Should you include branding with your corporate gifts?

Should you include branding with your corporate gifts?

From small startups to large conglomerates, companies leverage corporate gifts to show appreciation, celebrate milestones, and maintain a positive presence in the minds of clients, employees, and partners. However, as straightforward as corporate gifting may seem, it introduces a complex debate: to brand or not to brand?

Branding corporate gifts can transform a simple token of appreciation into a powerful marketing tool, embedding your company’s identity into the daily lives of recipients. Yet, this approach is not without its controversies. Critics argue that overly branded gifts may detract from the gesture’s sincerity, reducing its value to merely another advertising ploy.

Here, we’ll explore the multifaceted roles that corporate gifts play in business strategies and whether including branding enhances or ultimately undermines their intended purpose. After all, you’ll want that corporate gift to land well and strengthen the relationship rather than harm it in the long term, right?

The Case for Branding Corporate Gifts

Enhancing Brand Recognition and Recall

When companies choose to tastefully brand their gifts, they’re not just giving away a product, they’re embedding their brand into the everyday experiences of their recipients. This subtle yet constant exposure is instrumental in reinforcing brand identity, making it more likely for the company to stay top-of-mind. Consider the simple act of drinking coffee from a branded mug or writing notes in a branded notebook. Each interaction is a gentle reminder of the company’s presence and the positive relationship it seeks to maintain.

A Constant Reminder of the Company

Branded corporate gifts also foster a sense of belonging and appreciation that can significantly enhance business relationships. These gifts act as symbols of the company’s values and commitment to its stakeholders, serving as constant reminders of the partnership’s strength and the company’s dedication to quality and appreciation. By carefully selecting gifts that align with the recipient’s needs and interests, companies can ensure their brand is associated with positive and personalized experiences.

Ideas for Branding Corporate Gifts

There are probably as many unique branding ideas out there as there are business relationships, so we recommend a long brainstorming session with your teams and encourage people to think outside the box.  For example, do you want a gift that will be often used and thus a frequent reminder of your interactions? Or will it be something more ephemeral? 

For example, we know of a popular tech company that distributed branded, high-quality earbuds at an industry conference who saw a marked increase in social media mentions and website traffic. Attendees not only used the earbuds during their travels but also shared their appreciation online, providing the company with valuable, organic promotion. 

On the more ephemeral end of the spectrum, we know of a local bakery that cleverly personalized and branded their packaging with each delivery.  Business teams loved the bakery’s attention to detail and quality and began recommending it to family and friends.  Such a personal experience with branding can go a long way!

The Case Against Branding Corporate Gifts

Perceived Inauthenticity and Commercialization

One of the primary concerns with branding corporate gifts lies in the risk of perceived inauthenticity and overt commercialization. Gifts excessively branded may not be seen as genuine gestures of appreciation but rather as another avenue for marketing. This perception undermines the genuine intent behind the gesture, potentially making recipients feel like mere targets for brand promotion rather than valued partners or team members.

Reduced Usefulness and Appeal

When gifts are overly promotional, there’s a tangible risk that they will be disregarded or not used, making your efforts counterproductive. A gift’s value is inherently tied to its usefulness and how well it resonates with the recipient, which can be overshadowed by aggressive branding. This not only wastes resources but can also inadvertently foster negative associations with the brand.

Insights from Recipient Preferences

Data consistently shows a preference for gifts that are perceived as personal and thoughtful, a sentiment at odds with conspicuous branding. These insights argue for a balanced approach, suggesting that while branding can enhance visibility, it should not compromise the perceived personal value and authenticity of the gift.

So, how do you decide whether to include branding or not?

It’s a complicated decision, of course, but generally there are three main considerations.

The first is the nature of your relationship with the recipient.  Clients may expect a different level of formality and branding than employees or partners. While employees might appreciate branded items that foster a sense of belonging and pride in their workplace, clients might value subtlety, viewing it as a mark of respect and personal attention. Understanding these dynamics is key to selecting gifts that resonate and reinforce the intended message and relationship.

The utility and type of gift significantly influence the suitability of branding. Practical items that recipients can use regularly, such as stationery or tech gadgets, might lend themselves more naturally to discreet branding, serving as a gentle reminder of the company without overwhelming. Conversely, personal gifts, meant to convey a deep sense of appreciation or connection, may be best left unbranded to preserve their personal touch and the sincerity of the gesture.

It’s also wise to consider industry norms. Some sectors may have well-established traditions of branded corporate gifts, making it an expected and accepted practice. In other industries, heavy branding might be frowned upon or seen as tactless. Staying informed about your industry’s gifting culture may provide you with all the answers you need.

And, don’t forget that with your closest business associates, you can always ask for feedback!  Very likely if they loved your gift, you will receive positive feedback anyhow. If they don’t mention it, it might not be a bad thing to check in. If you missed the mark, you can go back to the drawing board and plan to do better in the future.

About author

Carl Herman is an editor at DataFileHost enjoys writing about the latest Tech trends around the globe.