Summer Swag: A Comprehensive Guide to Staying Cool and Stylish

June 15, 2023

Discover custom summer swag that’s just as hot as the season!

Have you ever thought about what your company swag says about you? While the right custom merch is worth the investment, the wrong summer swag ideas can underwhelm your recipient and stop short when it comes to marketing your brand. 

Finding Your Brand’s Summer Style

While there are many types of promotional products on the market, finding the best summer giveaway ideas should be fun, practical, and of course on-brand. When it comes to customizing summer swag for employees and customers, we’ll show you how to get the most bang for your buck, with the brands known for quality. From summer giveaway ideas to custom merch for your swag store, Gemnote can help you curate memorable products for any occasion.

Photo courtesy of Madhappy; Shown: Classic Ribbed Baby Tee

4 Tips for Designing Summer Swag

Like most great things, summer won’t last forever. Don’t let your summer event pass you by without summer swag for employees and customers so they can remember the occasion long after the season ends. Check out these tips for taking your summer giveaway ideas and turning them into sustainable products that can be used again and again. 

1. Incorporate Breathable Fabrics

When it comes to creating memorable custom merch like apparel, incorporating seasonality into your choices will increase its wearability and likability. So while winter is definitely a season perfect for beanies, sweaters, jackets, wool sockets, and other cold-weather accessories, summer is more than just tanks and tees. When choosing apparel items that can stand up to the heat, opt for styles that will wick away moisture or offer protection against the sun’s harmful rays. 

Shown: Peter Millar Men's Solid Performance Polo with UPF 50+ protection

2. Opt For Practical Summer Accessories

The great thing about summer swag is all of the custom merch options you have available at your disposal. From inexpensive summer promotional items like sunglasses, grill accessories, or even custom beach towels to items like customized drinkware from popular brands known for keeping their cool like Camelbak

Shown: Oceanides Sunglasses (Polarized) - Cratos Crystal Yellow Brown


3. Embrace Bright And Bold Colors

Sunshine, beach days, campfires, and road trips… Summer is definitely a time for living out loud and in the moment! Best of all, companies can join in the fun. Whether you’re hosting a summer trade show or event or just looking for cool summer swag to help further market your brand, make your summer swag stand out with hue-happy colors, patterns, prints, and of course customization. Get inspired with these 9 ways to customize a tee. 

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters; Shown: KAVU Klear Above Etch Art Tee

4. Consider Summer Activities 

Hosting a themed summer event? Pool parties, outdoor concerts, and summer conferences are perfect for giving away custom swag that gets noticed. Items like branded beach balls, drinkware, can coolers, personalized picnic blankets, and fun games, all make excellent summer giveaway ideas. 

Shown: Numo Picnic Pal 

Fun Summer Swag Ideas and Branded Merchandise

Discover fun picks and summer swag for employees, customers, conference giveaways, and more! We've listed out 23 faves for the best of summer swag with mega marketing power!


Practical Summer Swag Ideas 

1. Premium Custom Chair 

Give them the best seat in the house with a premium padded chair that also reclines!  Featuring customization with your logo, cup holders, removable pillow, and sturdy steel frame for support, it’s the perfect summer swag for employees and customers alike.  


Shown: Premium Reclining Padded Chair 

2. Portable Fan

Summer definitely brings the heat! To help your employees, event attendees, or customers keep their cool, a personal fan offers relief from the rising temperatures. Plus, with a small compact desk fan like this one, your recipient can take it with them where they go. 

Shown: Custom Battery Operated Desk Fan

3. Sunscreen 

Sunscreen is a summer must-have item that everyone will appreciate finding in their swag bag. If you have a lot of attendees traveling to your event via air, choose a sunscreen that doesn’t exceed airline carry-on 3.4-oz. liquids limitations.  

Shown: Public Goods® Sunscreen

4. Custom Packable Blanket

Now you (and a friend) can have a dry, clean place to sit—anywhere, anytime—with this clever, super portable blanket. Folded it fits in your pocket, spread out it measures 63 x 44 inches! These make great conference swag giveaways ideas thanks to their small easy-to-pack design. 

Shown:  Matador® Pocket Blanket

Personalized Water Bottles 

5. Custom Glass Bottle

As summer swag tumblers go, a reusable BPA-free, dishwasher-safe, glass bottle with a leakproof lid and colorful protective silicone sleeve offers a stylish, sustainable swag option. 

Shown: Porter Reusable Glass Water Bottle w/ Silicone Wrap

6. Custom Nalgene Water Bottle

Summer is a time when staying hydrated is a top priority. So what makes the right drinkware perfect for the dog days of summer? There are plenty of styles that make the cut, from insulated tumblers and Camelbak styles to wide-mouth water bottles which are perfect for adding ice. They’re the perfect choice for your summer conference swag since they'll keep your recipient hydrated and cut down on waste from single-use water bottles.

Photo Courtesy of Only NY; Shown: Only NY Custom Medley Nalgene

7. Custom Corkcicle® Arctican 

All of your favorite beverages come in a can these days, even coffee, so can coolers, also known as koozies, are pretty much a summer staple. You’ll make points when the can coolers you give, like this one, are a cut above with extra insulation to keep drinks colder longer.

Shown: Corkcicle Can Cooler

8. Custom Soft Shell Mini Cooler

Need a one-and-done summer swag item to spoil your company executives or shareholders? Or how about a branded item you can use as a prize drawing or raffle. A name brand cooler, like this one from Yeti offers a memorable corporate gift for summer! 

Talk to your Gemnote rep for more products, brands, and customization ideas to suit your budget. 

Shown: Yeti Mini Cooler

9. Custom Hard Cooler 

A little retro and a whole lot of fun! The great thing about coolers is there is no wrong way to customize them. Want to really impress your recipients? Throw in custom stickers, yummy snacks, or matching can coolers. Talk to your Gemnote rep for more ideas. 

Shown: Igloo Cooler

Branded Summer Bags 

10. Custom Boat Tote

Help your recipient keep all their belongings in one place with a durable and sustainable tote with pockets and an inside key FOB,  like this, one that’s made of heavyweight cotton canvas. Featuring 24” inch handles in contrasting color options, it’s perfect for branding and making your own!

Shown: Custom Liberty Large Boat Tote


11. Custom Fanny Packs

Fanny packs are a blast from the past—the 1990s to be exact—that have made a comeback simply because nothing else is as good at keeping the absolute essentials close at hand and your hands free. 

Shown: Custom Nike® Fanny Pack

12. Custom Waterproof Bag

Keep your gear dry in any wet situation (where the bag is not fully submerged) and protect your valuables from water, snow, mud, and sand. One of the best business giveaways summer swag ideas they’ll keep all year round!

Shown: Marchway Waterproof Bag

13. Custom Backpack 

A mini backpack is a clear winner in the summer swag category since it’s an easy way to hold your gear, stay organized and even use it in the office. Choose a clear version. It's also ideal for most concert/stadium guidelines and protecting your stuff near the water. If you need summer promotional giveaways for conferences, look no further than a go-anywhere backpack that is easy to customize. 

Shown: Custom Clear Backpack

14. Custom Tote Bags

A sporty, lightweight cinch tote helps keep items secure whether your recipient enjoys summer festivals and more. Plus, at events with lots of vendors and giveaways, it’s the gift they’ll appreciate for helping them stock up on their favorite items. Not to mention, sustainable totes are great to have on hand all year long.  

Shown: Topo Designs Cinch Tote

Custom Beach Accessories 

Flip flops, totes, after sun lotions, toys, towels… when it comes to beachy swag, you have plenty of options! Talk to your Gemnote rep for additional ideas. 

15. Compostable Pressed Towels

Make an eco-friendly, sustainability statement when you include these compressed, water-activated towels in your summer swag for an on-the-go refresh anywhere. The perfect complement to swag outfits for summer that even guys will appreciate!

Shown: Compostable Towels 

16. Custom Beach Towel

At the beach, around the pool, or in the backyard after a water balloon fight, a customized beach towel makes a big statement and will keep your brand high and dry in a good way. 

Photo courtesy of A24 Films

17. Custom Inflatable Beach Balls

Branded beach balls are lightweight and a cost-effective way to add a bit of fun to your summer swag bag. Plus, they are fun to get your crowds engaged at conferences before your sessions.

Shown: Custom Inflatable Beach Balls

18. Custom Pool Float

An inflatable pool float is summer fun just waiting to happen. It’s budget-friendly, offers a large space for customization, and is easy to tuck into your conference swag bag.

Shown: Custom Pool Float

19. Custom Flip Flops 

Who can resist a great pair of slides for summer? They’re perfect for the beach, pool, gym, and more, which is one reason they make such versatile swag! 

Photo courtesy of Ace Hotel

Branded Summer Shirt Swag 

20. Custom Sleeveless Shirt

Looking for weekend summer swag outfit ideas? You can’t go wrong with a classic tank with just the right coverage that’s perfect for gym days, weekends, and layering. Plus, they make affordable options that are easy to customize. 

American Apparel® Tanks

21. Branded Tee Shirt

Tee shirts continue to be a top contender for custom merch regardless of the season! Affordable, sustainable, and easy to customize and match your brand, your recipients will appreciate a great tee shirt!

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters; Shown: Gouache Orange Puff Print Tee

Custom Hats for Summer 

22. Custom Baseball Cap

Keep your brand top of mind (literally!) all year long by embroidering your company logo or conference logo on classic baseball caps. Every list of swag weekend summer outfit ideas has got to include one of these.

Shown: Aptive Custom Hat

23. Bucket Hat  

Another on-trend favorite that’s so easy to customize! Not to mention, these are also perfect for your Gen Z consumers. 

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters; Shown: Blanket Bucket Hat

3 Tips to Measure the Success of Your Summer Swag Strategy

Got goals? Make sure you list out trackable goals for your swag investment. By thinking through your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you will have a better idea of your success. 

1. Tracking Engagement and Reach on Social Media

Social Media is a great way to increase your brand identity and engagement. For easy ways to track engagement, you can ask your recipients to like, follow, or subscribe to your company’s social page, post picks with their swag and mentioning your company or using your event hashtag.  

2. Analyzing Sales and Customer Feedback

One of the best ways to know whether your marketing swag is working is to ask for feedback or look to the numbers. If you’re hosting an event, you may already be offering incentives or easy ways your attendees can provide feedback. Be sure to include a place for them to give comments about corporate swag. You’ll also want to track sales during and after your event.

3. Measuring Employee Satisfaction and Engagement

Providing summer swag for employees is a great way to share your appreciation and reward your team for their work. To measure the success of your summer swag strategy, have employees fill out a survey or create a swag store with more items they can purchase—you can do this easily through Gemnote.  

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters; Shown: OBEY Tag Tank Top

Remember, measuring the success of your summer swag strategy should be an ongoing process. By continuously monitoring your progress, making adjustments when necessary, and using the data collected to inform future decisions, you can optimize your swag campaigns for the best results. 

Browse Gemnote’s Branded Summer Swag 

Whether you've found your inspiration and are ready to create your swag or are still in search of the perfect custom promotional item, to make your brand shine, there are a lot more products, brands, and options, where these came from. Browse Gemnote’s lookbook for more branded summer swag!

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