Swag is a great way for employees to represent their company with pride. But more often than not, swag — whether in the form of a T-shirt, water bottle, or keychain — is unoriginal and just plain boring, getting used once or twice before ending up in a donation pile.
Which is why those of us on the Design team at Wistia set out to do something about it.
When we were handed the opportunity to create the next iteration of Wistia swag, it was clear that another T-shirt with our logo slapped on it wasn’t going to cut it. We needed to find a balance between a design that would represent Wistia in a unique and playful way, while also making something that people would actually want to wear, and wear often.
From the beginning, we had a vision of a small, versatile embroidered design — something that our teammates would find joy in wearing outside the office. In the end, we chose to embroider an illustration of our pal Lenny, everyone’s favorite office dog.
Once we had the illustration ready, QRST’s, a local screen printing and embroidery shop, worked with us to customize our swag. With every trip we took to their workshop, the ideas kept flowing as we fine-tuned the sizing of the patch and tweaked the colors to get them just right.
After a couple versions and plenty of discussions with the embroiderer, we learned Lenny could be embroidered on (almost) any article of clothing we brought in. Fancy that! We instantly knew we wanted to give everyone at Wistia the option to “Lenny-fy” their own wardrobe. With this new take on Wistia swag, people could now bring in something distinctly personal (beanies, socks, baby clothes … the list goes on!) and wouldn’t be limited to a mass-produced T-shirt.
“The point wasn’t to build something for everyone, since not everyone wears beanies or T-shirts,” said Joe Ringenberg, Wistia’s Director of Design. “We wanted something everyone could identify with and enjoy on a personal level.”
“We wanted something everyone could identify with and enjoy on a personal level.”
But there’s also an element of care when it comes to creating something for people you genuinely want to show appreciation for. “It kind of goes without saying, but we like the people we work with, and making something special for them felt really good,” Joe said.
Garnering excitement from the rest of the Design team wasn’t difficult, so our next step was nailing down all the logistics. Sure, the idea was fun, but it needed to be accessible for everyone. How could we get people excited about bringing their own clothing in? Also, how could we make sure we’re inclusive of remote employees, or those who happened to be out of the office at the time? What about new employees joining in the future? Could we have customizable options available for them, too?
To start, we decided to offer two options to the whole team: bring in your own piece of clothing, or sign up for a made-to-order sweater from QRST’s stock. (We even made sure to include a few extras in various sizes for those who were out of office and for onboarding new hires.) Company swag or cute dogs not your thing? No worries — opting out of the entire process was also an option. By covering all of our bases and accommodating everyone’s needs, we were able to account for the entire team without generating excess waste.
“By accommodating everyone’s needs, we were able to account for the entire team without generating excess waste.”
When it was time to start collecting everyone’s items, we set up drop-off boxes in a highly trafficked part of the office. We also displayed some example totes, hats, sweaters, and T-shirts to inspire creative thinking among the team.
With the drop-off zone in place, next up was presenting the news to the entire company at our bi-weekly Show and Tell. Needless to say, the announcement caused quite the stir, as ensuing conversations in-person and on Slack showed Wistians were actively thinking about how they could use this opportunity to add something unique to their wardrobes. Gradually, various clothing items started piling up in the drop-off area. Now all that was left was to bring everything to QRST’s for the finishing stitches.
After all the hype, the big reveal took place just a few weeks later at The Febbies, Wistia’s version of the Oscars. From cardigans to slippers to blazers, the finished products were doled out and quickly donned by their new owners. A new approach to swag at Wistia had officially been ushered in!
If you happened to walk into the Wistia office today, you’d likely see more than a few Wistians sporting their special Lenny swag, each one wearing something that’s uniquely their own.
Going into this project, our goal was to create cool swag that everyone would like. Yet the more we ideated, the more complex and creative our thinking got. In the end, the project became less about making a cool T-shirt, and more about making something each person at Wistia could be involved in and feel connected to. We think Lenny would be proud.