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It’s All In The Packaging

July 17th, 2014

You could have the most aesthetically pleasing Promotional Memory stick, some highly interactive data, accessories galore, but all this good work can be diminished if it does not have appropriate packaging or no packaging at all.

One of the key things to consider when ordering Branded USB Memory sticks is how these are going to be handed to the end users and the impact and statement you want to make. The right packaging not only protects the USB memory stick, but it also shows them off in their best light, offers print space for additional branding, storage for the user and the opportunity to add other items within the packaging such as a leaflet or business card.

A montage of photographs of different USB Memory Sticks with branded packaging

Packaging for USB Memory Sticks - Availaible from USB2U

There is now a plethora of packaging options for you to consider that can be clustered into the following:

No / or Basic Packaging. If you already have packaging to insert the Branded Memory Stick into then they can be despatched with no packaging. However you should ensure they are either placed into individual bubble bags or in trays to avoid them scratching.

Small Cardboard Box. This entry level box protects the USB memory sticks and is very cost effective. Most suppliers will provide these free of charge. Looks great printed.

Boxes with Windows. These are ideal to show the Branded Memory Sticks off in their full glory as the branding can be positioned to appear in the window.

Tin Boxes. These give the Promotional Memory Drive greater gravitas and make ideal executive gift boxes.

Wooden Boxes. These are really in vogue and work particularly well with wooden memory sticks. Great option for the Photography Market.

High Gloss Boxes. Looking for something which allows for a large expanse of print and in full colour?  These would ideal.

Blister Pack. If the Branded Memory Sticks are for retail use then blister packaging may be the solution. It allows the memory sticks to be displayed and a printed card inserted.

Other things of note:

-        All boxes can be printed or engraved with a logo or marketing message.

-        Make sure the size of the packaging will allow for any accessories e.g. Branded lanyard.

-        If foam is used to hold the memory stick in place then ensure this is cut to the exact profile.

-        Ensure that you order your packaging with the memory sticks otherwise the cost will be higher.

-        Suppliers are now offering packaging in recycled material – worth asking.

 

If you have ever had the opportunity to open a brand new Apple product you will know the important role packaging plays in the perceived value of the product and quality of what’s inside. A useful rule of thumb for your Branded USB Memory sticks.

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It’s All In The Packaging

UDP Flash Has Driven USB Memory Stick Innovation

July 10th, 2014

When the first USB flash drives hit the market just over 10+ years ago they were all based on one core technological solution and that was the combination of flash memory with a controller chip and a capacitor – these components were soldered onto a printed circuit board and a USB connector provided the interface to the PC. The result was a small(ish), portable and easy to use data storage device – the USB memory stick was born!

The “guts” of the memory stick (the printed circuit board, memory module, capacitor, controller and USB connector) are generally referred to in the industry as a COB solution – think of it as a common engine around which manufacturers build different designs/shells.

In subsequent years the storage capacity of these first generation USB sticks grew from a relatively small 8MB to eventually break through the 1GB barrier. Today memory sticks with a storage capacity of 64GB are common place!

The big shake up in terms of design came with the introduction of the UDP chips – in common with other sectors in the computer and gadget sector what was once achieved on a large COB card could now be achieved on a much smaller form factor. Effectively a UDP chip has the flash memory, the controller and the capacitor all rolled into one and as you can see it’s much smaller.

USB Memory Sticks  - COB vs UDP

USB Memory Sticks - COB vs UDP

As a consequence the USB memory stick product designers have had a field day! No longer did their designs have to work with a largish rectangular internal component but instead they could now unleash their creative talents and come up with all sorts of shapes, designs and styles.

Today the market is awash with thousands of different designs ranging from super thin credit cards to tiny little Iron Sticks and lots of really cute custom USB sticks. UDP chips are a boon to designers of Custom USB sticks because pretty much any shape can now be accommodated hence the proliferation of custom USB lips, USB animals, USB truck and cars and USB sticks in the shape of characters from movies.

USB Cards Using UDP Chips

USB Cards Using UDP Chips

There is no difference in the performance of USB memory sticks that use UDP technology. Their read/writes speeds are just as fast and they’ll support the same number of read/write cycles. Arguably they are more stable because there are no soldered connections to break or weaken over time.

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UDP Flash Has Driven USB Memory Stick Innovation

Save you Holiday with a Power Bank

July 8th, 2014

The latest security measures implemented by Heathrow and Manchester on flights to the US mean could mean you miss your holiday if you turn up at the boarding gate for your flight with a device that doesn’t switch on. This includes smart phones, iPads and tablets, electric shavers and hand-held games.

The checks don’t just apply if Heathrow or Manchester is the starting point for your holiday. Incoming passengers from other airports that are transferring to flights will be subject to the same checks and consequences. Put simply if your smart phone (or other device) does not power up when requested by the security staff at the airport you may (subject to their being enough time before your flight closes) be allowed to make use of any charging points in the airport. Alternatively you will be given the option of using a MailandFly service where you pay a fee for your “banned” goods to be stored for up to 42 days or shipped separately to a forwarding address.

Once these options have been exhausted you may simply be removed from the flight. It’s a very fluid situation at the moment with many of the major carriers still to define and publish their plans. The basic advice is to make sure that any electrical gadget you want to take with you on your flight can be powered up both at the security gates and at the boarding gate – if they don’t you run the risk of losing them and potentially being ejected from the flight.

Use a Power Bank to charge your Phone before you fly

Use a Power Bank to charge your Phone before you fly

The rules also apply to any new electronic item you buy at the airport so you can’t just assume because you’ve bought it “airside” that it will be ok – even if it’s still in its original packaging!

One option is to carry a small Power Bank with you. These are re-chargeable external power supply units that you can pre-charge before you set off on your travels. Should you then start to run low on power whilst you’re at the airport you can simply plug the Power Bank into your smart phone, iPhone or tablet and within a few minutes it will give your device enough charge to power on and pass the security checks. Leave it plugged in for between 1hr to 2hrs and it will fully charge your smart phone!

Even if you have to abandon your power bank (and they only costs a few pounds) once you’ve charged your devices with it then at least you’ll still be able to travel and more importantly you’ll be able to travel with your phone!

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Save you Holiday with a Power Bank

Pick a Card, Any Card, Any Card at All

July 4th, 2014

No, this is not a reference to a playing card trick where you get scammed or by a magician who’s been learning his craft for many years but instead it’s a reference to the wide range of promotional USB cards that are now available.

Until a couple of year ago most USB drives were pretty simple rectangular shaped pieces of plastic/metal. Yes there were variations between them but broadly speaking they all were all the same sort of shape and style with USB sticks like the capless “twister” being the most popular.

The problem with these rectangular “sticks” is that they offer very little print area to work with. They’re fine for printing a simple logo and strapline on but for larger and more complex images things start to get tricky – there just isn’t enough room on standard USB sticks for some images.

A couple of years ago the first USB Cards were launched and whilst these dealt with the challenge of printing large images they were pretty “clunky”. They were the same shape as a credit card but much, much thicker and the mechanism to access and use the USB connector was not brilliant and in regular use was prone to failure.

Today we’re able to use UDP flash memory components which are much thinner than traditional COB (Chip on Board) components and this has transformed the range of USB models and designs that are available. They’ve had the greatest impact on USB Cards with the typical thickness of a USB card now reduced to just 2mm!

USB-Cards---Different-Style

USB-Cards---Different-Style

The net effect of this is that we are now able to offer a wide range of card shapes (triangles, circles, squares, rectangles and credit cards) and they can all be printed in full and glorious colour on both sides of the card with a full bleed of the image right up to the edge of the card! So if you have some amazing images and you want them to be used on your promotional USB memory sticks you now have plenty of options.

USB-Credit-Cards

USB-Credit-Cards

As you can see from these examples certain company brands lend themselves really well to a particular shape of card but the default option tends to be the credit card shape as much as anything because it’s a shape we’re all familiar with and we all have wallets and purses to keep them in!

USB_Card_Circle_Interflora_05-2

USB_Card_Circle_Interflora_05-2

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Pick a Card, Any Card, Any Card at All

Laser Engraved USB Memory Sticks Create a Lasting Impression

July 3rd, 2014

If you’re the market for some promotional USB memory sticks and you’re thinking of ordering them with your logo printed on them then before you place the order you might just want to take a few minutes to consider getting your logo laser engraved rather than printed.

We understand that for some customers printing is the only option because they have to have their logo reproduced in full colour and of course we understand that printed logos and designs look great.  After all the majority of our USB sticks are printed and all of our USB sticks can be printed on!  But there is one obvious downside with printing and we’d be failing in our responsibility to our customers if we didn’t point it out.

Engraved USB Memory Sticks

Engraved USB Memory Sticks

The downside with printing is that over time the print will begin to chip and wear away leaving behind a logo that might not be legible.  It doesn’t matter what printing process is use, what primer is applied to the sticks and how long they are baked for to harden the ink after being printed because at some point ink and its adhesion will “give” and chip away or simply fade.

Of course the resilience of the print will vary depending on the material that the USB stick is made from and how well they are printed in the first place.  Equally the environment they are used in can have a major bearing as can the way in which they are carried –  if printed USB memory sticks are attached to a bunch of keys (on a key ring) then the constant chaffing of the stick against the keys will accelerate the erosion of the print.

If you really do want your logo to last and for your promotional USB memory sticks to look as good after a few months as they did on the day they were supplied then you ought to consider getting them laser engraved.

Laser engraving “etches” the surface of the USB stick leaving a high precision finish that is permanent and won’t rub or scratch off. It’s a very popular technique that is used on a wide range of promotional products.

Of course you won’t get the option of full colour but at least you’ll know the logo will be produced to a high level of accuracy and more fundamentally that the design engraved onto them will last the test of time.

Engraved USB - Iron Stick

Engraved USB - Iron Stick

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Laser Engraved USB Memory Sticks Create a Lasting Impression

Stick-It USB Flash Drives – Ultimate Promotional Flexibility

July 2nd, 2014

What a brilliant idea! As their name implies these Stick-It USB Flash Drives simply stick onto anything and turn even the most mundane brochure, flyer, instruction manual or press release into something much more interesting.

They come in a wide range of colours (see image) they’re easy to use and apply (they have Scotch Double sided tape already applied to them) and when they’re stuck on they don’t come off easily. They’re available in a range of memory sizes (usually 128MB to 16GB) and they’re incredibly easy to use.

stick-it-USB Flash Drives

stick-it-USB Flash Drives

You get all the benefits of standard promotional USB flash drive but in a form factor will compliment and enhance your existing communication material. Although they are typically used unprinted there is scope to print a message or instruction on them albeit the text/logo would have to be pretty small. Some companies have printed the message “pull here” or “slide out” on them or on the brochure they are being attached to help the user understand what they have to do to use them albeit most people “get it” straight away.

The opportunities they open up are endless. If for example you send out user manuals with your products you could now attach a Stick-It USB flash drive to the manual and include on it all the software files (assuming it’s a product that needs software), videos on how to use the product, FAQ’s, instruction manuals, and embedded links to your website(s) to keep the user engaged and updated.

Equally if you have a press event/product launch and you want to add a bit of pzazz to it then these Stick-It USB flash drives are something that you can add quickly and easily and they “lift” a paper press release into something much more interesting, usable and more importantly memorable. You can load them (right at the last minute) with copies of the presentation slides, speaker notes, videos, product brochures, pricing plans white papers, competitor “knock off” sheets and so on. With 8GB to 16GB to play with frankly there is scope to provide tons of information in a truly interactive format.

They’re also really handy for breathing new life into existing marketing material. If you want to change the pricing, change the manuals etc. then just change the data you’ve loaded on the flash drive – Simples!

We carry these in stock in the UK in a wide range of different colours – call us if you’d like a free sample!

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Stick-It USB Flash Drives – Ultimate Promotional Flexibility

Promotional USB Memory Sticks – Struggling to decide what to buy

July 1st, 2014

Promotional USB memory Sticks remain incredibly popular. They’ve been around now for over 10 years and whilst their dominance as the promotional gift of choice has been threatened over this time they still remain the preferred option for many businesses, school and universities. Millions will be given away in the UK alone this year but globally the number will run to hundreds of millions!

Part of the reason for their continued popularity is because they grown-up with us over the last 10 years. Back in 2003/04 when businesses first started to use USB sticks for promotional purposes they only had around 16MB (megabytes) of storage on them and there were only a small handful of designs to choose from. Today thousands of models are freely available and typical memory sizes are anything from 4GB to 64GB! – that’s significantly more storage than you’d get on any average PC 10 years ago and now you can give it away on a USB stick for a couple of pounds!

Promotional USB Memory Sticks - Spoilt for Choice

Promotional USB Memory Sticks - Spoilt for Choice

If anything the challenge for anyone looking to buy a promotional USB memory stick today is too much choice. Go to any company’s web site selling promotional flash drives and there will be all sorts of styles and designs to choose from. They come in plastic, wood, metal, leather, cork and rec-cycled paper/card. Designs range from “standard” shaped USB Drives to bottles, barrels, keys, pens, credit cards, wristbands, bottle openers, hearts and batteries. Even then if there is nothing that quite matches what you need you can commission your own 2-D or 3-D design!

If you go down the “design your own” route then pretty much anything is possible and there are some great examples on the web of just how creative companies have become at designing custom USB memory sticks.

Of course it you really can’t decide then you could just buy a few of each model! This can be an expensive way of buying your promotional USB sticks though because understandably there are set up costs/design costs that have to be absorbed into the unit cost of each model. But, if you’re buying say more than 100+ of each design it won’t be as bad as you think!

The benefit of buying several different designs/styles is that some work better than others for any given promotional activity or audience. Wristbands tend to work better with the youth so they are popular with schools and universities (and great for fresher fairs or recruitment fairs). On the other hand USB credit cards work better with a professional audience so lend themselves to business seminars and conferences.

If really not sure then get yourself some samples (they are normally supplied free of charge) and that way you can conduct your own market research!

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Promotional USB Memory Sticks – Struggling to decide what to buy

Buyer Beware – Promotional USB Memory Stick Scams are Rife

June 26th, 2014

It’s not quite made it onto Rogue Traders just yet but you do wonder how long it will take before the scams that are rife in this sector are exposed to a broader audience than we can achieve on our blog site.

The problem for anyone buying USB memory sticks is that it’s relatively easy to mislead and to end up buying rubbish. The big problem is that on the outside a fake USB stick can look genuine BUT it’s what under the skin of a USB stick that really matters and not how good they look on the outside. You can’t even trust the brands printed on the outside of the USB sticks because these are easy to fake to!

The Chinese factories will produce any shape of USB you want and print any logo on them – rarely are questions asked about who owns the brand, if there is permission to use the brand and so on. Consequently if you wanted to buy USB flash drives that look exactly like say a Kingston Flash Drive then no problem – how many do you want tends to be the only question asked and then it’s just a question of how much (or little) you want to spend on the internal components!

The fakes might look like the real thing but when used don’t be surprised to discover that the claimed 16GB flash drive only contains 4GB of flash memory. When you plug it in and check the properties of the flash drive it might look like a 16GB but the try and load 16GB of data onto it. If you have bought a 4GB USB drive that has been “masked” to look like a 16GB then when you load more than 4GB of data onto the drive you’ll get a “disk full” error message. Masking is a common problem and because very few people know they have an issue until they’ve been using the sticks the scammers often get away with it.

The other common issue with fakes is their build quality and data transfer speeds. Most fakes use cheap, grade “B” flash memory components many of which will be recycled. As you can image the problem with these components is that they have a high probability of failure and they typically have slow read/write speeds.

Promotional USB flash drives are sold to companies, school and universities in their millions every year and whilst they are ordered from local suppliers pretty much every USB memory sticks will have been manufactured to order and flown in from China.

Pressure to reduce prices and win business has seen some unscrupulous local suppliers of branded USB memory sticks supply “masked” sticks and pass them off as drives of a higher capacity. The only way to be sure that you are getting what you are paying for is to load one of the USB memory sticks to the limit and check that you can load 4GB of data onto a 4GB USB Memory Stick. You’re never going to get access to 100% of a 4GB drive because some of the capacity is used to manage the way the USB stores its data but you should be able to use around 95% of a 4GB drive.

We strongly recommend that you buy from a known and trusted local supply. Ideally choose a company that has been around for a good number of years and who are not going to disappear overnight. You want to buy from a company that is financially stable and is going to be there stand behind any guarantee that’s on offer. A 10 year guarantee is only any good if the company is still around to claim against it!

If you buy from direct from China and pay up-front (as you will have to) then you open up a whole additional set of risks/issue. Only an option for the brave or the foolhardy.

 

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Buyer Beware – Promotional USB Memory Stick Scams are Rife

What Artwork is needed to Print USB Memory Sticks

June 25th, 2014

When you set out to buy promotional USB flash drives there are some basic things you’re going to need to ensure you get exactly what you want. At the most basic level you’ll need to have a reasonable idea of how many USB sticks you need or can stretch to (you’ll find the more you buy the cheaper the unit price will be) and you’ll need to know what memory size you need – these two elements are the key drivers behind the unit price you’ll pay.

Choosing the right amount of memory is less easy than knowing how many USB Sticks to buy. It’s easy to just go for the smallest memory option (typically

Vector Artwork

Vector Artwork

128MB) but bear in mind if you do this that the promotional USB sticks won’t be of that much value to the recipient because they won’t have much room to store their own data on. Less storage space = less perceived value = less actual usage = less brand exposure. Our advice is to go for a 4GB or 8GB USB stick – this is normally large enough to store any of your own files one before you hand them out and gives the recipient tons of spare space to use for their own files.

Surprisingly the level of detail in the print or the number of colours printed is not really a major cost driver. A few years ago you might have had to pay a set-up fee per colour and a fee to print each colour but these days there are only pennies between a single colour print and a full colour print.

The real issue when it comes to printing (and therefore to a certain extent cost) is the quality of the artwork supplied to print from. Contrary to popular belief it is really possible to produce good quality printed USB memory sticks from a JPEG file (this is the sort of image you usually see used on Web Sites) because they are typically low resolution files. They might look ok to the eye but if you try and print from them you’ll typically get poor and often blurred results. A really good high quality JPEG might be OK but it’s worth getting it checked first rather than being disappointed with the printed results.

By far the best thing to do is to supply good quality Vector Artwork files – Vector file types are .eps, .ai, .pdf and .swf. You CANNOT re-save a JPEG into these formats and magically get a Vector file you have to set up the artwork files as a Vector Graphic and then save them in these formats. If you’re not sure ask you design team or external designer to supply you with Vector Artwork. Full details of how to send your artwork files and the formats we can work with are detailed here.

Please also don’t (as one school did) just scan the badge on the front of their school blazers and ask us to print from that – the computer programming adage of “garbage in, garbage out” will apply!

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What Artwork is needed to Print USB Memory Sticks

New USB Cards for 2014 – Flip, Slide and Pop-Out

June 24th, 2014

If you’re looking to buy printed USB credit cards (or USB business cards) then you’re spoilt for choice because with the addition of our p@per USB cards we now have three different types for you to select from.

They’re all the same size as a standard bank card, they’re all incredibly thin with the p@per version being the thickness of a piece of card and they can all be printed in full colour (with full colour bleed to the edge of the card) on both sides. They come in memory sizes ranging from a relatively small 128MB to a whopping 32GB so there is an option for everyone and every eventuality.

USB P@per Cards from USB2U

USB P@per Cards from USB2U

The main difference between the three cards is how you access the USB connector and the data stored on it. On the p@per cards you “pop-out” the USB flash stick – it can be pushed back into the card for safekeeping after it’s been used. With the “Flip” version you apply a small amount of pressure to one side of the card and the USB connector “flips” out of the other side and the Slider pretty much “does what it says on the tin” – the mini USB flash drive slides in and out of the card shaped host.

The Flip and Slide USB Cards are manufactured entirely from plastic (they’re around 2mm thick) but the P@per USB card is typically made from a robust paper card with the USB plastic connector and “host socket” being made from plastic (see the images to get a better idea).

Slide USB Cards from USB2U

Slide USB Cards from USB2U

Because the cards are a form factor that we use in everyday life we all we all have a way of carrying them around (wallets, purses etc.) so they’re a really handy shape. In the credit card industry they talk about “share of wallet” which is a reference to getting your brand/card in someone’s wallet. Arguably it’s the same with these USB Cards. If you can make the card appealing and attractive enough (not just with a flash design but with lots of spare storage capacity for the recipient to use for their own data) then whatever brand is printed on the card is going to get some powerful “share of wallet”.

At UBS2U we carry thousands of the flip and slide USB Cards in stock ready for same day print (for customers that like to leave things right until the last minute) so leads times are rarely ever an issue! For the P@per cards the lead times are around 7-10 days. Always best to call us to discuss your requirements and we can advise accordingly.

Flip USB Cards from USB2U

Flip USB Cards from USB2U

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New USB Cards for 2014 – Flip, Slide and Pop-Out
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