Before we can determine if there is such thing as cool swag, we should first consider what the word “cool” represents, keeping in mind that what is considered cool changes over time, and varies among cultures and generations. What was cool in the 1960’s would certainly not translate into the same for today. One consistent aspect however is that cool is widely perceived as positive and desirable.
In addition, even with the subjective, ever-changing nature of what it means to be cool, it clearly represents individuality – a conscious decision to avoid conformity. When we think of mobile phones – Steve Jobs, an industry rebel, created what most people consider to be the first truly cool phone. Is there any cooler car than James Bond’s Aston Martin? or singer Pharrell Williams’ Grammy hat created by Vivienne Westwood? All these examples have one thing in common: none of those items were common when they first came on the scene.
So, back to cool swag. Yes, branded promotional merchandise can be cool. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a product no one has ever seen before, or wouldn’t use. After all, we had phones, cars and hats long before the aforementioned folks introduced their personal styles to the world. The trick is to choose appropriate promo items that can be decorated with the corporate brand in a way that avoids conformity without ignoring the brand guidelines.
Creative graphics incorporating the company logo can be used on practical items like playing cards, socks, notebooks, glass water bottles, custom-shape flash drives and – one of my personal favorites – guitars! The product is useful, and the presentation is unforgettable. And speaking of presentation – don’t forget the impact of custom packaging, personalized print collateral and kitting items together to make a cool statement that is as individual as your brand.
Swag can definitely be cool! Giving cool swag is all about the mindfulness of your approach to selecting the right product for the audience, and decorating the item in a creative manner that protects the brand identity while delivering that “wow” factor. Keep your mind open to the different branding possibilities – your customers will notice!
(Image courtesy of Brand O’ Guitar Co)