I was speaking to an group of marketers in Seattle last week, and along the wall were vendors (sponsors) of the event. Two of them were tchotchke vendors. You know, logo stuff, trinkets, give-a-ways.

There was some debate at the conference as to whether or not your customers really care. Is it worth the expense? Can you still justify it? Is there a return on the investment that you can measure?

I have no idea. All I know is, I want some.

I borrowed a pen from a friend this week-end and it had VIAGRA written on the side of it. I wanted it. That’s funny.

I have a pair of running socks from the Filene Research Institue that I’ve practically built a shrine to.

I ate at the Stepping Stone Cafe in Northwest Portland yesterday where their mugs have their logo and tagline written on them:

“You eat here because we let you.”

I want it. I will buy it. They weren’t for sale. Very cool. Even better. Now I REALLY want it.

When Portland Teachers Credit Union announced they were changing their name to OnPoint Community Credit Union (don’t even get me started) I knew they would also be dumping their great pens. For as long as I can remember, they had these bright orange pens that had no caps, were three-sided so they didn’t roll, and were pretty ugly. BUT that’s what made them so great. They were so recognizable and they would put them in the lobby by the bucketful.

Merchants loved them because….they didn’t have a cap to mess with, they didn’t roll away and were so ugly customers didn’t steal them. You would see those pens everywhere in Portland. I walked into their Lloyd Center branch before the name change and helped myself to an arm load. I know they’ll be collectors items some day and I may sell a few on E-Bay.

I was searching for a coffee cup in an employee lounge recently. I found a “competitors” mug in the cupboard. All pretty and etched.

That’s when I decided it was time to practice what I preach. Brand is NOT your logo or a snappy tag line. It is your reputation. So, if you have a logo or tag line it should truly reflect who and what you are. What you value and practice. Up until recently I didn’t really have a logo or a tag line. But now, I feel I’ve earned one.

I asked my friend Gina Nass to design a logo for me. She knows me better than almost anyone when it comes to my business model. She edited and illustrated my first book. She’s an amazing artist and a beautiful person.

I have always loved the notion of a flying pig. The phrase “when pigs fly” has always made me more determined. I question everything – especially when it comes to the status quo. I think pigs could fly, if we would just let them. And encourage them. Why not? Question EVERYTHING.

Gina emailed me the jpeg of her first draft. She nailed it. And so, to Zazzle I went. And t-shirts and mugs (and soon pens) are crowding my office. I have tchotchkes.

What have tchotchkes done for your business?