How to Stand Out with Your Swag

by Vanessa Davidson

How to Stand Out with Your Brand Swag HCSS-Pens

Professionals go to conferences, trade shows and other events to learn the newest tricks of the trade, meet industry peers and of course, pick up all of the free swag. For those unfamiliar, swag is the term given to the free items given away by the event, sponsors and participating businesses. The promotional items usually are branded with a business logo, slogan or other messaging.

But not all swag is created equal. As swag has become more common, we’ve seen many swag successes and failures.  So how can you make sure yours stands out at the next conference?  It might surprise you, but sometimes the most basic items can make the best giveaways. That’s because people want something they will actually use. Here are a few ideas to get your brand out of the conference and into the public eye.


Perhaps nothing entices people as much as free food. Although I’m sure it would be an instant success, you will need to do more than simply order a few free pizzas for everyone. Consider giving out snack packages or branded, candy-filled containers. Not only will event attendees appreciate the needed snack, but the container is small enough to make it home in their bag.

Water Bottles

OK, so reusable water bottles aren’t the most exciting gifts to receive, but they are extremely useful in a conference setting. Many attendees would rather wait in line at the water fountain than spend $6 for a bottle of water. Once again, this is about utility, not flash. People are loyal to their water bottles, and hopefully your brand as well.


Hopefully the weather at your event includes days full of sunshine and pleasant temperatures, but we know that isn’t always the case. If the weather turns nasty, save the day with free umbrellas sporting your business logo. Many people don’t include an umbrella on their travel list. Event attendees can fold the umbrellas and take them home from the conference as well.

Warm Clothes

Along the same lines as the umbrella, warm clothing items can be very popular swag items in certain climates. If the event you’re attending is held in the winter months or somewhere notoriously cold, hats, gloves and scarves could come in handy for any attendees that forgot theirs at home. If you want to step it up another notch, getting a free hoodie is hitting the swag jackpot. While printing sweatshirts comes with a bigger price tag, you can be sure your brand will get plenty of use.

Phone Charger

There are a few certainties at these large industry events. One of those certainties is the majority of attendees will be using their phones at an alarming pace. Whether it’s checking emails, getting numbers or sharing updates on social media, they won’t have enough battery to last a full day. That’s where you once again step in to save the day – this time with branded phone chargers. Some will have left their charger at home or the hotel. Become their go-to charger for the day or week.

As you can see, a good swag campaign is less about being cute and more about providing real value to those at the event. While traditional swag items, such as pens or key chains, are appreciated, they are often lost, left at the venue or thrown away. Give attendees something they can use today and every day. That way, your business and brand can show its practicality and forward-thinking approach at the same time. What are your favorite swag items, or what would you like to see at the next conference? Share your ideas with us on Twitter or on the FASTSIGNS Facebook page!

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