SWAG | Part 2: Make Something That Lasts

First we have a confession — followed by an apology.

When we decided to do this series, we had our sections mapped out and ready to tackle. Then we started writing Part 2: Keys to Killer Printed Swag. About halfway in, we realized we were being pulled in a different direction than the one we had intended. 

So, for those of you who were stoked on reading about keys to killer screen printed swag - we apologize.

We didn't intend to mislead you, but we felt this next post needed to be said first.


  Photo by:  Jeff Sheldon

Photo by: Jeff Sheldon

Making something for the moment is easy. Making something that lasts — that's where the challenge comes in. Here are a few keys we feel can help set you up for creating swag (and products) that stand the test of time.


1. CHOOSE A QUALITY MEDIUM

As we mentioned in the previous post - picking a quality medium is a game changer. Not only does it express the value you see in your audience — but it also communicates you value quality in what you offer them. Below are a few categories of printable mediums you can utilize for your swag. Within each section, we elaborate on why we feel choosing quality will keep you ahead of the game.

T-Shirts

The difference between a quality shirt and a non-quality shirt is night and day. Obviously, quality is in the eye of the beholder and the right kind of t-shirt may vary based on your audience. However, as a general consensus over the last several years - 100% cotton is out, and blends are in. 

People prefer soft, lightweight and breathable materials over something heavy that will resemble sandpaper after one wash. Like other important things in life, people want a shirt they can count on. The shirts that stand the test of time are the ones that can go through the wash 100+ times and never lose their shape, soft-feel or good looks. 

In short, people love shirts that age well.

Paper Goods

Paper is also a really great low-cost option to get your brand or message out there quick. The likes of Moo and Artifact Uprising have totally capitalized on this by offering a paper experience many of their predecessors do not. 

Nothing says I believe in quality and durability than a nice paper with some weight to it. 

Whether its a card, small print, or a poster - printing on no less than 80lb cover will send the "We value quality" message with everytime.

Other Printables:

  • Koozies: Skip the foam and go with neoprene. Foam breaks apart and fades super fast. Plus, it doesn’t always take a print well.
  • Totes + Cinch Bags: For a while now, these guys have been highly popular for packaged giveaways at festivals, ticketed events and conferences. And honestly, it blows my mind how often people default to a thin, easily torn bag. Personally, if I’m going to carry around a bag, I want something that will look good on my arm and won’t tatter after a few uses. Next time you're considering a bag as your medium, invest in one with a little more substance and functionality — we recommend giving canvas a shot. 

*Bonus: If you’re in the spirits business, they also make these really rad wine and liquor cinch bags that would be great for holiday gifting and packaging.

  • Flags / Pennants: These are a super fun breakout from your standard giveaway. They make great wall decor and with the right message can be a unique way to really resonate with your audience. Speaking of rad pennants, check out our friend Chris over at Hook & Loop to see how cool these things can be. 
  • Bandanas: For the right audience, a bandana is a great option as a giveaway. Bandanas are functional, low in cost and essentially multi-purpose. We see people utilizing this option to create a sense of branding or provide a tool such as a map (check out Iowa Parklands for this one). In return, we see their audience use them for typical bandana usage as well as wall art. 
  Photo by:  Jeff Sheldon

Photo by: Jeff Sheldon

2. KEEP IT SIMPLE

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “t-shirts are a walking advertisement for your business”. While that’s ultimately true, it’s good practice to remind yourself which billboards actually catch your attention. 

It’s probably not the one with a large image, 150+ words of information and a diagram outlining everything the company stands for and does. In most cases, attention grabbing billboards are bold, concise and invoke emotion or some form of action.  Not to mention they do this knowing they have about 30 seconds or less to engage their audience. 

Now, imagine that billboard is moving. That’s your t-shirt, your koozie and your tote bag. That engagement window, may have just closed to 15 seconds. 

So, here’s our advice: 

  • Define your message 
  • Stick to your brand
  • Don’t default to trends
  • Keep it simple

3. DESIGN FOR YOUR AUDIENCE

Knowing your audience is key. This one probably seems the most self explanatory, but it seems to be the most overlooked.

As businesses, we aren’t always the target audience for our own product or service. Which is why it’s in our best interest to continually collect data on our audience. Whether that’s physical demographics from social media platforms and newsletter subscriptions to simply engaging in face-to-face conversations and taking mental and/or written notes. 

When you know your audience and how to design for them, it enables you to offer a more meaningful experience. It shows them that you care what they think/feel/do — it shows them that you're paying attention.

And by paying attention, you're able to create products and swag that will resonate with your audience on a more personal level.  


Now that we've covered that - we'll dive into a few keys to killer swag along with a few examples in part 3 of our series.

Need some swag printed up for your business or organization? We do that too. Learn more about that here.

Ashleigh BradyComment