Promote Your Brand with Branded Holiday Gifts

Barbara Wells

By Barbara Wells, senior vice president of Marketing, Merchandising, Global Supply Chain, and Logistics, Staples Promotional Products

It’s only October, but ’tis the season for companies to think about holiday gifts for their business audiences. And rather than have your gift be the proverbial wallflower that’s indistinguishable from the pack, take advantage of the opportunity to send something memorable that ties back to your company in a high-impact way.

Branded holiday gifts—whether edible, practical,or just plain fun—provide aunique opportunity to connect with customers, prospects,and employees. They’re a way to say thanks and spread cheer while simultaneously increasing brand awareness at the lowest cost per impression of any advertising medium. Consider this: According to the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), more than 55 percent of people who receive promotional products keep them for at least a year—meaning your recipients will have a 3-D connection to your brand, long after their holiday decorations have been dismantled.

That said, while making the decision to give corporate holiday gifts might be an easy one, selecting what to give—and to whom to give—can be a tricky science. With the right mix of creativity, foresight,and design, you can provide holiday gifts that are a hit and that accomplish your brand goals. All that remains is some planning.

Make Your List—and Check it Twice

Before tackling the actual gifts, think of the groups you’d like to reach, including employees, as well as valuable clients. Review your recipient list carefully, and solicit feedback to make sure there are no regrettable omissions. For example, don’t forget long-time customers whohave stayed loyal to your company, former clients you haven’t worked with lately, and all those indispensable professionals—including accountants, legal representatives, postal carriers, etc.—whokeep business running smoothly.

Selecting the Perfect Gifts

Next on the to-do list: the gifts themselves. You’ll want to select gifts that reflect your personality and taste—as well as your company’s image and culture—so they’ll be as memorable and meaningful as possible, and increase the likelihood of future business with your brand. Factor in your recipients’ locations, job functions,and outside interests as you work on gift selection,as well, to add a personal touch and increase satisfaction with—and stickiness of—your gift.

In addition, as you mull over gift ideas, consider assembling an informal focus group of impartial colleagues to help you narrow down your short list. You also should seek feedback from the company you’re ordering from on criteria that are important to you—inquiring about top-sellers, best deals, most unique items, etc.

As you go through the brainstorming process, weigh your goals: What qualities do you want your gift to exude, and what message do you want to send? Consider the following qualities as you give thought to potential gifts:

  • Emotional connection:The saying is true, and the fastest way to your recipients’ hearts may just be through their stomachs. Food items—including branded cookies, chocolates, candy jars,and treat baskets—are great ways to forge an emotional bond between your brand and your audience. In particular, high-quality, gourmet products exhibit good taste, demonstrate your company’s commitment to quality products and services, and are more likely to be acknowledged.   Keep in mind, though, that since these gifts are edible, they won’t be around for long, so weigh the importance of an emotional connection vs. that of greater gift permanence.
  • Longevity:If you’re more interested in making sure your brand is highly visible for a longer period of time, consider branded writing utensils, other office products and/or desk accessories, which may offer less of an emotional punchbut have greater longevity. Pens, in particular—because people see and use them every day, and often loan them to others —are regarded as among the top promotional products for brand visibility.
  • Company unity (especially among employees):Branded headwear and other apparel can help create a strong sense of community and company loyalty when provided to employees, in particular. They’re a nice thank you gift for a year of hard work and a great way to boost morale and retention. The more attractive these items are, the greater likelihood that they’ll be worn frequently—a great testament to and advertisement for your brand.
  • Other gift ideas and considerations:Other popular gift items include those that can be put to practical use, spanning the gamut of travel mugs, picture frames, desktop clocks, calendars, blankets,and more. Because these are everyday items and geared toward utility, they have great potential for repeated brand visibility. In addition, you may want to consider items that will create a positive and memorable impression by virtue of their uniqueness. To break outside the mold of some of the more typical “cookie-cutter”-type gifts, consider holiday-themed cookie cutters themselves, as well as items such aswine sets and openers, decanters, personalized games, totes, business card holders, electronics,and more.

These are just a few suggestions as you consider your corporate holiday gifts this year and look for ways to send items that promote goodwill and promote your brand.   With promotionalproducts, you can create a 3-D brand attachment among your recipients and demonstrate that your company is inclusive, exciting,and memorable—and, just as important—a thoughtful and worthy business partner.

Barbara Wells is the senior vice president of marketing, merchandising, global supply chain, and logistics for Staples Promotional Products (, the largest promotional products distributor in North America. Staples Promotional Products is part of Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc.