Sharing the buzz on custom stickers--branding and marketing, street art, graphic design, guerilla marketing and more.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

On the Road with Custom Sticker Makers: AZ Association of Student Councils Conference

Not long back, a very cool sticker caught our eye here at Custom Sticker Makers: "Awaken the Hero Within." The person behind that sticker is Brent Jarles of the Arizona Association of Student Councils, who was ordering the sticker in conjunction with the Association's 2011 State Convention. After a conversation with CSM's founder, Jeff Daverman, Brent invited CSM to attend the big event, as a vendor.

What follows is a diary of the day's events from CSM's own Erin Hutchinson (known to many of you as the friendly voice behind CSM's customer service hotline) who traveled to be at the event.

Thursday morning came early, and we were on the road, headed for Blue Ridge High School in Lakeside, Arizona, for the Arizona Association of Student Councils conference. 

At 3:00 we started setting up our booth. There were approximately 10 other vendors advertising their products, including class rings, formal wear, event planners, and vending machine distributors.

The event started at 5:00, and as the doors opened, I was a little overwhelmed by what I saw. There were literally busloads of students from all around the state, carrying signs and dressed up in costumes, laughing and chanting, singing and dancing, as they made their way down the hall of vendors.

I spent the next 2 hours explaining to hundreds, if not thousands of students, faculty members and parents what Custom Sticker Makers is, and what we do. They were excited about all the different applications for our custom stickers: fundraisers, sports teams, clubs, events, even just for fun! I collected dozens of contacts, and I could tell that the kids thought we really had a cool product to offer. When I gave them my information, and let them know they could get in contact with me directly, everyone’s response was “Oh wow, that’s great!”

I felt great about the evening, knowing that CSM has a unique product to offer these students, on a budget that is realistic for their schools.  It was a flashback to high school for me as well, and I am really happy I had the opportunity to mingle with these amazing young people, many of whom will eventually become business and community leaders. I have no doubt that we will be working with many of them in the future, and helping them express their ideas on stickers!

On our way home the next morning, our trip hit a high note when we stopped on the side of the road and saw two golden eagles, one taking off with a wing span of literally 7 feet!

It was a great experience!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tell Us How You Really Feel: d'Fumo Stickers Offer Ocean Conservation w/'Tude

'd'Fumo' sounds like something mysterious in another language. In reality, it's an ocean conservation sticker with some serious Hawaiian attitude, which stands for one simple statement in plain English: Don't F*ck Up My Ocean.

Kyle Kernohan created the first d'Fumo sticker about a year ago to express his sentiments on ocean conservation--namely, that it's about more than just saving a few tide pools, it's about whatever is f*cking up your ocean, be that garbage, over-flowing bonfire pits, people who shouldn't be wearing small bathing suits, or fifteen dollar parking. 

His concept was to create an adhesive eco-statement that Hawaiian surf culture could really get behind, and get behind it, it has. Kernohan reports that tons of young boogie boarders have picked up these stickers at their local surf shops and now proudly sport them all over the islands.

The main purpose of the d'Fumo sticker is simply to get the message out there, on surfboards, boogie boards, cars, coolers, trash cans, ETC. Even as the concept has taken off, Kyle has managed to keep it local by designing different themed stickers for different beaches, helping to keep the focus on local pride. (Shown here: the Hawaii and Reggae editions.)

Why Custom Sticker Makers? "I choose CSM because of the low minimum order requirement," he told us. "I like to run small, limited editions of stickers so I can come out with tons of different designs. There are not many sticker producers out there that can offer such a low initial run." He goes on to note that CSM's high-quality outdoor vinyl is also durable enough to survive the biggest waves.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Personal Touch: Flutterbye Note Cards and Stickers

When Amie Jones gave up graphic design to stay home with her kids in 2009, she loved spending time with them, but missed creating and designing. A new direction presented itself when Amie sent her mother, a teacher, a set of note cards as a gift. Other teachers asked about them, and when Amie looked around at the types of note cards available for teachers, she knew she had something to add.
Thus was Flutterbye Notes born. This line of personalized stationary gives primary school teachers a uniquely personalized way of corresponding with both students and parents--and students and parents a great, truly useful gift for teacher. 
Over the past two years, Jones has expanded her focus beyond the market for teachers, but has kept the focus on cards with that extra personal touch--as in her ThumbKins line, which incorporates the customer's actual finger print in the design. Her vision for Flutterbye is to bring people stationery that they feel is truly unique and represents who they are, encouraging recipients to reach out and appreciate others, too.
Amie uses custom stickers on all of her product packaging, noting that she doesn't invest in a lot of custom-made packaging, but is still able to brand everything associated with Flutterbye with her logo sticker. Stickers are also an aspect of her actual product, as they give her customers yet another way to personalize their cards, and to use their own creativity. 
Why Custom Sticker Makers? "CSM has been great to work with," Amie told us. "For me, the ability to print in small quantities for a great price is my biggest incentive. I am a small business and also like to reinvent my designs on a whim, so the small runs are really great for me."  

Friday, February 11, 2011

Street Stickers Sell It: the New York State of Mind

In 2008, Brett Stein discovered an important fact: thanks to the First Amendment of the Constitution, it's legal to sell T-shirts in the streets and parks of New York City as long as they make a political/religious statement. Stein put that knowledge together with his political views, love of street art/graffiti, skateboarding and hip-hop, and came up with New York State of Mind (NYSM)--a clever, eye-catching collection of t-shirts sold on the streets of Soho and in NYC's Union Square Park.

Since then, thousands of NYSM shirts have been sold to people from all over the world--proving, in the immortal words of Mos Def, "it's not where you're from, it's where you're at!"--but to this day, every shirt is silk screened by hand in Stein's Brooklyn studio with mad love.

Despite all the success, NYSM is still an independent business with virtually no budget for marketing/advertising, so beyond  word-of-mouth and some basic social networking, Stein's entire marketing plan has consisted of custom sticker "stick ups" on the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn. As a consequence, he told us, it seems like almost everyone he meets in NYC is familiar with his brand/logo.

Why did Brett Stein choose Custom Sticker Makers to print those all-important NYSM stickers? "I choose to deal with CSM because I know they value me as a customer and go the extra mile to keep me happy," he told us.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Machine Gun Moustache: A Great Sound Deserves a Great Sticker

When multi-instrumentalists Immanual (a.k.a. "The Liberator") and Will Hatch get together, good things happen. Musical traditions are explored, updated and sometimes even exploded, as in the case of their new band, Machine Gun Moustache, which re-imagines old blues and Americana with experimental twists, such as tribal rhythms and homemade electric instruments. 

While the band is barely a year old, all told, 2010 was a good year for Machine Gun Moustache. They finished up their second self-produced/recorded album, Fish for Dinner, and embarked on their first real tour, heading up from Washington D.C. through New England all the way to Burlington, Vermont. "To be honest," Immanuel told us, "we were a bit surprised by how excited people seemed to be at our shows." He goes on to note how grateful he and Will are for the generosity of fans and friends on the road (especially to those who let the band crash on their couches).

As a new band, Machine Gun Moustache relies heavily on word-of-mouth support and fan endorsements to get the word out, and their stickers are a big part of that. The band's intriguing photo-sticker now adorns walls, poles, doors, and bathroom stalls from D.C. to Maine--which prompts the curious to perhaps visit the website, maybe download some music (by donation), and hopefully come see a show. 

Why did Machine Gun Moustache go with Custom Sticker Makers (CSM) on sticker printing? "That’s pretty simple," Immanuel told us. "Full-color and price.  Even though our sticker only has four or five colors, it would have cost us way more money to do the job at any of the other places I looked at. If I had gone with another printer, I  would have had to do the time-consuming Photoshop work of separating color vectors and such. With CSM, I just sent in a high-res JPEG and they sent the stickers back looking perfect." He goes on to note that at CSM's prices, the band can afford to give their stickers away. 

Midgemere Part One

MachineGunMustache | Myspace Music Videos

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sticking with the Workout: Words to Sweat by

When Dana founded a company called Whimsical Walney way back in 2004, her vision was to create unique children's products. Unfortunately, unintended consequences of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 put the testing required to continue selling these products out of range for her start-up. But rather than give up and throw in the towel, so to speak, Dana noticed one day at the gym how many of her fellow fitness enthusiasts draped their towels over their workout equipment. Why not create a towel with a little attitude and inspiration?

Thus was was Words to Sweat by born--a line of towels designed to help people take their workouts seriously, but not themselves--appliqued with sayings like "Carpe Dumbell" and "C is for crunches, not cookies" and the ever-popular, "10 more reps and the cupcake is history." The brand launched in November 2009 with about 15 gym towels; in 2010, reusable snack bags and key chains were added to the line and in January of this year, Dana launched the World-Class Words collection of towels, which sponsors four athletes going for gold in the next Olympics. These towels feature each athlete’s own personal mantra, and sales help to support that athelete's training.

Dana likes the way her custom stickers can wind up anywhere from a water-bottle to a laptop computer. She includes one in every order as a little surprise, and often hands them out to prospective customers. She notes that stickers are both cost-effective and easy to store, and once they're placed on an object, they're usually there for good--which means she never knows who might learn about her brand just by asking about the sticker after seeing it.

Why did she choose Custom Sticker Makers? "I originally choose Custom Sticker Makers because you offered the best pricing," she told us. "I also liked that it was so easy to understand your pricing and get a quote. Then I had a little hiccup with one of my graphics and the CSM team made sure that they had the right graphic in-hand so that I got the best sticker possible. So, the pricing was the initial draw, but the service is what made (and makes) me a repeat customer."