhere they go. Here are some of my favorite options for apparel swag.

Hats

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Who doesn’t need a hat? One of the lower-cost types of apparel, hats are always a popular swag option. If you’re in a warmer climate, try baseball caps, and if you’re somewhere with colder weather, beanies may be more appreciated.

T-Shirts

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Branded T-shirts are another great giveaway. They’re also a good option if you’re looking to get a bit more creative with your design, since there’s plenty of room to include not just your logo, but a custom slogan or other design elements.

Hoodies

If you’ve got a bit more budget, everyone loves a nice, cozy hoodie. These are an especially good idea if your team is based somewhere with colder weather, or if your office tends to have the air conditioning cranked up.

Socks

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Socks are a fun swag idea that also offer loads of customization options. Beyond just adding your logo or other designs, you can also think about different styles. Would your employees appreciate fuzzy socks? Extra-long socks? The possibilities are endless.

Jackets

A high-quality jacket is another swag item I’ve found is often a big hit. In fact, I know people who have kept wearing their company-branded jackets years after leaving the job! Especially for people in colder-weather locations, jackets or coats are often very much appreciated.

Sunglasses

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In contrast, if you’re based someplace with plenty of sun, consider looking into custom sunglasses. You can get glasses in your brand colors, and you can also have your logo or slogan printed on the sides.

Sunglasses may be especially popular if your employees spend time outside while on the job, or if your team enjoys outdoor activities in their time off.

Productivity

The next category of swag ideas is related to productivity. These are items that employees might choose to take home, but they can also use them while in the office.

Sticky Notes

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A classic swag item, sticky notes are something we all need — just make sure you choose ones that are big enough that they will actually be useful.

Pens 

You can never have enough pens! Pens are a great option to keep your company top-of-mind every time an employee writes something down.

Pencils

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For employees who prefer something erasable, branded pencils are another low-cost swag option that are always appreciated.

Erasers

While a little less common than pens and pencils, erasers are one of my favorite swag ideas. They can come in almost any size, shape, or color, giving you countless customization options, and they’re both affordable and universally useful.

Mouse Pads

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While a lot of productivity items are fairly small, mouse pads give you a decent amount of real estate to work with, giving you a lot more flexibility and space to include custom designs.

Travel

Another one of my favorite categories of swag is travel items. After all, whether I’m just taking the train into the office or embarking on an international flight, I always need travel items to help with the journey.

Tote Bag

Tote bags can be a versatile option for coming to work, heading to the gym, or going on a longer trip. Plus, they’re big enough to include some larger artwork, beyond just a company logo or slogan.

Travel Mug

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Are your employees big coffee or tea drinkers? If so, a travel mug is sure to be a hit. Make sure you get one with good reviews, though, since the last thing you want is people associating your company with spilling hot coffee all over themselves on the drive to work.

Water Bottle

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Give your people the gift of hydration! Whether they keep it on their desk, take it to the gym, or carry it in their bag, everyone needs a water bottle to help them stay hydrated throughout the day.

Lunch Box

While you might not have used a lunch box since grade school, this is a unique swag option that can make a big impact. A lunch box is also more versatile than you might think. Some employees might just use it to carry their lunch to work, but others might take it to the park for a picnic, or even use it as a mini cooler for a beach day.

Beach Towel

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If you’re looking for a swag option with maximum real estate for your creative designs and imagery, look no further — not only is a beach towel fun and useful, but it gives you all the space you could want for a large, custom design.

Wellness

Swag isn’t just about free stuff. It’s about showing people they matter. And how better to send that message than with swag that’s focused on supporting their health and wellness? Here are some of my favorite wellness-related swag ideas.

Lip Balm

Help your employees stave off chapped lips with a branded lip balm. You can add a custom logo or slogan on the side of the tube, reminding people of your brand every time they take it out.

Tissue Packs

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Many people carry around a pack of tissues in their bag or purse. So why not replace it with a custom-designed package? This is a useful gift that’s small enough to travel easily, but a little more substantial and unusual than a lip balm.

Fidget Spinners

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In recent years, fidget spinners have become massively popular. That said, they’re still a relatively uncommon swag gift, so offering a branded fidget spinner can be a great way to stand out from the crowd.

Stress Balls

A classic swag gift, stress balls are a low-cost yet highly versatile option. They can come in virtually any color, size, or shape, and some companies even develop custom stress balls in a unique shape that’s relevant to their business.

Hand Sanitizer

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Especially in the post-Covid era, hand sanitizer has become an increasingly appreciated gift. Encourage your people to stay healthy while also keeping each other safe with a custom bottle of hand sanitizer.

Tech

Finally, if your organization enjoys tech and gadgets, it may be worth looking into tech swag options. Some of these can get a little pricey, but there are also plenty of low-cost options to consider.

Power Bank

We’ve all been there: You pull out your phone to check a message or make an important call while on the go, only to discover that the battery’s dead. A portable power bank can be a real lifesaver, and there are plenty of low-cost ones on the market if budget is a concern.

Mini Speaker

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If you’re open to spending a bit more money, a custom-branded mini speaker is another great, techy swag gift. This might be an especially fitting gift for a company in the audio industry, or for an employee who’s a big music buff.

Charging Cable

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A lower-cost option, phone charging cables are always useful. They don’t offer too much room for customization, but you can include a logo or small image, as well as exploring options for colors aligned with your branding.

Headphones

From cheap, wired headphones to advanced, noise-canceling headphones or earbuds, headphones offer a wide range of price points and quality levels to choose from. They’re also useful in a wide range of settings, from playing music to help you concentrate at work to listening to an audiobook on your commute home.

USB Drive

Finally, USB drives are another low-cost swag idea that can easily be customized with your logo and brand colors. USB drives are also useful in a wide range of contexts, and if an employee uses it to store important files, they’ll likely be looking at it every day!

Align Your Company Swag with Your Company Culture

At the end of the day, the most important factor to consider when ordering company swag is your company’s culture. The best swag aligns not just with your brand colors and style guide, but with the culture of your organization.

For example, if you’re a wellness-focused organization, wellness-related swag gifts may be appropriate. In contrast, if your team is highly technical, techy swag may be more appreciated. It’s all about understanding the culture of your organization, and then identifying the best kinds of swag for your unique team.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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