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Sustainable Swag

Branded swag red flags: 10 of the last things people want for corporate gifts

Professional man opening bad corporate gift swag sustainability Roody

Every other branded swag company is going to tell you about what corporate gifts you should buy next, but we're going to go ahead and tell you what to avoid like the plague.

We get that it's a bit of a maze out there for people unsure of what to buy for their next corporate gift. The right answer isn't exactly going to jump up and bite you in the face, but surely if the wrong answer is about as subtle as an elephant on roller-skates you're halfway there, right?

1. Cheap branded t-shirts

This is an important one to start with because branded t-shirts can just as easily go right as they can go very, very wrong. If you have ever attended a networking event, tech summit, or have spent any time at all in the land of the living, there's a chance you'll have received one or two crappy tees that found themselves soaking up the contents of a trash bag.

Now this end result is bad in several different ways. Not only have you received something you had no intention of keeping and had to deal with being the person who threw it out, but it's a bad reflection on that company as well because they've spent money on an inferior product.

On top of that, it's really bad for the environment as well. Quality items of sustainable clothing like a t-shirt made with sustainable materials, custom Hawaiian shirts and Christmas sweaters are not that hard to find, once you know where to look (and no, we don't want you recycling the garbage t-shirt you threw out).

2.   Desk clutter

One of the worst corporate gift crimes you can commit is adding to an office's desk clutter. Stuff like stapler removers and mini calendars don't really come across as something you've put a lot of thought into buying, and at best they'll end up on top of a filing cabinet until the end of time itself.

In fact, it's about as close to phoning it in as you are likely to get. If you're going to give off that vibe to the recipient, do you really think they will think any more of your brand than they did before?

3. Selfie sticks

If you have just ordered a shipment of selfie sticks to send all your favourite clients as a corporate gift, what you need to do is open up the first box you see. Take out one of the sticks, pop your phone into it and turn on selfie mode on your camera.

Now, take a long, hard look at yourself. See what you have become?

Ask yourself who on earth would receive a selfie stick as a gift and think; "yeah, I want to do business with the people that gave me this."

 4. A preachy book

The keyword here being "preachy," books are another corporate gift that can easily go badly wrong. If you hand out a book to your employees that is in any way related to the job they are already doing, what you have just done is give them the gift of homework.

They already work hard enough for you to feel the need to get them something, but surely you can do a little better than that? If you have your heart set on some kind of book you could at least find something that's a bit more fun than that.

Which would be pretty much anything other than a book about being better at the job they spend all day doing anyway.

5. Something in-house

This one should be obvious, but it is still absolutely worth clearing up. Someone who works in a bakery all day isn't going to want a loaf of bread for a "gift," and neither does someone want to find a subscription for the company they work for inside an envelope on Christmas Eve.

A corporate gift is supposed to be something outside the nine-to-five, so the very least you can do is get something that didn't come from inside the office or is basically the fruits of their labor. Unless you're Willy Wonka, there's no way that people are going to be overly excited about that.

6. Perishable food

In the right context, a selection of artisan cheese is a wonderful gift for someone to receive and will likely go down very well. It being packed into a sweaty box in your office for eight hours while you waited for the recipient to arrive is not that right context.

If you are going to get food that isn't going to be consumed pretty quickly, you would be wise to choose something that won't stink the place up. Not thinking this through can not only result in the gift being thrown out, but it also means it wasn't even given the proper respect it deserves.

Respect your corporate gifts, people.

7. Plastic pens

Look, we get it. Pens are useful, they are cheap, and you can easily carry a pile of them in one box.

The thing is though, they absolutely suck as a corporate gift. Even if you are classy with your branded swag and only put a subtle logo onto the side, the best case scenario is that it will end up inside a mug in someone's kitchen beside all the other unwanted pens and markers.

8. Mini speakers

Think about how many people you know, or how many houses you have visited over the past few years. We're going to bet that most of them had some kind of speaker, or maybe a virtual assistant device of some kind.

We hate to break it to you, but the cheap speaker you put into the corporate gift bag is never going to overtake that kind of competition. It will probably end up being kept somewhere in the house with some empty promise of using it on a camping trip, only for it to never resurface ever again.

9. Toiletries

Yeah, you know what your employees or clients are going to want as a corporate gift? A stick of deodorant.

Because, nothing encapsulates a business relationship quite like subtly hinting that they have poor personal hygiene.

10. Stickers

We kept this one till last because we didn't want to even think about it. No one wants to stick a giant logo onto their laptop, unless of course you work in a factory that makes laptops and are the person in charge of logo placement.

It's going to end up in the trash, and that's a bad thing. It's a bad thing for you, it's a bad thing for the person who received it, and it's a bad thing for us to have to even think about it happening.

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