This One Time... at Brand Camp

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

Well, hello there! Hope you're having a superb Thursday. As promised last week, I'm back to share another favorite project from 2014. Really, a series of projects. Several of these projects are winter-themed, so truly my procastination in typing up this post is more like a timely and intentional scheduling for the month of January. I am very good at this blogging thing.
Bear Creek Mascot Scarf Custom
Bear Creek Mountain Resort & Conference Center in Berks County, Pennsylvania kept us pretty busy last year. And we were happy to help! Before I move on to sharing the materials we produced for them, I have to brag a bit about this resort. During the winter (as in, right now... GO!), they offer skiing, snowboarding and tubing. When the weather warms up, you can hike, boat, and play golf of the disc and, um, golfball varieties. And, as the name suggests, it's a great location for your next corporate conference or retreat. Check out their website for more information! 

Now to discuss promotional items. You know, what you came here for.
Bear Creek Decals 1
Bear Creek Decals 2
We produce a lot of decals for Bear Creek. Some of them are given to resort guests, and others are distributed to local ski shops and ski centers.
Bear Creek Sail Sign
Bear Creek Disc Bag
Bear Creek Umbrella Scarf Lanyard
We also provide a number of items for their youth programs and sale merchandise for the gift shop. You might recognize that seat cushion from this blog post discussing their chair lift seat promotion at Coca-Cola Park last year. We even created a special scarf for their bear mascot; see the photo at the top of this post.

Thank you, Bear Creek Mountain Resort & Conference Center for the opportunity to work with you. And to all of our blog readers, please consider booking yourself a winter vacation!

Happy New Year, blog readers! 2015 sure seems to have arrived quickly. So quickly, in fact, that we never got around to sharing a few of our favorite projects from 2014 with you. Better late than never? Before we forge ahead into the new year, we'll take some time today and next week to reflect on these projects. Up first, CBRE's groundbreaking event at 1000 F Street.
Men Posing Custom
Back in November, Sonic produced hard hats and golden shovels for CBRE in celebration of their new development at 1000 F Street. 
CBRE hard hats Custom
CBRE Golden Shovels Custom
CBRE shovels in dirt Custom
1000 F street Custom
We were thrilled with how their items turned out and appreciated being a part of the groundbreaking. Thank you for sharing these photos, CBRE!

We think of ourselves as both coffee and coffee mug connoisseurs at Sonic, so this article in Tuesday's Washington Post caught our eye for obvious reasons. The color of your coffee mug can change the way your coffee tastes? Say what?!
In a recent study, participants were served coffee in three similarly shaped mugs of different color- one clear, one white, one blue- and asked to rate different flavor points. Drinkers commented that the coffee in the white mug tasted more intense and bitter, while the coffee from the blue and clear mugs was comparatively more sweet.

Other studies have also proven a correlation between color and how we experience food, but the reason why is still unclear. The researchers who conducted the coffee study offer one explanation:

The color brown, they believe, might be something people associate with bitterness. "The white mug may have influenced the perceived brownness of the coffee and this, in turn, may have influenced the perceived intensity (and sweetness) of the coffee," the researchers wrote. That would help explain why clear, glass coffee mugs, which dilute the color, tended to have the opposite effect.


I have long favored my red Sonic mug above all other mugs in my cabinet. I like the shape and size, and now I wonder if I also subconsciously prefer it because the red color affects how I taste my coffee.

With the Thanksgiving holiday just a couple of days away, we thought we would help our readers get in the spirit with a festive photo series by artist Hannah Rothstein. The collection, titled "Thanksgiving Special", showcases plates of holiday food, artfully arranged in the styles of several famous artists. Can you guess the artists? I'll name them below.
Piet-Mondrian Custom
Vincent-van-Gogh Custom
Rene-Magritte Custom
Jackson-Pollock Custom
All photos sourced from Visit Hannah's website to see the full collection, to purchase prints and to view more of her work.

Answers: 1) Piet Mondrian 2) Vincent van Gogh 3) René Magritte 4) Jackson Pollock. Is anyone else made queasy by the Pollock plate?

This art project caught our attention because we often find ourselves looking to famous artwork for inspiration when designing promotional products. Like Rothstein, we are admirers of Piet Mondrian, and we channeled his style when creating these Sonic mobile phone wallets earlier this year.
Clever artwork can really take your marketing materials to the next level, and it doesn't always require reinventing the wheel. Find inspiration in designs that people already like and know, and adapt it to your product and branding message.

I just returned from taking my family to the Happiest Place on Earth….Walt Disney World!
Cohen Family Magic Kingdom1 Custom
While that phrase can most definitely be up for interpretation depending on the time of day and the child (or adult) having an emotional meltdown, we had a wonderful trip visiting Mickey and his friends.
Cohen Family EPCOT Custom
Cohen Family Magic Kingdom2 Custom
Being the promotional products aficionado that I am, I wanted to report back on how some of our items made my trip a little more manageable.
Jolt-Charger Custom
To begin with, the most important item that I brought with me was a portable battery charger for our phones. Being on the run all day with no place to charge your phone can be a problem no matter where you are, but throw in the fact that you are constantly looking up line times and where to meet Characters on the Disney App, and my battery was nearly dead by lunch time. Fortunately, I packed two of these. I went with our basic 2,200mAh batteries since they were in the office, but wished that I had ordered one of the larger ones as these barely got us through the day.
4-in-1-Charging-Buddy Custom
I also used this little cord to keep everything compact. This allowed me to keep the charger and phone hooked up in my pocket during the day.

We went to Warm and Sunny Florida on a weekend when it was not so warm and sunny. The weather went from a wonderful 80 degrees on Friday down to 55 with 20 mph winds on Saturday and Sunday. Fortunately, it got better on Monday….just in time for us to leave. Based on these temperatures, it was a perfect time to try out some of our warmer, lightweight clothing options.
Yerba-Quarter-Zip Custom
I loved wearing this long sleeve quarter-zip shirt. It was fashionable, breathable, and felt great in the cold and inside the buildings.
FootJoy-Windbreaker Custom
When the wind picked up to that 20mph, I threw on this FootJoy Windbreaker and was well-protected.
Quilted-Vest Custom
I also packed this lightweight insulated vest that was easy to wear in the mornings and evenings and store in my backpack when it got warmer during the day.
Ahead-Cap Custom
When it got sunny, I wore my Ahead hat. It’s lightweight and folds up nicely into the backpack when you don’t need it.
High-Sierra-Pack Custom
Speaking of that backpack, I used this awesome High Sierra bag that I’ve used for more than five years now. It has held up perfectly over the years, and it was comfortable to wear while walking around the parks from 8am-10pm!
Camelbak-Bottle Custom
Of course we needed water, so this CamelBak water bottle came in handy. It kept our water cold most of the day.
Phone-Wallet Custom
Finally, since Disney uses a technology called MagicBands which allows them to track your every move like Big Brother... I mean, enables you to open your hotel room, enter the parks, board rides, pay for meals and gifts, etc... I didn’t need to carry any cash with me which was a nice change. So, I decided to try out one of the phone wallets that so many clients have been ordering recently, and I have to say that it was a great accessory. It freed up my wallet pocket to hold the trash my kids handed me, or anything else that I wanted to carry.

The one item that I didn’t bring and wish I had was a pedometer. Disney World is known as a place where you walk a ton, but it would have been nice to know exactly how many miles we covered. After all, we had to work off those Mickey Ice Cream Bars in some way. Oh well, I guess we’ll have to go back one day and try it again!

-- Jamie Cohen

In an effort to reduce sick days this winter, we've instituted 'Wipe It Down Wednesday' at Sonic. The name is pretty self-explanatory, but basically, every Wednesday we grab a few antibacterial wipes and give our phones, keyboards, computer mouses (mice?) and other germy surfaces a rub-down.
Blog Health wipesb
The idea for Wipe It Down Wednesday came from our handy flu prevention tip sheet from the United Health Services Tang Center at Berkeley. Here is the full list of tips:

Wash your hands frequently using warm water and soap, scrubbing all surfaces for about 15-20 seconds. Some flu viruses can live up to two hours on surfaces such as desks, phones and door knobs. When soap and water are not available, hand sanitizers containing 60- 90% ethyl alcohol or isopropanol may be used.
Blog Health sanitizerb
Avoid touching your face, unless you have clean hands. The eyes, nose and mouth are entry ports for flu viruses.

Cover your mouth with a disposable tissue when coughing and sneezing. Dispose of tissues and wash your hands immediately.

Avoid sharing objects (cups, utensils, etc.). Wipe down shared equipment such as phones and keyboards.
Blog Health wipes2b
Get enough sleep and manage your stress. Lack of sleep and high levels of stress can reduce immune functioning, thus lowering the body’s ability to fend off colds and flu.

Drink more water. You may not feel as thirsty during fall and winter, but it’s important to make sure you don’t get dehydrated. Consume at least 8 glasses a day.

Maintain a moderate exercise program 3-4 days a week. It will strengthen the immune system and increase the body’s natural ability to fight infection.

Eat healthfully. Remember to eat the recommended 5-9 servings per day of fruits and vegetables.

Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol can be dehydrating which, in turn, may decrease your resistance.

Finally, listen to your body. Stay home if you have a fever and are coughing. You will feel better, recover faster if you rest and reduce the risk of infecting others.

Minus 'limit alcohol intake', I think we're doing pretty well at Sonic! No one has gotten sick yet- knock on wood- and we hope to keep it that way.

The Sonic team expanded several weeks ago, and I'm ashamed I haven't mentioned it on the blog until now! In mid-September, Marsha Glazer joined our staff as the new Director of Strategic Accounts, and we are all so thrilled to have her on board.

I will post a fun staff interview soon, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share a few of Marsha's favorite product finds from the recent CPPA trade show. She has great taste. Welcome to Sonic, Marsha!
Arusha-Insulated-Jacket Custom
The Arusha insulated jacket features a graphic pattern woven with a water-resistant coating and water-repellent finish.
Bike-Light-Set Custom
This pair of bike lights- clear for front, red for back- can be set to steady-on, slow-flashing or fast-flashing.
Chalkboard-Calendar Custom
There are so many fun calendar options for 2015; we love this chalkboard item.
Coleman-Dual-Compartment-Cooler Custom
This printed Coleman cooler has dual compartments and antimicrobial protection to resist odor, mildew, and mold.
Printed-Utility-Tote Custom
Three different prints are offered in this canvas utility tote.
Wrap-Cardigan Custom
The Women's Cardigan Wrap from Charles River Apparel is made of soft Supima Cotton.

The First Look Fair is one of the longest running involvement traditions at the University of Maryland. The event draws more than 500 student clubs and organizations, campus departments and services, local vendors, and community service agencies. The festive atmosphere is the perfect place for students to gather resources, learn more about how to get involved, and connect with their peers. It's a fantastic opportunity to discover everything that the University of Maryland has to offer.
First Look Fair 2014 was held on September 17th and 18th. Sonic Promos assisted UMD's Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship with scratch-off cards and prizes to attract and engage students. Client Brooke Smith comments on the event:

We handed out all 500 of the scratch-off cards at the UMD First Look Fair. Students loved them! We actually ran out half way through the second day. They thought it was a fun and clever way to win prizes. Prizes included a t-shirt, sticker, dairy coupon and brainstorming kit.
Scratch-off cards are a simple and inexpensive way to entertain attendees at a fair or conference. We frequently recommend them to our clients. Contact your rep at Sonic to brainstorm an activity for your next event.

A few weeks ago, Buzzfeed posted an article titled "Is This Pill Bottle the Most Inappropriate Swag Ever?" about a questionable promo item distributed at this year's BlogHer Conference. Here is a picture of the offending handout:
Pill-Bottle-Promo Custom
The promotional pill bottle, branded for a toy company named Bright Starts, contained candy, but closely resembled a prescription pill bottle. A little too closely for some.

BlogHer is one of the nation's biggest conferences for female bloggers, many of whom are mommy bloggers and parents. Several attendees were dismayed by this choice of handout, as we all know children can easily mistake prescription medication for candy, and drug overdose is a serious concern.

Though Sonic wasn't involved with this promotion in any way, of course we have an opinion. What's our take?

Though we agree this item might not have been the best choice for a company like Bright Starts given the event and audience, we do think the negative attention is a little overblown. Usually with food items, the expectation is that the recipient will consume it during the conference, not bring it home. And, if an attendee did choose to bring this item home, we'd hope they would exercise caution and not give it to their child.   

So again, it wasn't the wisest choice, but it certainly was not the Most Inappropriate Swag Ever. 

Another Tuesday, another "This Week at Sonic Promos" post. Read about a few of the projects keeping our team busy this week, and take away inspiration for your next event or program.
BAKER-TILLY-Recruiting-Materials-2014 Custom
Sonic Promos worked with Baker Tilly to create a menu of materials for college recruiting events this fall. Items range from pens and ice scrapers to vibration speakers and mobile power banks.
SIGMA-TAU-Summer-Tees Custom
These T-shirts will be worn by Sigma-Tau employees at a summer picnic.
AUSTIN-ACES-Lanyards-Hats Custom
July 2014 marked the inaugural season for the newest addition to Mylan World TeamTennis, the Austin Aces. Sonic Promos assisted with merchandise and apparel, in addition to red foam hats for fans and red lanyards for season ticket holders.

"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.

Was our last "This Week at Sonic Promos" post really on June 10th? Oops! We have some catching up to do! Read on to see what we've been working on this past month.
FLUOR-LANES-Polo-Shirts Custom
These polo shirts and hats were worn by Fluor-Lanes staff at a golf tournament benefitting breast cancer awareness.
INSIDE-LACROSSE-Recruiting-Event Custom
Next Level T-shirts and red water bottles were sold or handed out at the Inside Lacrosse Recruiting Invitational summer event for high school-aged players.
NPS-Fort-Stevens-Event Custom
The National Park Service celebrated the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stevens on the weekend of July 11-13. Volunteers wore gold hats and polo shirts, and early attendees received full color fans to keep cool in the heat.

"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.

Many of the marketing materials that we create at Sonic are used for specific events, and we love it when clients share photos with us after the big day. Here are some of the photos we received last week:
H-2-Capital-Partners-Mugs Custom
Max and Judah are pictured enjoying a warm drink from the mugs we printed for H/2 Capital Partners.
Monument-Realty-Bloom-Tents Custom
Monument-Realty-Bloom-Bags Custom
Monument-Realty-Bloom-Bubbles Custom
Monument-Realty-Bloom-Water Custom
On June 7th, tents, balloons, table throws, bottled water, nylon bags, T-shirts, bubbles, pens and crayons accessorized an afternoon Open House and Twilight 5K & Walk hosted by Monument Realty to promote the Bloom Montgomery Village housing community.
Aish-DC-Hot-Cold-Packs-Table Custom
Aish-DC-Hot-Cold-Pack-Table-Number Custom
These hot/cold packs served double-duty as table place cards and take-home party favors during a brunch for Aish DC.

Thank you for sharing, H/2, Monument and Aish DC, and keep the photos coming!

Another Tuesday, another round of This Week at Sonic Promos. Read on to see a few of the items coming out of Sonic's office this week.
These materials were created for an event hosted by Hanley Wood, a real estate media firm based in Washington DC that serves the commercial and residential construction industry. The cocktail party items- napkins, mints and stirrers- were branded with the logos of sponsors like Kohler and Whirlpool. The cable kits and scarves were distributed as gifts.

"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.

Do we have any Denver fans reading this blog? If so, this picture is for you:
Broncos-Super-Bowl-Shirts Custom

Whomp whomp. Sorry, that wasn't nice. We're (mostly) Redskins fans in this office, so we feel your pain. Except I'm sure a loss stings a lot more when you actually make it to the Super Bowl.

As we've written about before, the United States sends a lot of used apparel to developing countries. Sometimes even brand new apparel, as is the case with the Broncos T-shirt above.

To prepare for the buying frenzy of emotional fans post Super Bowl, merchandise must be printed and delivered days before the game's outcome is determined. The NFL used to destroy all merchandise produced for the game's loser, but thanks to an agreement with World Vision, these items now get shipped overseas to those in need. The only requirement is that merchandise be distributed outside of the United States.

So, if you're a die-hard fan determined to nab a tee for yourself, better book an international flight. Though really, who would want a memorandum of that game?

Again, sorry Denver.

The official start of summer may still be a few weeks away, but as far as our office is concerned, summer has already begun. Today's edition of "This Week at Sonic Promos" features two very summery projects: custom lip balm and picnic gifts. Read on for more details.
TOTALWINE LipBalm Custom
As of mid-May, you can purchase drink-flavored lip balm at Total Wine & More stores. Flavors include Margarita, Mojito, Pina Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri, Dark & Stormy and Rum & Coke. Which one would you pick?
BGC SummerPicnic Custom
Cantor Fitzgerald and BGC worked with Sonic to develop a menu of summer picnic items for use throughout the summer: boat totes, umbrellas, beach towels, beach balls, sunscreen and ear buds.

"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.

Good morning! We hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend. In honor of the new season, we have a fun summer-themed client project to share with you today.
Bear-Creek-Seat-Cushion Custom
Bear Creek Mountain Resort & Conference Center is sponsoring six seats at Coca-Cola Park (the ballpark of Lehigh Valley IronPigs Minor League Baseball) for the 2014 baseball season. The prize seats are designed to resemble a chair lift, and Sonic Promos assisted with customized chair pads.

During the first inning of each home game, six lucky fans will be named winners and relocated to the chair lift seats for the duration of the game. They'll also receive PA and video board recognition, a free hot dog and soda, and a branded seat cushion to take home.

Locals, take yourself out to the ballgame!

Good morning! Looking for product ideas for your next promotional project? Check out some of the items Sonic recently created for client events and programs.  
AAA Nascar Custom

AAA NascarTees Custom
Lanyards, totes, T-shirts, car chargers and key chain tools for AAA's NASCAR activation.
UMD Coasters Bags Custom
Debossed leather coasters and reusable tote bags for the University of Maryland's College of Behavioral and Social Sciences.
BGC MasonJars Coozies Custom
Coozies and mason jar mugs for a BGC BBQ event.

"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.