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Jeff Nicholson standing in front of lockers covered with promotional stickers

Jeff Nicholson, owner of Freely Creative, Inc. attempts to write weekly about stickers... news, design tips, resources, common questions and small business marketing.





Archive for the ‘Interesting Sticker News’ Category

Why Do People Put Custom Bumper Stickers On Cars?

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car covered with too many bumper stickers

I’m always on the lookout for news, blogs and opinions about stickers. Custom car stickers are an exceptional promotional tool, but some people have strong opinions about never putting a custom sticker on their car and are bothered at times by people that do. In my mind the best custom car stickers are the ones that make me laugh, think or start a conversation. But, no matter what the sticker says or promotes I understand everyone has the right to share (or not share) their opinions and brand preferences on their car. But why, really, do some people have the urge to broadcast their affiliations, their family or opinions on their cars?

A recent blog post by Ken Chitwood at houstonbelief.com made some excellent points regarding this question.

“Why drivers choose to express their spiritual proclivity reveals less about individual religions than the shared human need for group affinity and to mark one’s territory…

Drivers who attach a sticker or decal to their vehicle are making a commitment (have you ever tried to pry off one of those faux-metal decals?). Furthermore, they are making a public statement that thousands, if not more, will see every day.

Those who choose to show their religious bias on a vehicle are those with the strongest “brand affinity.” Consider the not-explicitly-religious decal phenomena of the white Apple stickers. Those who place such stickers on their cars, typically in the lower corner of the rear window, are telling others that they are loyal to the Apple brand. The “brand” becomes the point of commonality, the sticker the point of contact, between two otherwise dissociated individuals…

Whether the bumper sticker elicits admiration or ire, “your” reaction to “my” bumper sticker helps “me” define who “I” am.

For thousands of years, humans have felt the shared need to mark the boundaries of their territory, particularly in opposition to others. With fences, personal decorations and other markers, humans today continue to trademark their territory so that others know what is theirs and how they identify their own.”

So, custom car stickers are really a badge – an extension of who we are, where we live, what we believe, and what products, teams and brands we love. While displaying a tattoo, a t-shirt, a flag, or a custom bumper sticker may be a more obvious ways of defining your opinions and who you are, the house you live in, clothes you wear, and car you drive are defining similar “territories” and “points of commonality” – just in subtler ways.

So, for those people that choose to rant about custom Family Stickers, My Child is… bumper stickers, outdated political stickers, or religious stickers, perhaps they are saying as much about themselves driving a certain type of car with no stickers on it as those that choose to sport a “I’d Rather Be Bowling” sticker on their old truck. Just as motorcycle riders or Jeep owners might give each other a knowing wave when they pass each other on the road – bowlers, Patriots fans, and Flying Spaghetti Monster followers can enjoy similar feelings of connection and group affinity.

For businesses or organizations looking to promote themselves with custom promotional car stickers the mission is clear. It’s not enough to just hand out custom stickers, you need to have a product, brand or message that resonates with people and their lives. As with all effective marketing, custom car stickers are just one promotional tool that is tied to relationship building. The work of building strong relationships and creating fans needs to happen before anyone will help spread the positive word with a custom sticker on their car.

By Jeff Nicholson, owner and marketing director for Websticker.com, custom printer of many, many promotional car stickers.

The Sticker Mobile Is Born – Now That’s a Promotional Vehicle!

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Take a look at our new Freely Creative/Websticker.com company car. We’re “adding fun to the fun” by creating the ultimate “promotional vehicle”. To kick things off, we applied almost 300 stickers produced for clients this last year, to the Sticker Mobile hood. Then we went to the back bumper and trunk and added 200 more. The roof is next!.
In past years we have mailed Thank You Postcards to our clients highlighting the best stickers from the previous year. After over 15 years it seemed time to reach beyond a limited postcard mailing list and showcase our stickers to our community and beyond. We don’t just design and produce promotional stickers, we’re making them part of a larger work of art, creating a buzz and having a great time doing it.
If you’re not a client of Websticker.com, it’s easy to join in the fun and harness the promotional power of stickers. Just contact Websticker with any sticker related questions, for comparative pricing, or if you need help designing/developing a powerful sticker campaign. Remember, any ideas (or businesses) worth spreading are stickers worth making! And, as an added benefit we will feature them on The Sticker Mobile.
Let’s keep those stickers rolling and promoting! Have a great end to your summer. Want to keep up with news, stories and the development of the Sticker Mobile? Or follow us on Facebook and subscribe to this Blog.

Stickers For Camp Trunks and Other Summer Gear

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It’s that time of year again when kids will be heading off to camp. And the coolest camp trunks are always the ones decked out with stickers and decals. A couple years ago I did this video of my son preparing his trunk for the trip to camp. Of course, it might not just be a trunk you want to customize with stickers – you may want to do a bike, helmet, skateboard, tacklebox or any other essential summer equipment.

A couple years ago I did not recommend an awesome place to get small quantities of custom stickers so I just plugged our Websticker.com site. But this site does nothing to help kids plaster their trunks and equipment with cool stickers in the short run (unless you’re the son of the owner). What’s needed are limited quantities of a vast array of stickers, personalized if possible. StickerYou is the place. StickerYou allows you to create pages of die cut stickers. You can personalize, adjust sizes, choose from thousands of possibilities and order up a sheet or two of stickers that will make that camp trunk stand out from all others. You can even upload your own designs or pictures and make your own custom stickers. Very Cool!

Check out Sticker You!

 

By Jeff Nicholson

Whether Distributed as Art, Fun or Promotion – Stickers Have Power!

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The slogan for Freely Creative, Inc., the parent company for Websticker.com is “The Power Of Stickers”. I like the simplicity of this statement and wholeheartedly believe in its sentiment. I’m in the sticker business because I firmly believe that promotional stickers are one of the most cost effective marketing tools available. As I have often stated over the years, custom stickers build identity, advertise, support and enhance overall marketing programs, and can also make profitable stand alone products.

Mr. Brainwash

Recently I’ve been digging further into another side of stickers – their role as street art. This of course is also promotion, just of a different sort. Promoting individuals, ideas, causes or just prompting reactions from viewers. I just saw Exit Through The Gift Shop a documentary film produced by Banksy, a well known street artist. I do highly recommend this film as a peek into street artist’s lives, graffiti and an exploration of the question of what “art” is. Regardless of whether this is a true documentary or “Banksy prank”, it still is a great piece of art and entertainment.

My favorite quote in the film regarding stickers and delivered by Shepard Fairey is;
“Even though the Andre the Giant sticker was an inside joke and I was just having fun, I like the idea of the more stickers that are out there, the more important it seems… the more people wanna know what it is, the more they… (talk) and it gains real power from perceived power.”

I love it. Whether promoting something, making a joke or starting a worldwide movement, behold, the power of stickers.

 

By Jeff Nicholson

Cheap, Cheezy Bumper Sticker Book

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Jeff Nicholson with "everyone is entitled to my opinion" bumper sticker
Cheap and cheesy notebook sticker from
mis-named, Ultimate Bumper Sticker Book

My son received a gift for Christmas called “The Ultimate Bumper Sticker Book”. Great idea – 96 stickers with various sayings (mostly obnoxious) in a convenient tear-out book format. Though I don’t mind the content and I’m sure everyone could find something fun they might want to display (my wife especially liked; “TV Is Gooder Than Books”) I do have one big problem with this book. They aren’t bumper stickers!

To me a bumper sticker is a sticker that can go on, of all places, a bumper… a car… somewhere outside. These stickers are printed in China – on paper. The back of the book states, “put them in your office, in the kitchen, or anywhere you’d like to make a statement”. Well, hello… if it’s a “bumper sticker” I’d like to make a statement on my car – that’s what bumper stickers are for.

It’s cheap stickers like these that give true bumper stickers a bad name. This is why people still worry about taking paint off their car, leaving paper and residue behind when they try to remove them, or having the sticker fade and fall apart. Quality, screen printed bumper stickers have been available with removable adhesive for over 40 years but still there are misperceptions – mostly due to cheap over laminated paper stickers like the ones in this book.

Whether buying a bumper sticker to display or ordering custom bumper stickers for your own promotion or retail item make sure they are printed on vinyl with inks that won’t fade or chip. The outdoor durability of a sticker should be guaranteed for years. Screen printing is the best print method for a bumper sticker, laying down the thickest coating of ink, but other print methods using long lasting UV inks can work as well. Here at Websticker.com we offer screen printed bumper stickers on vinyl with 3-5 year outdoor durability. “Ultra removable” adhesive is now standard on all stock custom bumper stickers.

 

By Jeff Nicholson

Shepard Fairey And Sticker Promotion

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I just started reading (and attempting to digest the thousands of images) in a new book called Stickers, From Punk Rock To Contemporary Art.  There is an introduction by Shepard Fairey which I found of interest. Most of it is based on an essay you can read here. Any one with an interest in the history of stickers, stickers as art, street art or Shepard Fairey will find this of interest. I will get into more thoughts on the “Stickers” book by DB Burkeman in a later post, but for now, I’ll just point out some highlights from the Shepard Fairey intro/article/essay.

Shepard Fairey sticker that started it all

As a child Fairey “wanted stickers as badges of my culture” but later wanted to create his own stickers and… “ponder the sticker as a means of expression and communication for an individual, instead of just representing a band, company, or movement”. The ‘Andre the Giant has a posse’ stickers started the ball rolling for Fairey in Providence, RI. and “once the first domino fell, I was addicted and had my sights set on world domination with stickers” said Fairey. He hand screen printed and cut over a million stickers between 1989 and ’96 before he started using a professional printer.

Here are a few key quotes from Shepard Fairey on stickers relevant to sticker marketing:

“Repetition works, and stickers are a perfect medium to demonstrate the principle.”

“People… seem unable to resist the urge to stick them on their belongings, car, stereo, skateboard, guitar, and the list goes on… they manage to make their way into every nook and cranny on the planet”

“stickers are the most effective promotional tool possible for the price”

The once separate worlds of ‘stickers for promotion’ and ‘stickers for expression and art’ are merging more than ever. This is not only the result of changing demographics and marketing techniques but also print technology. It is more affordable then ever to print stickers – even low quantities, full color and for long term outdoor use.

Have an idea (or need ideas) for stickers to help with your own “world domination” of an idea, a band, a company, a cause, or just a thought provoking piece of art?  Websticker.com can help or point you towards someone that can.

 

By Jeff Nicholson

Bumper Stickers – If You Can Read This, Review

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I just read an article about a lecture given by Yale Professor and Author Stephen Carter. The article was entitled “Books, Not Bumper Stickers”. Like many people, Mr. Carter can’t stand bumper stickers. His main issue seems to be with bumper stickers reducing complex issues into “cute little slogans” and damaging democracy. According to the article, “the bumper sticker phenomenon not only denied the complexity of issues, it denied that reasonable people might differ, and undermined serious debate. The real essence of democracy, he said, was not the right to vote, but the practice of deliberation and debate, conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect.” What we need according to Stephen Carter is more books. What books offer that bumper stickers can not is “heft, weight… that you can hold in your hand… ideas need space”.
I agree that traditional bumper stickers are often oversimplified and advertise more about the person displaying them then they do about specific issues.  But, bumper stickers can encourage debate and more complex thoughts. And if books are the place to give ideas more space and spur deeper thought and discussion then a serious book on bumper stickers is just the place to dig in a bit deeper on bumper sticker philosophy and what particular bumper stickers say about the displayer, and the world.
I just finished reading If You Can Read This – The Philosophy of Bumper Stickers by Jack Bowen. As far as I know this is the only book written that thoroughly explores bumper sticker wisdom… and bumper sticker ignorance. Hopefully Jack has sent a copy of the book off to Stephen Carter so they can start a dialog. I highly recommend this book for bumper sticker lovers, haters, displayers and no-wayers – though for displayers you may discover your bumper sticker is screaming something to the world other than what you may have intended.
I think the back jacket of If You Can Read This sums the book up quite nicely, so I’ll repeat it here;
 Long before blogs and tweets, people were telling the world how they felt through bumper stickers. Even now, whether they’re political or religious, passionate or proud, controversial or corny, these brightly colored, boldly lettered mini manifestos are declarations of who we are, where we stand, and what we’d rather be doing. But as best selling author and noted philosopher Jack Bowen reveals, there’s much more to the pop-culture phenomenon than rolling one-liners—no less, in fact, than a wise, funny, poignant, contentious, and truthful discourse on the human condition.
Jack Bowen does not hold back from sharing his opinion, or the known facts regarding hundreds of popular bumper sticker slogans. He takes on Reality, The Self, Values, God and Religion, Ethics, Politics, and ultimately the Meaning Of Life. This is not a book to read in one sitting – I found it needed to be chewed on and swallowed in small portions for proper digestion. I’ve never taken a philosophy course but feel as though I just finished Philosophy 101 with this book, and it was an excellent introduction. As a producer of bumper stickers I’ve always enjoyed having a finger on the pulse of what is happening in our nation. Sometimes humorous, sometimes hopeful, sometimes downright scary, bumper stickers say a lot about the people that create them, buy them, and display them. After reading this book, apparently they say more about us than I ever realized.
As Jack points out in the Book introduction (and I’m sure author Stephen Carter would appreciate), “Like a picture, a good bumper sticker may also be worth at least a thousand words, but any important issue merits much more than that.” In today’s society the sticker you choose to put on your car can lead to tickets, being fired, rudely gestured at, and according to one controversial study may even make you more susceptible to road rage (you! not the other guy). May I suggest taking a deep breath, reading If You Can Read This, and engaging others in respectful discussions before sticking that cleverly tailored slogan/opinion on your bumper.
More: Here’s a good interview with Jack Bowen about his book.
By Jeff Nicholson

Most Political Campaign Products Are Not Delivering Votes

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STOWE, Vt., March 20, 2010 – Do a search on-line for “political campaign products” and you’ll get thousands of results. But, open the door to any of these linked resources and take a closer look. You’ll find that most are selling the same products, showcasing the same layouts, and there isn’t a friendly face anywhere in sight to offer assistance. If winning elections and campaigns requires standing out from the crowd and communicating a unique message, then why do so many candidates and campaigns settle for bland, cookie-cutter graphics and products?
Heidi Scheurmann bumper sticker and other political bumper stickers made by Websticker
According to Jeff Nicholson, owner of Websticker.com the reason for the abundance of generic, outdated looking campaign products is twofold, “Most candidates and organizations don’t realize the true marketing potential of certain custom campaign products and if they do, they mistakenly believe that high level custom design and creative work are financially out of reach. Not all custom campaign products are created equal but at Websticker.com we help separate the good, the blah, and the totally awesome, and offer free design services to maximize effectiveness. It’s unfortunate that many candidates and campaigns are not capitalizing on the full exposure and advertising capabilities of professionally designed and produced promotional products.”
Nicholson adds, “Many people mistakenly still think advertising is all about the number of impressions. In politics, pure name recognition still definitely counts. But, Making a good impression and encouraging word-of-mouth, that’s what can really make the difference in a campaign”.
Marketing and advertising have changed tremendously over the last twenty years. Now, more than ever it is about standing out from the crowd and being talked (tweeted, blogged, commented…) about that creates buzz. People no longer have the patience or attention span to be force fed advertising from strangers. So, what does this mean for Political Campaign Products? How can candidates and campaigns stand out?
According to Nicholson, “Campaigns should focus on the main custom campaign products that generate word-of-mouth (are seen by a lot of people) and are viewed as testimonials, not paid ads. That means yard signs and, the most important, promotional stickers. I don’t say “bumper stickers” because I’d encourage people to think beyond the bumper – beyond the same layout, colors, shape and size as everyone else. Once your identity is established on these two essential products the design components can be utilized on other needed campaign products like banners, lapel stickers, buttons, door knob hangers and other custom political products dictated by what best fits the individual campaign. Give supporters the tools they need to spread the word.”
Websticker.com has a webpage showcasing recommended political campaign products but also recommends you contact them to go over personal goals and needs. They also share many design tips and ideas at their website which can be helpful when contemplating more powerful design layouts for your campaign products.
Freely Creative, Inc. was founded in 1991 and launched its online presence as Websticker.com in 1997. Websticker.com offers free consultations, free design work and top quality products for “When You Want Your Name To Stick”. 

 

Promotional Sticker Advertising – You Couldn’t Pay Me To Put That On My Car!

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What if someone gave you a car? The only hitch, you’d need to drive it on certain routes, in certain cities, at certain times and it’s totally wrapped with blazing graphics. If you were paid $100. per month, what then would you be willing to display on your own car? Or, what if all your gas was paid for? There are many companies out there doing innovative things with mobile advertising and there’s probably plenty of room for more. But, is this the most cost effective use of stickers for marketing? Is this the future of marketing with custom stickers and vinyl graphics? I don’t think so. We don’t really need more locations for ads – we need more locations for referrals and more word-of-mouth advertising from Fans.
Promotional stickers are a very cost effective marketing medium but there is a huge difference between what someone chooses to display on their car and what one is paid to display on their car. Not only will the sizes and styles vary greatly but often one is viewed as a recommendation from a “fan” and fellow traveler and one is viewed… well, as just another in-your-face advertisement. I am fascinated by what people put (or are willing to put) for free on their cars as statements, decorations or for support for an organization, place, or lifestyle. And, where exactly is that line between a sticker advertisement and unsolicited recommendations from loyal, excited fans? How far can you push and encourage (perhaps even bribe a little) volunteers to turn a low cost promotional sticker into a mini-billboard driving sales, traffic, building identity and generating word-of-mouth advertising for your business?

heart in Vermont sticker made by Websticker.com

I’ve talked about this question a bit before in a Blog about promotional stickers on employee vehicles. Do all the employees in your company have a logo sticker on their car? What about friends and family? What minimum effort would it take for your company/organization to be getting this low-cost exposure?
I just read about a politician that asked a room full of people something to the effect of, “raise your hand if you would not put my bumper sticker on your car” when no hands were raised he sent his staff out to the parking lot to make sure every car got his political campaign bumper sticker. That’s a bit questionable and thank goodness for removable adhesive, but you get the idea. People (preferably fans) can certainly be encouraged and at a minimum asked to support you by displaying a sticker on their car.
There are many effective pieces to today’s marketing puzzle. Promotional stickers are just one piece encouraging consumers to naturally market to each other. Promotional stickers advertise, build identity, and support promotions. Are you maximizing the effectiveness of this low cost marketing tool? Websticker.com is here to help design and produce the most economical and effective stickers possible. The rest is up to you.
By Jeff Nicholson

What is the difference between a sticker and a decal?

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Question mark on top of many stickers, decals and labels. What's the difference?

I just got an e-mail asking what the difference is between a sticker and a decal. We often get this question at Websticker.com and I thought it was about time I tried to address it. There is no absolute answer as different people will often use the terms interchangeably to describe similar products.

Looking for a definitive answer over at Yahoo Answers won’t help clarify differences: “decal is a more professional word for sticker”… No; I would think of a sticker as say a white label and a decal as clear”… No; “Usually a sticker is paper, example an Avery label and not durable and a decal has a permanent adhesive and is more durable”…  No, no, no!

Let’s go to the New Oxford Dictionary and try to break it down. Then, I’ll let you know how we at Websticker.com (seller of custom stickers, decals, and labels) tend to define these product categories.

sticker n. an adhesive label or notice, generally printed or illustrated.

label n. a small piece of paper, fabric, plastic, or similar material attached to an object and giving information about it.

decal n. a design prepared on special paper for transfer onto another surface such as glass, porcelain, or metal.

As you can see, it’s fairly obvious why we also get asked the question; “what is the difference between a label and a sticker?” A sticker can be a type of label… and labels with an adhesive are also stickers. At Websticker.com we use the term “sticker”, as in “bumper sticker”, “die cut sticker”, “window sticker”, etc., to define more heavy-duty labels/stickers that can be used outdoors and hold up to the elements over an extended period of time. These are printed on a vinyl or polyester material with durable outdoor inks.

We generally use the term “label” to describe adhesive products printed on papers or foils with inks not suitable for outdoors. “Address labels”, “shipping labels”, “lapel labels”, “foil seals”, etc., these tend to be supplied on rolls or sheets for use (indoors) on packaging, paperwork, clothing, products, etc.

The term, “decals” on the other hand, is often used interchangeably with other outdoor sticker products. But, as you can see in the New Oxford definition, “decals” are more associated with a “transfer” from one medium to another. “Decal” is short for “decalcomania” and usually is a more decorative type design. Thus “slide-on transfer decals” in the model building world, or water-slide ceramic decals (Transfers) for tile and ceramic uses are an accurate use of the decal term.

Where the decal-or-sticker confusion usually lies stems from vinyl cut lettering and graphics. These are for long term outdoor use and are supplied with a pre-masking sheet, so upon application are transferred from one sheet/medium to another. Unlike a traditional “sticker” which is removed from it’s backing paper and stuck where-ever, these vinyl decals are being transferred (often in multiple pieces) from the masking sheet to a smooth surface. So, at Websticker (and many other companies) vinyl cut lettering and graphics are referred to as “decals” and all other one-piece, outdoor printed vinyl or clear polyester as “stickers”. Decals are a type of sticker, however, so you’ll hear and see the term “vinyl cut stickers” as well (like in this informative video on how vinyl cut decals are made).

I hope that drawn out answer helps. It is always best, regardless of the terms you use, to tell a manufacturer exactly what you are trying to accomplish with this sticky medium and where you want the sticker/decal ultimately to be applied/stuck. What ever you are trying to label, decorate, or promote, if you want your name (or message, or graphic) to stick, Websticker.com can help clarify and design the best custom product to meet your needs.

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Author Update: This post has now been up for over 5 years and is one of the most visited pages on our website. Yet, I have no idea who is interested in this question or what leads them to seek answers on a search engine to clarify sticker, decal and label meanings. If you could comment briefly on why this question is of interest to you I’d really appreciate the insight. Comment below.