The Ultimate Guide To Employee Swag

October 3, 2022
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Need swag for employees? Find what you need to know for the best types of swag.

With endless company swag ideas on the market today, knowing which items are best for your teams can be overwhelming. Here we break down everything you need to know about company swag and why it’s important. Plus, we’ve listed out 22 of the best swag ideas and the most popular giveaways. 

Company Swag Basics

Ever wonder what swag is exactly? While there may be many definitions of swag, spanning from free promotional items to money, loot, and even self-assurance, we’ll stick to marketing swag. The term, which you may be surprised to learn is actually an acronym that stands for Stuff We All Get. 

Swag has come a long way since the 1960s when it was used as free promotional items. Still used today, swag isn’t just used as a marketing vehicle for the public and brand exposure for your brand, swag is also given out as incentives for your employees or clients. 

The Importance of Swag 

Swag is important for many reasons. First, it’s a way to engage with customers and employees. Second, it is a way to help promote your brand. And third swag sends an unspoken message about who you are as a company. 

To this point, compiling marketing swag ideas is imperative to your brand image and ensures that you are sending the right message to others. And, when it comes to your employees, those who are entrusted with your brand, having the right kind of swag is paramount. 

Types of Swag

There are many types of swag for both your company’s clients and employees which are closely related to your marketing goals. For example, here are different types of swag:

1. Onboarding Swag Kits

Onboarding swag kits are usually distributed to your new hires on or around their first day of work. Onboarding kits are a way to welcome new hires to your company and help them feel included and part of your team from day 1. 

Office swag ideas like custom notebooks and pens, personalized merch, hats and other accessories make great swag items for companies. 

2. Event Swag 

As the name implies, event swag is used for events. For event attendees, it can be in the form of a swag bag to welcome them to your event or even as a thank you for purchasing a ticket. For employees, company swag can come in the form of apparel or accessories acting as a uniform to help identify team members at your company event. It can also be used as a marketing vehicle to promote your event. 

Additional team swag ideas that are great for events include name badges and branded hats. For event attendees, branded company gear ideas could include branded mugs, stickers, enamel pens, as well as notebooks and pens for taking notes during your conference. 

3. Incentive and Referral Swag

Incentive and referral swag can be used for both employees and customers. For example, you may give away free swag at a festival when people sign up for your emails, or for sharing your product or service with someone else.  For employees, companies may offer swag as a way to reward sales goals or online sharing of promotions. 

While referral swag can vary depending on your incentive level, team swag ideas can include anything from branded apparel and accessories to high end tech. 

4. Appreciation Swag

Rewarding customers or employees with a swag gift is another type of gift that shares your company’s appreciation. This can be done for years of service for your employees or to reward your VIP customers.  

For team swag ideas that recognize years of service, check out out our post, Best Work Anniversary Gifts Ideas → 

Corporate Swag Goals

Having clear goals of what you want your employee swag to achieve is crucial in knowing which types of swag are best for your company and your teams. Likewise, knowing your swag budget will help you narrow down your list of marketing swag ideas. 

Have your goals and your budget? When it comes to brainstorming branded swag ideas, you’ll want to consider the following 5 tips: 

1. Choose sustainable items over single use. 

Bad swag leaves a bad impression. Skip items like gimmicky knick-knacks that just end up in the trash. Instead of disposable water bottles, gift branded tumblers, glasses, or reusable straws. 

2. Choose items that are in-season and on-trend. 

Just as you wouldn’t want to receive a parka in the summer, the same idea applies here. The only exception is hoodies and sweatshirts which are perfect for drafty conference rooms and t-shirts which are loved year-round and can be layered. 

3. Choose items that are fun and functional. 

For example, a custom pen and notepad are perfect for employee onboarding kits! A soft throw or custom mug makes cool branded swag for your remote workers,  while a personalized travel tumbler will be appreciated by employees who commute to the office. 

4. Choose event-appropriate swag. 

We don’t just mean professional, although team swag ideas should complement your company culture. We just mean think through where you’re giving away your employee swag. For example, who wouldn’t love branded coffee mug? However, if you’re at a conference booth, a lightweight reusable tote bag might be easier to carry. 

5. Consider your delivery. 

Some gifts are a no-brainer to pack up and send. Others might be heavy or  cumbersome and expensive to ship. If you’re having to mail out items, talk to your Gemnote rep about the best options. 

 

22 Swag Ideas for Employees

Now that you have a grasp of swag items for companies, check out our list of ideas that are perfect for gifting to your hard-working employees. 

1. Topo Designs Mountain Accessories Bag 

Not just uber functional, this stylish accessories bag from Topo Designs that keeps the safety of people and the planet top of mind when designing their products.  

Why your employees will love it: 

  • Designed for longevity and uses 100% recycled nylon
  • Consists of healthy and safe materials from certified dye mills
  • Production is Fair Wear certified

While there may be cheaper options available that aren’t name-brand, talk to your Gemnote rep so you don’t sacrifice design, quality, or sustainability. Compare to Numo Crossbody, Cotopaxi Del Dia Hip Pack, and Timbuk2 Transit Dopp Kit. 

 

Shown: Topo Designs Mountain Accessories Bag 

2. Areaware Little Puzzle Thing® - Series 6: Cookout

Navigating office politics, water cooler gossip, and at times slow internet connections can be a bit tricky for even the best employees. When a break is required, these little puzzles offer the perfect screen-free distraction.  

 

Why your employees will love it: 

  • Around 70-pieces, puzzles can be put together in about 20 minutes
  • 4-fun designs Cookout designs plus other collections available 

Compare to Little Puzzle Thing® Series 7: À la Carte or Cereal. If these puzzles don’t align with your brand, not to worry. Talk to your Gemnote rep about customizing your own puzzle. 

Shown: Areaware Little Puzzle Thing® - Series 6: Cookout; 

3. Kinto Water Bottle 

Beautiful on the outside safe and ready to hydrate inside!  

Why your employees will love it: 

  • High-quality transparent co-polyester for scratch-resistant durability
  • Lightweight and compact
  • BPA free 
  • Dishwasher safe

Limited color options, however, they’re all neutral for easy branding!

See the review -> 

Compare to Soma Drinkware Sport Bottle. 

Shown: Kinto Water Bottle 

4. Hasami Porcelain 

Finally, an upscale porcelain coffee mug that’s as sophisticated and elegant as your employees. 

Why your employees will love it: 

  • Clean lines 
  • Modern aesthetic
  • Contemporary handle  

Limited color options, however, they’re all neutral for easy branding!

See the review ->

Compare to Kinto. 

Shown: Hasami Porcelain 

5. Escuyer Stripes Socks

Socks for employee swag ideas? Yes! Add your logo or let the stripes do the talking. Either way your employees will love the high quality softness!

Why your employees will love it: 

  • From the finest Italian cotton yarn
  • Exceptionally soft 

High-quality socks may be considered a higher price point for some. 

Talk to your Gemnote rep for other ideas on custom socks and branded accessories. 

Shown: Escuyer Socks

6. Kiko Leather Mousepad

You shouldn’t have to have a corner office to feel appreciated. With a luxe gifts like this leather mousepad, your swag for employees can make them feel like royalty. Or at least really appreciated!

Why your employees will love it: 

  • Cowhide leather
  • Non-slip suede backing
  • Hand glazed smooth surface
  • Strong and durable

See the review ->

Shown: Kiko Leather Mousepad

7. Aimé Leon Dore Chandelier Logo Shirt 

Is it the puff printing, cool color combo or clean design that makes this shirt Aimé Leon Dore extra special? If your looking to reward your employees, look 

Great features like these. 

Why your employees will love it: 

  • Modern simple design
  • 12oz Jersey fabric
  • Puff printing logo 

The great thing about custom printed tee shirts is you have unlimited design options to ensure your brand gets the love and respect it deserves! 

Talk to your Gemnote rep for more options for the coolest company swag.  

Photo courtesy of Aimé Leon Dore: Shown: Aimé Leon Dore Chandelier Logo Shirt 

8. Only NY x Manhattan Portage Nylon Tote Bag

Looking for the best company swag for employees? Just follow Only NY’s lead  with a colorful tote. 

Why your employees will love it: 

  • Clean design that doesn’t skimp on the color
  • Handy zip closure 
  • Contrast trim 

Compare to Topo Designs or talk to your Gemnote rep for more reusable tote options.  

Photo courtesy of Only NY; Shown: Only NY x Manhattan Portage Nylon Tote Bag

9. Jjjjound Weekend Navy Cap 

Sometimes it really is the little details that make all the difference. Take this Weekend cap by Jjjjound for example. Its understated style and embroidered detailing make all the difference. 

Look for similar features to create your own unique custom swag. 

Why your employees will love it: 

  • Tone on tone colors
  • Embroidered logo
  • Washed twill 

Talk to your Gemnote rep for more hat options. Compare to Topo Designs and Poketo. 

Photo courtesy of Jjjjjound; Shown: Jjjjound Weekend Navy Cap 

10. Baggu Mushrooms Bath Towel

Best known for their cheerful usable bags in a plethora of colors and prints, Baggu also makes coveted bath towels worthy of a cult following. 

Why your employees will love it: 

  • Organic cotton terry cloth
  • Reversible 
  • 60" × 30" for a generous size!

Talk to your Gemnote rep for more towel options that are fully customizable.

 

Shown: Baggu Mushrooms Bath Towel

11. Urban Outfitters Tentree Smokey The Bear Think Hoodie

The best office swag is not just functional but fun comfortable to wear. Items like this Smokey the Bear hoodie from Urban Outfitters are designed with just that in mind.  When it's time to customize apparel for the best corporate swag, don't skimp on the cool design details. 

Why your employees will love it: 

  • Embroidered design 
  • Patch logo
  • Kangeroo pockets 

Compare to Marmott, The North Face ASColour, and Marine Layer

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters; Shown: Urban Outfitters Tentree Smokey The Bear Think Hoodie

12. Home Sweet Home Hotel Key Chain 

Home is where the heart is. It’s also where we can’t want to return to after a long day. Make it extra sweet with a cool branded swag they can take with them everywhere they go, like this hotel keychain. 

Swag for companies doens’t have to be over the top or expensive to delive smiles. Talk to your Gemnote rep for more affordable options for your custom accessories. 

Shown: Home Sweet Home Hotel Key Chain 

13. Compartes German Chocolate Cake Bar 

Best company swag: Decadent treats that are just as pretty on the outside as they are on the inside. For unique custom swag, skip the cheap-vending machine bars, and choose quality chocolate, like this German Chocolate Cake Bar from Compartes.  See more snack basket products.

Why your employees will love it: 

  • Features homemade german chocolate cake, pecans, coconut, and German chocolate cake frosting
  • Beautiful village scene packaging 
  • Made in the USA 

Compare to Mast chocolate, K+M Chocolate and TCHO 

Shown: Compartes German Chocolate Cake Bar 

14. California Gummy Bear Los Angeles 

When it comes to scoring the coolest company swag, you don’t have to blow your budget. Case in point: these tasty high-end snacks treats that are made with real fruit.

 Why your employees will love it: 

  • Made with natural California fruit
  • No artificial ingredients
  • No high fructose corn syrup 
  • No preservatives or additives
  • Giftable packaging 
  • Organic, vegan, plant based

Shown: California Gummy Bear Los Angeles 

15. Poketo Apex Pens

Pens are terrific for topping your branded swag ideas since they are both useful and inexpensive. Looking to stock up on the best office swag? Don’t forget a quality pen that’s perfect for adding to event kits and swag baskets and your new hire employee welcome kits. 

 Why your employees will love it: 

  • Refills available 
  • Metallic finish 
  • Smooth writing 

Shown: Poketo Apex Pens

16. Carhartt Force® Cotton Delmont Short Sleeve T-Shirt

The best employee swag ideas feature branded items they can wear again and again. For example this favorite short sleeve tee from Carhartt, the brand known for hard working durability. Like the branded label sewn on left chest pocket? Talk to your Gemnote rep about creating your own sewn on or patch label. After all, when it comes to the best corporate swag for employees it’s the attention to details that make it extra thoughtful. 

 

Why your employees will love it: 

  • Durable cotton blend 
  • Available in 5-go-with-anything neutrals
  • Fast drying for a no-sweat appeal 
  • Stain resistant 

Compare to Port & Company® Essential Pocket Tee, Hanes - Workwear Pocket T-Shirt, Comfort Colors Garment-Dyed Heavyweight Pocket T-Shirt, and the Marine Layer Lassen Heavy Slub Pocket Tee. 

Shown: Carhartt Force ® Cotton Delmont Short Sleeve T-Shirt

17. Eddie Baur Performance Fleece

Looking for office swag ideas that are just as hard-working as your team? Think name custom brand apparel, like this half-zip performance fleece pullover, that they’ll want to wear off the clock as well. 

 

Why your employees will love it: 

  • Name brand designer
  • Chest pocket 
  • Soft fleece 

Compare to Nike Dri-FIT Fabric Mix 1/2-Zip Cover-Up, Shown: Lacoste Full-Zip Fleece Sweatshirt (see #21 below), and the OGIO® Endurance Nexus 1/4-Zip Pullover

 

Shown: Eddie Baur Performance Fleece

18. MiiR® x Slowtide Special Edition Vacuum Insulated Camp Cup - 12 Oz.

A match made in heaven? Maybe not. But it could cause your employees to say, “Best Swag Ever!” You just can’t go wrong with a stell collab from two brand favorites when it comes to swag for companies. 

 Why your employees will love it: 

  • Every MiiR product sold helps fund transparent giving projects
  • A modern take on Grandpa's old camp cup
  • Thermo 3D ™ Double Wall Vacuum Insulation Technology
  • No sweat design, and no metal after taste

See the review ->

Compare to Stanley Classic Legendary Camp Cup. 

Shown: MiiR® x Slowtide Special Edition Vacuum Insulated Camp Cup - 12 Oz.

19. Native Union Belt Cable

For popular swag items, think products that help keep your employees tech going on long days, like this belt cable from Native Union that’s available in 5 cool hues. 

Why your employees will love it: 

  • Name brand
  • Quality design

 

For an elevated swag gift, accompany it with a custom portable charger, like the My Charge Power Bank, below. Talk to your Gemnote rep for details. 

See the review -> 

Compare to the 6ft HDMI to Mini HDMI Cable by Super Sonic. 

Shown: Native Union Belt Cable

20. My Charge Go Mini Rechargeable 2600mAh Power Bank

Full time employees can use a full charge, so for the best swag ideas that suit almost any budget, don’t forget a charging bank. You’ll appreciate a customizable one, like this  from MyCharge.  

 

Why your employees will love it: 

  • Slim design means extra portable
  • 65% faster charge
  • Maintains battery power for up to a year
  • highest level of battery safety
  • Recharges up to 50% faster

Compare to Go Big Rechargeable 6000mAh Power Bank by My Charge and the Adventure H2O Plus Waterproof Rechargeable Power Bank by My Charge

Shown: My Charge Go Mini Rechargeable 2600mAh Power Bank

21. Lacoste Men's Full-Zip Fleece Sweatshirt 

Lacoste is a brand to consider when looking for the best swag for companies. In addition to being a luxe athletic brand with elevated styling that works on or off the court, as well as in the office, Lacoste apparel and accessories offer a timeless design and high quality tailoring for longer wear that both you and your employees will appreciate! 

 

Why your employees will love it: 

  • Brushed fleece and cotton blend piqué
  • Stand-up collar
  • Two side pockets
  • Contrasting inner neckline 
  • Iconic embroidered green crocodile on chest

 

Compare to Port AuthoritySmooth Fleece 1/4-Zip, The North Face® Skyline Full-Zip Fleece Jacket, and the Nike Dri-FIT Stretch 1/2-Zip Cover-Up. 

A possible drawback may be the higher price point. Talk to your Gemnote rep for similar styles that aren’t by name-brand designers.  

 

Shown: Lacoste Men's Full-Zip Fleece Sweatshirt

22. Alternative Champ Eco-Fleece Crewneck Sweatshirt

As you brainstorm your marketing swag ideas for employees, look for items that are easy to customize, like a sweatshirt. With customization options available like screen printing, embroidery, patches, or sewn labels, creating the best swag items in your branding is a breeze. For ultimate props, look for details like those found in this Champ Eco-Fleece Crewneck Sweatshirt. 

 

Why your employees will love it: 

  • Soft blend fabrication in parts using organic and recycled cotton
  • Modern slim fit styling 
  • Low-impact dyed and washed
  • Raglan sleeves
  • Made in a WRAP-certified factory

 

Compare to Bella + Canvas Unisex Sponge Fleece Raglan Crewneck Sweatshirt and J. America Vintage Zen Fleece Crewneck Sweatshirt. 

 

Shown: Alternate Apparel Eco-Fleece 

These are just some of the best swag items on the market. For more company merch ideas, talk to your Gemote rep. As a leader in creating swag for companies, Gemnote can make your ideal merch a reality! Gemnote services include the following:

 

  • Help you create unique custom swag collections through curated lists
  • Curated decks and one-pagers to help companies with internal approvals 
  • Mock-ups and digital proofs on customization for the best swag ever!
  • Sourcing and production of unique custom swag that’s done right 
  • Packaging and sustainability for better products that are better for the environment
  • Kitting and warehousing so swag for companies is convenient 
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