Give gifts without your brand on it

OK — This post might smart.

A few years ago I was visiting Italy on behalf of Yahoo. I brought some nice sweaters for my hosts, complete with the Yahoo logo emblazoned on the front. When I presented these as gifts, I was schooled in the church-and-state line that a true gift doesn’t cross. My host kindly said, “is this a gift I give to you, this free advertising?” I got it. From that point forward, I offered Yahoo branded items as “swag” with the understanding that it was a win/win exchange — not a gift. When I gave gifts, I bought things that I thought they would like and included a simple card.

In the end, the best marketing for your company is delivered when you create an emotionally engaging experience, using the platform of the holidays (their birthday, a milestone, etc.). When the cake, the shirt, the tray or the pen set has your company’s brand on it, you decrease the chance of creating that surprise and delight that comes in receiving true gifts.

So be careful if you are about to raid the swag (stuff we all get) closet at your company for last minute gifts. You might be better advised to visit a chocolate shop or even Best Buy.