It’s probably the most recent use for the word, but swag really started to take off at the turn of the millennium. Seen as an opportunity to gain brand awareness, it’s like an early version of the modern day ‘influencer’…but in an old school format.

Marketers would have a heap of different merchandise created and then provide this to influential individuals or groups to then distribute and adorn within their own networks. It really is the orginal Instagram Influencer!

The point was that these items were cool. Usually aimed at youth, the swag needed to have some ‘cred’.

Today, we’re flooded with crappy merchandise. I mean seriously, how many ‘work for 5 minute’ pens can one person possibly need?

My point is, if you’re going to do merchandise…then make sure it’s got some swag!

Find interesting, quirky, usable or memorable items that actually connect with your audience. Understand the market and don’t just take the cheap option. Cheap is rarely the best way to go with merchandise.

There are so many cool option these days. We’ve seen some crackers. The key to them all though, is the connection back to the brand. If you just slap your logo on something…then it’s a thing with your logo on it. That’s not swag!

Find a connection. Let it tell a story. Better yet, make sure it hangs around longer than the trip home!

Thinking creatively about how merchandise can build your brand is really critical. Otherwise you’re just throwing your money away.

So get your swagger on and start building your brand with the right kind of merchandise.