This One Time... at Brand Camp

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

Ideas That Stick

Good morning, friends! I have a funny story to share with you today. Last week, I received a call from Colonial Parking in Washington DC regarding a returned transponder with a note on it. Our conversation went a little something like this-

Me- Hello?

Colonial Parking- Yes, is this Lindsay Hixson?

Me- Yes.

Colonial Parking- This is Sarah with Colonial Parking in DC. Someone found your parking transponder and returned it to me.

Me- That's weird. I don't have a parking transponder... And I haven't been downtown in months.

Colonial Parking- Well, your name, number and address is on this note.

Me- What?! How did someone get my address? Is there anything else on the note?

Colonial Parking- Yes, there's a name or note of some kind in blue ink. I can't really read it.

Me- Wait... Is my name printed or handwritten?

Colonial Parking- Printed.

Me- Okay. Yea, that transponder isn't mine. Only the sticky note is.

Colonial Parking- What do you mean?

Me- Is my name and number part of the sticky note? Does it also say "Sonic Promos"?

Colonial Parking- Yes.

Me- Right. I work in promotions. The sticky note is branded with my info, but I have nothing to do with that transponder. One of my clients must have just used a note I gave them to label the transponder. I assume it belongs to the name written in blue ink.

Colonial Parking- Ah, I see.

Me- Sorry about that! I hope you're able to find them!

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Dollar Store

You can get great results with promotional products, even on a shoestring budget. Looking for a good item under $1? Here are some of our favorites:

Flavored lip balm

Adhesive screen cleaner

Nugget car charger

Coloring and activity books

Plastic sunglasses

Mini sticky flag book

Oval car magnet

Javalina pen

Mint box

Gum envelope

Power clip

I especially like that the standard decoration method on many of these items (lip balm, car magnet, mint box, gum envelope) includes full color artwork. If you have a logo with multiple colors in it, those are great options for a tight budget. Keep in mind that screen-printed and pad-printed items often require additional color run charges, adding expense to your project.

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This Week at Sonic Promos 5.29.13

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

... baby bibs for Sitter City with tagline- There's a Nap for That.

... full color calculators for summer interns at the Macy's office in New York City.

... and tournament T-shirts for the Mid-Atlantic Cup at the Maryland Soccerplex, Saturday June 8th through Sunday June 9th.

"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.

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And the SWAGger of a College Kid

Between college fairs in May, summer internship programs, and early planning for fall job recruiting, we've been brainstorming and creating a lot of college-friendly swag at Sonic lately. Here are some of our favorite product ideas:

Flash drives. I had a flash drive on me at all times in college. Group projects are so prevalent, it's really rare to complete an assignment using just one computer. Flash drives make it easy to bring the latest project draft from dorm to class to library, passing it off among group members as needed. If your budget will allow, I recommend going with at least 2GB of memory space. The smaller drives aren't all that desirable.

Food and drink. Free food and drink items are universal crowd-pleasers, but they're especially attractive to hungry (and cheap) college students. Energy drinks, bottled water, granola bars, gum, trail mix, candy... they're all great promo choices.

T-shirts. Quality T-shirts that is. Cheap, starchy cotton tees with a boxy fit might get passed over, but students will still snatch up a soft, well-made tee. Even better if you offer them in a few different colors and styles with a wearable design.

Digital download cards. Download cards make keeping in touch with interested students a piece of cake. In order to redeem the reward, card recipients must first enter a unique code online, giving you an opportunity to capture data, like an email address or contact number.

Tech. Tech items- like media stands, stylus pens, screen cleaners, mobile chargers and grip pads for cell phones- have been pretty popular this year. A student is never without their phone; choose a practical phone accessory for your swag lineup, and they'll never be without your logo either.

Sunglasses. Ah, bright sunglasses. If I had to pick just one promotional item to summarize 2012, this might be it. Still just as popular this year too. Go for the brightest colors you can find.


Drinkware. I like to recommend drinkware to clients attending college job fairs because it makes for a great table display. And students, well, they drink a lot. Stadium cups are inexpensive, durable, easy to stack, pack and transport. The Game Day cup (seen above- resembles a red Solo cup) has also been an extremely popular item this year. It's much nicer than a plastic stadium cup- double-walled, appropriate for hot or cold beverages- so the price point is a bit higher than you'd want to spend on a job fair giveaway. Keep it in mind for intern gifts or new hire swag!

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Sonic Mutts Strut

This Saturday, May 18th, the Rotary Club of Bethesda Chevy Chase will host its 8th Annual Strut Your Mutt Dog Parade and Festival in downtown Bethesda, MD. If you live in the area and own a dog (or just love them), be sure to swing by. In addition to the parade, enjoy dozens of vendor booths, kid-friendly games and activities, and a raffle. The event runs from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

Unfortunately, not all of us are able to attend Saturday's event, so we've opted to celebrate with a mini Mutt Strut of the Sonic dogs, here on our blog.

Lexi and Sade- belong to Seth and Julianne

Banjo- belongs to Courtney

Blaze- belongs to Debbie

Griff- belongs to Josh

Jordan- belongs to Brandon

Oscar- belongs to Debbie

Renley- belongs to Lindsay

Simba- belongs to Jamie

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This Week at Sonic Promos 5.14.13

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

... foldaway bags to promote the Citi Open.

... coolers for the launch of a new product by Sigma-Tau.

... and ear buds, Cubicool speakers, jelly bean jars, coffee tumblers, and media stands for Baker Tilly's employee referral program.

"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.

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This Week at Sonic Promos 5.9.13

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


... summer amenity kits and tumblers for new members of the JCCGW.

... various items for Snuggle and All detergent, to be distributed at a Nascar event.

... and polo shirts for "On Par for Pink", Tigerlily Foundation's 1st annual celebrity golf classic, going on today May 9th in Lansdowne, Virginia. Best of luck for a successful event, Tigerlily! We hope the weather holds out for you!

"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.

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A Unique Storage Idea

Between random samples, showroom samples, client projects and our personal water bottles and tumblers, there is a lot of drinkware floating around 435 East Diamond Avenue. Some pieces find their way onto a showroom shelf or to a corner in the office kitchen, but most of them get tossed into jumbled boxes and storage containers.

Julianne spotted a smart storage solution on a blog yesterday, and we just might have to put it in practice.


We thought our clients and readers- especially those with crowded supply closets- might appreciate this trick as well. Enjoy!

All photos from Spinning Our Webb- thanks for sharing this great tip, Heather!

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Sonic Staff: Meet Debbie

Another staff interview for you this morning! Debbie's up to bat today.

You may not know Debbie personally, but if you've done any work with Sonic in the last decade, I guarantee you've seen her name. Debbie Bostin is Sonic's head Customer Service Manager/Production Manager, and we'd be lost without her. Your orders would likely be lost too... literally.

So, next time you receive an order acknowledgment or a tracking number from her, shoot her an email back to let her know she's THE BEST (inside joke- you'll see below).

Meet Debbie:

How long have you been working at Sonic Promos?
Nine years, but it seems like just yesterday that I started...

What role(s) do you play here?
I'm Sonic's head Customer Service Manager. Basically, that means I make sure all orders get done correctly. I handle every step that occurs between sending in the purchase order and sending the client their tracking number.

Best part of the job?
Well- I must tell the truth on this- I work from home. I have to say, that's the biggest perk to the job. I also enjoy that I get to talk and interact with all sorts of people throughout the day, and I really love making sure every project gets done perfectly.

Worst part of the job?
Hmm, this is tough. I think the worst part of the job is dealing with UPS and FedEx. Sadly, they cause me tons of grief. I would really love to explain to every client that I have zero control once an order goes out for delivery. I try to intervene, I really do, but once a shipment is on the truck, there never seems to be anything they can do. They should really hire me- I truly think I could fix them and get packages where they need to go- but that's a conversation for another day.

What's your favorite kind of project to work on?
My favorite kind of project to work on is one in which the item is created overseas. Those projects are typically really big in size with intricate design. It takes a lot of work to make sure everything goes smoothly- organizing pre-production samples and reviewing detail after detail. It's really exciting to oversee the process from start to finish, especially getting to see the final result.

What do your coworkers love to tease you about?
Oh my, the list is endless. My age (I'm the oldest employee at Sonic), that I yell at everyone, that I type in all caps, that I repeat myself all the time, that I think everything is the BEST, that I love Fridays, and so much more.

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
Meet Julianne
Meet Caitlin
Meet Josh
Meet Courtney
Meet Tarika

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This Week at Sonic Promos 4.30.13

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

... cotton totes for a children's event sponsored by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC, and Newmark Grubb Knight Frank.

... debossed journal books for a banquet celebrating student leaders at the McIntire School of Commerce of the University of Virginia.

... and desk organizers for Wilmer Hale.

"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.

Continue reading
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