It’s a blending of new and old. It’s a border town where the virtual world meets the brick and mortar market. It’s a startup at a trade show, and it’s a big moment for any brand. Your startup might be on the cutting-edge, but when it comes to tried-and-true trade shows, a little tradition can go a long way. Trade shows present an unmatched opportunity for networking and expansion. You’ll meet potential customers, interface with interested investors, and even get valuable intel on the competition. If there is a big trade show coming up in your area, you won’t want to miss it, and you’ll want to be prepared.

You know that your startup is special. Your team knows that your startup is special. Hopefully, a venture capitalist or two knows that your startup is special. But how do you get the rest of the world to realize that your startup is the next big thing? A trade show is an excellent training ground for the market at large. If you can stand out there, you stand a good chance of doing the same with a much broader audience. So, how do you stand out from the sea of competing startups at your next trade show? Sometimes it’s an expertly crafted 30-second “elevator pitch.” Sometimes, it’s strategically placed signage. Sometimes, it’s all about the swag. Here are 9 essential branded items that your startup should bring to any trade show.


We all write. Trade show attendees tend to write even more than others. For this reason alone, branded pens and pencils are great items to give out at your next trade show. Need another reason? They’re cheap. You can bulk order hundreds or thousands of functional pens with your company’s branding emblazoned on them. If your startup has a unique name, logo and color palette, it’s going to get remembered by the countless people using your pens in their future business dealings. Who knows, maybe an angel investor will ink your next big deal with one of your branded pens!



Besides the phone, keys and wallet, what’s one item you’ll find in the pockets and purses of most adults? The answer is chapstick: a godsend for the millions who suffer from chapped lips each year. If you’re attending a trade show, consider investing in chapstick as your swag secret. Imagine this scenario. A few people grab your chapstick at the trade show. Later, they reach into their pockets and each pull out a tube of chapstick that has your brand’s name on it. Each person gives fresh, hydrating relief to their sandpapered lips and then looks at your brand on the tube of chapstick. That’s major positive association for your brand. Even if those chapstick users don’t completely connect your brand to lip-relief, they will begin to remember your brand simply by seeing it so much.



Remember the old days when USB drives cost hundreds of dollars for maybe two gigabytes of storage space? We’ve come a long way since then, both in how much space is on a USB and, more importantly for you, how relatively inexpensive USBs have become — especially the 2, 4 and 8 gig ones. Slap your brand name down on a USB drive and you’ll have an amazing branded item that will go in purses, on keychains and around offices of your potential clients for years to come. Unlike most of the other small items on this list, people tend to use USBs for years instead of for days or months. If your startup is tech-driven (which most are), having your brand linked to a data-saving USB stick builds a positive brand association for your soon-to-be future clients.


While perhaps not as functional as branded tech, branded stress balls are a fun option for getting your startup’s name out there to the masses. It’s nice to be associated with fun and stress-relief, and stress balls offer both. In an office environment, some of the best impromptu fun comes from squeezing, bouncing or dunking a stress ball into an office basketball hoop. Associate your startup’s name with these good times at the office and beyond. Another benefit of branded stress balls? They’re very inexpensive to produce on a large scale, so they make a great complement to other swag, or a great option for startups on a budget.


Want to associate your brand with another thing that makes people happy at work? How about branding the one thing that keeps them perky, happy and personable throughout the day. While you can’t easily brand coffee itself, you can brand its containers. That’s right: we’re talking about branded coffee mugs and to-go cups. Coffee is called liquid gold in a lot of places because it’s just that important for keeping energy high and irritability low in a workplace. This liquid gold is carried around everywhere in containers of all shapes and sizes. However, not all containers are created equal. Make sure you’re getting a high-quality mug or to-go cup so that people aren’t dripping scorching hot coffee or tea on themselves as they go for a drink. That’s not the brand recognition that you want for your startup.


Few items will showcase your brand better than custom t-shirts. These wearable billboards will travel with people wherever they go, which means they have the potential to reach a wider audience. So if you are running a startup that is looking to market to people outside of office parks and skyscrapers, consider investing in custom t-shirts designed with your company’s branding. Custom embroidery shirts (and other clothing items) are an excellent way to get your company’s name into places like the gym, youth sporting events, or other public events without any permission required. Be sure to get your custom embroidery done at a custom embroidering company that specializes in bulk printings for businesses. This will give you both the best deals and also the best finished products possible.



Up to this point, we’ve talked solely about stuff to give away at trade shows. This stuff is commonly called swag, and it’s only one part of the trade show equation. Many trade show attendees already have all of the swag they could possibly want. Standing out for these people requires additional brand tactics. One great place to start is innovative, eye-catching signage. Custom banners, pop banners and flags are great for trade shows, as they’re all lightweight, compact and easy to put up and take down on a showroom floor, indoors or out. Catching the eyes of passersby is the first step to building meaningful relationships at a trade show, and signs are your foot in the door.



Your trade show booth is more than a booth. It’s also your base of operations, your storefront and your regional office — at least for the time being. You have a small space (typically 10’ x 10’, 10’ x 15’, or 10’ x 20’) that you want to use to the fullest. The best way to bring people in is to create a space where you can physically bring them in. You need temporary shelter, and not just any type of temporary shelter. Startup culture is built on zigging when everyone else zags. Your trade show booth should follow suit. Be different. Go big. Go bold. Do more than just a simple white tent. Get a custom canopy tent that matches your aesthetic. With shelter that showcases your brand’s colors, texts, logos, and even photos, eyes will be drawn to your custom canopy tent , bodies will flock you your booth, and you’ll have a chance to show your startup to more people than ever before.

Shop Extreme Canopy for the Industrys Finest Custom Canopy Tents and Signage

While you’ll have to go searching for some of the items of this list, you’ll find a few of the major essentials — including custom canopy tent s and signage — right here at Extreme Canopy. A world leader in portable shelter and branding solutions, we use the industry’s finest materials and production methods to craft exceptional custom products for our global clientele. With us, the custom creation process is simple. Start online, and let our knowledgeable staff address all of your questions and concerns. Explore our site to learn more about the many custom options we offer, and take your next trade show by storm with our team here at Extreme Canopy.