Custom products really set your brand apart from everyone else. To me, it’s not about just slapping your logo on everything that moves, it’s about really crafting a cohesive brand identity that effortlessly moves across mediums, from digital to print. Over time, I’ve been stockpiling a list of all of the different things you can get custom-made, to enhance your brand and reach your customers better (it’s also not really in order to help spark some inspiration). If you want to work on designing any of these with me, please get in touch!
Gift Wrap, Fabric, and Wallpaper
Spoonflower has long reigned king of the customizing game. I’ve designed a ton of fabric (all kinds—cotto, fleece, you name it) and gift wrap with this service, and the quality is always on point. If you don’t want to waste time designing your own DIY, they have a marketplace where you can purchase designs from members of their community as well.
Wal-Mart of all places offers customizable photo blankets. The uses they’ve shown here revolve mostly around using your own family photography, but you could also upload your own pattern designs and create your own line of bedding.
A lot of companies make these today since enamel pins have become so trendy, but PinMart seems to be the best. They offer a variety of types of pins (from Die Struck to Cloisonné) and have quick turnaround times.
Books and Magazines
Blurb is the best at producing high-quality books in low-print runs. I used them to produce a run of books from my shit project in 2016. They may feel a little pricey but so worth it.
Make Playing Cards can do basically any custom order for card-shaped things you want. So, you can design the back of a deck of regular playing cards, or you could design your own tarot cards, or you could even design Atlanta-themed trading cards! The prices have all gone up recently, but they’re still pretty affordable. The nice thing about MPC is you can just order one deck at a time.
Almost any kind of apparel
Print All Over Me is this weird service I totally love that will, well, print your pattern or design all over a piece of apparel. From dresses to button-ups to socks and bags, you can be covered head to toe in palm fronds if you so choose. The prices are definitely high and I haven’t experienced the quality, but I’m guessing every piece is custom-made to order, which can hike up the cost quickly.
Boxes and Packaging
I ordered a sample kit a few months ago from Packlane and they outdid themselves—they sent me several different styles and shapes and designs, and had me so excited to design custom boxes I couldn’t even think of where to start. The quality is great, the sizing is flexible, and I love all of the different options they offer.
I usually find it tacky when a company leaves their name or logo on a custom product without permission—but I’m glad The Match Group did or else I would have never found them. They can do matchbooks and matchboxes, in a variety of shapes, sizes, and finishes. They even offer templates for each style so you know you’re getting the design just right.
You’re always grateful to have something to shield hot coffee from your hand, and you may not even think about it when you reach for some kind of weird branded coffee sleeve in the bin of your local shop. Well, if you wanted, that coffee sleeve could have your own design on it, courtesy of the fine folks at Coffee Sleeve Mojo!
Napkins with foil stamping
I came across these napkins in a shop recently with cute foil quotes on them. After hunting around, I figured out For Your Party was the company who produced them. Really nice addition to any gathering, and the online designer gives you a lot of flexibility.
Always a hit, whenever I see these pencils I like to snag as many as I can and hold them dear. You can fit up to 36 characters and the price is per 144, which means you better like what you wrote! Order some custom pencils here.
Ever get one of these vintage keytags along with your hotel room key back in the day? You can get ’em imprinted just like you remember them, except with your own design and phrasing. They’ll be a hit!
Photo Jigsaw Puzzles
You could use a jigsaw puzzle to announce an engagement, give away at a vendor event, or even just make some for fun to surprise a friend or loved one. It could be a photo, your own artwork, or even a fun pattern! Try out your own puzzling idea here.
I wrote about playing cards up earlier in the list but later I found these super fun trading cards from Printer Studio. They look and feel much more like trading cards than the others did (even down to the halftone printer pattern in the detail) and that makes them so much more fun.
I have this weird affinity for glass mugs—I love the way light shines through when you’re drinking tea, or the way you can watch the creamer flow through coffee. Discount Mugs has a ton of different options for custom glassware, from coffee mugs to pint glasses.
No longer a bastion of frat culture, koozies can keep your beer or your LaCroix cold. They’re even great in the winter for keeping your hands warm. I hang on to all of my favorite ones, almost like a koozie museum in my house. Totally Koozies can do small minimums for pretty agreeable pricing, and Deluxe can do house-shaped, denim, and burlap koozies if you’re into that.
If you’re like me (and Mark Zuckerberg), you cover your computer’s webcam just in case. I have a piece of tape on mine, but I remove and replace it so much that it starts to lose the stickiness. Why not instead have a small cover you can toggle on and off as much as you want?
I had a friend who used to make these by hand in high school and added her own quotes and phrases. Fancy Fortune Cookies not only does the classic shape, they can also do different flavors of cookies, gluten free, chocolate covered, and more.
Four Pack Bottle Carrier
Fantastapack makes a ton of crazy types of packaging, but the most interesting option to me was this bottle carrier – like giving out homebrew as presents? Want to spoil a friend with a ton of wine? You can customize the size, add whatever imagery you want, and design what kind of material you want (white, kraft, gloss, etc). They also do small minimums – you can get just one of your design!
Has anyone else noticed cool socks are the new cool ties? I’ve seen so many brands creating incredible socks, from MailChimp to Slack. Sock Club is the best company I’ve worked with on custom socks, because not only do they offer a great selection of customizing options, but they even have a Sock of the Month club. I love wearing the best and most designy socks all year round.
Embroidered Eye Masks
Not exactly the cheapest option on this list (besides custom USBs, maybe), but the point of your swag should be that people hang on to it – getting custom embroidered eye masks from SilkyEyeMask on Etsy is a great way to show your customers you a. extremely care about the stuff you give away and b. have some good taste. Sweet dreams!
Coloring Books (for kids or grownups)
These coloring books are a great way to kill some time offline, whether you’re taking a break during work, commuting, or traveling. There are a lot of ways to make these books (since they’re more about the content and less about the vendor), so let’s chat about your goals and find a vendor who’s a good fit.
I’m all about trying to find useful things that can be made into something interesting – take air fresheners, for example. You could spruce up your car with a piece of modern art, a custom design, or a giant picture of your face. With scents from French Vanilla to Peppermint, you might not find a flavor profile like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, but you’ll certainly delight the recipient!
Cardboard Retail Displays
Okay, you probably know that people do this somewhere, but never imagined it would be so easy – The Box Maker (sister company to Fantastapack up above) makes these awesome retail displays. You can make displays for beer cases, weekenders, dump bins, and even a bunch of small countertop options. Minimums start at 25, so, make it count!
You’ve seen the Amazon boxes everywhere – stacked in USPS trucks, piled on porches. The boxes aren’t custom, it’s that tape they’re packaged with. Save costs on custom packaging and just go with a roll of packaging tape to seal your boxes. The tape from Stickermule is reinforced kraft paper, which is eco-friendly and recyclable.
I made city guides awhile back with my friends at Coco + Mischa on these notepads; the idea was you could tear a page off, draw on the map on the front and write down suggestions on the back. You could make large desk calendars with these or make funny checklists like they have over at Knock Knock. With a full-color option on the front and back, the opportunities are endless!
Do you give a lot of gifts? Do you wish you gave a lot of gifts? I’m always stuck buying crappy dollar store tissue paper when I’m stuffing a present, but now that I know about custom tissue paper from No Issue (which is cheaper and higher quality than Zazzle), I might need to start making my own.
Slap on Koozies
Are you tired of boring, old, regular koozies? Why not ones that you can store flat and slap on your can or bottle? If you’re into that, check out Great Online Promotions for some slap-on magic.
The tried and true – buttons are an affordable, reliable way to share your company or your work. Featuring full-color design options that are possibly even Pantone-compatible and varying sizes, it’s hard to not find a good fit here.
Gold or Silver Coins
Want to mark a milestone? Offer a priceless giveaway? Upgrade your enamel pin dreams and go for a commemorative gold coin.
Paper Memo Books
These books feature 32 pages and unlimited color and design options – you could basically do anything with this booklet. Daily affirmations? Workbook? Handy quotes to carry around? Maps? The world is your oyster here.
Custom Word Straws
Does your brand’s name look great in cursive? Okay, does it look great as a clear straw people can pose with in pictures? These aren’t cheap unless you order a ton, but they’d be great for photobooths or giveaways. Tons of different color options, from solid to striped to glow in the dark.
A classy as hell way to show your brand mark, you can affix wax seals to packaging, envelopes, labels, and whatever else your heart desires. These wax seals come premade with an adhesive backing, so you can order in bulk and apply as you wish. No more dripping candles and making a mess!
Want to reward loyal fans or customers? You could send them membership cards with discounts, business information, or even a handy ruler on the back.
These are also called gaming mousepads, or extended mousepads, but the most important part is you can get a desk mat with your design on it. You could do a desk calendar, a wide photo, or a handy infographic you might need at your desk. Grab a custom one (looks like they have small minimums, too) at Inked Gaming.
A Neon Sign
Want to class the shit out of your office? Get your company’s name up in lights! Use this to spell out a word or phrase that’s important to you, maybe get this made for an upcoming event. Echo Neon has a really cool live-quote calculator (I love these) where you can play with phrases and colors and get a cost quote.
Trying to find a good book for your little one and running out of options? Want to make your annual report on heavy duty cardboard? These board books made by Print Ninja don’t need to just be for those under 5; let your creativity run wild!
Okay, hear me out on this one – I’ve seen some really fun stuff done with post-it cubes; they’re a useful and functional way to extend your brand (hint: don’t just cover it in logos) and bring some joy to the user.
If you’re into British culture, you might know about Christmas crackers – everyone pops them as a group around, you guessed it, Christmas, and then get to wear paper crowns while they play with the treats inside. Etsy has a wealth of options (this photo from SpanglePop‘s page) to pick and choose from.
Minimums for actual metal coins can be pretty high, and what if you’re not that committed to the concept and you love candy? Try out some custom chocolate coins and give them to excited fans and clients!
Need a fun way to package a product or give a gift? You can customize your own paper tubes (think: the sturdy ones you mail posters in, but small). These come in a variety of stock finishes (black, white, and kraft), and you can even customize the tube entirely to your heart’s content. Paper Tube Co even has pushup tubes that you could fill with a homemade balm or chapstick!
And speaking of 3d, nothing brought kid-me more delight in the 90s than clicking aimlessly through these 3d viewers. Luckily, Image3d not only produces them, they also have an online platform that helps you convert your own images into a stereoscopic format. The pricing is a little cost prohibitive to make and sell these, but they could be awesome corporate giveaways.
Super Unique Business Cards
You could order a standard 3.5×2″ card from MOO or Vistaprint, or you could order something totally off-the-wall with Jukebox. They offer a variety of business card materials, from glitter to holographic foil and even leather. As an example, check out these knife-shaped business cards they made for a Nashville butcher shop!
Want to make some custom tape you can use in packaging everything from paper tubes to custom boxes? The stuff Sticker Mule offers is a little more intense – you need a wet sponge to activate it – so if you want something slightly more decorative, check out Continental Tape Printers. Not only do they produce washi tape for companies like Martha Stewart and Anthropologie, they have a ton of other sticky options as well.
Making a welcome package for your hotel or conference? Jazz people up with some custom-printed tea bag packaging, maybe tucked right inside a custom mug. I bet the tea quality on these isn’t the highest, but they’ll do the trick and bring a smile to your recipients’ faces.
This isn’t quite a swag item, but hear me out – if you had a pop-up shop, or a brick and mortar location, wouldn’t you want a neat little swaggy dispenser where people can get buttons and doodads related to your brand?
Zippered Cotton Pouch
The more I think about swag, the more I think we need less plastic – instead of a plastic bag holding all of your items, why don’t you try cotton instead? If hire an artist and knock it out of the park (aka, not just a logo!) people might even hang on to it like a clutch for years to come. I know I would.
Embroidered Dad Hats
Good throughout the year and let’s be real, always in style, a nice quality dad hat with a little logo or a brand-specific icon would be a major hit. Check out Queensboro, based in North Carolina – they have no minimum so you can order as many or as few hats as you want. I might get some for myself…
Kraft Paper Lunchbags
Do you take your lunch in a paper bag? You (or someone else) might have a ton of fun bringing their lunch in a designy paper bag that you’ve created. While most places can just do a single logo centered on the front of the bag, Mr. Takeout is able to do front, back, and sides (also called gusset in the biz), so you can design an immersive lunchtime experience. Bon appetit!
Custom Logo Paperclips
If you’re designing a stationery set and need that last little bit of pizazz to show you mean business, consider getting custom-shaped paperclips. The minimums are kind of high (roughly 30,000) so you need to be super super sure you want that design, but I know I’d love receiving these as part of a packet.
People love the tactile feel of letterpress, and what a better way to create something worth hanging on to than a coaster? The Laughing Owl Press does really lovely work and has a good eye for design. Check ’em out!
Listen, the sun’s in your eyes whether it’s summer or winter – give your fans and friends some relief by supplying a dad hat from those bright days. I’ve heard really good things about Saucebox in Atlanta – they can do screenprinting and spot sublimation on hats, as well as patches and embroidering directly on the hat.
Custom Folded Materials
It must be wild to work at Fold Factory – they specialize in uniquely folded print materials, like diagonal wraps, iron cross catalog wraps, and stacked tulips. They’re only a smidge more expensive to produce than traditional tri-fold brochures, but wow, do they pack a punch!
These are one of the neater forms of printed materials I’ve come across – they’re basically tiny folded books that can be as small as a credit card or as big as your hand, featuring maps or menus or any other information you’re hoping someone will keep in their pocket throughout the day. Not only does Z-CARD do this, they have fairly small minimums (100) and can do all of these fun displays to distribute your project!
I keep seeing this pop up but companies aren’t really taking advantage of this like I feel like they should be – when you give a branded S’well bottle, for example, it’s still a S’well bottle. It’s not your product. Fruit is unbranded and unattached by nature, and therefore can just end up becoming “wow I got this weird banana from x brand at the convention last week, that was so clever!” Plus, a free snack, and your giveaway isn’t taking up landfill space like the other totes and phone chargers. This company can do avocados, beets, peaches, and probably anything you can throw at them.
Cardboard VR Viewers
Are these still cool? I think they are – VR technology is only getting more accessible and I think people have fun engaging with neat VR experiences. Luckily, you can buy customized VR headsets from Red Paper Plane with quantities as small as 50! Small minimums for a specialty project are awesome.
Giant Chocolate Bar
Yes, really! Want to live our your very own Willy Wonka fantasy? Deluxe can make all kinds of chocolate treats from these 9×5″ bars, to chocolate coins and little boxes made out of chocolate. The big bars are kind of expensive ($20e if you order 50), but honestly, who else is doing this? And is there a golden ticket inside one of them? That’s up to you!
When I was a kid I used to go to this restaurant that gave you a wooden nickel with your check – I hoarded them! They’re easy, they’re fun, and they stick around (Bar Taco uses them as “1 free taco” coupons). These might even be fun business cards? You can get these at National Pen.