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A Promotional Gift

6 Ideas for Quirky, Memorable, and Unusual Promotional Gifts

When you’re considering promotional gifts for grand openings, new product launches, major events, milestones, or some other celebratory purpose, you have a decision to make. What do you give?

Some companies opt for a swag bag, usually full of the usual assortment of items, like a branded t-shirt, cap, and stationery set. For these, the value of the promotional gift isn’t in any one item but rather in the aggregate, with the swag bag having half a dozen or more items, bringing up the total value of the package.

Some companies go the complete opposite route, and design something specific and unique for each promotion. We’ve seen everything from customized rubber duckies or action figures, to customized puzzle cubes, to unique trophies, to completely unique products. Offering something unique is always interesting and often valuable, but comes with a significant drawback.

What is that drawback? The sum total of R&D, production, fulfillment, and handling. While it might not seem like a tall bar to do something like have a customized rubber ducky made, it’s worth considering the costs involved. Where does the rubber come from? Where is the duck made, and how is it customized? How ethically are those manufacturers treated? When the products are made, do they need to be shipped across the ocean? All of these are important questions, and they’re questions that modern businesses need to spend more time thinking about than ever before.

Fortunately, there’s a path in the middle. You don’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time designing something completely unique and bespoke or spending resources sourcing local production and ethical facilities. You can, instead, work with a company like ours. At Ethix, we pride ourselves on the ethical sourcing, union labor, or green origin of every product we offer. For anything in our store, you can view the badges it has, and feel free to ask us about it if you need any details at all.

Of course, you’re not required to go with us; we just think it’s a great option. Even still, that leaves you with a significant question to answer: what kinds of items can you produce that are branded and easy enough to make ethically but are unique enough to stand out and convey value and appreciation? Whether it’s a trade show, rewards for speakers, an appreciation gift for loyal clients or customers, or employee career milestone rewards, there are a lot of different options available. We’ve picked out six of our favorites.

Remember Good Times with Custom Clocks

Custom clocks are an interesting promotional item. Many years ago, a promotional clock was not uncommon; you’d see them on the walls of gas and service stations, in department stores, and as part of the package brought around by salesmen. Clocks were, for decades, extremely important. Having a watch was a relative rarity or a luxury, and even if you had one, you might glance up at a wall clock or over to a desk clock instead, especially if your hands were otherwise occupied.

With something you’re looking at constantly, it’s a natural venue for branding. Indeed, vintage branded clocks are worth a pretty penny today, and brand collectors love to make them centerpieces of their collections.

Custom Clocks

Of course, these days, it’s not quite as clear-cut. How often do you look at a clock on a typical day? For some people, it’s still a daily occurrence. Others, though, may not even own a clock. Every computer has a clock in the corner, every cell phone tells the time, and many people still wear watches, after all.

Even so, a simple clock can be an excellent and unique promotional item. A desk clock can be a subtle and elegant way to have a brand name in front of someone all the time. A larger clock designed with a secondary purpose, like a picture frame, can serve double duty and make it harder to leave behind or throw away. And wall clocks, of course, can still be useful pieces of décor for many people.

Our tip is to make the clock more interesting than just a simple clock face with a brand name on it. Come up with some unique graphic design, even an interesting character or icon, that has more visual interest and isn’t overtly an advertising piece, and you’ll gather more attention.

Make a Lasting Mark with Vinyl Decals

Vinyl decals or stickers aren’t exactly unique in concept. The key is to make something exceptional, interesting, or unique in presentation in your graphic design. If all you’re doing is handing out stickers with your brand name and logo, most of those are going to end up in landfills rather than in places of interest or honor. Instead, consider a unique spin.

Vinyl Decals and Stickers

For example, here are some ideas you could try:

  • Work with local artists to commission your logo in their graphical style.
  • Develop a mascot character and make cute stickers featuring them.
  • Create motivational quote stickers with a subtle logo on the side.
  • Do a “fridge poetry” style word cloud set with your brand as part of it.
  • Create branded references to popular culture and memes.

Now, a sticker alone isn’t really very valuable. So, spice up the sticker with a side of instructions. Set a challenge: ask people to put the sticker in a unique, interesting, or exotic place and take a photo of it. Ask people to submit photos of using the sticker anywhere (legally, at least) and run contests, features, or just spotlights on the most interesting pictures. The goal is to encourage people to use the stickers and to think about you when they do.

Bring Utility with Customized Umbrellas

Umbrellas aren’t your average every-day merch. Everybody has one – well, almost everyone, some people live in places where it very rarely rains – but most people just own a simple black, blank umbrella. It’s fine, it’s serviceable, it works to keep the rain off, but that’s about it. Plus, a plain basic umbrella just adds to the dreariness of an already dreary day.

Why not change things up? A good umbrella with a vibrant color and a unique and interesting logo can be an excellent piece of promotional swag, and they’re almost guaranteed to see more use than just about any other swag item you could possibly offer. Sure, it’s not an every-day sort of use, but it’s still a valuable use when it’s needed.

Customized Umbrellas

Plus, umbrellas aren’t just for the rain. A decent umbrella, particularly a golf umbrella, can be a useful item to have when the hot sun is bearing down and there’s no easy shade to be found. Parasols used to be a popular accessory for a reason, after all.

The only downside to a customized umbrella is that they’re moderately expensive to make. But that’s the cost of a quality umbrella. You don’t want a cheap, weak-feeling umbrella, right? No one will want to use it if it feels like it will tear apart at the first gust of wind.

Give Big Things in Small Packages with Thumb Drives

Thumb drives are a common tool many people use in their daily lives, and many more keep around for the few times a month or year they need them. Whether it’s taking files down to a print shop to have them printed, moving files through isolated home networks, or just storing family photos, thumb drives are a great little tool to have around.

Of course, flash drives are also super cheap these days. Anyone who wants one can pick one up at the check lane of any office store for just a few bucks. So, what makes yours a good piece of swag?

Well, they say not to judge a book by its cover, and indeed, a good flash drive can be so much more than it appears on the surface.

A Branded Flash Drive

What can you load onto a promotional flash drive?

One great option is all the most useful files for a given situation. For example, if you’re hosting an event, you can have PDFs that contain brochures, information about local eateries and businesses an attendee might want to visit, local lodgings, a map of the convention center, schedules of speakers; all the stuff you would normally have available in print form. You should still have printed versions, of course, but a flash drive loaded with the information can be a great help.

You can also add in promotional information about your products or services. Obviously, this is blatant advertising, but you can spice things up a bit by adding in a coupon or discount code that the recipient of the flash drive can use to claim a bonus if they make an order.

If you’re really having fun, you can load each drive with a unique piece of a puzzle and build a community challenge around putting the pieces together. See how many people claim and redeem door prizes by trading in their piece of the puzzle.

With the digital space, truly, you can do anything you like, so keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to have fun with it.

Keep it Cool with Customized Coolers

Coolers can be hard or soft, but a soft-shell insulated cooler is perhaps the easiest and most convenient kind of cooler to keep around. They’re well-insulated and easy to store, they’re large enough and flexible enough for a wide range of utilities, and they can come in a ton of different shapes, sizes, and styles.

Coolers can also go great at events where you have free or cheap cold beverage stations, so anyone who has one can top up water bottles or get a nice cold can of something tasty and make sure it stays cold throughout the day.

A Customized Cooler

The way you customize your cooler can also be a perk. You can always just brand it with your logo, for sure, but you can also make a quirky piece of graphic design to go along with it. Keep a cool head, and you’ll be sure to think of something nice.

Bring Something Quirky to Earth with Custom Socks

Everybody wears socks, but in our opinion, far too many people just wear plain old white crew socks or basic black dress socks and don’t put any more thought into it. Socks are popular, though, especially with certain contingents of each generation who like to have a little bit of personality, taking a peek out through otherwise mundane pants and shoes.

Custom Socks

Socks, as a piece of apparel, are also subject to some of the most stringent oversight on the ethics of their production. You want to make sure the socks you get are ethically made with eco-friendly raw materials, so they’re durable, high-quality, and ethical all the way down.

The Sky’s the Limit with Promotional Gifts

A good promotional gift doesn’t need to be highly valuable to be beloved. It doesn’t need to be over-the-top to be useful. The truth is, as long as you put thought into the context, value, and utility of the items you’re bringing to the table, anything can make someone’s day. A little bit of branding – subtle but effective – goes a long way when the product itself is valuable and useful to the person who receives it.

So, whatever it is you want to make, whether it’s a shirt with a quirky design, a set of useful drinkware, a resilient and utilitarian tote bag, or even simple stationery, there’s room for it in a good promotional strategy.

A Man Receiving a Promotional Gift

Our goal is to help you meet your goals. That’s why we have such a large catalog of possible products you can customize and order for whatever need, large or small, you may have.

As we mentioned above, if you have any questions at all – from the specs on customizations, to the quality and durability of the items, to the sourcing of the materials and the ethics of their manufacture, we’re more than happy to answer. Just drop us a line; we’d love to hear from you!