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Swag Rules: Happy Birthday!

How listening created positive momentum for two brands.

What are the Swag Rules?

Swag is not a thing — it’s a strategy. And, the goal of this strategy is not to build brand awareness or position a product. Swag is a momentum strategy and it starts with three elements:

The Rules:

· Alignment — your swag strategy is an extension of your mission, vision and values (not your logo).

· Approach — an impactful swag strategy means taking a relationship approach (think holiday gifting for your close family) instead of company-first.

· Consistency — if you ideate about content weekly, ideate about swag weekly. The point is that swag deserves as much time, care and cadence as anything else you do.

The Framework:

Foster creativity — in my organization, we have bi-weekly show-and-tell sessions where you can bring anything cool that you have seen, experienced or heard about. It’s not about swag, but it gets creativity flowing org-wide. We also have a #creativeinspo Slack channel (again, it’s not about swag, but it is about what’s out there that is moving us).

· Develop the right mindset — swag isn’t about how you can mobilize a bunch of things to be mailed. I think about swag as showing gratitude. How can I show gratitude to this person or group for what they mean to me and to the company?

· Start small — as you can probably tell, we invest in swag. So, as with any investment, we test and learn. This usually means starting with something 1:1 versus 1:many and getting feedback on it as we would any product. This also means that conversation is key — the person you are talking to could unlock the next big idea for you (!) so really connect by noticing what’s in their meeting background, asking non-agenda questions (we typically start calls with ice breakers) and truly conversing.

· Support the story — it’s essential that what you send out into the world, whatever form it takes, supports your brand story. This is the main reason why you can build brand momentum without having to major on corporate items.

So, What’s New?

This week I want to talk (more) about listening so you can use the Swag Rules to stand out.

Image Credit: Melvin Gaal

Last month, we held our quarterly All Company Meeting and, as usual, we had a guest speaker. This time it was Aleda DeMaria, EVP, Consumer Banking and Operations at PeoplesBank. In the course of the conversation with our CEO (which also included a discussion of Aleda’s favorite karaoke songs), it came up that the bank was founded on St. Patrick’s Day!

True to form, my team started texting each other to find a way to celebrate PeoplesBank’s birthday and give our employees an opportunity to participate since so many of them have worked with the bank for years.

So, What Did We Do?

Everyone loves a t-shirt, so we created a limited run of a new Zynlo tee (Zynlo is a digital bank we helped Peoples start), shipped a big box to them and put the shirt in the Nymbus Swag Store where folks could order it for $5 (to cover shipping).

Free t-shirts can be good swag, but (of course) we went further.

We used Slack and Thnks.com to get the ball rolling internally — asking people to wear their shirts and post a Happy Birthday message on LinkedIn.

Bree Ellis, Nymbus Sales Executive

We created a kudoboard to send to the bank at the end of the big day.

Our Call Center threw a party — organically, no one asked them to (check out the video here).

Over 1,423 people celebrated Peoples that day on LinkedIn.

More importantly, the gesture meant the world to our customer.

That’s the Swag Rules in action — and since you always give the customer the last word, here is what Aleda had to say…..

I woke up this morning and wished my daily wish that getting my 7-year-old and I out the door would be smooth and we’d get out the door in time, and was of course, proven wrong immediately. Accidentally wore green, not thinking it’s St. Patrick’s Day, or the 137th anniversary of the founding of PeoplesBank. Got to work slightly frazzled because, well, life happened before I even clocked in. I was quickly reminded of why I do what I do every day- the energy in the building was not just for St. Pat’s, not just because it was our birthday, it was just because. Then the LinkedIn notifications on my phone went a bit crazy and I find it’s the Nymbus team wishing us a Happy Birthday. It’s one thing when you believe you work for a special place, but it’s quite another when your partners recognize the same thing. Today I was reminded why I do what I do, work where I work, partner with those we partner with, and continue to celebrate the things we do for our associates and our communities. Today was a good day. Thank you to everyone who made it so.

What’s Next?

We’re doing a swag swap with our friends at VyStar Credit Union. Subscribe to follow along or connect with me on LinkedIn.



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Allison Netzer

Allison Netzer

Allison Netzer is a CMO, Boy Mom and one of the Top 25 Women Leaders in Fintech. She writes on brand, marketing and strategy for financial services and beyond.