Have you ever walked down the aisle at your local thrift store, searching for that hidden gem that will complete your holiday table scape or create the perfect Halloween costume? I do…all the time. But that’s not usually what I find. Want to know what I see instead? Row after row of plastic cups, travel mugs, water bottles, and Polo shirts- the local hospital’s name emblazoned across the chest.
Before starting Linden Square, I worked in healthcare for almost three decades. It’s true: my first “real” job outside of babysitting was as the file clerk for a small family practice physician one town over (by which I mean 6 country miles and three stop signs.) I started when I was 14. My mom would pick me up after school, drive me to the office where I would put in a whopping hour and a half of filing and answering phones, then pick me back up to go home and eat dinner and tackle my homework. I had that job through high school before getting a job a local urgent care clinic. (I had a number of other “second” jobs, but those never lasted long.) Three decades in any one field is a long time, but what is even more remarkable is that nearly 24 of those years were with the same large hospital system.
Over the course of those nearly thirty years, I received more than my share of bad holiday and recognition gifts. Koozies, coolers, fleece jackets, umbrellas and turkeys – all things I was “gifted” by my employer. While I will admit that the fleece jacket was usually pretty welcome, (have you ever been in a radiology suite?) and the turkey was “okay,” (I was a twenty-something newlywed that could barely reheat a Lean Cuisine), what I do remember, is that every one of those gifts was branded with the name of my employer. The koozies, coolers and umbrellas were screen-printed, the jackets were embroidered, and even the turkey came with a sticker on the label. What should have been a thoughtful gesture for a job well done or a warm holiday sentiment turned out to be little more than free advertisement for my employer. Every time I stepped out on a chilly fall day, or took a sip of my coffee in the preschool pick up line became an opportunity for someone to ask me about where I worked, what I did, what I thought about their cousin’s mother’s uncle’s unusual symptoms or whether I liked working there. Simple, everyday interactions became more about my employer, and less about the years of service I’d put in or the dedication I’d shown to my department or patients.
I recently came across a 2019 online survey about business gifting satisfaction conducted by another large gifting firm. According to the survey, only 15% of those that received branded gifts reported feeling special. A whopping 45% replied that logoed and branded items were lowest on their preferred list; and in truth, “cheap” things with company logos (ex: shirts) topped the worst gift received list.
So what does this mean for corporate gifting? It means carefully selecting items that are personalized more to your recipients and less to your marketing. Does your IT department run on coffee and chocolate? Send them some specially roasted coffee and a quality, artisan chocolate bar. Include a travel mug and perhaps a power bank or a handcrafted leather cord keeper (having this monogrammed for each would be the icing on the proverbial cake and help in demonstrating personal thought) and you have the start of a really nice and much appreciated gift. Have a large group? Create themed gifts that are more likely to appeal to the masses, such as a Spa Gifts or Charcuterie.
“But I want them to know who its from.” Well, how about sending a personalized note on a branded notecard or adding your logo to the gift tag? Branding, when done tastefully, enhances the recipient’s experience instead of detracting from it. And isn’t that the best ROI: knowing that your gift was well received and appreciated and advanced your brand much further than a logoed travel mug or stadium blanket ever could have?
We would love to talk to you about your client and employee gifts and how we can help curate on-brand gifts without going overdoing the actual branding. For more information or to contact us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our handy-dandy Contact form. We’re excited to guide you on your gifting journey.
Welcome to On The Square, Linden Square's blog where we discuss all things gifting, running a small, creative
service/product based business, and a glimpse behind the scenes.