Guest Post by Sheena McKinney, Executive Assistant to President, Matt Heinz

I’ll never forget the look on my realtor’s face the day she came into my kitchen and spotted the calendar she sent me—now completely devoid of her face and contact info.  Gulp.  As pleasant as it was, I didn’t want to see her face every time I checked the calendar.   So I cut it off.   She looked so offended.  I felt bad.  It hadn’t occurred to me she’d see I had de-faced it.  I prefer to think of it as debranding.

At my last job, I was proud to wear my logo-embroidered fleece jacket in public.  But on my last day, as much as I respected my former employers, I left it and several other branded shirts in my drawer.  Here’s why:

  • I knew I wouldn’t wear them again
  • I thought my old boss would appreciate saving money to buy logo wear for future employees.
  • I could donate them to Goodwill but I knew no one would buy them
  • I could never add useable things to a landfill.

But that’s just me— Green and scrappy.

Once I learned how to debrand swag, I started looking at it in a whole new light. With sales and marketing conference season fast approaching, you may too.  I’ll show you why below. 

First, is debranding a thing? Wikipedia says:  Debranding is a term used to describe when a company removes its name from its logo for a marketing campaign. One form of this is Share a Coke, which was developed by the United Kingdom division of Coca-Cola.[1] Another form of debranding has occurred with Starbucks, where the company has removed its names from cups, in an attempt to make them appear less corporate and more personal. Nike Inc. has been called the first company to debrand their logo, which happened in 1995[2] .

I hadn’t noticed it—but a recent trip through the drive-thru made me a believer.

starbucks no name

My first personal DIY debranding score (and the inspiration for this blog post) was a large set of Riedel stemware!  A couple years ago, I attended Taste Washington, Riedel glassesan awesome food and wine tasting event in Seattle.  Along with an entire bag o’ swag, entrants received a Riedel wine glass, essential for tasting the acres of free flowing wines (Literally— well it’s included in the cost of admission). In addition to the Taste Washington logo, big sponsor, Viking’s logo also encircled the glass.   As I was leaving, I could see pretty much everyone was leaving their fine crystal stemware behind.  Like the next guy, I don’t want to see logos on my wine glasses or offer them to guests, but these were Riedel glasses!  The I’ll-never-do-anything-with-all-this-swag-realization hadn’t set in yet.  To my friends’ embarrassment I stashed several abandoned glasses in my bag.  I blame it not on mild intoxication (mitigated by the abundance of incredible food samples), but on genetics (my dad is scrappy too).  It paid off.  I’ll show you how I removed every trace of the logos without even a scratch and why the next year I went back and got a few more.

Even if you’re not one to brake for garage sales or dawn the doors of a thrift store, this scene won’t surprise you.  And this is just the beverage area!  It’s swag purgatory. 

Glassware section

What You’ll Need:


DIY Debranding How To:

  • Find a ventilated area
  • Slip on protective gloves
  • Work on a non-plastic surface (sink, bowl, cookie sheet, foil covered counter, etc.)
  • Dip the Eraser in Goof Off and saturate the branded area
  • Let sit a few minutes to dissolve the branded material
  • Using the wet Eraser, scrub until image is gone (be patient)
  • Rinse with soap & water
  • Check for residue and ghost images and repeat if necessary
  • Store the  Eraser in a sealed bag for future debranding use


  • Read the Goof Off label
  • Debranding is addictive











metal mugshotglass

Whether you’re responsible for deciding on your next event’s swag, you love or hate event swag, you brake for garage sales, or any or all of the above, I bet you’ll never look at swag again in quite the same way.

My examples of debranding aren’t mean.  They’re green.  Don’t you think?


More Good Reading About Swag:

The Power of Event Marketing with Tchotchkes [Infographic]

Do you give good swag?

The Art of Swag (or “Schwag”)

Are Event ‘Swag Bags’ Worth the Cost Anymore?

Swag, Tchotche,Bauble:  7 Things to Consider for Event Giveaways