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At Brand-On, creating promotional products and merchandise to ensure ultimate awesomeness for all of your branding needs is our passion;  it’s what we live to do. We sometimes forget, however, that not everybody lives in our crazy world of everything promo, and we see the looks on your faces when we start rambling off terms and acronyms as if we’re speaking a foreign language.  We want to make working with us as easy as possible, so we’ve put together a little ‘Promo 101’ series for your educational enjoyment. 


Let’s start with the basics.  What are promotional products?  Often referred to as swag, handouts, give-aways, or our least favorite, Tchotchkes, promotional products are simply defined as useful, tangible items imprinted with an advertiser’s name, logo or message designed to increase brand awareness among consumers.  With promotional products being a $24.8 billion dollar a year industry, it’s no surprise that you see them all around you every day, you just don’t know you’re seeing them every day. The pen you accidentally pocketed at the doctor’s office with some pharmaceutical word you can’t pronounce printed on it?  Promotional product. The koozie you picked up at a music festival and held onto because it had your favorite band’s name printed on it? Promotional product. That super soft tee shirt you love that you got after running a 10k with a bunch of random sponsor logos printed on the back? You guessed it – promotional product.  


Now that we’re vibing on what promotional products are as a whole, let’s decode some of the most common terms you’ll hear us refer to in that foreign language you hear us speaking in…. 


Art or Artwork – A drawing, photo or illustration of what you want us to print on a variety of awesome product for you. 


Art Proof – What we’ll send you for approval before we print said awesome product.


Camera-Ready Art – Any artwork (see above) that doesn’t need any touch-ups or changes made before we use it.


Catalog Price – Think of it as the price tags you’re ignoring when you’re buying everything you don’t need at Target.  It’s suggested retail pricing as if you were buying it right off the shelf with no branding at all. Which is just silly.  


Color Match Charge – If your logo has a specific PMS color (we’ll get to that) we need to match, we might charge a fee for the time spent mixing inks to make sure we get the perfect color match for you and your brand.


Drop Shipping – You’re placing one order, but you need portions of it shipped to various locations?  That’s drop shipping, and heck yes we can do it for you.


EPS File – This is file extension for a graphics file format used in vector-based images (we’ll get to that too) in Adobe Illustrator.


Four Color Process (CMYK) – This is a color model that uses only four colors (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) to print all colors by mixing and overlapping the inks. 


FOB (Free On-Board Shipping Point) –  This states that the buyer (you) takes delivery of the product being shipped to you once the product leaves our production partner’s shipping dock. 


Ink Change Charge – More common with branded apparel, this is a charge that may occur if we’re using the same artwork, but different imprint colors. 


LTM Charge (Less Than Minimum) – Our production partners often have minimum quantities, depending on the product, that we have to meet.  They often charge a fee for running less than that minimum to help absorb costs for a variety of ‘behind the scenes’ reasons.  


Overrun Charge – The annoying fine print that often states the consumer (you) is responsible for the cost per item if you are shipped more than the quantity ordered.  Our industry standard is a 5% allotted overrun.


PMS Colors – This stands for Pantone Matching System, which is a color standardization system that helps in color identification and matching.  It uses a numbering system to identify colors, and this numbering system is very helpful in avoiding color inconsistencies between the various products we print for you, regardless to the decoration method. 


Pre-Production Proof – Often referred to as a PrePro, this is a physical sample that can be requested after the order is placed and the proof has been approved, but before the entire order is produced.  This is most commonly requested on a first time order and/or if you have very specific brand guidelines.


Random Sample – A physical sample with a random imprint in a random color we can send so you can see, touch and feel the item(s) we’re discussing during our collaboration phase.


Raster Artwork – This is any digital art composed of horizontal and vertical rows of pixels. As a result, when raster images are enlarged, the image quality diminishes significantly. Typical raster file types include .psd, .tif, .jpg, .gif, and .bmp. We can absolutely work with these files, but this is where art charges come into play, as we have to redraw what is in these files and turn it into vector art (we’re still getting to that).


RGB – This stands for red, green and blue, and is a color system used only for online work. It is not used for print production, however, RGB can be converted into the CMYK printing color process, but does not work with the Pantone (PMS) coloring system.


Setup Charge – We hate setup charges as much as you do, but there is quite a bit that goes into setting up the machines, ink colors and more to ensure your brand comes out completely flawless, so this helps with back end costs associated with doing just that.


Vector Art – You’ll hear the word “vector” a lot, since it’s the file format we’ll ask you to provide or that we’ll turn your original artwork into. This art is created in Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw, which are programs that use mathematical equations and geometric primitives (points, lines, and shapes) to create art that is clean and scaled infinitely, without any loss of quality.  The scalability is what makes Vector art so important, as the same file can be used on something as small as a pen or as large as a billboard without losing any definition or quality of what’s being printed.


Stay tuned for more of our education series, where we’ll take deep dives into the various art files and coloring systems mentioned, as well as decorating methods, apparel fabrics, and so much more as our capabilities to amplify your image continue to evolve. 


For more ideas on how we can help you amplify your image, go to brand-on.us/contact-us/ where you can also subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest on sales, product releases, industry news and more.  Don’t forget to follow us on instagram using the handle @brand_on.life – all the cool kids are doing it.