USB Flash Drives – Blood Diamond USB

With the media feeding frenzy reaching a peak in respect of the Charles Taylor Blood Diamond trial, a girl’s best friend has never had so much attention.

The Branded USB Memory stick industry is already well aware of the power of ‘bling’, in making a real WOW factor. They really stand out from the crowd, are difficult to discard and make for great bragging rights in the office or down the pub.

Any shape or size USB Memory stick can have the ultimate make over and with imitations rock it doesn’t have to cost earth.

jewel encrusted usb flash drive Diamond USB

However, as with the rogue dealers of the diamond industry the Branded USB market also has its pitfalls.  There are many examples of where things have and could go wrong – some real horror stories! However, by asking the right questions and selecting a reputable supplier you can avoid most of these issues.

This guide provides the top ten hazards of buying Promotional USB Memory Sticks and how to avoid them.

1. Find a reputable supplier

There are many UK companies providing Branded USB Memory Sticks. As with any industry the quality of these companies varies widely. Whilst standard due diligence is always required, here are a few tips to help you with the process:

  • Reputation speaks volumes. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and testimonials from their existing customer base and make contact. If they have provided excellent service levels, they will delighted to share their Branded Memory stick successes.
  • Make sure there are full contact details on the web site including address and contact telephone numbers – and phone them!
  • It is always good practice to run a credit check to make sure your Memory Stick supplier is in good financial health. This is more important if you are being asked to pay upfront for the Branded USB Memory sticks.
  • Ensure they are working from a business premises. There is a growing trend for individuals pertaining to be companies working from home without the infrastructure to support you if things go wrong or they fall ill or go on holiday – it happens. An simple way to check this is by using Google Earth, or ask the question.

2. Hidden costs

When stating your requirements to a USB Memory Stick supplier be specific about your needs and ensure that they are all met by studying your quotation carefully. Ask for terms and conditions and be aware of payment terms and delivery date promises. For example some companies will charge extra for print and origination, so ensure that these are covered in the quotation. There as also hidden ‘rush fees’ if deadline are not met, so again ensure these are full disclosed.

3. Quality of Chipset / Housing

If you quote sounds to good to be true – then it probably is! The core cost of any Branded USB Memory Stick is made up of the USB body shell and USB Flash Chip components. There are several techniques to shave the costs on these, for example using inferior quality housing and reconditioned USB Memory chips.   Both carry reputational risk for you or your client if things go wrong. So ensure you ask for a sample to check the housing quality and your supplier provides new branded A Grade chipsets such as Samsung, Hynix, Micron or Intel.

It is also worth asking what the manufacturer’s Quality Assurance testing procedure is for branded memory sticks.

4. Proofs/screenshots

Most suppliers will mock up a visual of what the Promotional USB Memory Stick will look like before production. This does not always match the finished product. So ensure that the proof carries the colour pantone references and size of the logo. The leading suppliers will provide a photo of your printed pre-production brand stick so you know exactly what you are going to get and there are no surprises!

5. Dataloads

Many clients are faced with the dilemma of whether they should add an autorun facility to their promotional USB Promotional Memory Sticks.

An autorun facility allows users to insert a USB Branded Memory Stick and for the computer to automatically run a programme e.g. a movie file or link directly to a web page.

The obvious advantages of this facility is that it ensures the user is presented with the information the client wants them to see, without having to find the information themselves. This makes is a very intuitive process and ensures the information on the USB Memory Stick is delivered. However there are some hidden drawbacks:

  • Nuisance factor. If one of the objectives is to ensure that the USB Promotional Memory Stick is a keepsake that the end user will access on a regular basis then its worth bearing in mind that every time the user wants to access or save a document they will have to run through the dataload programme. Fine for the first few times, but thereafter they may find this an irritation and relegate the memory stick deep into a draw!
  • Autoruns will not work on Win 98 or 2000 operating systems – beware there are still many users out there with these systems. You will also need to ensure that the appropriate code is written into any autorun for it to work on Mac operating systems.
  • Some corporate firewalls restrict autoruns, so the danger is that the end user will never see the data.

There is am alternative method, why not consider loading the data onto the USB Branded Memory Stick with an icon labelled ‘Click Here To Start’ and allow the user to access the data when they want.  This data can be protected so it would not be deleted, but overcomes may of the issues detailed above.

6. Shipping / Customs

Almost all Branded USB Memory sticks are manufactured in the Far East and as such need to pass through both Chinese / Taiwanese and UK Customs. For the vast majority of orders this is pretty seamless process. However, any consignment can be pulled for inspection and customs may request additional information. If a global brand is printed on the Promotional USB Memory sticks they may ask for written authentication from the end clients that the goods are not counterfeit.  Either way a custom check will delay your order from a few days to up to 3 weeks!

7. Returning goods / Warranties

Unfortunately things go wrong! The mark of a good supplier is how they manage these issues. All Customised USB Memory Sticks should carry at least a 12 month warranty. Ensure your supplier stipulates this as part of their Terms and Conditions.  However, if the items need replacing it make take several weeks for the Branded USBs to be returned to the manufacturer and repaired or replaced.

8. Poor Packaging

Poor quality packaging can spoil a great looking USB Memory Stick. In particular the insert that holds the USB memory stick within a box needs to be of the same shape and size of the USB Branded Memory drive. Again the only solution is to have a sample of a box before you order.

9. Delivery Timeframe

Do not leave the ordering of Branded USB Memory sticks to the last minute unless you want to pay a premium for rush fees and limit your choice of what is available in the UK. Allow at least 2, ideally 3 weeks, from providing your supplier with the artwork, which kicks off the production process.

10. Quality Of Print

The printing of logos onto your Branded Memory stick is a real art form that at best makes a perfect reproduction of your logo at worst makes it look like real mess and something you would not want to associate your brand to. The typical printing process is spot or screen-printing. This is great for simple logos with up to 4 colours. However it cannot print tints, tones, complex logos or a logo with many colours. A new full colour printing process is now evolving allowing greater printing capabilities. Again if time permits ask for a pre-production printed sample and remove this potential dangers.

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