The Ultimate Guide To Employee Swag

May 3, 2023

Does your employee swag make the grade? Explore products and tips for the best company swag.

What is employee swag?

Employee swag is just one type of swag that companies may be surprised to learn is actually an acronym that stands for Stuff We All Get. And while it can be thought of as free promotional items, loot, and even self-assurance good swag has the potential to be a marketing vehicle. Bad swag on the other hand can actually have a negative effect on companies. 

As for employee swag, or "swag items", this refers to promotional products that companies give to their employees as a way to promote their brand, create a sense of unity and appreciation among employees, and improve the overall employee experience. While swag items can take many different forms, including branded clothing, water bottles, bags, pens, notebooks, and other sustainable items that feature a company logo and the company’s branding are some of the best kinds to invest in.

Why is employee swag important?

Swag can be a small but effective way to show employees that they are valued and appreciated. It can also be a fun way to promote company culture and values. When employees feel good about their company, they are more likely to be productive and engaged in their work. Swag can also help to attract new employees and build brand awareness.

It’s often used as part of the onboarding process for new hires, but can also be given out to all employees as a reward for a job well done, and even to celebrate company milestones, employee anniversaries, and events. The idea behind employee swag is to create a sense of pride and belonging among teams and to help reinforce the company culture and values.

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. 

4 Types of Popular Employee Swag

Clothing and Accessories 

Clothing and accessories are good swag for companies to give to employees, thanks to their practicality. Items like branded tees, sweatshirts, joggers—even socks and hats can be worn on a daily basis. Plus, with so many items on the market from name brands to white labels, even companies on a budget can find affordable options available for customization. 

Furthermore, with the right branded clothing and accessories, companies can give well-made, quality styles that will last for a long time. As the world shifts to look for better sourcing of materials and manufacturing processes, choosing quality clothing over fast fashion has a positive effect not only on the environment but on the perception of a company as well. 

Photo courtesy of A24 Films; Shown: A24 Films Long Sleeve Tee

Photo courtesy of Only NY; Shown: Only NY NYC Parks & Rec Sweatpants

Desk and Office Items 

Desk items and office supplies are another practical and useful form of swag for employees. And, because employees can use them every day at work, they act as a reminder for the company and can feel appreciated. 

Office supplies can also be used to promote the company's brand and values. For example, a company could give away pens with its logo on them or branded mugs with motivational quotes. This is an excellent way for employees to talk about their company and its mission outside of work.

Shown: Public Supply Soft Cover Notebook

Shown: Parker Jotter Pen

Tech Products 

For companies looking for powerful branding opportunities, tech items make the best swag for employees—or anyone else for that matter. And, with the right tech items like headphones, speakers, battery packs, chargers, and more, employees will find them not only generous but practical and relevant for everyday use. 

Additionally, tech items can be customized to fit the specific needs and preferences of the company, making them a versatile and effective tool for building employee engagement and loyalty.


Shown: My Charge Go Mini Rechargeable 2600mAh Power Bank

Shown: JBL Clip 4 Ultra Portable Waterproof Speaker

Food and Beverage

Consumables can make popular team swag products for employees as well as events. And, with the right items, like tasty treats and drinks, you can rest assured they will be consumed and appreciated. 

So what makes great sweets, snacks, and other food and beverage picks? Whether it’s organic foods that support your company’s emphasis on an active lifestyle or decadent sweets meant to indulge your staff for their hard work, when it comes to the best consumables, aside from audience preference, choosing unique items that are fresh and tasty is always a win. 

Shown: Compartes German Chocolate Cake Bar 

In addition, for companies looking for sustainable products to customize and give as swag for employees, you can’t go wrong with quality drinkware, reusable cutlery, lunch totes, and personalized dish towels. 

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

Benefits of Employee Swag

Boost Morale and Job Satisfaction

Company swag, when done right, can boost morale among employees. When give employee swag and custom merch to your teams, they feel appreciated, which can create a sense of goodwill and positive feelings toward the company.

Employee swag can also create a sense of unity among employees. For example, when employees have a similar item, such as a company t-shirt or water bottle, it can help to build a sense of belonging and community within the workplace. Furthermore, when it comes to onboarding, new hires can instantly feel a sense of inclusion and a part of the team as well.  

Employees may feel proud to wear or use company swag outside of work, which can help to reinforce their connection to the company and its values. Receiving company swag can be a motivating factor for employees. Knowing that their hard work is being recognized and appreciated by the company can inspire employees to work harder and be more engaged in their work.

Shown: Topo Designs Accessories Bag

Increase Employee Loyalty

Receiving company swag can make employees feel valued and appreciated, which can increase their loyalty to the company. In addition to feeling valued, it can also create or strengthen a connection to the company. This connection can help to reinforce the employee's loyalty to the company. 

In addition, employees who are proud of their company and its mission are more likely to be loyal to the company. And, with the right items, your employees are more likely to want to wear or use their swag and show off your company logo in the process. 

When companies invest in their employees, they are more likely to stay since they feel valued. Custom swag boxes and personalized merch also help companies contribute to a positive workplace culture‚ which further increases employee satisfaction and loyalty. And, when employees feel happy and engaged at work, they 

are more likely to stay with the company long-term.

While your ideas can further create employee loyalty, the benefits don’t end there. In fact, loyal employees may be more likely to refer friends and colleagues to join your team as well. This is incredibly useful for companies looking to broaden their pool of qualified candidates, even when mass hiring. 

Shown: Eddie Baur Performance Fleece

Grow Brand Image and Awareness

Employee swag and promotional products have the power to propel your company’s brand image and further your company’s reach. And, one of the best ways you can do that is through amazing swag for employees that they want to use and wear. 

When your employees wear branded swag such as t-shirts, hats, or bags in public, they help increase your brand’s recognition. That’s one of the reasons companies choose to invest in branded apparel and custom gear like tumblers and backpacks since these items can be used on throughout the year in and out of the office. This exposure can generate interest in the brand, especially if the swag is eye-catching and well-designed.

Furthermore, when employees wear branded swag, they are not only promoting the company to the public, but also to their friends, family, and social networks. If employees are proud of their company and its brand, they are more likely to become advocates and promote it. This word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool that shouldn’t be ignored. 

Overall, employee swag can be a cost-effective and powerful way to build a company's brand image and increase brand awareness. By providing employees with branded merchandise, companies can turn their staff into brand ambassadors and create a positive image that resonates with the public.

3 Tips to Help Measure the Success of Your Employee Swag Kit

While even the best employee swag options can’t overcome a toxic workplace, they offer many benefits, including those that we listed above. For companies that make their employees feel valued, offer time off, and competitive wages, an employee swag kit can do wonders in helping to further cement a positive corporate culture. 

However, when you’re looking into investing in custom swag boxes and the like, it’s important for companies to know whether their investment is paying off. Here are some factors companies can use to determine their swag.  

1. Employee Satisfaction.

Are your employees happy? Do they feel included? Do they feel heard? Or, do they feel like a number in a sea of cubicles? How are your remote workers fairing? Do they feel like a powerful member of the team?  A good way to find out is to ask. By conducting an anonymous survey, companies can get insight and have the opportunity to improve.   

2. Referrals

Satisfied employees are more likely to refer friends and colleagues to their place of business. How are your referrals? Sure employee referral bonuses and other incentives are nice, but employees want to like where they work and bring other qualified individuals there too. 

3. Brand Advocacy 

Promotional gear and onboarding kits can help foster employee loyalty. Because loyal employees are already familiar and happy with your brand they are more likely to share it and promote it with others. By helping to build upon brand awareness companies can further their reach into different markets.  Some of the ways this may be measured are through social media engagement, online reviews, surveys, or other metrics. 

Your employees should be your biggest fans—or in this case— brand ambassadors. So, make sure you are giving them quality sustainable gear that’s share-worthy. 

Current Trends in Employee Swag

Want to make sure your ideas resonate with your employees? The top swag trends this year share the following features such as sustainability, branding, and functionality. And, of course, fun and unique items make your swag even better!

Some of the best trends for swag are industry staples, as you’ll see below, further cementing the fact that sustainable items aren’t just a fad. 


Who can resist a great hat? Definitely not your employees! Whn looking for the best gifts—as well as Remote employee gifts, headware is always a great idea!

Photo courtesy of Madhappy; Shown: Classic Dad Hat

Photo courtesy of Only NY; Shown: Only NY NYC Thank You Beanie


Beautiful on the outside and perfect for hydrating on the inside! When it comes to the best tumblers, don’t forget to add your company’s branding. 

Photo courtesy of OnlyNY;  Shown: OnlyNY Nalgene Bottle 


Employees love receiving backpacks, since it is a a useful way to protect and organize their their things at work, during commutes, and even for use outside of the office, like weekend travels. 

Shown: State Backpack


When it comes to the best hoodies, including custom gym wear, you can’t go wrong with a simple design that highlights your logo. Talk to your Gemnote rep for the best brands or check out our apparel brands from our LookBook.  

Photo courtesy of Jjjjound; Shown: Jjjound j80 Hoodie


Creating custom swag boxes? Tees are a great addition that to show off your branding. Likewise, you can’t go wrong when  

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

Bags & Organizers 

For work anniversary gifts, holidays, employees appreciation and more, reusable bags and organizer continue to be a sustainable option people love to receive. 

Photo courtesy of OnlyNY;  Shown: OnlyNY Cordura Logo Mini Barrel Bag

Custom Snacks

Snacks are a great and inexpensive option for companies looking to elevate their onboarding kit for new hires. Likewise, thay can also be a park to keep around the office for employees, and even act as giveaways at events. 

From healthy snacks, sweet treats, syrups and spreads, beverages, and more, custom snacks make execllent gifts!


There’s something satisfying about this decadent treat. Whether you’re looking to spoil your hard working team or want to help your employees overcome that afternoon slump, quality chocolate, like this yummy bar from Ritual Chocolate delivers on all fronts. 

Shown: Ritual Chocolate Bar Madagascar 75%

Nuts & Dried Fruit

For healthy snacks you know your recipient will be raving about, choose brands that are known for quality ingredients. Not sure about your options? Why not leave the details to a helpful  Gemnote rep who can give you a curated collection of goods by reputable brands?

Shown: Little Apple Treats California Citrus Gems


Special teas have a way of making someone feel special. Whether you want to show your appreciation to an employee or celebrate your company’s milestone anniversary with those that helped make it thrive, a gift of tea is perfect for topping off your employee swag gifts. Ask your Gemnote rep for more ideas on custom packaging and labels.


Shown: Art of Tea Vanilla Berry Truffle Tea

Browse Gemnote’s Range of Branded Products for Your Employee Swag

Company swag can help to reinforce the company's brand and values. When employees wear or use branded items, they become walking advertisements for the company, which can help to build brand awareness and loyalty. For styles and gear your employees will appreciate and love to use, here are some top picks. 

Branded Apparel 

Whether you’re in the market for sweatshirts, hoodies, custom outerwear and jackets, tees, socks, and more, Gemnote can help you ace your custom merch goals with quality apparel. 


The OG of amazing custom employee swag. When it comes to choosing styles your employees will like, you can’t go wrong with brands, like Topo Designs, that are known for quality, style, comfort and fit. 

Shown: Topo Designs Dirt Hoodie 


Even in the dog days of summer, drafty offices, chilly conference rooms and beyond cold  events have us reaching for an all around soft and stylish sweatshirt. That’s just one reason they make ideal swag! The other? With so many great options for branding, you can easily create one to best represent your company!

Shown: American Giant Sweatshirt 


While this basic may not sound like the most clever swag pick, it’s actually a great addition to any swag kit, thanks to its range of styles, colors, prices and brands available for customization. Not to mention, it’s that basic that everyone needs—including your employees—and no one can have too many.  For extra personalization, talk to your Gemnote swag rep about ideas for custom tags, labels, and packaging.

Shown: Escuyer Socks


Easy to give and amazing to receive, custom hats are great at promoting your company and keeping your employees cool (or warm depending on the style). 

Shown: ASColour Surf Hat 

Tech Gear & Electronics

There’s a reason high tech swag continues to trend! Tech is the fun, functional, must-have, (and, let’s face it) want-to-have gear that adds convenience to everyone’s days. On the clock, off the clock, or even the actual branded clock, talk to your Gemnote rep for ideas and solutions to your employee swag needs or browse our Lookbook

Smart Sleep Assistant 

When it comes to multi tasking, choose gifts that do more, kind of like this smart sleep assistant by Hatch that offers sound, smart light, tunes, meditation guidance all in one hard working, innovative machine! 

Shown: Hatch Restore


Help your employees make the most of their time by keeping them plugged in and running on a full charge! From sleek favorites by Native Union to basic cord cables and more, let durable custom chargers top your team swag list this year. 

Shown Native Union AirPod Pro Charger 


There’s no room for lackluster custom merch here! When it comes to celebrating your employees, a Bluetooth Speaker, like this one from Bang & Olufsen, brings the fun!

Shown: Bang & Olufsen BlueTooth Speaker


For no-brainer swag options that’s literally music to their ears, thing custom headphones, wireless earbuds, and the like! From noise cancellation to taking taking conference calls, Gemnote offers tons of styles, brands and features to help you ace your swag goals. 


Shown: Sony Truly Wireless Earbuds with 360 Reality Audio

Custom Bags and Backpacks

From colorful on-brand totes to custom duffels, and everything in between, including backpacks, Gemnote really does have it all in the bag!


Backpacks have come a long way since your days in school. From high quality designs by name favorites, like Patagonia, to features that make commutes and everyday living easier, a custom backpack is always appreciated. 

Shown: Custom Patagonia Refugio Backpack


Considering adding personalized duffel bags to your custom merch portfolio? It’s a solid investment! As a sustainable swag option, duffle bags are a practical option for employees at work, at the gym, for weekend getaways, and more!

Shown: AsColour Contrast Duffel Bag  

Custom Drinkware 

Gemnote offers the best drinkware by the best brands! Plus, when it comes to finding affordable custom swag that’s in your budget, we offer plenty of options to keep you within budget and your recipients happily hydrated!

Water Bottles

We don’t have to tell you the importance of staying hydrated. However, as we all know, it’s easier in theory than trying to fit in hectic schedules. Help your recipients reach their water goals by providing them a custom water bottle that’s just as stylish as it is functional. 

Shown: Kinto Water Bottle 


There’s a reason a tumblers are loved by pretty much everyone: the many features. Whether you’re looking for widemouth styles that are perfect for adding in ice, or sip lids made for coffees, you’ll have plenty of options for finding and customizing your favorite one. Plus, in addition to all of the shapes, styles, and sizes to choose from, you can also choose the best insulation, so your recipient’s hot bevs stay nice and toasty and their cold bevs stay nice and chilly.  

Shown: Miir Wide Mouth Tumbler

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 transforms your ideas into reality! 

By creating unique custom swag collections through curated lists, Gemnote can help you narrow down your ideas so you can find the one that best suits your company’s branding. In addition, they can provide curated decks and one-pagers to help companies with internal approvals so you can solidify your employee gifts. 

When it’s time to customize, mock-ups and digital proofs bring your customization to life while leaving nothing to chance. And, as for details like sourcing and production, Gemnote can help ensure you get unique custom swag that’s done right! 

And, because they know that packaging and sustainability for better products are better for the environment, you’ll get custom swag you’ll be proud to put your logo on. As for convenience, with kitting and warehousing, you don’t have to make room for great employee swag, but you can still manage all the details right from your office. 

Browse our most popular merch for employee swag kits and see how you can create something memorable for your team. 

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