So, we’ve had Kolorstitch and our Kolorstitch plus out for a few months now. Thus far, the response has been great. Quite a few orders have been shipped using the technique. We thought we’d dust off the old blog and talk Kolorstitch.
We think it is powerful. We do have a slight bias here, but we are the unquestioned global can holder experts. In an industry filled with order takers, a can holder is a can holder is a can holder. Except, when it isn’t.
In the trade show booth, it takes a few seconds for us to explain the power of Kolorstitch plus, but once the light bulb turns on, then distributors “get it.” So, we hope these pictures are worth 1,000 words.
3,472 combinations. There are seven colors of bias, 16 colors of thread, and 31 colors of neoprene. Mix and match to your heart’s content.
Also, we can add Kolorstitch plus to virtually anything in our line that has thread and bias. Tablet sleeves, water bottles, lunch bags anyone?
Did we mention Kolortstitch plus is free?
Still struggling with what all this means to you and your customer? Send us the art. We’ll send you back a virtual that will knock your socks off.
Or you can have a can holder.
You may have noticed we’ve been developing many of our own products lately. We’ve always been thinking along these lines, and we’ve certainly had our share of items we’ve brought to market. I’m thinking it’s about time to put our design philosophy into words. (Although “design philosophy” sounds like more than it really is, to us. We just think it’s common sense.)
As human beings, we see places in our own lives as opportunities to have useful items. So, any item we develop would need to be useful to a real group of real people. Since the business of imprinted promotional items is very dear to us, we want to make items with an imprint area in mind. If an item is actually useful, all the more likely that the imprint on it will be seen, right?
That doesn’t mean we just slap an imprint area onto something. It’s gotta all work together. The imprint area needs to genuinely be a part of the item, without compromising that item’s utility.
With the focus on utility, there are things we come up with that probably only fit a very narrow demographic of people. That’s OK. Numo is in a unique position to be able to provide items for our customers’ clients that would be pretty tough for other industry suppliers to handle. The upside is that the end recipients can get a uniquely memorable item that they’ll use repeatedly (or continually), so utility will further solidify the imprinted message.
But probably the biggest reason we do this is because we like to. We dig it. Numo is a manufacturer at heart, so we like to make stuff.
I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some ideas for some imprints we’ve tried lately. Some internal projects we’ve done, and some customer work we’ve handled has produced some nice results.
If you have clients looking for something a little different than the standard fare, maybe these ideas will get your brainstorming started?
One thing I’ve seen working well is a tone-on-tone imprint. In this, the imprint color is the same as the material color, except just a little lighter or darker. In other words, you might print forest green ink onto a kelly green item. Or perhaps a charcoal gray ink onto our aluminum or stainless steel items. This can work as a primary imprint, or as a sort of background pattern where logos or icons are repeated like a wallpaper pattern. Then, over the pattern, the main imprint could shown in a more contrasting color from the background. Or not. Maybe the pattern is all you need?
If you’ve seen the Coolies we’ve been giving away at some of the industry trade shows this year, you’ve seen an example of this.
Also, black ceramic mugs look pretty classy with a charcoal gray one-color imprint.
In a similar groove, we’ve long offered a “mock-etch” print. This is a satin-finish, semi-clear ink we print onto glass drinkware, making it look like the logo has been etched into the glass – at a fraction of the cost of actual etching.
This same concept can be applied to our Four-Color Process Sublimation items. One advantage here, though, is that the imprint can go all the way to the edges of the item, and into the seams as well. You can try “ghosting” a large version of your client’s logo behind the main imprint. Consider making it so large that some of it gets cropped off by the physical boundaries of the item. This can add some perceived depth to the art, and even make the main imprint jump out that much more. To make things a little more dynamic, try tilting the ghosted logo a bit.
It may sound odd that reducing the contrast of your client’s logo so that it almost blends in the background is something that can actually enhance the overall message, but in many cases, it does. While all the “normal” stuff has become just noise, sometimes subtlety can be the best way to get noticed. The loudest whisper.
Last week I had to take my car in for service. There are two Ford dealers I’ve used lately. One is one of the largest in the area, the other is probably one of the smallest. The smaller one is closer to where I work, so that one got the nod this time. What really struck me about the different attitudes each has toward their business came when the repair got delayed (for reasons neither the dealer nor I had any control over). I needed a loaner car to get me by for the extra day.
The service manager just handed me the keys for the loaner.
I didn’t have to sign forms in triplicate, or have them make a copy of my driver’s license or anything like that.
I half-jokingly asked the service manager about the lack of formality, and he quickly said, “We have your info… and your car. We’re not worried that you’ll bring the loaner back.”
The big dealer would have had me wade through all kinds of red tape… if they even got as far as providing a loaner in the first place. They’d be mostly concerned about protecting themselves up one side and down the other. (Not to mention a pushy up-sell for-more-service pitch I’d have to tolerate.) It would never occur to them to attempt to relieve a portion of my inconvenience of having my car in for service longer than either of us expected. Their “customer service” is really more like “self-service”. Or maybe their real “customers” are their legal department? (Hat tip to Seth Godin’s recent post.)
It’s all indicative of attitude. The small-town business just focused on what needed to be done and did it. It would probably cost them more to worry about the what-ifs than to just take the almost nonexistent risk of loaning a car out.
That kind of attitude toward me would make me drive past the other dealer to get to the little guy.
Much to the chagrin of my parents, I joined a fraternity while I was in college. I worked summers to pay my dues. In return, I was afforded a house at which I lived with some of my best friends. My fraternity experience was fairly typical. Lots of parties. I have many stories that get re-told every time I get together with my buddies from school. Good times.
After reminiscing with my buddies, I always am thankful for those good times, and I’m even more thankful that I don’t have to re-live them again. Those stories are best served as memories.
This leads me to question the party atmosphere that surrounds one of our “industry’s” organizational leaders. It seems that after each of a series of trade shows, we see blog posts showing parties at exclusive restaurants and tales of limos and late nights. I’m not sure if all of this is meant to inspire dues paying members to aspire to these invites or what. It seems it’s the same cast of characters at the same restaurants in the same cities. Groundhog Day.
I know I’m a colossal stick in the mud, but there’s a reason I don’t pay dues to my fraternity any longer. There is a time and a place for revelry. The, now international, face of our “industry” evidently disagrees with me.
All of this reminds me of a Chuck Klosterman essay about time travel and eating dinosaurs. The playing field is being leveled. Ask Best Buy and Barnes and Noble. Caligula knew how to party.
You may have seen or heard that we’ve recently announced our new BudBear™ earbuds holder. We really want to make items that solve real problems in the simplest way possible… with a genuine bias for the promotional products world. (After all, if an item is useful to the end-recipient, she will use it more, and maximize the brand impression, right?)
Nearly everyone at Numo uses a smartphone in some way, and many of us like music. We noticed that we hadn’t seen any really good solutions to neatly store our earbuds. Most were so fussy to use, it was just as frustrating to use those winders & cases as it was to just detangle the wad of earbuds cords from simply just stuffing the ‘buds in a backpack pocket.
We sketched out a few ideas to solve the problem, and made a few cardboard mock-ups. The bear shape wasn’t really intentional, but it worked out to be the shape that worked easily. After moving our prototyping to aluminum, we tested out several thicknesses as well as different finishes, and as a result, BudBear was born.
Having used Macs exclusively as long as I’ve been using computers, I’ve kept pretty close tabs on Apple as a brand and as a company for a couple decades now.
I really wasn’t going to write anything on the resignation of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. After all, a bizillion other writers have pretty much said it all in the past 22 hours or so, right?
But there is something I haven’t seen penned yet. *
I think the biggest thing Mr. Jobs has done for Apple is the culture that has been engrained into that organization. I constantly hear and read about how much respect Apple employees have for one another, and there is creativity and innovation at every desk in the company. In my opinion, it’s this culture that has had the most impact on the design of Apple’s many consumer electronics goodies – the ones that instantly become the standards by which all others are judged.
I’m somewhat fascinated by corporate culture in general, as I’ve seen the positive and negative effects that different cultural styles can have. Apple’s internal culture has blurred (or possibly eliminated) the lines between company and brand.
I suppose part of my own vision for Numo is that we can do the same.
*Since typing this up, I ran across an article that mentions that Jobs’ successor, Tim Cook, acknowledged in a letter to Apple employees the value of the culture that the former CEO brought to Apple.