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How to Choose Custom Promotional Products to Activate Your Brand

November 24, 2021 3 min read

CH Mints consumable promo product

Is your brand cheap, annoying, and bad for the environment? 

If you’re not thoughtful about how you choose custom promotional products, that could be what your customers will take away from the low-quality water bottles with your logo overflowing trash cans at the trade show, or branded t-shirts landing on racks at Goodwill.

Activating a brand (which is what we specialize here at DMG), is about forming an emotional connection with your customer.

In today’s competitive customer-centric market, the old “all publicity is good publicity” adage just isn’t true any more. You don’t just need to get your name and logo out into the world. You need to get your name in front of the right customers in the right context. Well-picked custom promotional products are way to do that. Poorly chosen promotional products can damage your brand. 

Here are some things we think about when helping clients pick out promotional products.

Watch the trends, but don’t obsess over them

We like to follow what’s hot in the world of custom promotional products, such as  burlap fabric and matte finishes this year. 

To a point, it’s useful to follow the trends. That’s especially true for technology-related swag, which can become obsolete quickly, to think about the a useful and long-lasting product to brand and offer out, as opposed to a cheap and short-lived fad. 

For example, we've seen customers find great success with durable technology promotional products that aren't limited to one power plug or one phone type. It's important to think about having a tech product that is likely to be used by many, even if it isn't the brand new only iPhone XR compatible version.  See what tech products are being used everyday already for a better rate of utilization and adoption, which increase the views your company's name will get. 

Watching trends is also an opportunity to zig where others zag. One example of a way to stand out from the herd take s a cue from Pantone, a recognized heavyweight in the world of color across many industries. Each year, Pantone releases their Color of the Year, which is drawn from their own trend experts and what's new and possible. Hopping on the bandwagon and following the trend with the Color of the Year might make your brand relevant for a week in January, but come May, it's likely lost in a sea of like-colored objects at trade shows or cluttering desks.  

Living Coral is this year’s Pantone color, which may mean that your product won’t stand out if that’s the color you choose this year. Also avoid color trends that aren't on brand for your company. 

Use customization to link products to your company’s purpose (and to the context in which you’re distributing your product)

More important than choosing a promotional product that’s about to have a big moment within the swag industry is choosing the one that fits your company’s purpose.  

Do you have a cyber security company? Maybe this spy-gear laptop backpack would be an appropriate giveaway for employees or high-value customers. Are you a diabetes-related healthcare company? Maybe don’t give out branded Skittles at the trade fair.  (However, we’re pretty into the branded Skittles and M&M idea in general. See more info below.)

Here’s another example from our work: Owly.fm is loyalty app that gives users deals on concert tickets. Last year the startup had the chance to introduce itself to millions of music lovers when it sponsored a stage at the Vans Warped Tour, the largest traveling music festival in the U.S. 

Owly.fm needed a giveaway that fit the fun, carefree attitude of the music festival and the company’s target demographic.

Our team’s first thought was glowsticks. One problem, most of the concerts took place outdoors during the day. So we changed gears and went with sunglasses, which were a big hit. Many concertgoers forgot their sunglasses and were happy to put on an Owly.fm pair.  The bright purple of the Owly-branded shades caught people’s eye across the venues and brought them to Owly.fm’s booth.  

How to Choose Custom Promotional Products to Activate Your Brand

Pick a product that people will actually value 

Do you have a promotional product idea that people will think of as nice gift, that they’ll hold onto? You’ve got a winner. 

People can and do put a logo on just about anything. Why not make it something nice? If the item gets held onto and used frequently it can be worth a higher cost.  One of our favorite items in this category is Bluetooth speakers

If people like your brand enough, and the product is nice enough, you may be able to sell coffee cups (like these stainless steel camping mugs) or nice clothing that features your brand even though you’re not a clothing or drinkware company. That’s easier on your budget then giving it away, and people will hold onto things longer if they paid money for them. 

Tight budget? Consider consumable products 

Of course you can’t give away $14 camping mugs or $80 fleece jackets to everyone who walks by your trade show booth.When picking inexpensive custom promotional items, consider things that are inexpensive because of the nature of the category, not the quality of the product.

Consumable products fit the bill here. Consider small bottles of hand sanitizer, hand cream or sunscreen with your logo. Small bags, tins or containers of sweets such as mints or chocolates are especially popular. When people are hungry, they go nuts for snacks. And leaving customers feeling satisfied is a good association for almost any brand. 


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This post was originally published July 25, 2019