This One Time... at Brand Camp

Come for creative product campaign ideas and branding advice. Stick around for obscure movie references.

This week at Sonic Promos, we're working on...

... silicone iPhone speaker amplifiers for BSKB.

... car bumper magnets for the Common Market, a community owned natural foods store and cafe in Frederick, Maryland.

... and yellow Cutter & Buck polo shirts for employees at WMC Global.

"This Week at Sonic Promos" is a regular feature on our blog.
Read all past posts here.
Check in every week to see some of the work that's going on in our office.

This week at Sonic Promos, we're working on...

... lunch totes, lip balm, water bottles and notebooks for the eSchool Solutions Summit in San Antonio this weekend, March 6-8.

... USB car chargers for a dinner sponsored by FI Consulting.

... and lanyards and coozies for Banana Boat and Target to distribute at NASCAR events.

"This Week at Sonic Promos" is a regular feature on our blog.
Read all past posts here.
Check in every week to see some of the work that's going on in our office.

I recently had the opportunity to spend a night at the Aloft Hotel in Dallas. Aloft is one of nine brands under Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

Aloft positions itself as a modern, fresh and fun destination, and I certainly felt that theme as a guest, in every detail, right down to the mini bath products and other hotel freebies.

The hotel's decor was gorgeous- my room, the lobby and common areas, truly every space- but working in promotional products, it's the little branded details that really catch my attention.

Take the notepad and pencil above, for example. How stinkin' cute are they?

They're not just cute, they're a smart use of promotional products, and they embody a best practice by which I like to abide.

The best practice I'm referring to is asking yourself, with every project- can it be just a little bit better?

With notepads, adhesive or non-adhesive scratch, standard decoration includes a 4-color process sheet imprint with optional full bleed. Many businesses just print their logo at the top, maybe a phone number or website at the bottom of the pad, and call it a day. To me, that seems like a waste. You've already paid for the entire sheet imprint, so why not get playful with design and create something more attention-grabbing?

Aloft upped the ante on a simple notepad (without upping their piece price) with the addition of the "a-list" ghost imprint. It's very subtle, and I'm sure many guests wouldn't pay it a second glance, but to someone like me who appreciates a good pun and clever design, it added a little something to my experience.

Take a lesson from Aloft, and before you sign off on your next promotional piece, take a moment to ask yourself (or to ask your trusted promotional rep)- can it be just a little bit better?

Have any of you been the lucky recipient of a Kleenex Care Pack?

(source)

This cold and flu season, Kleenex is engaging consumers by encouraging them to send care packs to loved ones in need of some extra TLC. Participants are welcomed to share their stories and connect with other buyers on the company's website.

Taken from the Kleenex website-

Every year, during Softness Worth Sharing, people come together to share the Softness of Kleenex Brand tissue. For some, it's become a yearly tradition to surprise someone they care about with America's Softest Tissue.

Today, the tradition continues to grow. The famous little Kleenex Brand Share Pack has expanded- into a Kleenex Brand Care Pack filled with goodies to help care for your loved ones during cold and flu season. It's yours to send when you buy a specially marked Kleenex Bundle Pack.

As a consumer, I love this campaign. I sure wish I'd had a pack on hand the other week when I was feeling under the weather. Speaking of that... try Zicam, people. Do it.

As a promotional marketer, I admire this campaign. It's a perfect example of what we do our best to teach our clients at Sonic- how to use promotional products to connect with your market and increase revenue.

Let's take a closer look at the Care Pack campaign, from a promotional perspective.

(source)

Each Kleenex Care Pack contains lip balm, hand sanitizer, a coupon booklet, a Kleenex Brand Share Pack of tissues, and a music download card redeemable for four songs.

From a sales perspective, what are the most important items in this box?

My answer would be- the coupon booklet and music download card.

In these two items, Kleenex has ensured they'll benefit from this campaign with increased revenue, not just through goodwill and word-of-mouth. The coupons will lead to direct sales, and the music download cards will net them valuable data about their target market.

I can't be 100% sure, as I haven't received and redeemed one of the Kleenex music cards myself, but digital download cards generally require the user to visit a custom landing page and enter some basic contact information. Depending on the complexity of the landing page, there might also be a short survey required, through which Kleenex can wisely conduct marketing research to learn more about how their consumers interact with and feel about their products and brand.

All in all, the Kleenex Care Pack campaign is a very smart initiative; one that benefits both brand and buyer. For companies looking to promote a health and wellness program and engage employees, a similar care pack would be an excellent promotion. Maybe even throw in some antimicrobial phone pads to control germs around the office!

Happy Wednesday! Let's get right to it with our third and final recap of new for 2013 items from the ASI Show in Dallas.

If you're catching up--

Part 1 (apparel and drinkware) can be found here.

Part 2 (audio, desk and displays) can be found here.

Health & Home

In this section, I'll cover everything from kitchen gadgets to Swiss pocket tools. If you're looking for a good promotional item to be used in the home, or perhaps an item to promote a corporate health and wellness program, be sure to read on!



Man, food containers and lunch kits were everywhere. Most items boasted snap lock lids, reusable cutlery, separate containers for hot/cold or dry/wet and BPA-free plastic.


Silicone seemed to be the material of choice for most kitchen gadgets. I saw it used in everything from pint glasses to oven mitts to mini spatulas.

Speaking of those mini spatulas (Clic Stic pen held in photo for size reference), they're the perfect size for scraping every last ounce of peanut butter from the jar. Even more effective than a finger... not that I would know.

Mini units of WD-40 and Tide to Go are paired together in this Squeaky Clean Kit. Even if I didn't rely on these two products for 90% of the messes and annoyances in my house, I'd still be won over by that punny product name.


There's really not much new to discuss in magnets, but I did find these magnetic cork board and chalkboard items to be pretty fun!


Microfiber dust mitts, available in small and large sizes, are super handy for cleaning blinds, keyboards and other textured surfaces around the house. Toss them in the washing machine to clean and reuse.



I have a big pet peeve with coasters. I hate it, hate it, when a coaster doesn't absorb condensation. I have some glass and laminate coasters at my house that I love for their design, but they're completely nonfunctional. Either the glasses's condensation runs right off the coaster onto the table, or the coaster momentarily sticks to the glass when I pick it up and falls with a loud clatter. #firstworldproblems

Let's talk about these Mug Rugs. I kind of love them.

Mugs Rugs are super absorbent coasters nestled into wood or colored polypropylene shells. From a branding perspective, I love that the standard decoration is a full color dye sublimation, with no setup. They're easy to clean, durable and supplier-guaranteed to last forever.

These Jetsetter mini pocket tools from Victorinox, the makers of Swiss Army Knives, are TSA-approved for carry-on luggage. The basic model contains a pair of scissors, a bottle opener, Phillips head screwdriver, wire stripper, key ring, tweezers and a toothpick. For USB memory, upgrade to the Slim Flight model.


I was also really happy to see that Victorinox brought back their gift card program. Gift cards have a reputation for being impersonal and lame to present (I personally don't agree with that), and this customized snap case and branded card solve that problem.

Expandable hardside luggage with 360 degree spinner wheels is a great option for executive gifts. They're really lightweight and easy to navigate through crowded airports. Full coverage, full color decoration is available at high quantities.

Auto

These illuminated car chargers are really beautiful in person. If you're looking for a useful item that puts the focus on your logo, I definitely recommend this piece. The printing was really crisp and clear- just an attractive piece in general.



There are a ton of key lights out there, but I snapped a picture of this piece because I really liked how it felt in my hand. The little black roller ball acts a switch- push it forward and back to turn the light on and off. Again, it's nothing revolutionary, but with a key light, form and function are what's most important.

This magnetic emergency light would make a really great gift for a safety campaign. With 7 LED bulbs, it's extremely bright, and the super strong magnet at the base makes it perfect for roadside emergencies. Just stick it on the side of the car when you need light to change a tire.

Fun

An alternative title for this category could have been "Alcohol-related Promotions", but "Fun" allowed me to toss in eye black and lollipops too.

Novelty flasks. Available in ridiculously huge and uselessly tiny sizes.


These custom race car coolers attracted a lot of attention at the show. They would be such a hit with Nascar fans (obviously), universities... any group that tailgates, really.

They call this the Corkicle. I have no comments.

These lollipops are decorated in full color and are available in a bunch of stock shapes: heart, house, football, telephone, etc. For other picture treat ideas, check out this post.

Bored with rally towels and cowbells? Custom eye black is a fun item for schools, universities, sports teams and particularly spirited sales teams.

Here's a green item that's just plain fun. They're called Seed Bombs, and they're made of wildflower seeds and post-consumer recycled paper. They come packaged in either an organic cotton bag or cello bag with custom header.

That's all I've got for you! If you'd like more information or pricing on any of the items from our three recap posts, please email your sales rep at Sonic Promos or call the office at 301.869.7800.

This week at Sonic Promos, we're working on...

... custom woven afghan blankets for 39 West Lexington, a Southern Management property in Baltimore.

... and awards for an annual employee meeting at Sigma-Tau.

"This Week at Sonic Promos" is a regular feature on our blog.
Read all past posts here.
Check in every week to see some of the work that's going on in our office.

Happy President's Day!

We're in the office today- feeling a wee bit jealous of schools and government employees- ready to kick off the week with another recap of the ASI Show in Dallas.

If you missed Part 1 on Friday, we covered apparel and drinkware. Go read that first, then join us below to learn about new items for 2013 in audio, desk and displays. Grab some coffee too- this post is a little lengthy.

Audio

Every time I attend a show, one of the first suppliers I visit is OrigAudio. These guys know quality audio products, and they always always have something superbly cool to demo. You might remember me gushing about the Cubicool speakers in last year's Orlando recap. This year, the spotlight was on their new portable vibration speaker, the Epishock.

OrigAudio has had great success with their other vibration speaker product, the Rock-It, but unlike the Rock-It, the Epishock produces excellent sound quality on any firm surface (the Rock-It works best on hollow surfaces) with ten times as much power.

Another difference between the two products is their decoration potential. The Epishock is decorated with full color digital printing, an improvement from the Rock-It's spot color screen print.

An added bonus is this adorable packaging. LOVE the retro lunchbox set.

Check out the Epishock in action:


Another theme in audio products at the show was Bluetooth compatibility. The stereo headphones in the picture above have control buttons for volume, play/pause, forward/reverse, accepting/rejecting mobile phone calls and redial. A built-in rechargeable battery gives you 10 hours of use when fully charged.

Desk


In desk items, I saw a lot of little cord keepers, designed to keep your work space neat and tidy. I like that there were models of varying size. If you have a detailed logo that doesn't print well at small dimensions, there are plenty of styles that afford a few square inches of imprint area.


In the category of padfolios and portfolios, I really dug this flip portfolio for iPad. The front cover contains a swivel window, giving you the option to face your tablet out (convenient for presentations) or in (for travel and protection).



3M came out with a few fun additions to their Post-it Note line this year. The folded piece above caught my eye for its imprint potential; it gives you four times the space of a normal sticky note pad to display your message and logo. The blue notes on the far right are specially marked with rounded corners because they have adhesive across the entire backside.


Also from 3M is this adorable pink Post-it Note compact. So fun for a female-targeted promotion.



I can't say I saw anything revolutionary in journal books, but there were plenty of beautiful pieces on display that reminded me just how far a die cut cover and custom insert page will get you.


Interesting cover textures and mini journals with die cut slots for a pen also caught my attention.

Power banks and charging devices are another item category that I saw at just about every booth. There is an item out there to suit every budget and every charge duration need.



Stylus pens are all over the place right now. Read more about the benefits of using a stylus here. My favorite stylus pen from the show was definitely this piece from Fisher. Yep, the makers of the infamous space pen have come out with a stylus pen that will write upside down, underwater, in freezing cold and zero gravity. I want one.




This post is getting a little lengthy- if I haven't already lost you, I'm sure I am about to- so I'm going to move through these last few finds quickly. The hard cover business card folio and gel phone wedge, seen above, would make great choices for an inexpensive trade show giveaway. And for all of you brand-crazed readers that really, really want to look at your alma mater or company's logo all the livelong day, a custom keyboard skin would be totally up your alley.

Displays

Moving on to trade show displays, the most interesting item I saw in Dallas was this geometric popup number.


Floor displays are notorious for being a pain in the neck to assemble, but this lightweight popup frame with interchangeable fabric banners is a cinch to set up. The frame weighs more than 50% less than other comparably sized floor models, and I love that the fabric panels are machine washable.


The same stretchy, dye-sublimated fabric is used in this pyramid tent and fitted table cover. I think they have a really sharp, clean look.

So, that sums up my favorite finds from Dallas in audio, desk and displays. Come back on Wednesday for our final post- Health & Home, Auto and Fun ← real catch-all category right there!

I spent last Thursday and Friday scoping out new product at the ASI Show in Dallas. You all seemed to enjoy our recap posts after the OrlandoShow in 2012, so I made sure to snap plenty of pictures this time too.

I've got a lot to share with you, so I'll be splitting the info up across a few posts like last year. If you're not particularly interested in reading about everything from mini silicone spatulas to ladies' work apparel, I'm planning to split up the posts like so:

Friday-- Part 1: Drinkware and Apparel 

Monday-- Part 2: Desk, Audio and Displays

Wednesday-- Part 3: Health & Home, Auto and Fun

Please be sure to stop by the blog next week if you're looking for new ideas in any of those categories. Alright, let's get started!

Drinkware

If the number of suppliers carrying a particular piece is any indication of its future success, these double-walled party cups (available with or without a lid) are promising to be the next acrylic tumbler and straw a.k.a. the next big craze in drinkware. They have that stupid, silly, fun appeal- the same sort of appeal that made Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup" one of the most popular country songs of 2011. Get 'em while they're hot.

Another drinkware piece rocking the country party vibe is this Mason Jar Tumbler. They come in a wide range of colors, not just orange. Don't you just want to fill it with sweet tea?


Pint glasses- in unique materials like bamboo and silicone- were another common trend at the show. The silicone cups are really versatile. They're virtually unbreakable, and they withstand extreme temperatures (you can even use the shot glass size as a baking cup/liner/mold).

How sweet is this mug with heart-shaped inner taper?


If you're in the market for a nice water bottle, I was really impressed with the Contingo AutoSpout Addison bottle. The one touch push button spout is strangely satisfying (and addicting) to press.

This accordion water bottle is inexpensive and fun for a charity race or school promotion... maybe even for a yoga studio... stretchy!

Apparel

We just covered major trends in corporate apparel on the blog last week, so I'll try to move quickly through what I saw in Dallas. I realize that some of you may not find wholesale clothing as interesting as I do!






Apparel suppliers seem to be paying particular attention to ladies this year; many of them have launched new lines geared specifically to women. I was very happy to see feminine details like ruffles, flattering necklines and unique buttons in these new additions. They're a lot more special than traditional ladies styles, in which a fitted torso and narrow shoulders really seem to be the only elements differentiating them from their male companions. Whether or not you're a lady, you should certainly keep their preferences in mind when purchasing apparel for staff or a large group.





Other trends of note: bright colors, especially jewel tones, and interesting prints and textures (heather, houndstooth and acid wash, for example).

That's all for now! I'll cover desk items, audio gear, and displays on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Happy Valentine's Day, all!

Hopefully you're reading this before 10:00 AM and aren't yet burnt out on all things chocolate and sugary, because we've got a sweet post for you today.

Edibles is a huge category within promotional products, encompassing everything from restaurant dinner mints and personalized M&M's to holiday snack towers and cheese boards. The whole goal of promotional marketing is to put your logo on an item that people will take, keep, use and like, so candies and food items, which we all enjoy, are very popular choices.

With most promotional food items, your logo is placed on the packaging or an accompanying item. I mean, you can't exactly brand a nut (or can you?), so you brand a sticky note holder or crystal bowl instead. Mints, gum, nuts- generally the imprint goes on something else.

With cookies, brownies and certain other treats, however, you can get away with a direct imprint on the edible itself. Surface area isn't a limiting factor and edible inks keep the piece safe for consumption.

A current favorite in our office are these chocolate dipped picture treats with sprinkle border. We're partial to the Oreo, but there are also graham crackers, Nilla wafers, brownies, marshmallows, sugar cookies, crispy rice treats and fortune cookies.

Am I making your teeth hurt? Relax, here's an apple.

The edible inks allow for full color artwork, and there are more than 45 sprinkle varieties available to accent your design. If you go the fortune cookie route, you can even customize the paper fortune inside.


Next time you're in the market for an edible promotion, keep these creative picture treats in mind. They're almost too pretty to eat.

This week at Sonic Promos, we're working on...

... laminate bags for Discover Tile in Boston.

... hooded zip sweatshirts with a vintage print, coffee sleeves, bags and lanyards for the Schusterman Family Foundation.

... and table throws for the Phelps School's recruiting efforts.

"This Week at Sonic Promos" is a regular feature on our blog.
Read all past posts here.
Check in every week to see some of the work that's going on in our office.

Meet Julianne:

How long have you been working at Sonic Promos?
Well, the company came with the spouse, so I have been at least tangentially involved since 2000. I began actually coming into the office back in 2006.

What role(s) do you play here?
I am the COO and have my hand in HR, accounting, marketing and sales.

Best part of the job?
On the personal side, I love getting to see Seth (my husband) during the weekdays, being able to bring my dogs to work, and a flexible schedule that allows me to make it to every kid school play and parent teacher conference. On the professional side, I love when we come up with a cool image or a super witty tagline. And having clients respond to our work feels incredible. I remember one order of T-shirts where the client wrote in to say this was the first time he had seen his company name on something real- it was the realization of a lifelong dream. Pretty cool to share in that!

Worst part of the job?
When I am wearing my HR hat and need to put an end to the "fun", whether it be a heated discussion that is getting a bit political (any mention of Chick-fil-A has been banned from our internal group chat) or language not appropriate for use around our high school interns. It makes me feel like a spoil sport. Also, the horrible, painful spot in the pit of my stomach when, for some reason, an order doesn't go right. The stress of waiting for the UPS truck to arrive, with minutes to spare before an event starts- just ugh!

What's your favorite kind of project to work on?
I keep the T-shirts and mugs and pens from experiences in my life that have significant impact. I like doing projects where I feel like the recipient- not necessarily the client, but the person they are giving the item to- will get that same sentiment. Medals for individuals completing races, items for employee appreciation, shirts for a big conference or concert... those things hold memories for years. Memory totems, if you will.

What do your coworkers love to tease you about?
I call ground beef "hamburg". I forget things people tell me almost instantly unless I write it down. I can't hold my liquor.

Years ago, Seth told the office that my college nickname was "One Can Julianne". At the next conference we attended, my name tag said "Onecan Weiner". Every person I met that day looked at me funny and said something like, "Oonacanay, it's nice to meet you." Took me a while to figure out why.

Keep reading for more staff interviews in the coming weeks. In case you missed it-
Meet Rahmie
Meet Jen
Meet Mallory
Meet Lindsay
Meet Jamie
Meet Seth

This week at Sonic Promos, we're working on...

... stuffed bags for Huntington Bank's health and wellness program. The drawstring cinch packs contain a water bottle, paper mouse pad, apple stress ball and informational card.

... table tents advertising Gold Eagle products.

... and sticky notes, temporary tattoos, and plastic and paper bags for the Washington Kastles.

"This Week at Sonic Promos" is a regular feature on our blog.
Read all past posts here.
Check in every week to see some of the work that's going on in our office.

If you've ever worked with Sonic Promos and don't know Seth, I'd be very surprised. Still, I hope you at least learn something new with today's interview!

Meet Seth:

How long have you been working at Sonic Promos?
Since Day 1. Which means close to 16 years. I'm still waiting on my gold watch.

What role(s) do you play here?
I was classically trained at Juilliard. I have played MacBeth twice. I enjoyed playing Dannie in the all-male version of Annie.

Best part of the job?
It's a toss-up. Either the people, the dogs or the chocolate.

Worst part of the job?
The dogs or the chocolate.

What's your favorite kind of project to work on?
I especially like Health and Wellness and new brand launches.

What do your coworkers love to tease you about?
My ability to find an appropriate song for any situation, liking the Pittsburgh Steelers but hating the Penguins, and the fact that I frequently date myself with pop culture references- it was the MOOPS!

Keep reading for more staff interviews in the coming weeks. In case you missed it-
Meet Rahmie
Meet Jen
Meet Mallory
Meet Lindsay
Meet Jamie

Happy Wednesday, readers! Before we get too deep into the New Year, let's talk a bit about current trends in corporate apparel. What's hot right now?

Hansel. So hot right now. Hansel.

Sorry, I couldn't resist! Please don't click away. I'll stay on topic for the rest of the post. I promise.

Performance Materials:

In polo shirts, polyester and blended materials are still very popular. These performance materials are extremely comfortable to wear and easy to care for. Look for pieces that wick sweat and absorb moisture, resist snags and stains, manage body odor, body map for temperature control, and protect from sun exposure.



This isn't a style column, so I'm not going to say that cotton pique polo shirts are out- I don't think they'll ever be out; pique polo shirts are a classic and traditional look- but if you're looking to dress your employees in a sharp piece that they'll wear in and outside of the office, we recommend a performance polo.



In outerwear, microfleece jackets are popular as always, but bonded knit and soft shell jackets are particular trendy. As with polyester performance polo shirts, the main appeal of bonded fleece and soft shell is comfort and durability. They're extremely warm, breathable, and water-resistant or water-proof in some cases. They also tend to be less bulky than fleece with a more stream-lined cut, so the fit is very flattering.

Heather Colors:

I'm sure you've seen a lot of the heather trend in retail stores right now. It's just as prevalent in corporate apparel. T-shirts, outerwear, fitness apparel... it's everywhere.



Retail Design Details:

Think about your favorite wardrobe pieces. I bet there are little design details that you love about all of them. Things like thumbholes on your winter running gear or interesting buttons at the placket. Maybe it's a conveniently placed pocket, or a zipper guard that keeps your chin and neck comfortable. If you appreciate the small details in your own clothing, look for these particulars in apparel for your staff too. Your goal is to equip them with something that they'll actually enjoy wearing!


Unique Decoration Techniques and Placement:

We've talked about alternative decoration methods on the blog before. Techniques like laser-etching, deboss, and heat seal transfers were very popular in 2012 as alternatives to traditional embroidery and screen-printing, and the same is true for 2013. Ask your promotional rep about these options, as the best decoration method for your project will depend on the artwork and the garment's material.

For a really current look, think about decoration placement in addition to the technique. The shoulder, side panel and sleeve are easy to decorate and create a unique look.

What are your thoughts on these trends?

Meet Jamie:

How long have you been working at Sonic Promos?
6 years.

What role(s) do you play here?
Mainly, I work with clients on their branding needs. I oversee everything from the beginning stage of coming up with a concept to the final stage of making sure the right products are delivered with the correct imprint. I also help build our business through other avenues, such as our Premier Partners program. Have you attained that level yet?

Best part of the job?
Pretty much everything. I know it's cliché, but I really do love what I do. Simply put, it's fun almost every day. I love my relationships with my clients, vendors and our Sonic team. The greatest reward is when we help develop a project from its inception and it turns out perfectly.

Worst part of the job?
When a factory screws up something that is completely out of your control. We try to work with only a select group of trusted vendors, but once or twice a year, someone just makes a mistake, and it's extremely frustrating. On the bright side, though, we are almost always able to fix it in some way.

What's your favorite kind of project to work on?
Complicated ones! Projects where it's not just one item, but a few that go together. Maybe a conference with a padfolio with a pen inserted and placed into a tote. Or where we take two completely separate items and group them together as a gift, like a lunch bag and water bottle. It's a little more of a challenge, and I enjoy that.

What do your coworkers love to tease you about?
What don't they tease me about? Golfing on nice days, my love of Michael Jackson, my weird baby carrot and coconut allergy, my love/hate relationship with the Redskins, my age, or whatever else they feel like picking at that day. In all fairness, I do give it out as well, so I am fully prepared to take it.

Keep reading for more staff interviews in the coming weeks. In case you missed it-
Meet Rahmie
Meet Jen
Meet Mallory
Meet Lindsay

Tuesdays are typically reserved for a weekly roundup of client projects, but we're mixing things up today and giving the spotlight to a very special piece for the JCCGW.

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington celebrates its centennial anniversary this year. To commemorate the occasion, we helped them create a mug with a fun twist.

When empty, the mug displays black with a white logo near the lip. Fill it up with a hot beverage to reveal a charming photo from the Center's early days.

On the backside, you'll find the centennial logo.

Thank you, JCCGW, for the opportunity to collaborate on such a fun piece. Congratulations on 100 years of service! We wish you hundreds more.

Take a look at this image.

Which grey column would you say is darker? The one on the right or left?

Ah, trick question. They're actually the same color. But I'm sure you all saw that coming...

Even when I see it laid out plainly like this, I still have trouble convincing myself of the truth. Our eyes are so tricky!

Here's another example of the same illusion:


(source)

These illusions illustrate just how inaccurately we perceive color. Whether we view something as light or dark really depends on the context; background and surrounding colors greatly influence our perception.

Our eyes struggle with all sorts of colors, not just shades of grey. Take a look at the images below. If you didn't know better, wouldn't you say that the small blocks of light purple were the same color in each scenario? Same with the oranges?


Our imperfect color perception is yet another reason why careful proofing is so important. We might like how a color looks in one context, and hate how it looks in another. In the display of pens below, the grey works nicely on the black, white and blue pens. There is good contrast, and the imprint really pops. On the red and lime green pens, however, the grey imprint almost shakes before your eyes. It's a bit distracting and unpleasant to look at.

Don't ever settle for a black and white proof, and pay careful attention to how your selected imprint color looks against the actual item color.

This week at Sonic Promos, we're working on...

... event calendar magnets for Forrester.

... nice paperweights for internal meetings at Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals.

... and sweatbands for BBYO.

"This Week at Sonic Promos" is a regular feature on our blog.
Read all past posts here.
Check in every week to see some of the work that's going on in our office.

Another staff interview for you today! This time I am... um... interviewing myself. Enjoy!

Meet Lindsay:

How long have you been working at Sonic Promos?
At the end of January, I'll have been with Sonic for three years.

What role(s) do you play here?
I'm one of Sonic's Brand Managers. We're the intermediaries between clients and production. I brainstorm ideas with the client, suggest product solutions, make decisions regarding sourcing and artwork, and oversee the project's timeline. I'm also Sonic's primary blog author (yes, I'm awkwardly answering questions of my own creation), and I manage our website and social media.

Best part of the job?
Industry shows are a lot of fun. I really enjoy catching up with our reps and reviewing new product. It's also pretty neat to see something you worked on displayed at an event, or to spy someone wearing a T-shirt that you had a hand in designing.

Worst part of the job?
Hmm, I'd have to say shipping. Sorry UPS and FedEx, you all do a great job, but it really stinks to worry about and be held responsible for something outside your control. I could do without natural disasters and lost packages.

What's your favorite kind of project to work on?
I like projects that have a lot of moving parts. Split shipments, complicated decoration, variable data... all of that really appeals to my Type A personality. Ugh, I'm such a dork! I also love T-shirt design, especially faded imprints and retro/vintage apparel.

What do your coworkers love to tease you about?
I can be embarrassingly gullible. I have a really sarcastic sense of humor, but I'm apparently not very good at detecting it in others. I also get a lot of flak for my avocado obsession and strange lunch combinations.

Keep reading for more staff interviews in the coming weeks. In case you missed it-
Meet Rahmie
Meet Jen
Meet Mallory

Several of my friends and relatives were engaged or married recently (I went to five weddings in 2012, all of them in different states. Yikes!), so I've been spending more time than usual browsing wedding boards on Pinterest and other wedding websites.

I recently came across a bunch of cute Save-the-Date ideas on the Martha Stewart Weddings website that creatively use promotional products. These ideas can easily translate to any kind of product campaign... they're certainly not limited to weddings!


Lightweight, easily mailed and inexpensive, custom balloons are a great choice for any kind of promotion. I once saw them used to promote an event raising awareness for lung cancer. Funny!



Napkins are a promotional item with so much potential. Here are two more ways to use them for business endeavors:

1. If you frequently arrange catered lunches or bring in coffee and donuts for meetings with clients, bring along a stack of napkins branded with your company's logo and contact information. The extras will linger in their office long after your meeting has ended.

2. At food festivals or restaurant events, napkins are a great way to put more information in the hands of your guests. Print a map of the venue or a list of the various courses served or vendors present.


Note pads/cubes are one of my favorite promotional items. I realize that not all people are sticky note-obsessed like I am, but if they are, you can be sure your piece will occupy desk space for weeks. Note cubes are particularly good choices when you need ample imprint area; you can customize both the individual sheets and all four sides of the cube.