Putting the SWAGger Back in Brand

Amidst a marketplace with ever-intensifying competition, the importance of brand recognition has become paramount. Rapidly changing technology and increased consumer awareness due to widespread dissemination of information about a company’s offerings mean that products and services are becoming less distinguishable. As always, a strong brand identity can be a key to differentiation. However, in the current crowded bazaar of marketing messages, it is a true challenge to capture the attention, minds, and hearts of consumers.

What builds a credible, sustainable brand? In this day and age, the most competitive brands offer great incentives for advocacy. The most significant development has been the growth of social media, which has driven brand visibility to new heights; consumers now utilize the online space to literally show peers who they ‘like’ or ‘follow.’ Many brands are turning to swag, a pop-culture term for consumer items or tchotchkes intentionally given away, to broadcast a marketing message by physically putting their names in the hands of consumers.

Swag isn’t by any means a new concept. Brands have long leveraged giveaways of branded items for increased visibility. Consider pharmaceutical companies, famous for having sales representatives leave behind pens imprinted with their latest drug’s name and logo at hospitals. The doctors, nurses, and administrators use the pens frequently and see the name each time they write, every few minutes of the day, for weeks or months. It is an inexpensive and frankly, unparalleled brand recognition technique.

How effective is giving away swag in creating brand loyalty? A study by digital advertising technology firm SocialVibe found that advertising incentivized with promotional items works quite well in improving brand perception and ultimately influencing purchase intent. The study claimed that as many as 90 percent of people pay active attention to a brand message when interacting with this kind of incentivized engagement, and brand perception rises an average of 38 percent after its completion. This suggests that consumers aren’t simply pursuing an incentive just to reap the reward, but also to give a brand real consideration.

So, incentivizing a brand with swag is effective, but still relatively underutilized. We can perhaps expect this to change soon, as social continues to alter the marketplace and the process of organically creating loyalties becomes more and more demanding. When the chips are down, swag just may be the key to finding, converting, and maintaining brand advocates.

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