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Custom USB Challenge

Posted by USB2U on 28th August 2013 | Permalink

If there’ one thing we like doing more than anything else it’s working with our customers to deliver innovative, fun and exciting custom USB memory sticks that get people talking. Whilst we supply hundreds of thousands of promotional USB memory sticks every year to tens of thousands of companies it’s the custom requests that really get us excited. Why? Well, whilst “regular” promotional USB memory sticks are great and whilst they still account for well over 95% of all of the USB sticks we sell it’s the custom ones that we remember.

So, if you follow that logic through then if we remember them then you can be pretty sure that anyone that’s given one is going to remember it. Whether it’s a USB dinosaur, a set of USB lips, a USB duck or a USB Nike trainer they all create an impact, a buzz and typically a flurry of activity of social network sites and picture sites like Pinterest! It’s well known fact that people like to be given USB sticks (see the research from the BPMA) but they “love” to be given a well thought out and fun custom USB stick.

So, if your company is thinking about using promotional USB sticks as part of an overall advertising and marketing strategy then you might want to explore the options to commission your own fully bespoke USB sticks. Surprisingly they are not as expensive as you might think (prices are typically only a little more than “standard” sticks) and these days there are no set-up or tooling costs to worry about and the minimum order quantities are only a couple of hundred!

What you do need to factor in though is time! Mot good things are worth waiting for and it’s the same with any bespoke item be it a suit, a dress, a piece of furniture. It’s the same with USB’s – a standard model can be printed and delivered in as little as 24hrs but for a custom model made to your design then realistically you need to allow 4-6 weeks. It’s possible to rush things though in closer to 4 weeks but only if you have your design ready and you’re geared up to sign off photographic and physical samples/proofs at the drop of a hat.

So don’t be put off commissioning custom USB sticks because of cost – the very small incremental cost is more than offset by the impact and buzz they’ll make. But, do allow time to get them designed, the moulds built and the samples approved.

Hopefully the images shown here and on our own Pinterest pages will illustrate the art of what’s possible and encourage you to take up the Custom USB challenge.

Custom USB Sticks from USB2U

Custom USB Sticks from USB2U


Chinese Public Holidays – Why it Matters When Buying USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 8th April 2013 | Permalink

The majority of Chinese workers live and work in cities, whilst many of their relatives remain in their ancestral towns / villages. With such a vast country, returning home can take many hours, if not days. This coupled with increased prosperity and disposable income has resulted in national holidays taking on greater importance.

The 4th April is the start of ‘Tomb Sweeping’ and is regarded as the most important custom in the Qingming Festival from which the name of Tomb-sweeping day is got. Cleaning the tomb and paying respect to the dead person with offerings are the two important parts of remembering the past relatives. Weeds around the tomb are cleared away and fresh soil is added to show care of the dead. The dead person’s favourite food and wine are taken to sacrifice to them, along with paper resembling money. This is all burned in the hope that the deceased are not lacking food and money.

So why would this impact on Branded USB Memory sticks? In short, the vast majority of Promotional USB Memory sticks are manufactured in the Far East, in particular China. This includes all the component manufacturers such as flash chip suppliers and the assembly / finishing factories.

On the run up to a major holiday, chip manufacturer start to slow and stop production. This in return results in a shortage of supply and increase in prices prior to and for a short period after the holiday.

The leadtime for delivery is also increased as factories and couriers will shut over the holiday period. This delay is compounded by backlogs that are built up at Chinese Customs, which can add several days to the delivery.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Firstly try to order ahead of major holidays (see list below) and if this is not possible look for a provider that holds UK stock of USB Memory Sticks, such as USB2U.

Chinese New Year has passed and the price of USB flash has rocketed. They are starting to stabilise now, but the pattern will continue, so be mindful if you are looking to order branded USB memory stick or frankly any Chinese manufactured products.

timetable of Chinese public holidays



What’s Putting Customers Off Of Buying Custom USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 24th February 2012 | Permalink

This year, 2012 was supposed to be the year that businesses really started to catch onto the benefits that fully customised USB flash drives deliver. To be clear here we’re not talking about standard “factory” models that have been printed, engraved and maybe pantone colour matched but rather USB flash drives that are made into a bespoke shape; typically a shape that represents a product or brand.

There are lots of excellent examples around from companies like Orange Mobile, Nike, Disney and other global brands. These companies have all commissioned and purchased fully customised USB flash drives because they know that they really promote their brand, their product and their customer “love them”.

There is no doubting that custom USB flash drive, particularly those that are well designed and reflect a companies product(s) or brand grab people attention and fire their imagination. They become a talking point, they make brilliant “ice breakers” at meetings and events and they help fire the imagination and enthusiasm of journalists at “yet another press event”.

Custom USB Sticks

Custom USB Sticks

Of course they are not a panacea for all sales, marketing, promotional and press “challenges” but, they are a brilliant communication tool that really ought to be used more frequently.

So why aren’t more companies buying them?

There seem to be a few simple reasons that are putting marketers and businesses off custom USB flash drives and these are:

  • Too hard to do – There is a misconception that it’s simply too much effort to design and commission a customised USB stick.  The truth is that it’s actually really easy and you don’t have to use expensive external agencies or designers. Most good suppliers of promotional USB flash drives will have their own in-house designers that will normally come up with some concepts and designs free of charge. Throw the challenge at them and let them do the hard work!
  • It takes too long – The lead time for a custom USB stick is longer than it’s printed counterpart but only by a couple of weeks and the end results are incomparable. The extra couple of weeks are to allow time for a custom mould to be produced, samples made and signed off and then the final version of the USB sticks to be manufactured.
  • They cost too much – Yes, they will costs a little more than “standard” USB sticks but not hugely. As a general rule of thumb expect to pay around 25% more for a custom model but bear in mind you will “own” the design and the end product will be exclusive to you.

The reality is that custom USB sticks do cost a little more, they take a little more effort to arrange and you need to allow a little more time to get them BUT they you will ultimately get more brand recognition, brand recall and brand exposure that standard, printed USB sticks


Will the Cloud Kill the Branded Flash Drive Market?

Posted by USB2U on 27th October 2011 | Permalink

A colleague of ours had a conversation the other day with a friend who was doubtful about the longevity of the branded USB flash drive market.  They thought that with the advancement in technology and the shift to the cloud that the use for USB drives would dies out as people no longer saved files offline.  We have written a few articles in the past about this and debated the pros and cons of the cloud over offline storage and more importantly for us – the USB memory stick.

The cloud is a great way of storing files and being able to access them on any computer with an internet connection, not having to worry about carrying data around with you or forgetting the files at home when you need them for an important meeting.  However, the key aspect and advantage that our colleague’s friend missed was that branded flash drives are not about customer offline file storage – it is about marketing, brand exposure and getting the sales and marketing information in the hands of your customers.

The cloud and internet is undoubtedly one of the best innovations of the 21st century and has revolutionised business and marketing.  However, if you rely solely on the internet to get your brand and business known and you will end up paying Google and other search engine companies a lot of money and may be missing out on many other equally beneficial opportunities.

We get a range of customers from one-man band photographers to large corporate organisations order flash drives for a number of reasons from internal use to pitch presentation hand-outs.  The biggest use for the branded flash drives that we provide is to market companies and get valuable information into their customer’s hands.  There is an extremely high chance that brochures or advertising and marketing material that is sent on a flash drive will be read and browsed.

Although the cloud certainly has benefits for individuals and companies for data storage, back-up and hot-desking it will not replace the need for the benefits that branded flash drives bring.  There is longevity in the branded flash drive market and still many more uses and benefits to be had.

USB Flash Drive Vs Cloud


Uncertainty in Financial Markets Hits USB Flash Drive Prices

Posted by USB2U on 13th September 2011 | Permalink

The uncertainty in the global financial markets continues to have a direct correlation to the price at which companies can buy printed and promotional USB flash drives in the UK.

Like many products these days USB flash drives are manufactured, assembled and printed in China but unlike most other products USB flash drives tend to be manufactured to order and need to be delivered within a matter of days. The majority of companies that order USB sticks buy them for time critical events so speed of delivery tends to be key.

USB sticks depicting currencies lost at sea

Global Financial Markets Affect the Price of Branded USB Flash Drives

The typical lead time from placing an order for branded USB sticks to delivery is around 10 days which is staggering when you consider that during that time they have to travel over 5,000 miles and pass through the hands of multiple organisations who manage and co-ordinate their manufacture and their safe passage through customs and a maze of road and flight connections.

The downside with this demand and supply model is that local UK pricing is tightly linked to the US Dollar exchange rate. China trades with the rest of the world in US Dollars so the core components that go to make up a USB flash drive (flash memory, flash controller chips, and housing) are all traded in dollars. Few USB flash drive suppliers and factories hold stocks preferring instead to buy the components as the orders come in which exposes them to movements in the currency markets

Over the last couple of months the Pound (GBP) has fallen from around 1.65 to 1.575, which is a fall of just under 5%. The weakness in the Pound (GBP) ripples through to end-user pricing which has increased by 5% to compensate for the exchange rate falls.

Unfortunately the immediate outlook is not good. Today’s UK inflation figures showed another rise to 4.5%, Europe is still gripped with fear over the Greek debt situation and the rate Italy has to pay on new Bond Issues today increased to 5.6%. This continued “drip drip” of bad news from Europe combined with weak growth and high inflation in the UK means the market sentiment towards the Pound (GBP) is unlikely to change any time soon!

If you are looking to buy printed USB flash drives or place re-orders don’t be too surprised if the prices have moved up a little. No one is trying to profiteer it’s just a reflection of the volatile market conditions.


Top custom USBs for drink company promotions

Posted by USB2U on 16th February 2011 | Permalink

If you’re in the drinks industry then it’s always a challenge coming up with new, exciting and innovative ways to promote your product whilst ensuring you only promote responsible drinking! The alcoholic drinks sector spends hundreds of millions of pounds each year promoting products, with much of this being spent on screen and print based advertising. More recently, drinks companies have turned to branded flash drives and customer USB memory sticks to get their message across.

Pre-loaded with TV adverts, media files, press releases, discount vouchers, and links to websites (including links to the Drinkaware website), these present a really interesting and novel marketing opportunity. We’ve already seen a number of major drinks brands use custom USB sticks to support the launch of a new product, and some of the smaller Scottish distilleries have even taken a shine to USB barrels and are using these to target their customers with offers.

So, if as a drinks company you think custom made USB sticks would work for your marketing, why not try one of these great designs:

USB Bottle Opener


Make sure your customers never struggle to open a bottle again with a USB bottle opener, completely branded up with your logo and marketing message.

USB Bottles and USB Corks


USB Bottles and USB Corks

You can’t use these corks to stopper a bottle, but both the corks and bottles make great giveaways and open up chat opportunities, especially at press events!

USB Barrels


USB Barrels

Honed from wood and metal, these URL barrels are extremely strong and durable, and can be printed or engraved with your logo.



Custom USB Memory Sticks In A Flash

Posted by USB2U on 15th February 2011 | Permalink

If you’ve got a complex logo with lots of colours, tints or graduated sections then reproducing this on a small USB memory sticks can be a challenge. Not only that but if you’ve left it until the last minute and your supplier needs to get them printed locally rather than during the manufacturing process in China then you’ll typically be stung with some hefty print set-up and print charges.

Local print charges are always higher because wage costs and other associated costs in the UK are significantly higher and this is reflected in the costs charged to set up each colour and then print each colour. This assumes of course that you get your custom USB memory sticks are silkscreen printed or pad printed.

An alternative to these more traditional print methods and one that handles complex prints well is to use an epoxy resin dome sticker. These “dome” stickers are precision machine cut so they fit neatly onto the memory sticks, the layer of resin applied to the sticker helps prevent wear and tear and reduces, significantly, the usual scratching and erosion of logo’s that can occur on printed USB sticks.

Custom USB Memory Sticks With Dome Stickers

Custom USB Memory Sticks With Dome Stickers

Best of all you can achieve stunning results with epoxy resin dome stickers quickly and relatively cheaply – certainly when compared to standard print methods.

So, if you do find yourself in need of custom USB memory sticks printed with a complex logo and you don’t have much time to work with then its definitely worth considering dome stickers. Don’t be put off by the use of the word “sticker” which does tend to carry negative connotations because the finished product as these images illustrate are stunning!


Custom USB Flash Drive Get Students Engaged in Design Technology

Posted by USB2U on 11th February 2011 | Permalink

If you’re struggling to get your pupils engaged and excited about Design Technology then you might want to follow in the path of a number of other UK schools that have challenged their students to design, build and package their own custom USB flash drives.

Whilst USB flash drives are not quite in the same league as mobile phones they are “techie gadgets” that the students will relate to and many will own and use already. Realistically we’re not quite at the stage where a group of mixed ability students could design and build a working mobile phone from scratch but a working USB flash drive is pretty much within the grasp of anyone.

USB Flash Drive Internal Component

USB Flash Drive Internal Component

OK, they might need a little bit of direction and encouragement but the ready availability of the core components means that building a flash drive is more of a design and assembly task and requires no complex manufacturing. The results can be stunning and of course the student will be left with a working USB flash drive that can be used in anger to save and transport their school work on.

The internal components of a flash drive are; a flash memory module, a controller chip and a PCB chassis with a USB connector on the end of it. These elements can be purchased as a single component and then a body or “shell” designed and fabricated around it. In essence this is what the factories that produce the flash drives in volume in China do but they use standard “factory shells” that are in the public domain.

Simple Custom USB Ideas

Simple Custom USB Ideas

It would be relatively easy and not too expensive to take any “winning” design and produce it in volume for the school. Fully customised USB flash drives are popular business promotional products and are commonly used to encourage the sale of all manner of goods from Nike Trainers to Fork-Lift Trucks. The growth in the commissioning of custom versions has forced down the set-up and moulding costs to a point where they are only marginally more expensive than “standard” factory models.

So, as well as setting pupils the challenge of designing a building a custom USB flash drive it’s also possible to do this in the context of a “competition” and put the winning version into production by way of an award. Get the design right and it would be worth approaching the commercial suppliers of promotional USB flash drives with the design. They might even be willing to buy it off you – it’s a crowded market at the moment and all the suppliers are fighting for points of differentiation and a unique design would be something they may be willing to pay for.


Customised Memory Sticks Pack a Powerful PR Punch

Posted by USB2U on 1st February 2011 | Permalink

Custom USB Sticks by USB2U

Custom USB Flash Drives that have recently been produced by USB2U

The core aim of any successful PR agency is to ensure that the story they are trying to push makes an impact with their target media audience, and given they are competing against other agencies to try and grab the same column inch space, this isn’t always an easy job!

So how do you make sure that your PR message is delivered in a manner that makes an impact, that is cost effective, relevant, and above all, practical?

There are many ways a PR agency can choose to deliver their message, but the one we’d recommend is to use USB memory sticks! Simply load the press pack onto each stick and away you go!

Forget your generic USB stick shapes and sizes, however, the optimum delivery vehicle for any press pack is a custom version! Create a unique memory stick that is in the shape of the story, product or brand that you are trying to promote and pack a powerful PR punch to your audience! For example, a well-known health product provider wanted to launch a new female sanitary towel and a key part of this was PR. So they produced a USB memory stick in the shape of the product! The impact was dramatic; how could it be anything else?!

pvc custom usb sticks

Custom USB Memory Sticks by USB2U

So whether it’s the launch of a new car, clothing line, financial product or food item, a customised memory stick can be made to that shape.

Apart from the obvious WOW factor, why do custom USB sticks tick all the boxes?

  • It’s human nature for someone to start playing with and pulling apart a customised USB stick to see how it works. They’ll show it to other colleagues and plug it in to see what all the fuss is about.
  • With this in mind, a range of factual and multimedia data can be loaded onto the stick, which can then be set to autorun once the memory stick has been plugged in.
  • They make great keepsakes, so will have longevity way past when the PR story has fallen out of fashion, and offer increased brand exposure because of this.
  • The cost of manufacturing has fallen dramatically, and the minimum order quantity for can be as low as 100 units.

So now you know what to order for your PR launch, how do you go about getting them made?

  • Firstly contact an established and reputable USB memory stick provider – we’d advise they are UK based and take care of the full end-to-end process
  • Send a picture of the shape of the memory stick in mind over to their design team – they’ll be able to best advise whether this can be done (here at USB2U we’ve never yet met a design we couldn’t work with!)
  • Once the design is agreed, a 3D Cad drawing will be prepared for sign-off
  • Tooling will then be produced and a pre-production sample manufactured.
  • Once this is agreed the full production and delivery will take less than 2 weeks.

Custom USB Flash Drives Are More Than Just Printed Drives

Posted by USB2U on 31st January 2011 | Permalink

There seems to be much confusion in the market about what Custom USB Flash Drives are. The situation is not helped by suppliers who refer to USB flash drives that are simply printed with a logo as “custom USB flash drives”.

Custom USB flash drives or bespoke USB flash drives as they are also referred to in the UK are drives that have been designed and manufactured from scratch in a shape of the customers choosing. Typically the shape of the flash drive will reflect the type of products they sell or be a representation of the customers brand. Typical examples might for example be a Flash Drive in the shape of a Fork-Lift Truck for a company manufacturing or servicing Fork Lifts or a Flash Drive in the shape of Training Shoe for Nike.

Nike Custom USB

Nike Custom USB

These types of drive are truly “custom” in all senses of the word. A designer develops the 3-D designs, the factory then produce a 3-D mock-up before committing the design to production. The first stage of this is to manufacture a “mould” or “tool” which is unique to the drive and “owned” by the customer who is commissioning the drive. Once the mould has been approved the factory will then start the mass production of the USB flash drive.

Historically the set-up costs and the time involved in creating a Custom USB flash drive meant that it was only feasible for very large projects involving many thousands of flash drives. Today this has all changed and it’s possible to get as few a 200 pieces produced without paying a huge premium.

Brands Created as a Custom USB Flash Drive

Brands Created as a Custom USB Flash Drive

Custom Flash Drives are definitely not standard “factory designed” flash drives that have simply been printed, engraved or “stickered” to make them look a little different. Whilst these simple printed USB drives can look excellent they don’t deliver the same “wow” factor as custom flash drives and because of this they don’t do as good a job in terms of brand development, brand recall or brand loyalty– something which to many businesses are the core reasons for buying and distributing flash drives.

So if you are looking for Custom USB flash drives then make sure you deal with suppliers that understand what a “custom” USB is and have the capability to work with you to develop the concept and produce drawing of sufficient quality and detail for the factory to work from.