If I had a dollar for every branded pen I’ve received I’d be rich. Instead, I just have a lot of pens. In the name of breaking the cycle of mediocre free pens, here’s a list of the best conference swag to hand out at events that will increase your brand visibility and make prospects happy. These out-of-the-box ideas are sure to make your brand stand out.

Goal: Communicating company values
Best swag: Personalize it!

When it comes to giving away branded swag, it’s always nice when the item is strategically chosen to reflect your company’s mission or values. These kinds of decisions show prospects not only your brand name but also what you care about, which can help differentiate your company from the rest.

Take time thinking through your company’s values and what kind of giveaway item can get that across. Are you a problem-solving company? Go for a personalized Rubiks cube. Want to get across your sense of humor? Tissues that say “We’re glad you picked us.” would be best. Do you put your customers’ safety first? Branded band-aids all the way! Personalizing these items with a witty, relevant slogan and your company logo makes them cheeky and memorable.

Angel’s Cleaning gets their point across with travel-sized hand sanitizer. Image via Evans Manufacturing
State of the Obvious’ graphic tote bag is obviously obvious. Image via behance
Owens Corning helps their clients (and their inanimate pets) grow. Image via Pinnacle Promotions

Goal: Promoting your product
Best swag: Coffee table book

If your goal is promoting the heck out of what you sell, a clever way to do this is through a good-looking book. Whether it be a ‘zine of customer stories, an artistic comic illustrating the ins and outs of your product or a coffee table book of in-real-life photos, a book is a memorable and professional looking way of showcasing your product and the ways customers use it. Pack it with interesting content like customer stories and helpful how-to’s tailored to your target audience to show off all the ways your product makes a difference.

A book is a great chance to show off your clear brand identity. Enlist the help of a graphic designer to turn your content into an attractive book that someone would want to keep on their coffee table. This way, not only do they look at it every day, but their guests do too! If you want to cut costs you can create an eBook and hand it out to prospective clients on USB sticks. Or, do both! When we created a book of stories from our community to celebrate our rebrand at 99designs, we handed out hardcover copies at our launch party, but also created an eBook so the rest of the world could get a look. Think about who you really want to see the content and what the best way of getting them to see it would be.

Our 99designs coffee table book, designed by goopanic.
Our 99designs coffee table book, designed by goopanic.

Goal: Brand-name visibility
Best swag: Die-cut stickers

While you can print your logo on nearly anything, the chances people will actually use the item is slim. Think about all the random company t-shirts you have piled under your bed that see the light of day maybe once a year. Stickers are great because they’re unobtrusive and adaptable. Prospects can stick them on a laptop, notebook, car, desk—the branding options are endless! And once a sticker is on, it’s on for life, which means super duper brand-visibility longevity.

But, in order to increase your chances of people putting the sticker on their belongings, it has to look good. We recommend a dye-cut sticker because it can be cut out in any shape you want, like your company mascot or unique wordmark. When choosing a design it’s important to focus on what will appeal to your target audience. YikYak has become ubiquitous through the image of their fun-loving yak, which is posted on laptops across college campuses. Meanwhile, professionals are bound to take notice of inVision’s confidently simplistic stickers.

Image via bitchmedia.org
Image via Twitter

Need help finding a unique design that fits your brand? Lucky for you we do sticker design. Once you’re done with your design contest StickerMule can have them printed in no time.

Goal: Usability
Best swag: Mobile device chargers

Phone chargers are always in style. Image via nicebydesign.com
Phone chargers are always in style. Image via Nice, Inc.

It may not necessarily be directly related to your product, but giving away branded swag that is actually useful is quite a neat idea. We surveyed a bunch of folks in the office to see what giveaway item they would be most likely to actually use and the consensus came down to phone chargers, with breath mints coming in a close-second. Phone chargers are awesome because they’re always needed, and you can never have too many of them. Extra points if they’re the battery pack chargers that don’t require outlets.

Let the world know this useful, awesome swag came from your company by getting your logo printed on the chargers, or take the less-expensive route and affix company stickers to the base of the charger. You can get extra crafty by choosing brightly colored chargers that match your company colors. Whichever design option you choose, prospects will think of you while they’re powering up, and passerby will be take note and be jealous (and probably come get one, too).

The conference swag grab bag

Here are a couple more brand-able items to add to your repertoire before the next big networking event:

Who ever said no to free coffee? Prospects will thank your company for the post-conference pick-me-up. Image via ODM Group
Luggage tags (for those far-away conferences) ensure the crowd goes home thinking of you.
Funky USB sticks show prospects you got their back… backed up. Image via Brand Innovation
Make everyone’s trip home a little more fun with wireless speakers. The Executive Advertising
Airplane-sized bottles of alcohol: because we all know the real reason people go to conferences. Image via Huffington Post
Keep your prospects looking fresh with branded Tide pens. Image via Brand Spirit


What’s the most clever conference swag you’ve seen? Let us know in the comments below!