If all you can imagine when thinking of conference swag are pens and notepads, think again. The conference world has changed and so have event attendees—participants are looking for more than just useless freebies from brands. Your company needs to use these events as an opportunity to connect with your target audience and leave a lasting impression.
So, what makes the perfect conference swag? Whether your company is participating in or hosting an in-person conference or a virtual event, the best conference swag ideas are useful, original, and share-worthy.
Remember, giving away cheap, generic stuff won’t help your branding efforts, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot to impress. Instead, focus on creativity when it comes to branded items that your audience will treasure.
In this blog post, we’ve compiled a list of some great ideas to inspire your swag journey. The best part? You can design and order them online all in one place, and we’ll show you how.
If you’re ready to step up your swag game and provide meaningful items that will build genuine connections with event attendees, let’s get started.
Conference swag is a tangible representation of your brand. Obviously, you don’t want it to be boring or look cheap. But more than that, it’s an important marketing tool you can smartly use to build connections and generate engagement. Here are 5 reasons you need to dedicate some time to creating the best swag ideas for your next conference.
Having people use or wear your swag during a conference (and after it) means they’re walking ads for your company. It’s equivalent to having brand ambassadors spread awareness about your business.
Well-designed, quality swag gifts have the potential to create a great first impression that lasts. Swag that’s used over and over again will bring up positive memories of the conference (and of your brand) long after the event.
A swag gift can be used as an interactive tool to engage with attendees and build connections. Offering unique and interesting items will initiate conversations, generate buzz, and foster a sense of community.
Differentiating your brand from the competition and making a memorable impact can be challenging with so many exhibitors and sponsors trying to get the attention of attendees. However, when done right, conference swag presents the perfect opportunity to stand out from the crowd. To do just that, choose unique products and invest in original designs that capture the essence of your brand.
We all know how important it is to strengthen relationships with new and existing clients and partners. This helps build trust and brand loyalty. Of course, it takes much more than corporate gifting to do so, but a token of appreciation is always a valuable asset.
Beyond the convention itself, amazing conference swag has the potential to extend your brand's reach online. Make conference gifts so great that people will be proud to share them on their social media, exposing your brand to a wider audience.
How do you want your brand to be perceived? Creative? Fun? Eco-friendly? Answering this question will help you hone in on the best swag items for your event. These are products that echo your brand’s values and showcase your company well.
Now that you understand everything premium swag can do for your brand, let’s dive into some awesome conference swag ideas to build unforgettable swag bags.
A classic is a classic for a reason—it works! But traditional event swag doesn’t need to be boring. You can put your own twist on these items by adding a design that reps your brand’s identity and makes it relatable for attendees. Here are some cool examples to help you spice up your event swag.
T-shirts are one of the top event swag items. Why? They’re easy to use and versatile. To make your company shirts memorable conference swag items, invest in high-quality materials and visually-appealing designs to leave a lasting impression.
A well-designed t-shirt with a clever quote or interesting artwork is more likely to be worn and associated with positive feelings about your brand than just any old boring tee.
A streetwear staple that’s popular with almost everyone, hoodies just scream cool. These stylish pieces provide warmth and coziness, making them totally wearable—and your brand totally visible. They can be worn during the conference, at events, or in the recipient’s daily life, amplifying your brand’s exposure.
Just like hoodies, sweatshirts are among the best conference swag ideas to boost brand recognition. They’re also amazing tools to lift team spirit during a corporate event.
Source: Instagram @bumblehoney
Technology may have evolved to the point that we don’t need to take physical notes anymore, but it’s scientifically proven that writing out information by hand helps the brain retain information much more effectively. It reinforces the natural learning process! Plus, many of us still love a good old pen and paper. Make sure recipients are on board with that if you add hardcover or spiral notebooks to your conference swag set.
Custom reusable water bottles are essential conference swag items for conference attendees and speakers alike. The stainless steel version is much more durable than a simple plastic bottle. And it’s perfect to keep beverages hot or cold for long periods of time.
Ever wondered what makes pins so popular as company swag items? Whether it’s their collectible nature, customization options, longevity or portability, the truth is that they do help promote your brand without breaking the bank.
Fight the urge to just slap your company logo on it, and take time to craft thoughtfully designed pins. They’ll have more of a chance of elevating your brand’s visibility. Use your color scheme or relevant icons that speak to both your brand or the event’s theme.
Everyone has a favorite mug. Wouldn’t it be great if it was the mug you gave someone as conference swag? Ceramic, enamel, or travel style, think about how you can make your brand mugs unique. Maybe use a catchy phrase that’ll motivate people to start their day with good vibes—and remember your brand.
Conference attendees often leave the event feeling energized and full of fresh insights. How can you prolong that feeling? Include motivational posters among your swag items.
Need some inspiration? Take a look at StartUp Vitamins, a Latvian company that specializes in posters with motivational content tailored for entrepreneurs. Swag posters created in a similar vein can serve as uplifting reminders long after the conference ends.
Source: StartUp Vitamins
Wanna go that extra mile to help your event attendees remember your company? Maybe it’s time to think outside the swag box and pick original items that’ll make an impact during your next conference. Find conference swag ideas with an original flair below.
Let’s kick off this list of creative swag with some of the hottest branded products at the moment: stickers. Cost-effective and easy to distribute, they’re typically made from either paper or vinyl, and aren’t as common as other conference goodies. Attendees will love something different, especially if it’s a fun and unique design.
Bomber jackets make me think of high school football, which instantly brings up feelings of a strong team. How about bringing this spirited vibe to your event by offering these jackets as conference swag? Make them even more original with an all-over print or an embroidery design on the back.
Source: Little Scandinavian
What if instead of swag bags, you offer duffle bags? It’s the perfect swag item for out-of-town conferences, for example. Make yours stand out with amazing artwork, like this one by art teacher Joshua Kirkham.
Source: Instagram @paintwithjoshk
Since making a comeback in 2021, fanny packs have become a stylish accessory for everyone from artists to social media influencers. And they’re bound to be a hit with conference attendees too!
They’re trendy, they’re fashionable, they’re functional. We’re talking about visors. This useful headgear can provide sun protection during outdoor events, and help attendees be comfortable yet stylish. As a bonus, your brand can continue to gain visibility during summer vacation.
Think of tumblers as the funky cousin to mugs and water bottles. Tumblers are super practical, suitable for hot and cold beverages, and offer a large customizable area for your brand or event logo.
Speaking of creative drinkware, let’s not forget about glasses. Wouldn’t it be great if your brand was invited to the party? Personalize custom drink glasses with your logo or a creative design and cheers!
Source: Instagram @moosehead
Postcards provide an excellent canvas to make the main message of your conference memorable and aesthetically pleasing. In addition to on-brand designs, add engaging content like event highlights, key takeaways, or QR codes that link to exclusive media as a way of enhancing each attendee’s experience.
Source: Creative Heart Conference
You may be thinking: towels, really? Well why not? Depending on your brand’s niche, or the conference theme/location, this could be an awesome pick for attendees that’ll easily be used again and again for summer pool days. Including additional items like relevant beverages and/or sunscreen to your swag bag will add that extra touch of fun.
Candles aren’t traditional conference swag, but they do create a cozy atmosphere and add ambiance to any room. We love this example from Avery.com with a customized label that reads “We believe in stress-free service,” linking the relaxing swag item to a benefit their brand offers potential customers.
Backpacks are a personal favorite as conference swag. They’re so functional! Conference attendees can use these to carry their laptops, notebooks, and personal belongings while giving your brand the exposure you deserve.
Personalize custom backpacks with your logo or be bold and try an all-over print design that’s in line with your branding.
Another category that certainly deserves its own section is tech swag. From local gatherings to international conferences, tech swag can be useful for all kinds of events: workshops, panel discussions, networking opportunities, exhibitions, etc. Let’s check out some interesting suggestions to get your gears going.
Giving out custom laptop cases elevates the professionalism of your swag and offers recipients a practical item they’ll use all the time. It also shows your careful consideration in choosing swag items that match the tech-savvy lifestyle of most attendees nowadays.
Good swag ideas don’t need to be expensive. Add an elegant, fun, or smart design to a Mouse pad and it’s a great swag item for anyone who relies on a computer for work (i.e. lots of people). Presented as a solo item or in a complete swag box, it’s a functional item that attendees will appreciate.
Earphone cases are a super unique swag idea that’ll really stand out. Although there isn’t much space for personalization, you can still make an impression with your logo or some small creative designs.
It also goes well with other items, just take a look at the example below from Optinmonster.
When we talk about eco-friendly conference swag, we mean giving out items that have a reduced impact on the environment. Choosing more sustainable items will show your company’s commitment to the planet and responsible gifting.
Tote bags are resistant and can be used over and over, reducing the use of plastic bags and enhancing your brand awareness at the same time. Extra points if they’re made of organic cotton.
Offering eco hats to your conference attendees will take your brand recognition to the next level. This style from Printful is made of 100% organic cotton and you can personalize it with an embroidered design that’ll turn heads.
Beanies also make excellent practical swag items. Not only do they provide warmth and comfort but Printful’s ribbed beanies made from 100% organic cotton will appeal to eco-conscious attendees.
Sweatshirts are a classic choice for conference swag. You can elevate their appeal by opting for an eco-friendly version crafted from 100% organic cotton. This sustainable choice is sure to be a hit with conference attendees. Here is some design inspo from The Sill.
Source: Instagram @thesill
Organic cotton drawstring bags offer a fantastic eco-friendly alternative to traditional tote bags. These bags are perfect for carrying notes and personal items during the event but also serve as versatile and sustainable accessories long after the conference is over.
Virtual conferences have become more frequent in recent years. So why not think about giving out some swag items that relate to the comfort of enjoying conference events from home? In this section, we’ll explore some swag ideas for your next virtual event.
Your brand can enhance the conference experience by offering branded pillows and pillow cases, infusing a sense of coziness into the virtual setting.
Participants can sit back, relax, and fully immerse themselves in the event with the added comfort your swag provides.
Source: Instagram @united
Same goes for blankets. Consider providing snuggly blankets to attendees and ensuring a warm and unforgettable experience from your brand at the next online conference.
Remember when you hated to receive socks as gifts as a kid? Those days are gone. Nowadays, creative socks are a delight, especially on cold days. These accessories are a unique swag item for virtual conference participants that they’ll be able to use when watching the events unfold from the comfort of their computer screens. And they’ll be able to use your branded socks over and over again.
Source: Instagram @fullstoryhq
Socks are great for winter gatherings, but if the event is taking place during the summertime, flip-flops or slides are fantastic seasonal swag. Plus, they’re perfect for around the house when attending a virtual event.
Still thinking about comfort? How about some leisure bottoms. Let these Bumble shorts serve as inspiration for your next conference swag and encourage attendees to embrace comfort and style, even during virtual events.
Source: Instagram @bumblehoney
Ordering merch for large groups can be time-consuming. There are so many details involved that it’s easy to make mistakes with shipping, sizes, or color preferences. If you’d like to make creating swag easier, check out Printful’s MerchShare service.
It works like this: you design a product online, save the product template, and share the link with your conference attendees. Then, they can order the product (size, color, etc.) for themselves. All you have to do is confirm the orders and pay for them through your Printful account. It’s that easy.
You may be wondering how to pick the best swag products for your event. To help you decide, here are some questions to consider:
Who’s your audience? Which promotional products would they use/wear?
Where will the conference take place? Will it be an in-person or virtual event?
What time of the year will the event happen? Seasonal swag items can be an interesting option.
What’s your budget? Is it worth it to make a lot of small items or should you go for one big item with a higher value?
Do you have room for storage? If not, opt for smaller swag items or use Printful’s MerchShare service to send them straight to your attendees.
Once you know which items you’ll want, think about the design. Swag products featuring attractive artwork have a higher chance of being liked and used than the ones with company logos alone.
Lastly, keep in mind that your conference swag will be a representation of your brand so don’t underestimate the importance of quality. Choose a provider that will deliver promotional products you’ll be proud of.
Gabriela is a creative copywriter, professional blogger, and passionate content marketer with experience in publicity agencies and international companies. She loves sharing her ideas and new trends to bring inspiration to everyone around her.