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Take a look – USB2U Launches New Promotional Power Bank Website

Posted by USB2U on 28th August 2015 | Permalink

We’re delighted to announce the launch of our new mini website that is dedicated entirely to the latest give-away to take the promotional gift market by storm – the Power Bank.

After more than a decade of focusing almost entirely on promotional USB memory sticks you might ask “Why the Power Bank?” Well, with 35 million smartphone users in the UK alone and approaching 2 billion globally it’s hardly surprising that a product that helps us deal with our seemingly unquenchable thirst for on-line interaction and communication is gaining huge popularity as a promotional give-away.

For an illustration of just how “hooked” we’ve become on social media look no further than the announcement from Facebook that yesterday, for the first time, over 1 billion people used their site in a single day! Think about that for a minute – yesterday 14% of the total population of the world went onto Facebook. Exclude babies and infants and those that never use or simply don’t have or don’t want access to the Internet and you get a more realistic feel for just how engrained and pervasive this one on-line service has become in our daily lives.

Smartphones obviously play a huge part in how we access and use websites and services like Facebook. Arguably the primary use of a smartphone these days is not to “phone” people but to message, post, tweet, blog, photograph and stream music.

The problem this creates is that smartphones are in almost constant use and as a result their batteries run out of power pretty quickly. This is not a problem when you’re at home or near a source of mains power but if you’re travelling, camping, at festivals or just away from any source of mains power then a way of recharging your smartphone is essential.

Powerbanks from USB2U

Promotional Power Banks from USB2U

Power Banks address this problem – they are a portable power source for any smartphone, they’re simple to use, easy to carry, they look great printed with a company logo on, they’re relatively inexpensive and they’re incredibly handy. It’s these attributes that make them an ideal promotional give-away.

At USB2U we now supply nine different types of Power Banks – some wood, some metal, some plastic but all top quality and all fully compliant with the latest safety regulations. They come in a range of different shapes and power levels and we also offer them in a range of attractive gift bags and gift boxes.

Power Banks from USB2U

Accessories available with your Power Banks

If you need your Promotional Power Banks in a hurry then don’t worry because we carry thousands in stock in our warehouse in Northampton and we can typically brand them with your logo and deliver them in as little as 24hrs.

Check out our full range of Power Banks here.

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Credit Card Shaped USB Flash Drives and Power Banks

Posted by USB2U on 26th August 2015 | Permalink

Next year the Credit Card that today we take for granted will mark its 50th birthday! It was Visa that launched the first general-purpose credit card back in 1966 and whilst the take up was initially sluggish today there are several billion credit cards in issue around the world!

Over course over the last 50 years there we have seen huge developments in the underlying accounts associated with these cards and the cards themselves have evolved from basic magnetic stripe cards with an embossed name on to a much more sophisticated product that now includes integrated microchips, RF chips and holograms! The one thing that hasn’t really changed is the cards basic size and shape!

For the promotional industry the “ability” to refer to something as being “credit card shaped” really helps because everyone can immediately relate to it. Almost irrespective of age, gender or social demographic we’ll all have a card that is “credit card shaped”. Most of us will also have a wallet, a purse or a bag that has a compartment specifically designed to carry a standard credit card shaped product.

Whilst the promotional industry has historically not been in the market of giving away credit cards per se it has spotted the benefits of giving away products that fit neatly into a wallet or purse hence the proliferation of products like card shaped calendars, card shaped calculators, card shaped CD-ROM’s and so on.

More recent innovations include the arrival of the credit card shaped USB flash drive and the credit card shaped Power Bank!

Credit Card Power Banks

Credit Card Power Banks

The credit card USB flash drives work in exactly the same way that a “standard” flash drive work but the flash memory, the flash controller chips and all of the connectors etc. have been squeezed into a card that is barely any thicker than a standard credit card. In fact these cards are only 2mm thick so they really are credit card like and as such they slip easily into any wallet or purse.

Although they’re only 2mm thick they work just like any conventional USB stick and they can store up to 32GB of data – that’s a huge amount of data!

The credit card shaped Power Banks are a little thicker at 8mm but they pack a punch and with an integral 220mAh of power they can revive a dead smart phone in minutes and fully re-charge a dead smart phone in around 2hrs.

Whichever promotional card shaped product you choose you’ll benefit from the ability to print complex and intricate prints onto it. This makes them an ideal choice if you’ve got a large logo, a logo with lots of colours or perhaps a logo with graduated tints. The generous print area also gives you loads of room for supporting text web addresses and contact information.

The USB Cards and Power Banks are available from USB2U and if you need them in a hurry they can be printed and delivered in as little as 24hrs!

USB Credit Cards

USB Credit Cards

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Financial Crisis in China no risk to USB Stick supply but Forthcoming Holidays are

Posted by USB2U on 25th August 2015 | Permalink

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks you’ll have noticed there’s a little bit of trouble brewing in China – the financial markets are in turmoil, share prices are in freefall and its anyone’s guess where its all going to end. Depending on what you read or who you believe it could be anything from a bit of a “bump” to financial Armageddon!

Damian McBride a former advisor to Gordon Brown appeared to suggest that the stock market dip could lead to global civil disorder or other situations where it would be unreasonable for someone to leave the house. Amongst his many suggestions is stocking up on bottled water and tinned food!

One of the many things China needs to do to address its current problem is to continue trading and demonstrate strength in its own capabilities as the manufacturing powerhouse in the world. The global centre for the production of Promotional USB Memory Sticks is in Shenzhen City in Guangdong Province, China and the USB factories have continued to churn out USB sticks in the tens of thousands every day during the “crisis”.

The clear message coming from the USB memory sticks factories is that its business as usual!

BUT, and it it’s a big BUT there is a something looming on the near horizon that will bring production to a grinding halt and that’s the National Holiday. From the 27th September to 8th October China effectively closes for business. Nothing will get manufactured, nothing will get shipped and no new orders will be accepted.

Irrespective of the turmoil in financial markets China is going on holiday!

So, if you are thinking of ordering some promotional USB memory sticks for an event in late September or October then you either need to get your order in now (so your sticks can be produced and shipped before the holidays start) or you may have to wait until the factories return after their holiday – if you take the risk and wait do bear in mind that it takes a couple of weeks for the factories to catch up with the inevitable backlog that will have built up!

As usual during these holidays we’ll be stocking up on a wide range of blank USB sticks that we can print/engrave in-house. This allows us to continue to offer a 24hr “rush service” but of course it will be on a much narrower range of products than shown on our website.

We’ll also be “tweeting” out lots of offers and promos during the holidays so it might be worthwhile following us on your Twitter account if you’re not doing so already.

Choppy waters for USB Stick Supply

Choppy waters for USB Stick supply

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Limited Time offer – FREE Printed USB Gift Boxes with Our Glide USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 18th August 2015 | Permalink

We’re expecting this offer to be popular so if you want to take advantage of this cracking deal then you’ll need to move quickly. We’re only running it until the end of August and then if you want printed USB gift boxes with your order after this date our usual charges will apply.

It’s not just “Free” printed magnetic boxes that are included in the offer. Order our popular Glide USB memory stick before then end of August 2015 and we’ll upgrade your order to our “rush” 5 day service, we’ll print them on both sides (for free) and if you need a bit of help with the artwork set-up we can do that to!

The only catch is that there is a minimum order of 25pcs but with prices for 4GB Glide USB sticks in the offer starting at £4.65 for 25 and dropping to £2.20 for 500 or more any order is hardly going to break the bank!

We always advocate buying your promotional USB sticks with gift boxes because they look much more professional supplied this way. If you don’t order gift boxes then we supply them in a thin polythene bag as standard but these bags are really just to protect the print on the sticks and make sure they don’t get scratched in transit.

The most popular USB Gift box we sell is the one included in this offer – the magnetic clasp box. These attractive boxes are strong, robust, they are easy to open and they stay firmly shut when closed by virtue of the integrated magnetic clasp.

Typically (and it’s the case with this offer) these magnetic clasp boxes are supplied with a custom foam insert that’s precision cut to match the shape of the USB flash drive that it’s used with. This not only helps with the overall presentation but also keeps the USB disks firmly in situ when they are transported or mailed out.

You could simply repeat the logo or design you’re having printed on the stick printed on to the top of the gift box or you might choose to use the larger print space available on the box to print a broader marketing message – there is NO charge for having a different image printed on the boxes!

The list price of our magnetic clasp boxes starts at 40p each (unprinted) so there’s a huge saving with this deal – whilst it lasts!

Free USB Gift Boxes

Free USB Gift Boxes Offer from USB2U

 

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Crystal USB Memory Sticks – Wow these are Amazing

Posted by USB2U on 14th August 2015 | Permalink

Over the 13 years that we’ve been selling promotional USB Memory Sticks we’ve seen some absolutely great examples of them but after a while you tend to become a little blasé about new models being brought to the market.

When you’ve handled tens of thousands of customer orders and supplied millions of promotional USB sticks it’s difficult to get excited but, every now and then, something really special grabs our attention and gives us goose bumps!

The product in question is the Crystal USB stick but not the standard version. No, our skilled and creative design and print team have taken this core product and blended it with our in-house design and printing capabilities to produce a truly stunning promotional USB memory stick – check out the image below!

Crystal USB Memory Sticks - Amazing

Crystal USB Memory Sticks – Amazing

What you’re seeing is a basic (clear) Crystal model that has been given a full colour print but the print has been applied in a way that retains some of the translucence of the original. When you use the technique to mimic something like a full bottle of perfume the results are stunning. Trust us, in the flesh the Channel perfume bottle looks like it really is a bottle of perfume and it’s the same with the JOOP example.

Now we appreciate not everyone’s product, logo or artwork is going to work with this particular product but if you do have something you want to promote and you’re product lends itself to this kind of promotional treatment then we would encourage you to let us have a go at producing some mock-ups and samples for you. We don’t charge for this service and there is no commitment to buy from us – we just want to be given the opportunity to show what we can do/produce.

If it sounds like we’re excited about the potential of this Crystal USB stick in the hands of our print team it’s because we’ve never before had such a positive reaction across the company to the launch of a new product. We have lots of samples in stock so if you need to see one “in the flesh” to be convinced then just give us a call or drop an email to one of our friendly and knowledgeable sale team.

Don’t worry about the cost either. Despite how brilliant they look they are only pennies more than our “Classic” range of USB sticks.

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What Happens to Your USB Stick Order Before we send it out

Posted by USB2U on | Permalink

When you order promotional USB Memory Sticks from USB2U you need to be confident that what you’ve ordered is what actually arrived. Before we even start the production of your order we’ll have taken you through a comprehensive mock-up and proofing process because it’s easier for everyone to make sure things are right before any production takes place.

Despite these rigorous pre-production checks we also put every single order through a very comprehensive set of post-production checks before it leaves us. To be fair it’s not a popular job because it can be a bit tedious but in a crowded and highly competitive market it’s incredibly important to us. After all, we want our customers to come back to us and we want them to be delighted with their order from USB2U.

Around 50% of our customer orders are “finished” (printed, engraved, data-loaded and packed) before they leave our factory in China and because of this lots of QA checks are done in the factory. BUT, in addition to the QA checks that our factory make our own Operations and Fulfilment team carry out the following additional checks before any order (including the other 50% of orders that are finished in the UK) leaves our hands:

  1. Every carton of USB sticks that arrive from our Chinese factory is thoroughly checked to make sure nothing has been damaged in transit. We look for anhy obvious signs of “crushing” and photographs are taken to record any damage or loss. If anything is found to be damaged or missing (it does happen albeit rarely) then we’ll alert the factory and ask them to prepare and ship replacements and we’ll notify the customer of any potential shortfall in their order. Where we can we’ll replace any damaged sticks from our UK stock so our customers are not inconvenienced.
  2. Every printed or engraved USB stick is checked visually against the signed off proof to make sure that it’s the right colour, that its printed correctly (the right colour, in the right place, in the right orientation and finally that there are no spelling mistakes). If accessories have been ordered, e.g. key rings or lanyards then we’ll also make sure these are attached.
  3. A random sample from each order (several samples if it’s a large order) is checked using the latest Trend Micro anti-virus software – this is particularly important where we have been provided with data to pre-load onto the USB sticks.
  4. A sample of each order is checked to ensure that the internal flash memory is the correct size. If a customer has ordered 8GB USB memory sticks we check to make sure the drives are 8GB.
  5. Assuming all of the above tests and checks are passed we record who undertook the various checks and then we carefully box up the order in a robust USB2U box. Whilst doing this we’ll count the USB sticks to make sure the correct number are being sent out and finally we’ll pop into the box a packet of sweets by way of a “thank you”!

We’ve been supplying branded and promotional USB flash drives since 2002 and these processes have been put in place and refined over the last 13 years to ensure that our customers can be confident that they get exactly what they have paid for every time.

QA Checked By USB2U

QA Checked By USB2U

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Best Artwork for Printed USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 13th August 2015 | Permalink

If you want to order some USB memory sticks with your logo printed on them then expect one of the first questions from your supplier(s) to be about the quality and format of your artwork.

Whilst printed USB sticks can look amazing and there are some brilliant examples of them all over the USB2U website they’ll only look this good if you can supply decent artwork for your supplier to work with. The phrase “garbage in, garbage out” is commonly by computer programmers as a mantra to remind themselves that a computer will process whatever data you load into it – the quality of the result however depends almost entirely on the quality of the code/data used.

Garbage in and garbage out can be applied just as easily to the printing of promotional USB memory sticks. Print them using low quality artwork, particularly artwork that has been digitally compressed (JPEG’s) then on the whole the results will be very poor.

So, before you think about ordering USB sticks with your logo printed on (or any promotional item for that matter) it is strongly recommended that you first make sure the logo or design you want printed can be supplied in one of the following formats:

  • EPS (Encapsulated Postscript)
  • TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)
  • RAW (Raw Image Formats)
  • Vector File Formats

Artwork in this format will allow your logo, design or artwork to be rendered properly, printed correctly and printed to a sharpness you would expect. What you cannot do is take a JPEG image (that you have for example simply “grabbed from a web page”) and convert it to an EPS file. You need the original high quality image.

If in any doubt talk to the suppliers designer or get your designer or design agency to talk directly to the suppliers designer. It’s worth spending the time in the early stages of your order to get it right rather than be disappointed with the results when the printed memory sticks arrive on your desk!

We know that JPEG are popular and a common way of saving images from cameras (even top end cameras tend to default to JPEG images rather than RAW files) but, JPEG images (named after the Joint Photographic Experts Group who created the standard) are typically compressed to a ratio of 10:1 so you lose as much as 90% of the image content during the compression process.

This process is known as “lossy” and as the name implies when an original image is converted into a JPEG file many of the original elements of the image cannot be recovered. To the naked eye, particularly when viewed on a web page, there will be no perceptible difference to the image pre and post compression.

Compressed JPEG image files are ideal for web pages because they are smaller and therefore load more quickly but they’re rarely suitable for print, which is why we always ask our customers to supply artwork in any of the 4 image types listed above.

USB Buttons from USB2U

USB Buttons from USB2U

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Power Banks make an explosive impact on Promotional Gift Market

Posted by USB2U on | Permalink

Power Banks or Power Bars as some people prefer to call them have made something of a statement in the promotional gifts sector over the last year or so. When you consider how many people own a smart phone, tablet or other small portable device that needs charging on a regular basis it’s easy to understand their appeal.

Power Banks are external re-chargeable batteries in a fancy outer package (case) that you can use to charge up your smart phone or tablet. To charge up the Power Bank you simply plug it into any PC via a USB cable (supplied) or into a UK mains charger/adapter. When it’s fully charged you disconnect it and then carry it with you as a back-up power supply for your smart phone etc. To use it you simply connect it, again using the supplied cable, and let it trickle charge your device – the usual time to fully charge a “dead” smart phone is around 2hrs but you’ll be able to use the phone after just a few minutes.

If you look at the characteristics of what makes a good promotional product then you’ll notice that they tend to be products that reinforce brand values, that are good value for money but more fundamentally good promotional products are things that are wanted by a wide demographic and they’re products that are very likely to be used over and over again – repeat usage is after how you get the best exposure for your brand coupled with lots of positive brand reinforcement and of course lots of happy customers!

Power Banks are small, lightweight and really handy. They come in a wide range of designs and styles (and power sizes) and they look amazing printed up with a company logo on them. They’re an ideal companion product for business trips, long train journeys, holidays or just during the day when you’re away from a mains socket (or you don’t have your mains charger with you)

Inside every Power Bank you’ll typically find Lithium-ion external rechargeable battery BUT because you are accumulating, storing and transferring energy you really need to buy good quality Power Banks – cheap versions using cheap components can result in overcharging, short-circuits and in the worst case scenario fires and explosions! So when you’re sourcing Power Banks beware prices from China that look too good to be true or your promotion might go off with the wrong type of bang!

The best example of this is the recent case of EE (the mobile phone giant) – they ran a promotion to give-away 1.5 million of them but some of them ended up exploding during use and caused burns to the users. So, whilst the Power Bank is a great product please don’t skimp and buy cheap versions because you might get more than you bargained for.

Our simple advice is to buy your Power Banks from a reputable UK supplier. Make sure the Power Banks have been CE approved and comply fully with the latest RoHS legislation and most importantly don’t buy cheap – it’s tempting but unless you are prepared to take the risk of sending out potential “bombs” to your customers don’t do it!

Speaker Power Bank

Brightly coloured, multi-functional branded Power Banks from USB2U.

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5 Reasons to Attend USB2U’s Photography Open Evening

Posted by USB2U on 6th August 2015 | Permalink

At 6.30pm on Wednesday 23rd September 2015, USB2U will open the doors of their new home at Gilt Edged House to professional photographers from around the local area for an evening of networking, knowledge sharing and most importantly – prosecco!

In June, the entire USB2U team uprooted from their humble office in Duston to an impressive premises in Moulton Park, with ample room for growth in print, production and more. USB2U have been trading for almost 13 years now, and we have become the most trusted supplier of Branded USB Memory Sticks to the photographic sector in the UK and worldwide.

USB2U Photographers Open Evening, Weds 23rd Sept 2015

USB2U Invite Professional Photographers to visit their HQ

But there are so many companies out there offering custom USB Sticks, we hear you cry, what makes USB2U so special and why should I come and see them?

Here are just 5 reasons why we think you should come along and say hello:

  1. You get to see what goes on behind the scenes and watch our state of the art equipment in action. Unlike other suppliers who print their memory sticks in the Far East, USB2U print and engrave the vast majority of their Branded USBs and Presentation Boxes right here in the Midlands. We do this to the highest standard, keeping a close eye on quality and delivering unparalleled results. Watching your logo come to life on our laser engraving machines is quite epic and you’ll want to see it for yourself.
  2. You can finally put a face to that name. Whether your Account Manager is Godfrey, Natalie or another member of our friendly sales team, this is the perfect opportunity to get to know who you are ordering your USB sticks with.
  3. You can ask our USB experts about the latest technologies and products. We pride ourselves in having the most knowledgeable staff who know everything there is to know about a USB Memory Stick. Have a technical query about high spec drives or USB3.0? Just ask. Not sure how to create vector artwork? Please shout and we will show you.
  4. You can take advantage of our special offers and discount codes and save yourself some cash. When you run a small business, it’s vital to be savvy about your finances. We’ve been there and know just how important it is. Don’t pay over the odds and make sure you grab yourself a deal.
  5. And finally… Prosecco. Need we say more?!

The Professional Photographers Open Evening is the first event of its kind for USB2U and it is definitely one that we are hoping to continue to run moving forward.  Don’t forget to RSVP. We hope to see you there.

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Branded Power Banks – Why Battery Size Matters

Posted by USB2U on 3rd August 2015 | Permalink

Mobile phone giant Motorola has recently launched two new Android handsets (The Moto X Style and Moto X Play) and both come with a huge 3630 mAh battery; enough power they claim to last up to two full days. But is that enough for those of us who are always on the go without a plug socket within easy reach?

You don’t need to walk far down the street to see that smartphones and tablets play an important role in people’s lives and most of us will admit to spending too much time glued to the screen checking emails and Facebook updates. Obviously this trend is nothing but good news for an already booming industry, but the pressure is certainly on for the mobile phone manufacturers such as Motorola to develop new technologies and deliver longer battery life for their consumers. According to Motorola’s president, however, that technology is still quite a way off. During an interview with the BBC, he said that ‘he would love there to be a battery tech breakthrough’ but believes it will be a long time before his industry can offer a phone that lasts for a week or longer.[i]

So what is the solution in the short term? Carry on reading, because here at USB2U we have the answer. Branded Promotional Power Banks, otherwise known as Power Bars or Portable Battery Chargers, provide mobile phones and other devices with a charge just when they need it most.

Branded Speaker Power Banks from USB2U

Just like mobile phones, Power Banks come in all different shapes and sizes. Some chargers start at just 1400mAh, but to get the most out of your Power Bank you want to make sure you choose a device with an equal amount or ideally more battery power than the phone has itself. The milliamp hour ratings (mAh) represent the quantity of energy stored in each power bank. For example, an Apple iPhone 5S has a battery capacity of 1560mAh, therefore a 2200mAh Power Bank will deliver around 1.4x full charges.

Not sure how they work? No problem. Simply charge the device at home for 2-3 hours by connecting the Micro USB cable included into your laptop’s USB port and then disconnect and pop in your pocket to top up your smartphone on the move (using a 3 in 1 cable or your own charging cable).

As far as modern promotional products go, Power Banks are undeniably one of the most useful gadgets to carry in your pocket. Thinking of investing in a batch printed with your logo to boost your brand’s exposure? Make sure you maximise the large print area so your logo, web address or slogan can be under your end user’s nose in times of need.  Power Banks have a high perceived value and won’t be thrown in the bin any time soon, so you can rest assured that your advertising budget will stretch for years to come!

[i]  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-33687230

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