20 February 2023


Create and give away company- or product/service-branded gifts that developers find interesting, useful, and/or amusing.

Also Known As: T-shirts; Fidget Spinners; Flash drives; Flying Monkeys

Problem: You want developers to remember your company and/or your product/service long after contact, ideally in a positive manner.

Context: Constantly sending a developer communication, particularly if it is not initiated by the developer, is quick to "turn them off" to your company and/or product/service. Developers are also often excited by novelty (sometimes childishly so), and will often share their experiences with a novelty item found at a conference across social media for some period of time.

Solution: Provide a giveaway item--either a novelty item or something that has some level of utility to the developer in their daily life--that has the company or product/service logo branded on it, and hand them out (or ship them) to developers who express interest.

Consequences: Swag is almost always present any any Booth. It is also not uncommon to see swag being given away at Conference sessions, sometimes even with some kind of small "contest" or "test" attached to it. ("Answer a question and win a free T-shirt!" is one way to artificially boost Q-and-A/participation in a session.)

Swag is often obtained by purchasing through one of the many "swag vendors" who are accomplished at putting logos and/or messages on standardized items. Pens/pencils, notebooks of all shapes and sizes, USB flash drives, T-shirts, sweatshirt/hoodies, all are usually easy to obtain by going through the vendors' website and providing the appropriate shipping destination and a credit card. Larger companies may even have internal processes for obtaining swag, rather than dealing with an external vendor directly.

Novelty swag can sometimes backfire and create negative branding, particularly if it accidentally annoys a developer group or creates issues for conference organizers. T-shirts, for example, have long been handed out in men's sizes, which often alienates women; for any swag item, make sure to get a diverse set of opinions on it before committing to something.


("Flying Monkeys" comes from the year when Xamarin gave away a combination monkey/slingshot swag gift. They had a built-in elastic pull strap, and when let go, they would soar into the air and let fly a recorded monkey scream. Quite popular. By the end of the conference, monkeys were being shot at each other all over the vendor floor, screaming their monkey scream with every fling. Which may have made their popularity plummet very, very quickly--it depended on who you asked.)

Tags: devrel   patterns