Are your employees wearing the corporate badge proudly?

The news for HR has been pretty heavy lately, what with the layoffs, corporate scandals and the questioning of corporate spending on compensation, retention bonuses, employee perks, and leadership development retreats

Let’s take a breather for a second to talk about something a little lighter – recognizing your staff with corporate logo gear.  This post was inspired by a recent entry at Fistful of Talent, who wonders about the final resting place of old logo-ized gear.

Hey – it’s a legit HR topic!  I mean, this touches upon employee recognition and employer branding.  I once heard that you can tell whether or into your employees are engaged simply by looking at the frequency at which they wear your corporate swag.  I have to agree.  Now I’ve got my fair share of corporate goodies and I frequently wore/used the pieces I really liked.  And yes, I was engaged.

Because of my years of experience in collecting both corporate wear and gadgets, I’ve come up with some hard and fast rules on giving your staff corporate logo gear to make it worth your time and money:

  1. The item should be cool or at the least reflect their style.  People should want to wear/use the item in public (and advertise you).
  2. If it’s clothing, it should look good on most people.  Then they will actually wear it and not just throw it on when they’re Sweatin to the Oldies or colouring their hair.
  3. Make the item useful and practical.
  4. Don’t blare the logo.  Less is more.

Based on these principles, here’s the good, bad, and ugly list of logo items I’ve ever received:


  • Well-fitted fleece jacket, so cozy (minus the rod & cone-killing colour).
  • One shoulder strap backpack.  Fabulous for walks or trips to the gym.  Small and tasteful logo.
  • Yo-yo.  Surprisingly, hours of fun when I just had to think.  No, I didn’t mind people watching me yo-yoing.
  • Pens, but only the quality ones that people frequently try to steal from me.
  • Reusable cloth bags.


  • Squishy stress balls – millions of them, of all different shapes and sizes.  I’ve never seen anyone actually use one except to launch it at a coworker.
  • Coffee tumbler.  This thing was so tall that it wouldn’t fit under the coffee carafe for the pour.  Instead, I used a mug for the pour and then transferred the coffee to the tumbler.  Ahhh, efficiency!
  • Hemp socks.  Why??  Can you see the logo through my shoes?  Well, they were comfy until they got holes in them in 2.2 seconds.
  • Black long sleeved shirt that was so warm, I sweat at my desk all day.  Severe dehydration sets in pretty quick.


  • Golf shirt, black with checkered sleeves.  I was a women in her 20s who looked like a golfing man in his 60’s.
  • White t-shirt that was massive.  I’ve gained poundage since getting that shirt and it’s still huge on me.

What’s your take – should we still bother giving employees corporate gear, at least as a form of recognition, at most as a way to measure engagement?


One Response

  1. Couldn’t agree with you more Helen!

    Personally love the part about using an item of clothing only when you are working out or dying your hair (guilty as charged on that one!)

    I also think that more than ever people are trying to get rid of exceess ‘stuff’ in their lives and when it comes to corporate swag it better be practical and actually something I would use or it will end up in the landfill And I don’t like to be adding to that pile – that is for sure.

    I would rather not receive anything at all. A heartfelt thank you will do!

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