Branded Swag Ideas for Your Next Event or Conference

Posted by Lisa Morrow

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Conference swag gets a bad rap, and understandably so. No one needs a dozen stress balls or cheap reusable water bottles plastered with logos. We’re seeing a noticeable shift towards business practices that prioritize thoughtful connection, eco-friendly initiatives, and intentional, personal marketing. Conferences and events are no exception to these trends! If the old playbook of cheap branded goods has been thrown out the window, where do you go from here?

With a little effort and a solid understanding of your audience, it’s easy to create branded gift boxes filled with items that will end up on their desks – not in the trash. Keep reading for all of our branded swag ideas that will help make your next event or conference memorable.

branded swag for events


Choose branded gift boxes over branded items

Create brand awareness with the gifting experience, not the gifts themselves. We’re seeing a shift away from logo-covered merchandise – for the simple reason that consumers don’t prefer them.

Don’t think of your gift box as the time to hand out your logo en masse, but rather an opportunity to provide your guests with a memorable experience and items that they’ll value and appreciate using at home or in the office. You can create a tasteful branded experience by boxing your conference swag in branded gift boxes or bags and adding other touches like branded tissue paper, sticker, ribbon, or a logo-adorned card that features your brand colors and fonts.

Choose event swag that aligns with your event theme

This is one of the key ways to make your event and your corresponding gift box truly memorable. Completely personal to your business and event-specific items will stand out from any other conference they attend.

If your event doesn’t have an obvious theme that you can design your gifts around, spend some time thinking about your specific industry and the often-used items or emotional themes that define it. If your audience works in a fast-paced, high-stress environment, think of things that can provide soothing and relaxation. Do they have to sit for hours at a desk or stay awake through a lot of afternoon meetings? Try cheerful, lively, or energizing items.

Another easy option is choosing gifts based on seasonality and location. Think beach towels for summertime events, or cozy blankets for Q4 conferences.

Opt for high-quality branded goods

If you do opt for branded merchandise, be very thoughtful and intentional about what you choose. It’s a reflection of your company, so the items should reflect the quality of your goods and services. Instead of kitschy or uninspired objects, create well-designed branded goods such as t-shirts, hats, totes, or candles.

We highly recommend working with a professional designer or sourcing externally. We also love branded treats or snacks – they’re unique, Instagrammable, and often enjoyed immediately at the event!

branded swag ideas


Turn your conference swag into a memorable brand moment

Don’t forget, branding goes way beyond your logo. Think about how you can leverage your gift boxes to create an emotional, long-term connection with your audience with these branded swag ideas.

Design a package insert that details your company values, shares the goals of the event, includes a personal note from the team, or invites your attendees to connect and engage as a community after the event.

You can utilize QR codes to offer digital freebies in addition to physical conference swag, request event feedback, or send attendees a reminder about your next event or launch.

branded gift boxes


Plan your branded swag ideas in advance

Event swag requires even more time to plan than holiday gifts. Make sure you have your full swag budget outlined in advance and plan to order your branded goods and gift boxes no later than 6 months prior to your event date.

The earlier you start planning your event gifts, the greater the impact they can have, and the more options you’ll have available. Planning in advance also ensures product availability, prevents delays, and reduces costs!

Create a warm welcome with friendly & personalized event swag

The first impression is arguably the most important moment at your conference or event. The tone for the entire experience is set in those first minutes when everyone is wandering in, introducing themselves, and getting settled. Your branded gift boxes and the way you distribute them can elevate your guest’s experience and serve to disarm and delight them, softening any anxieties and acting as an icebreaker to welcome them into the event.

Have an upcoming event or conference on your calendar? Chat with our team about your event. We can help you brainstorm thoughtful branded swag ideas and suggest local goods from small makers that will be a great fit for your event theme and your audience.