The Importance of Cool Swag
At GoSpotCheck, “cool” translates to “well-designed” and “swag” means branded/promotional merchandise. For us, that includes t-shirts, hoodies, stickers, bags, water bottles, hats and more.
Around the office, we take swag seriously, and I mean VERY seriously. Why? Because everyone loves free t-shirts? Because we’re a startup? Because it’s fun stuff to create? Yes, but having well-designed swag also has real, tangible benefits that apply to any business.
Our company culture is arguably our top priority at GoSpotCheck. When hiring, we look for specific skillsets for specific roles, but some of those skills can be taught on the job. A good culture fit is something we can’t just teach.
The GoSpotCheck culture extends into every aspect of our business. And our team embodies this culture. So it’s crucial that our company branded gear is something everyone is proud to wear both inside and outside GSC walls.
If everyone on your team loves the people they work with, the problems they solve, lessons they learn and company perks, but your company swag is embarrassing — there is serious misalignment and disconnect. Employees should be able to represent your company with pride and enthusiasm. If you’re simply slapping your logo on a t-shirt, you’re doing it wrong.
Well-designed company swag can be your greatest tool in furthering employee company pride. Always provide swag that your team is excited to rep!
This is pretty straightforward but just as important. Cool swag can be a powerful tool in your overall marketing efforts when done correctly.
At GoSpotCheck, we’re actually at a bit of an advantage in that the typical startup and/or tech company tends to have lackluster merchandise, particularly when it comes to t-shirts. In fact, this is so well-known that fellow local Denver startup, Rocky Mountain Patent, made this funny, tongue-in-cheek t-shirt that literally says “Typical Startup T-Shirt”:
— RockyMountainPatent (@RMPatent) October 1, 2015
We pride ourselves on having atypical startup t-shirts (or onesies or backpacks, etc) and use these items in all our promotional marketing efforts. Some examples:
- For the past 2 years, we’ve passed out free event-specific t-shirts for Denver Startup Week. Both years, we ran out well before the end of the week.
- For Outdoor Retailer coming up in January, we created custom bottle-opener keychains to pass out.
- Every year, we create branded gifts for the GSC family (employees, investors, customers, etc).
Admittedly, it can be difficult to measure specific returns on passing out cool swag, but the intangible benefits are invaluable. Shortly after Denver Startup Week 2015, a friend of GSC overheard random strangers talking about our free Denver t-shirts and which colorways they snagged. There’s no monetary value in that conversation, but the fact we had strangers discussing our B2B tech company was fantastic and most certainly leads to positive brand awareness and employee recruiting.
Supporting Local Businesses
Whenever possible, we strive to work with local businesses to bring our designs to life. As the saying goes, ‘think globally, act locally.’
By creating an almost constant stream of promotional merchandise, we’re able to work with all kinds of local businesses including A Small Print Shop, Ink Monstr, D&K Printing, Humble Monster, Anthem Branding, Burbank Embroidery, Megafauna, IndyInk and more. We’re certainly not a major part of any one business’s revenue, but just knowing we all work & live in the same local economy is a cool feeling. Not to mention, we experience benefits like quicker communication, cheaper shipping/pick-up and brand awareness via our expanded networks.
Cool Swag is Important
As much as I’d like to say we make cool swag for the sake of cool swag, there are very real, tangible benefits to our business, and any business. Well-designed promotional merchandise can and should:
- Elevate and promote company pride
- Be used as a powerful tool for your brand marketing
- Support your local businesses whenever possible