We’ve all received them before — a water bottle, a sweatshirt, a day planner, all branded with a company logo.

The quality might be great. And they’re useful items. But still. Branded gifts are just that — branded— when they could be so much more personal. 

While the intent of the gift giver may have been well-meaning, branded gifts don’t feel as special to recipients. And we have proof.

In our 2017 Business Gift Satisfaction Report, we asked 500 gift recipients how they feel about business partner gifting. The results indicate that there are more meaningful ways to gift.

  • Only 9% of recipients say that gifts with logos make them feel special
  • Items that include the company’s logo make the gift 25% less likely to be described as memorable
  • People who received gifts with the company’s logo were 30% less likely to report that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the gift
  • Company branded gifts of any sort rank at the bottom of the reference list – below unique and useful items, gift cards, food, wine, gifts that give back, and spa products – with only 33% of respondents indicating branded items as their top or second choice gift category

Unfortunately, many items with company logos on them end up being “re-gifted” in some way after being received. This varies by region of the country, but in general, it’s a toss-up on whether the item you took pains to brand with your logo will in fact stay around long enough to remind the recipient of your company.

By region, here’s what motivates recipients to keep their branded gifts: 

The Pros & Cons of Branded Gifts

To be fair, some people love their company swag — t-shirts, hats and tote bags. These types of gifts can be useful, as well as an expression of team pride if the recipients feel proud of the companies they work for, or if the design of the items is particularly cool.

Here are some takeaways from our survey if you’re on the fence about the value of branded swag.

Pros of Branded Gifts

  • It’s easy. There are many manufacturers of such products and they can be inexpensive.
  • About 33% of business gift recipients rate company-branded items as one of their top two preferred gift choices. So there are quite a few people out there who proudly sport their swag.
  • If you select an item that’s uniquely appealing, 40% of recipients will be tempted to keep the item bearing your brand’s logo.

In these instances, take care to select products of high quality and usefulness. That will increase the likelihood that the recipient actually uses the gift. Ideas include an insulated water bottle from a local brand, or a thick blanket embroidered with your logo — perfect for the beach or tailgating. If the products have interesting stories about their makers or origins, that goes a long way toward creating appeal in the recipient’s mind.

Cons of Branded Gifts

  • Only 9% of recipients say that gifts with logos make them feel special.
  • Recipients who received company-branded items are 30% less likely to report satisfaction with the gift.
  • Gifts that include a company-branded item are 25% less likely to be described as memorable.

Taken all together, those data points tell us that branded gifts come across as cop-outs to the vast majority of clients and employees. Why waste your investment on a gift that doesn’t reinforce how much you appreciate the recipient?

Another Way to Approach Branded Gifts — Brand the Box Instead

Often, companies that want to give a thoughtful, branded gift call us for ideas. We had a customer who wanted to put their logo on a beautiful Brooklyn slate cheeseboard that we carry. We even called the merchant to see if it was possible (it was).

But if you’re hosting a party and laying out a delicious spread, do you really want your guests to see that that cheese course was brought to you by Company X?

We worked with our client to craft an alternative gift of the gorgeous cheeseboard (sans logo) and other accoutrements. Now, every time their recipients pull out the cheeseboard to entertain, they’ll think warm thoughts of the company that gave it to them.

Worrying about being forgotten isn’t a good reason to slap a logo on an item, and in fact, it may cause the recipient to consider your gift a marketing tactic.

That’s why we recommend that you place your brand’s logo on the outside of your gift, either on the box, a branded card, or a personal message with details about how much you value the recipient.

Whatever direction you choose to go with your business gift, remember to keep it personal and useful to the recipient. And you can never go wrong choosing products of the highest quality. Those little details stand out, reinforcing your appreciation for all that the recipient has done for your company.

Good luck! 

business gifts