The name game: If done right, promoting your brand on a holiday gift can be beneficial — not tacky

Make it personal — that’s a bit of general advice often dispensed by corporate gift specialists today.

So, a company rubber-stamping its own logo onto every present it gives out wouldn’t seem to be in fashion, given that some may take it as less than exceedingly thoughtful — and more of an opportunity for the marketing department.

But take it from someone who knows a lot about what’s in fashion, namely, local entrepreneur Allison Sargent: There’s a way to do it right.

Sargent, founder and CEO of Montclair-based Allison Sargent Events, said companies are finding ways to stay on-brand with holiday gifts while not coming off as purely promotional.

“Some people go out to buy themselves heavily branded products; and others choose no branding at all — even that is a personal choice,” she said. “So, as a (corporate gift) service provider, it takes knowing how to strike the right balance.”

An example of a product people often have no problem with pronounced promotional branding on is one she has a close familiarity with: clothes. 

Sargent got her start in the business world in the fashion office of the historic retailer Lord & Taylor. She directed global color and fabric direction for the company and helped launch the corporation’s  merchandising program within the span of a more than 15-year career there. 

A powerbank with a company logo and a specialized note. ­

She turned that expertise into an event planning entrepreneurial venture, although the business turned out to be a lot more involved in corporate gifting then just organizing events — something she still does for a lot of Fortune 500 companies in the region.

When it comes to large corporations giving gifts out at holiday events, having presents handed out imprinted in various ways with that big brand is typical.

“But, even when it’s a smaller holiday gathering, when on-brand gifts are done properly, it’s OK,” Sargent said. “A simple logo can be a powerful way to have recipients remember years down the road who it came from. And it doesn’t have to stand out strongly. There are ways to make it discreet.”

The gift’s packaging is probably the most crafty way to slip in the company’s marketing thumbprint. Sargent said that can be as subtle as wrapping paper that matches the colors that regularly appear in the company’s promotional materials. That can extend to the choice on the color of the item given out as well.

“I really suggest designing gifts to marry the corporate colors in that way, it’s a clever way to be on-brand,” she said. “You can also have something practical like a water bottle tumbler — a popular gift today — embossed with the company emblem in ways that still look good and are fairly discreet.”

Taking the same trend-seeker approach she perfected in her days as a fashionista, Sargent said she’s turning an eye to how popular electronics gifts such as small speaker systems are also being customized today with the gifting company’s brand displayed on it. She claims that it’s not always significantly more expensive to do this sort of customization for budget-wise gift-givers, but it does depend on a company’s situation.

And, ultimately, she doesn’t think those receiving the gift are doing any complaining if they deem the product to be useful to them.

“The most important thing — and what I really pay attention to — is that it’s just beautifully done and really practical,” she said. “A good gift is always going to be well received. And, generally, I find that people really appreciate the gesture, regardless of the size or scale or dollar figure associated with it.”

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Reach Allison Sargent Events at: or 973-783-5689.