Posted by USB2U on 7th October 2015 | Permalink
The humble USB stick has been with us for over a decade and in that time it’s evolved from a relatively niche product with a tiny amount of storage (8MB) into something that is now so ubiquitous that you can buy them at the end of shopping aisles along with the sweets and chewing gum!
As well as the millions purchased each year for personal use further millions are given away each year as promotional gifts – the world has literally become awash with USB sticks and the demand for them shows no real sign of slowing down.
The one issue the USB stick has is it’s inability to work with the latest smart phones and tablets – yes, there are some cable/adapter workarounds on the market but they’re messy.
Know the inability to connect to the growing range of mobile devices was the Achilles heel of the USB stick the clever people at Sandisk have been working on a solution – step forward the latest USB memory stick – the Wireless Flash Drive or “Wireless Stick” as Sandisk call it.
This remarkable product works just like a conventional flash drive BUT it also works wirelessly. You can connect to the drive locally or over the internet (you will need to install the Sandisk Connect App) and it’s really simple to use.
Backing up, sharing and storing files was never easier. Use it to free up storage space on your smartphone, use it make information available to your colleagues in a meeting (just give them access to the wireless stick and they can share the data) or better still just share your photos and music around with your family and friends – its really easy.
You can even use the App that Sandisk supply to automatically copy your photos and videos every time the Wireless Stick is connected – Wow!
Of course there is a price to pay for such brilliance and that’s the cost of the sticks – prices range from £35 to £105 but this is across a memory (storage) range from 16Gb to 128GB!!
They’re too expensive at the moment to consider for the promotional market but over time prices are likely to drop and Sandisk are likely to license out their solution so keep an eye on our site for updates. We know how many of our customers are looking for a x-platform solution at an affordable price so we’ll aim to make “brandable” versions available just as soon as we can.
Wireless USB Flash Drives – now a reality
Posted by USB2U on 7th September 2015 | Permalink
The big shift in photography has of course been the move from film to digital but another more subtle trend that’s happening in the professional sector is photographers abandoning CD’s and DVD’s in favour of USB flash drives.
The move to use USB flash drives has been hastened by the recent drop in the price of customised USB flash drives, the availability of faster (USB 3.0) drives and the higher storage capacity drives now come in – 32GB is a pretty common entry point! Coupled with this CD’s and DVD’s are falling out of fashion, many of the latest laptops and ultra-thin notebooks now ship without a CD/DVD player and frankly, no matter how well you print a CD or DVD they don’t really enhance the overall value of the brand printed on them.
A well-designed, printed and packaged custom flash drive can, on the other hand, help professional photographers differentiate their service, improve their image, enhance their professionalism and provide a new revenue stream. However when buying custom drives it’s important that photographers don’t get suckered in by the look of the USB drives alone.
Large engraved Maple USB Gift Box
The real challenge when buying custom USB flash drives is to make sure that the components inside the case (the flash memory, the controller chip and the capacitor) are good enough to support the demands that photographers will put them under. If they’re not up to the job then it can take hours to load images onto them (because the read/write speeds they support will be slow) and images loaded onto them can “fragment” leaving to unhappy and disgruntled clients!
It’s worth bearing in mind that most companies selling custom or printed USB flash drives are providing them to the promotional sector where “cheap” is the fundamental requirement. Typically promotional drives are bought in the thousands with most being thrown away or rarely used once given out. The components in a “promotional, give-away” flash drive might still be new and of “Grade A” quality they’re likely to be at the bottom end of the performance range – In camera terms these are like Grade A disposable cameras when what’s actually needed is a decent Digital SLR camera!
Our advice before you place any order is to ask questions not only about the Grade of the flash but the manufacturer of the flash memory (ideally chose a Samsung or Hynix memory and not an OEM look alike). Also ask if better quality controller chips can be supplied as well and finally get details on the read/write speeds of the drives and any warranty that comes with the drives. Do remember though that warranties only get you replacement drives they won’t help deal with unhappy customers whose images are corrupted.
The easiest option might be to specify USB 3.0 – this is the latest USB standard and USB drives built to this standard will, by default, be much faster and will offer better all round performance levels.
Finally choose a supplier with a proven track record, get views from other photographers than have bought from them, check out their Twitter feeds to see what other photographers are saying about them, check 3rd party review sites – 10 minutes homework before you buy could save hours or days of grief if you end up with the wrong product from a supplier that does not care once they have your order.
Wooden USB Gift Box and Memory 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 Offer from USB2U
Posted by USB2U on 1st June 2015 | Permalink
It’s a jungle out there and unless you keep your wits about you it’s very easy to fall prey to the scammers when you buy promotional USB flash drives. The sale of fake or “dodgy” flash drives used to be more common on sites like eBay but more recently the fraudsters have realised it’s easier to make money by selling them in volume to unsuspecting corporate buyers.
The biggest risk you take is buying your USB sticks from an overseas seller and more specifically a seller based in China. The fundamental problem is that you won’t know what you’re buying until your goods arrive (by which time you’ll have paid for them) and if you end up with shoddy or fake goods then there are very few options to get your money back. If you’re a company and you’re buying the sticks with your logo printed on then you’ll nearly always be asked to send your payment by telegraphic transfer to an account domiciled in China – getting your money back if things go pear shaped is a non-starter.
Whilst the initial email exchanges with the fraudsters can often go well its what’s ultimately delivered that is important. The most common trick employed includes “masking” the flash memory inside the USB stick so that for example a 512MB flash stick looks like an 8GB stick when you plug it into your PC – this is pretty easy to do and you’ll only know you’ve been sold a “pup” when you try and load more than 512MB of data onto the flash drive.
The fraud won’t be that obvious because it will look like your data has transferred fine – it’s only when you take the USB stick out and re-inset it that you’ll realise the data you thought had been transferred is not there!
Equally if you just look at the “properties” of the flash drive when its plugged into your PC (or Mac) it will say it’s an 8GB drive but it reality its only a 512MB that has been “masked”.
The other thing to watch out for (but again not easy to spot) is the use of recycled and/or reclaimed flash memory chips. These will have very slow read/write speeds and they might only work a few times. So what might look like a bargain 8GB flash drive could well turn out to be a recycled, slow 1GB flash drive that’s only going to last a couple of months!
Of course all of this is really bad news and it’s even worse if the USB sticks carry your company’s logo on them! The best way to avoid these issues is to buy your promotional flash drives from a reputable supplier in your own country. Check they have a “real” address and a real phone number so if things do go wrong you can get back in touch with them.
Use the Internet as your friend and check out customer reviews on the company. Don’t just buy on price and price alone particularly if you’re buying from an overseas supplier – it’s tempting but it’s the shortest route to being scammed, losing your money and damaging your brand and reputation.
Choose USB2U and Relax -you’re in safe hands!
Posted by USB2U on 27th April 2015 | Permalink
Our excuse for not running in the London 2015 Marathon yesterday is that we were too busy printing lots of promotional USB memory stick rush jobs over the weekend and we didn’t have the time. A pretty lame excuse we know and maybe 2016 will be the year it all changes. Perhaps not something to bet on but you never know.
Of course the lack of fitness and stamina across the company might also play a small part! Whilst we’ve got some pretty hardcore cyclists at USB2U (well two) the rest of the team are more of the armchair sports enthusiast type. It’s a sad state of affairs but the reality (as evidenced by this weekend) is that the closest most of us come to any regular exercise is running around in the print room keeping all of our printers churning out USB sticks.
Occasionally we like to mix it up a bit and combine work with sport but by this we mean designing and printing sports related USB sticks. These custom USB sticks in the shape of a running kit are about the closest we’ve ever got to doing any running and of course that’s a “stretch” to say the least!
Sad that it is but our world is centered around flash drives, we eat, sleep and breath them and often we’re working around the clock 7 days a week to supply them against some pretty challenging deadlines. If there was a marathon event or an “Olympics” for USB stick production we like to think we’d be in with a real shout of a medal. Perhaps we just need to get out more!
If you have a requirement for promotional flash drives
USB2U – Running a USB Marathon Every Day
anytime soon then do bear us in mind. We’re a pretty dedicated team that likes nothing more than to be kept busy. Some might argue that it’s an avoidance tactic so we don’t have to do something more interesting, more stimulating and more rewarding – like running the London Marathon!
We like to think of it as more a single-minded determination to be the very best at what we do. We think of ourselves as the Paula Radcliffe of the USB supplier world but hopefully without the little en-route public “accidents” and we’re certainly not ready to hang up our running shoes just yet.
USB2U – running a USB production marathon every day.
Posted by USB2U on 16th April 2015 | Permalink
Despite the continued growth in use of cloud based data storage services you can’t escape the fact that USB memory sticks are everywhere these days. Long gone are the dominant days of the CD and DVD. USB memory sticks are now the most popular way to save, store and carry data files. They remain a key business tool for many and they continue to play an important role in the daily life of hundreds of thousands of students.
The rise to dominance has not been quick. The first commercially available memory sticks hit the market back in 2002 and the first generation used the original USB 1.0 standard, they had a typical storage capacity of 16MB and they were typically boring, rectangular “lumps” of plastic – the focus then was on functionality and not design.
Skip forward to today; USB sticks (or flash drives as some people prefer to call them) have evolved into a much more sophisticated product that is available in thousands of different styles, designs and colours. More fundamentally, they use the latest USB 3.0 standards, they are fast and by comparison to the first generation products they carry HUGE amounts of data – basic models now have storage capacities of 4GB or 8GB but if you need LOADS of space, 256GB models are also available!
In the midst of all of this development and market growth, memory sticks have also become incredibly popular promotional giveaways. Here are just a few reasons why:
1. Brand development and brand exposure – Branded memory sticks are a fantastic way to get your brand in front of an existing or potential customer. They’re a popular product and people just like being given them
2. Content delivery – With the vast amounts of storage on offer they are a great way to deliver content. The data can be passive (PDF files for example) which the user would need to click on to view or interactive for a more immersive experience.
3. Keepsakes – Branded USB Memory sticks make excellent ‘keepsakes’ and there is a high probability that users will save their own information onto them, thus making them a valuable asset with high-perceived value.
4. The cost of flash memory (the heart of any USB stick onto which the data is saved) has fallen dramatically over the past few years. As a result USB sticks have become a attractive promotional option for many. If you buy in bulk they’ll cost less than £2 per stick (printed and with data loaded)
5. There are now thousands of designs and styles to choose from and if none of the standard shapes are suitable its relatively easy to get a fully customised (bespoke) solution, you just need to build in a couple of extra weeks into the lead time and be prepared to pay a little more for them. Custom versions will be unique to your and are a cute way to generate “chatter and discussion” about your brand or product(s).
6. Fast delivery times – we can deliver in as little as 24hrs, which includes the printing of a logo, so if you are pushed for a branded solution/gift in a hurry, USB sticks are a good place to start!
7. The minimum order quantity for fully printed/customised USB drives is only 25 pieces.
8. CD / DVDs are now seen as old hat and are a technology that few companies want to associate their brand with, whereas USB memory sticks are seen as new and innovative.
9. The technology that USB memory sticks are built on is well established and is highly reliable – something you want if your brand is printed on it.
10. There are lots of suppliers of branded USB memory sticks in the market today so they are relatively easy to source and the increased competition has kept prices low and quality high.
Posted by USB2U on 10th February 2015 | Permalink
There was a time when a presentation tin box for a promotional USB stick was a pretty bland affair but times they are a changing!
There are two main factors are at play here:
- More and more companies that buy USB memory sticks to give-away (for whatever reason) are understanding that you get a much more positive response if your package your sticks rather than just give them out without any thought about how they are presented. It’s pretty easy understand why this might be the case – after all how many of us hand over birthday presents or Christmas presents without 1st wrapping them up or at the very least putting some effort into their presentation. Gifts (even corporate promotional gifts) handed out in pretty/attractive packaging look better, they generate a better response and they provide another medium onto which to promote the companies brand.
- Print technology has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past few years. Today it’s relatively simple to print across the full surface area of the USB presentation tins and the price to do this has dropped markedly. The results, as you can see from the images below, are fantastic and really do lift the overall impact of a simple USB stick.
Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks
So, if you are thinking of buying promotional USB flash drives anytime soon it is definitely worth chatting through the options for packaging and in particular our metal presentation tin gift boxes. Not only can we now print in full colour (with print bleed right to the edge of the lid) but we can custom cut the foam insert to match any model of drive.
Of course it’s not just tins we offer so if tins are not your thing but you want a gift box then check out the extensive range of options we offer on our website. Pretty much all of them are held in stock in our UK warehouse and most (including the tins) can be printed and delivered in as little as 24hrs (you’ll pay a little more in rush fees for any “rush service”).
Remember we offer free samples (not with your own logo on but samples of our tins and boxes) so if you’re not sure which works best for you just ask and we’ll pop a sample or two in the post.
Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks
Posted by USB2U on 14th January 2015 | Permalink
It’s all too easy when you’ve been tasked to source some USB memory sticks with your logo on to just go for the most popular type of USB stick (the capless twister model), choose a standard colour (most often black) and then get your logo printed on one side of the stick. Easy, job done.
Of course there is nothing wrong with go down the same path as everyone else and let’s face it no-one ever got fired for buying the “safe option” BUT will the safe option really be the best thing for your brand, your company and you specific campaign or initiative. Why not throw off the shackles or at the very least loosen them a bit and think outside of the box. After all there are hundreds of different flash drives on the market to choose from and most can be branded in a variety of ways and all of them can be presented in a range of different packaging options – the variations are almost endless.
Maybe that’s the problem. Does too much choice lead to indecision, fear and delay. Perhaps it’s just easier to go down the path of least resistance and buy a simple black twister just like everyone else. Arguably its “only a memory stick” so why bother spending too much time on the decision – just get it done, cross it off the to-do list and move on.
Design Ideas for Promotional USB Memory Sticks
The counter argument is that your brand is one of the most valuable assets of your business and how you present and position your brand is therefore incredibly important. Brands have a personality and are the face of your business and you should do everything you can to ensure that any piece of marketing that carries your brand (or logo) dovetails into the values your brand represents. These will have been hard won and developed over a long time and adherence to your companies brand guidelines and values is critical. You might be happy just buying a simple black twister USB stick but ask yourself if your brand manager would be.
Our advice is don’t sleepwalk into your flash drive branding and buying decision. If it’s too hard or you don’t have the time yourself then let us help. It’s what we do, we know what’s available in the market, we know how products can be printed or engraved and we have a pretty good eye for what works with any given brand or design. WE don’t charge for this, we do it in-house and we’ll simply play back to you a range of different options for your consideration. There is no obligation to buy.
Custom USBs delivered to you in a flash from USB2U
Posted by USB2U on 31st December 2014 | Permalink
We say it every year and every year we give the advice a little earlier because every year, without fail, Chinese New Year has a huge impact on the supply of promotional products like USB flash drives.
Don’t get confused, we’re not talking about the 1st of January which starts off the New Year on the Gregorian calendar that most of us use. No, we’re talking about Chinese calendar and in 2015, according to this calendar; New Year is on the 19th February!
The date that New Year is celebrated changes every year because it’s based on the Chinese lunar and solar calendars but it always falls somewhere between late January and mid-February. In 2015 it’s particularly late (in 2014 in was on the 31st January) and it will be the Year of the Goat (every new Chinese year is marked by an association with a zodiac animal).
Chinese New Year 2015 – USB Memory Sticks
Why is Chinese New Year an issue for us in the UK? Well if you’re a buyer of promotional products then it’s vital you understand the impact Chinese New Year has on the supply chain of promotional goods into the UK (and the rest of the world). Pretty much all promotional products are manufactured to order by factories in China and the finished items are then air-freighted in in a matter of days. Outside of New Year everyone gets used to lead times of 7-10 days but during the annual Chinese New Year “shut down” the lead times can be as much as 6 weeks or more!
So, if you have a sales event, a marketing campaign or a trade show scheduled for February or March 2015 and you are planning to use promotional items like USB flash drives then to make sure you get them you need to order them early!
Problems develop because China takes its New Year celebrations very seriously. We’re not talking about a 1 or 2 day break but rather a 2 week shut-down! Factories and offices close, couriers stop working and pretty much everything comes to a standstill. Employees travel thousands of miles to be with their families for the duration of the holiday and for once all things work related take a back seat.
In practice what this means is that everyone rushes to place orders on the factories before the holiday starts so the factories will typically impose a “last order day” around 2 weeks before the start of the New Year. This allows them to process all orders and get them shipped before they close. On their return to work 2 later they then face a huge backlog of orders and it can take several weeks before things are up and running smoothly again.
It’s the same with the International couriers and freight handlers – the closer it gets to the 19th February the more likely it is that it won’t go anywhere for 2 weeks.
Our advice and it’s the same every year is to plan ahead, get your order(s) in early and remove the stress from your life. If you do leave things too late then you’re going to have to find a local company that carries blank stock and has the capability to brand it up for you. Unfortunately , very few companies carry blank stock of flash drives in the UK and when they do the stock tends to be limited to a couple of standard models and memory sizes and your choice of colour will be limited.
At USB2U we’ve been supplying branded USB flash drives since 2002 so we carry the scars of past Chinese New Year’s! Because of this we always buy in lots of blank stock so if forward planning is not your forte give us a call.
Posted by USB2U on 30th December 2014 | Permalink
As 2014 draws to a close it’s a good time to look back and review how the market for promotional USB sticks played out over the course of the year. The most fundamental observation anyone looking at the market during the last year is that little has changed.
Promotional USB memory sticks are just as popular now as they were at the end of 2013. If anything their popularity has continued to grow over the last 12 months with increased sales fuelled by falling prices and the ready availability of USB sticks with higher levels of storage – typical promotional USB sticks now have a storage capacity of 4GB and upwards but 12 months ago this would have been 1GB to 2GB.
The falling price has arguably helped drive the USB sticks into new markets. Smaller memory capacity versions (think 128MB) can today be purchased for around £1.50 each. This is the price for a fully branded and data-loaded stick (subject to volume) and it really does put them into a price bracket where hundreds can be bought and just handed out as a speculative promotional tool. Whilst 128MB might sound a small amount of storage it was only a couple of years ago when it was the de facto storage offering!
Engraved Twister USB Sticks
So, in the corporate market there are now two distinct markets developing: i) companies who want to use USB sticks as a “cheap and cheerful” giveaways (often still packed with lots of pre-loaded data files and ii) companies that want to use USB flash drives with a larger memory as part of a more sophisticated sales and marketing campaign.
In parallel with the development of these two distinct market sectors a third market has blossomed over the last year and that’s the market for top quality USB sticks and gift boxes for professional photographers.
Wooden USB Sticks for Professional Photographers
Today no self-respecting wedding or professional photographer would still use CD’s or DVD’s to hand out their client portfolios out on! The range of high quality flash drive packages aimed specifically at the professional photographer (which include some stunning gift boxes) has increased dramatically over the last year. This coupled with a fall in the popularity use of CD’s and DVD’s has seen a surge in sales to photographers.
In response USB sticks suppliers have had to up their game with some now investing heavily in the sector, hiring dedicated accounts managers that understand the photography market an launching bundles and packages aimed specifically at the unique needs of the professional photographer. USB2U is one such supplier – see them again at the 2015 Professional Photography Show at the Birmingham NEC.