This One Time... at Brand Camp

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

Happy November 1st, readers! And happy belated Halloween! Is everyone experiencing a sugar coma this morning like we are?

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Now that Halloween is behind us, we can officially begin celebrating the next holiday. Don't you hate it when stores try to push Christmas merchandise before Halloween is even over? One holiday at a time, people!

The next holiday in queue is a special one indeed. Are you aware that the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving this year? It's a very rare occasion, and one we intend to celebrate fully at Sonic.


To get us all in the spirit, our art team designed a few T-shirts. Let us know if you're interested in ordering one of your own, and help us spread the Thanksgivukkah joy!

Our focus at Sonic is this: How can we get our client's brand into the hands of their target audience, and how can we get it to stay there? Of course, client project goals are a bit more specific, but that's really the gist of it.

We pay attention to how and why people use promotional products. A few reasons off the top of my head:

1. It was in the right place at the right time. That magnet on your fridge promoting a Realtor you don't even know? It's probably there because you received it in the mail alongside a holiday card from your relatives in California. You used it to hang said holiday card, and now it's still there five years later. The magnet, that is, hopefully not the card.

2. It's especially functional. I bet you have one reusable grocery bag that you like better than all the others. Maybe it's really durable, comfortable to carry, or easy to clean. Whatever the reason, it serves a purpose, and it serves it well.

3. It holds sentimental value. A perfect example is the drawer of race T-shirts in your bedroom dresser. They've probably seen better days, but you wouldn't dare trash them. Think of the memories!

4. It's just plain fun. Just ignore the 5 packs of plain yellow sticky notes in your office drawer. These sticky notes are rainbow-colored and they come in a cute little hardcover book. Adorable!

Today's feature item- the stretchy bottle sweater- is just plain fun. If you're a fan of Sonic Promos on Facebook, you've likely seen us post photos of this piece before. We find them to be the perfect enhancement to our office cocktail hours and beverage holidays.



Choose from a variety of stock holiday designs, like the blue snowflake, brown argyle and red reindeer designs above, or create a custom knit as we did. They're very stretchy and truly fit any kind of bottle, can or glass, as you can see below in the photos of a standard 12 oz. beer bottle and liter of margarita mix.

We love the idea of a tacky [bottle] sweater campaign theme for holiday outreach.

Do you own a particularly tacky (and by tacky I mean fabulous) holiday sweater? Share a photo on our Facebook page, and we'll send you a Sonic bottle sweater!

Guitar picks are a popular giveaway item at music festivals, concerts and college events. We offer a wide variety of professional grade Celluloid picks (like the guitar picks for Hebrew Union College featured in yesterday's blog post), but order minimums can run a bit higher than some client projects require. If you're just looking for a small quantity of promotional picks, here's a smart solution:

Like Camp JCC, have your full color artwork printed on plastic wallet cards and use a Pick Punch to create individual picks.

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You can generally punch 3-4 picks per card. Easy!

What have we been working on lately? Here's the scoop on two recent projects:





Scott Hartnell of the Philadelphia Flyers is pictured above in one of the jerseys we printed to promote AAA's partnership with the hockey team. Long sleeve T-shirts and blankets were also produced for this project.



A few weeks ago, we assisted Hebrew Union College with guitar picks, coffee mugs and custom playing cards to use at student events throughout the school year. These are professional grade Celluloid guitar picks, but check the blog tomorrow for a super easy (and affordable) option for promotional picks.

"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're looking for a creative theme for your next promotion, consider drawing inspiration from the current season. Sonic Promos recently assisted Columbia Books with a fall-themed direct mail campaign. Read on for more details!

Every year, Columbia Books conducts a large scale gift mailer to promote the US Congress Handbook to clients and prospects. The gift is typically seasonal, and this year's mailer focused on fall.  

Each mailer box contained a beautiful plush blanket, a set of pumpkin carving tools, three carving stencils (a donkey, an elephant and the Capitol Building) and a custom guide for local pumpkin patches.




The goal was to create a thoughtful, personal gift that would get the recipient excited about the Handbook and the festive season ahead.

Of course, I'm obsessed with all things fall, but I say, "mission accomplished!"


The first thing that came to mind when I saw these mugs? They'd be perfect for an office kitchen.

We're all guilty of committing grammatical errors from time to time, and unfortunately these mistakes seem to occur most often in client emails, company-wide memos, or (cringe!) on printed T-shirts.

I think these mugs provide a clever and friendly reminder to proofread important correspondences. I know I'd rather have my morning cup of coffee correct my grammar than a grammartician coworker!

Happy October, everyone! To kick off the new month, here are some projects keeping us busy this week at Sonic Promos...


... bags, table runners and T-shirts for Bloom Montgomery Village.

... dry erase decals for 3 Pillar Global.

... and shoe bags for BGC.

"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.

What sort of things come to mind when you think of lobster? Maybe you picture coastal Maine or New England, a nice restaurant, or fancy menu items like Surf & Turf or Lobster Bisque. You probably don't picture prisoners, servants and canned meat. Lobster has come a long way, and we can learn a lesson in branding from its history.

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I read an interesting article this weekend called "How Lobster Got Fancy", and I encourage you to click over and read the full piece too. But, if you're pressed for time this morning, I've recapped the facts and tidbits that I found to be most interesting below.

-- Lobster is an expensive food today, and that's due to supply and demand. The price diners pay depends on how much lobstermen are able to catch, and unfortunately that price can surge as much as 18% in one year, like it did in 2012. It wasn't always this way.

-- Lobster used to be so abundant that it was thought of as a trash food. Something you would serve only to servants and prisoners, certainly not esteemed guests. People hated the look of them (I can understand that- they're pretty ugly creatures), and it was common (and cheap!) to buy lobster meat in cans. It didn't really matter that lobster meat was delicious; social influences determine our food choices more than how the food tastes. (Psst.. check out this post for another interesting article about social influences and food enjoyment.)

-- Lobsters have railroads to thank, in part, for their improved social status. Inland passengers were unfamiliar with lobster's lowbrow reputation among coastal residents, so trains began serving lobsters as an "exotic" menu item. People loved the taste and began to request it in restaurants. It also helped that around this time, chefs realized that cooking lobsters live greatly improved their flavor.

-- As lobsters became more popular, fishermen noticed a decrease in population, and so the price was driven up. The industry took a hit during the Great Depression, when no one was able to afford the dish. Thankfully, this period of time allowed the lobster population to recover slightly.

-- During WWII, lobster resurged in popularity because it wasn't rationed like other food items. People of all classes ate it frequently and loved the taste. By the 1950s, it was back to being a delicacy.

I just love that story... such a great example of smart branding!

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

... SmashLights for SmartBrief. A little more information on this item, since it's a fun one... SmashLights are essentially a flat flashlight that use lithium ion batteries and LED lights, giving them a shelf life of several years. Their flat shape makes them perfect for direct mail campaigns.

... folding sunglasses and erasable highlighters for Kaztronix recruiting initiatives.

... and T-shirts for UMD and VT football games, courtesy of AAA.

"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...

... hula girl dolls for BGC.

... mini mint boxes for Body Glove Mobile, to be used for sales initiatives.

... and Blackjack mailer cards and power banks for a conference next month.

"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're a regular reader of our blog, you might remember this post from January discussing color perception and optical illusions. I came across another example recently that I just had to share:

I'm sure you see blue and green spirals above- most of us do- but there is actually no blue in that image whatsoever. Only green.

Can't believe your eyes? Click here for a zoomed-in shot.

Optical illusions, like the one above, remind us why careful proofing is so important. Never settle for a black and white proof. Pay careful attention to how your selected imprint color looks against the actual item color.

Good morning, everyone! We hope you had a wonderful long weekend. Here's what we'll be working on at Sonic this week...

... bibs, hats, onesies and sippy cups for Hebrew Union College administration, to be gifted to new parents.

... "Keep Calm and Swagger On" Game Day cups and water bottles for Forrester Research.

... and erasable pens and highlighters for BSKB.

"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.

Did you know that performing a little ritual before eating something can actually make the food taste better?

Food rituals? Sounds a little strange, right? But if you think about it, I'm sure you're already practicing several "food rituals". For example, you probably sing "Happy Birthday" before cutting cake, swirl your glass and take a big sniff before sipping red wine, or ever so carefully toast a marshmallow golden brown before constructing a s'more.

In an article titled "Singing 'Happy Birthday' Makes the Cake Taste Better", Melissa Dahl reported on a recent study exploring the effects of food rituals. Apparently, when you perform a food ritual, you become more mindful of the experience and enjoy the meal/drink/snack more than you would have if you had simply dived in.

In one experiment of the study, researchers gave 52 participants a chocolate bar. Half of them were told to break and unwrap the bar in a specific way before they were allowed to take a bite. The others were permitted to eat it normally. Can you guess which group liked the taste of the chocolate more and were even willing to pay more for it? Yep, the ritual-performers.

---The reason why we enjoy food and drink more when we go through a system of rites first appears to be that we like to feel more involved in what we’re consuming. "Rituals seem to improve the consumption experience because they lead to greater involvement and interest," the authors write in the paper published this month in the journal Psychological Science. "When people perform a ritual, their intrinsic interest increases, which in turn leads to more enjoyable consumption."---

So, why all this talk about food rituals on a promotional products blog? Well, we assist our clients with edible promotions fairly regularly, and we love the idea of applying this concept to a promotional food gift.

If performing a ritual before eating something creates a more memorable experience for the eater, it follows that you'll get a better return on your investment with a food gift if you incorporate some type of fun task for the recipient.

How to do this? Here are a few examples that come to mind:

Send a gift of custom-dipped fortune cookies. You can even customize the enclosed paper fortune for added personality. The recipient will be forced to perform the mini ritual of breaking apart the cookie to retrieve their fortune, creating a more memorable and enjoyable experience.

If you are sending food towers to an office or group this holiday season, create a challenge to make it more memorable for everyone involved. Include a card that asks the recipient to guess what is in each box before opening. Whoever gets it right claims the first piece!

We're pretty Oreo-obsessed at Sonic Promos. I might even say they're our office's second favorite cookie (first place goes to the Bean Bag's soft chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin discs of heaven).

A lot of people already practice food rituals when it comes to the Oreo. Some have to dunk them in milk. Other have to separate the wafers and eat the cream first.

For a fun and memorable gift idea, send your client a box of dipped Oreo cookies, a branded milk glass, and a card detailing step-by-step instructions for perfect Oreo consumption. After all of that, they'll remember your name for sure!

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

... recognition gifts for Bryn Mawr College.

... golf flags for a James Vito, Inc. golf outing.

... and custom playing cards for SmolenPlevy.

"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 several back-to-school projects...

... items for current and future "students" of the JCCGW Preschool.

... tote bags for Evergreen School.

... and discount cards for Matsunaga Elementary.

"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...

... annual summer intern yearbooks for the Citizenship Law-Related Education Program (CLREP).

... and outdoor tents for Wheaton, Maryland.

"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.

Did you take our quiz on Wednesday? If so, here's your answer for #7!

"Promotional products" is a very broad category, and our clients are often surprised to learn just how many different items we can source and create for them.

It frequently happens that we'll work with a client for years, helping them design and implement trade show displays and giveaways, before we connect on the topic of awards and recognition. Likewise, we have customers that only think of us for apparel decoration services, unaware that we can assist with their direct mail and fulfillment needs too.

If you're already working with us on certain projects, please be sure to ask us about the following items as well:

Paper Products and Unique Business Cards

Yep, we don't just have cool business cards, we can make them for you too! Think of us for all of your office supply needs- folders, stationary, holiday cards...

Office Decor


Perhaps you've been using Sonic Promos to customize your trade show experience- I say "experience" because our abilities go far beyond booths and banners- but did you know we can brand your office too? We can help you design coasters and glassware for the board room, floor mats for the entryway, even custom seating for the reception area.

Party Favors and Supplies



Many of our corporate clients happily bring Sonic home with them. Well, that is to say, they come to us for their personal needs too. We'd be happy to print T-shirts for your kickball team, cocktail napkins and guest favors for your friend's wedding or super stylish fanny packs for an upcoming family vacation.

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Food Gifts

Yep, we do edibles, and not just promotional mints and gum packs. We're talking custom-dipped cookies, food towers, meat and cheese samplers and etched wine bottles. If you send fruit baskets and boxed chocolate to your top clients on special holidays and occasions, consider working with us to make it extra special.

If there's something you need done, and you're not sure if we do it, please ask! We'll say yes!

Before you call anyone else, ask yourself- "WDSD?"

What Doesn't Sonic Do?

Because we do a lot. Way more than you might guess!

Here's a quick quiz for you. For each question below, identify the answer that Sonic doesn't do.






I would hope that you don't need help with questions 1-6, but we'll answer question 7 later this week!