Sustainably-made branded merch for events: The dos and don'ts of corporate giftsby Jamie Concannon
Merch can be the icing on the cake of a great event, but it's easy to get wrong.
If you have read any of our blogs before, you'll likely know that we often talk about how easy it is to fall into the same branded merch pitfalls again and again. Whether you blow your budget on something unnecessarily complicated, or spend your money on something that might look eye-catching in a gift bag but will never be used again, picking the right stuff is tricky.
There's no better place to see this in action than at a corporate exhibition or conference event, where brands and companies from all walks of life gather to network, do business and compare. In one corner of the conference room you might see some poor souls handing out tacky gifts that are destined to end up in one place only (the garbage), in another you'll see the guys who ended up blowing the budget on merch with their brand name and colors all over - stuff that nobody will want to use and reuse. There's no doubt about it: you can always tell what brands put in the legwork to figure out what attendees of the conference might actually not just like, but love!
One of the most important aspects of good branded merch is that it takes sustainability into account. You don't need to hand out paper straws, or seeds to plant trees; rather you want to make sure it is an accurate reflection on your brand's approach to supporting the environment.
We've put together a few ideas that should help you find inspiration ahead of your next conference event, open day or expo. If you're looking for ways to maximise the impact of what merch you go for, you can check out our blog on that right here.
Do – Chocolate
Let's just start things off with a crowd pleaser. It's rare in life that you find a situation that isn't made at least a little bit better with some tasty chocolate, and you can rest assured it'll go down a treat at a corporate event (provided you find the right stuff).
Not only is quality chocolate absolutely delicious and will make anyone you hand it to happy, but it is also usually a hell of a lot friendlier to the environment as well. It's these differences that make your brand the one that stand out compared to all the others in attendance.
Do – Coffee dock
Sticking with the trend of finding crowd pleasing options for an event, you definitely can't go wrong with a well thought out coffee dock. These events can often be arduous affairs that go on all day with any coffee stations being blocked by large queues, so making your area a refuge for any caffeine craved professionals is a magic way to strike up some conversations.
Try and go for Fairtrade coffee, and let your visitors know about it. Not only does this make it obvious that there's a good chance the stuff your serving tastes like liquid heaven, but it also proves that your brand is willing to go the extra mile in the name of sustainable merch.
Do – Soft toy
Similarly to chocolate, who doesn't love a nice cuddly toy to take home with them after the event? Not only is it something unique that not a lot of other attendees are likely to opt for, but it's sure to be appreciated by people.
If you're going for branding, keep it subtle. Maybe don't stitch 'MY BRAND INC' across Teddy's face.
It's something that they are also likely to take home with them, whether for their own sake or as a little gift for their family. After all, who has the heart to throw out a little soft toy?
Do – Water bottles (that are sustainably-made and work)
One of the most crucial questions to ask yourself when weighing up what branded merch you want on your desk at an expo is whether or not it is something you would keep yourself. Cheap plastic water bottles are likely to be in the "no" pile for most people, and with good reason.
They don't last very long, water doesn't taste nice out of them and drop one on the ground and watch it split into a hundred bits with water all over the floor. That's before you get into the damage they do to the environment, especially when you consider the fact that there are much more sustainable alternatives available to any brands willing to look for them.
BUT there are great options for water bottles that are made sustainably and which anyone who gets one will be very pleased to use and reuse. We've road-tested a *lot* of bottles to get one that is not only made with the most sustainably materials available, but also it just works.
Do – Tote bag
We've already talked about how likely it is that other brands in attendance are going to have crappy merch, but imagine if that wasn't the case. Picture an event where loads of other brands are giving out amazing little branded gifts for people to take home.
That doesn't matter a damn though, because it's your brand that is offering the perfect tote bag for attendees to put it all together. Even if the other merch on offer is mind-blowingly cool, that would just make people more glad to have found your sustainably-made tote bag.
Don't – Plastic bags
While many of the reasons we have listed above would also be applicable to a plastic bag, that does definitely not tell the entire story. Not only do plastic bags tend to not last as long, or put up with the elements as well as a tote bag, but the fact that they aren't exactly the most sustainable choice should be enough of a reason not to choose them for your next big event.
Do – Candy
Just as it was with candy and coffee, there are few situations in life where a little bit of candy would go amiss. Satisfying someone's sweet tooth always goes a long way towards winning over their heart, so bringing some high quality candy to you for your next big event is sure to be appreciated.
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