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  • Merchandise Branding

    Merchandise Branding Processes

    What is Merchandise Branding?

    Merchandise branding is an exciting way for businesses to showcase their brand and create a lasting impression on customers. As we will take you through below, the various manufactoring techneques, involve placing your company's logo, name, or other identifying marks on products, merchandise, and promotional items. The vast array of production techniques available today make it possible to create truly unique and eye-catching merchandise. From screen printing and embroidery, to sublimation printing and laser engraving, the possibilities are endless. You can choose from a huge range of branding materials, including cloth, paper, metal, plastic, and more, to create custom merchandise that truly stands out. Whether it's a simple logo on a t-shirt or a complex design on a promotional item, merchandise branding offers businesses a powerful tool to connect with customers and leave a lasting impression. Find out more about merchandise branding below.

    The Branded Merchandise Printing Processes

    With a vast array of branding techniques, it can sometimes feel overwhelming when starting out on your merchandise journey. Hambleside award winning customer service is here to help, holding your hand all the way through the process. We have created this guide to explain all the various manufacturing processes available to brand your products.  Hopefully, we will stimulate your imagination and start to show what is within the art of the possible.  However, if you really don’t know what you want or want to challenge our inhouse design team to produce a promotional product to support a marketing campaign  – we love nothing more than getting the creative flair going and a blank sheet of paper.

    There are definitely some processes more suited to specific applications than others, we will advise what works best for you.  Your budget will drive some options, but with skilful design we can make anything look amazing. As with all manufacturing, volume of product will have an influence on our advice. The experts at Hambleside have years of experience working with all promotional merchandise technologies explained below, and we have a lot of experience working with specialist manufacturers to set up custom manufacturing techniques to create your vision.

    Promotional Products Printing Methods Explained

    No Minimum Order 

    Do you offer branded promotional products with no minimum order?

    Yes! We recognise that some clients need very small quantities of branded products for specific campaigns or small events.  We have used our extensive industry knowledge to invest in our UK based state of the art production facilities to enable us to offer this unique no minimum order service.

    To make sure we always meet your needs, we have selected a number of high quality core products which we can rapidly brand.  The beauty of this no minimum order approach means we have a very simple pricing structure and can turn your order around quickly.  We have seen a rapid rise in YouTube Merch taking advantage of this approach, with small production runs allowing designs to keep pace with trends. 

    By limiting choice of products, we have purposely kept the no minimum order service simple to ensure an easy approach to ensuring your business has the highest quality promotional products regardless of order size. 

    There is a balance. If you need large amounts of promotional product, and can order well in advance, the options for manufacturing increase along with greater product choices.  For volume, the manufacturing processes below will help to minimise unit costs.

    We are always ready to support you, if you have a last minute demand or need to change your low volume branding regularly - our no minimum order Just A Few service will be best for you. Drop us a line today to find our more.

    No minimum orderNo minimum order
    digitalise artwork for branded productsdigitalise artwork for branded products

    Digital Artwork

    What Digital Artwork do I need for my Promotional Products?

    Once your artwork is in the correct format you have opened the door to most modern printing methods. You can use the same digital artwork time and time again.  Our in-house team will ensure your artwork is correctly formatted before printing and from our years of experience advise how to make your branding stand out from the crowd. 

    For most products we require artwork as vectored EPS file so we can resize your logo without losing quality. For items printed digitally, though we print from graphics that need to be sized accordingly for the print area and at least 300dpi. For more details, please see our FAQs.

    If your artwork requires reformatting, our experts will produce the necessary files ready for printing to begin.  We are so confident of our unrivalled service, not only will we support your artwork for free, but we will provide you the digital files for you to use anywhere.  More importantly, we will hold your approved artwork on our secure servers ready to accelerate your next order.

    If you ever need support with your artwork, rebranding or small changes – just drop us a line the team will be happy to help.

    Prepare for Digital Printing – Hambleside Merchandise are your Digital Artwork Experts

    Digital Printing

    What is Digital Printing?

    There are two main Digital Printing processes we use to brand your products.  

    Direct Digital Printing and Digital Transfer Printing.  Both have the benefit of applying a full colour print which (on certain promotional products) allow us to achieve photographic quality.

    Digital Printing removes the need for old school printing plates by printing ink directly onto the product, like your printer at home.  Ideal for Branded Stress Balls, Branded Bags, Umbrellas, Notebooks and golf balls. This method includes UV Printing, which uses UV light to dry the ink on contact, ideal when we have a short deadline to meet.   

    The set up time for a digital print run is minimal, which allows us to reconfigure the machines quickly between clients.  This time saving is passed on to you. Direct Digital Printing offers a number of advantages:

            Perfect for multi coloured logos
            Create a unique effect with matt, gloss or embossed finishes
            Strong resistance to fading or damage
            Ideal for small quantities
            Only suitable for flat or slightly curved surfaces
            Only possibly for CMYK

    Unfortunately, this method does not allow for metallic or neon colours to be printed, but don’t worry there are different processes for this.  For large orders, there may be more suitable bulk printing methods which are more appropriate within tight budgets.

    Direct Transfer Printing, starts with printing your artwork onto a special transfer sheet.  This method allows for full edge wrapping and is best for hard surfaces, like promotional mugs. With heat applied, the transfer is applied to the product giving a hard wearing, full colour finish.

    Direct To Garment Printing

    What is Direct to Garment Printing?

    Direct to Garment Printing is a full colour technique for applying your branded artwork onto the surface of garments.

    Direct to Garment Printing has accelerated over the past few years, notably for its speed, high quality of print finish, and almost digital colour reproduction.  Producing amazing results on both light and dark coloured garments, direct to garment printing has been a game changer for branded clothing. 

    All we need to start DTG printing is your digital artwork in the highest resolution possible.  The greater the DPI and resolution of artwork, the better the end result when printed on your garment.

              Excellent at producing highly detailed designs.

              Highly flexible and thus highly suitable for very small numbers of batches 

              Just-in-time-production or print-on-demand, thus no storage required  

              Low processing times

              Reduced setup costs, especially if you have ready to print graphics.

    Garment or textile selection is key.  For the best results we always print on 100% cotton (we always offer a sustainable or recycled option in line with our sustainability pledge); however, a high poly-cotton blend can still produce great quality.  We always run a sample for you to see before a production run.

    The most popular garments for DTG printing are Printed T-Shirts, branded bags and hoodies.  The ink is hardwearing and will stand up to regular washing, so you can rest assured that your brand will remain on the garment for life.  For speed and efficiency, you can't beat DTG.  With the upsurge in eco friendly inks and removing the waste and chemical byproducts that screen printing produces, we are delighted to see this method quickly become the most eco friendly method of branding garments.  A point we press with every client and the reason why we invested in this technology to support our no minimum order service.  


    What advantage is there to embossing a branded product?

    Embossing is the process of physically raising your design from the surrounding surface of your product.  An embossing die is used to press the rear of the material to leave a raised (or embossed) design on the front.   

    Embossing a branded product is a great way to add texture to your product and it oozes class; however, debossing has become more popular as it offers greater flexibility and additional enhancements with foil blocking.  The challenge with embossing is the need to access the rear side of the product, which on most promotional products is not achievable.

    Embossing creates an indented image by applying a die to a heat-pressed area.

              Create a unique 3D look

              Subtle tone on tone look
              Adds perceived value
              Great for real and imitation leather products


    Embossing NotebooksEmbossing Notebooks

    Pad Printing

    What is Pad Printing?

    Pad printing, also called tampography or tampo printing, is an indirect offset printing process where a silicon pad takes a layer of ink from a 2-D laser engraved (etched) printing plate and transfers it to a 3-D object.

    Pad Printing allows us to easily print difficult shaped products such as curved (convex), hollow (concave), cylindrical, spherical, compound angles, textures, not available with traditional printing processes.

    The image plates have the desired artwork "image" etched in its surface. The plates function is to hold ink in the design cavity which allows the pad to pick up the ink as a film in the shape of the artwork. 

    Pressing the pad onto the product allows the pad to conform to the contours of the product, transferring the ink at the same time.  Using multiple image plates, allows us to achieve a multi colour design. One plate per Pantone spot colour. 

    Pad Printing tends to align better to smaller artworks, perfect for promotional pens, earphones, and branded ice scrapers.

            Great all-round cost-effective solution
            Can be applied on virtually any shape
            Suitable for any surface texture, including soft products like stress balls
            Perfect for multi coloured logos
            Fast and economical
            Suitable for all types of shapes, e.g. flat, round, convex, concave
            Applicable for plastic, glass, ceramic, paper, wood, metal materials
            Maximum of 4 spot colours


    What makes embroidering your brand so effective?

    Custom Branded Embroidery is the perfect way to wear your brand. Unlike printing, your artwork will be stitched into your garment to achieve the highest quality finish and professional feel.  Embroidered designs are more hardwearing than most printed methods and they are more resistant to fading. 

    Embroidery costs are generally greater than printing, so there are a number of things to consider when developing your design.  Our team will translate your digital design into a stitch pattern readable by our high end machines.  This stitch pattern, called a digitisation, is where the embroidery machine will be told the number of stitches to use, when to change colour threads, and directions of how to sew the pattern.  The higher the stitch count the more thread will be used and the slower the process; however, the end results will be enhanced.  Both stitch count and number of colour threads drive cost.

    At the start of the embroidery process, we align your garment in a frame (hoop) to ensure the fabric is taught, ready for stitching and only the intended area is embroidered.  When started, the stitch pattern will be produced to much excitement from the team wanting to see the next high quality promotional product roll off the production line. 

    Our embroidered products exceed expectations and we have invested in the latest digital embroidery machine to make sure we deliver uncompromised quality to meet all your demands. These modern machines also allow us to easily produce single items, so are perfect complement to our no minimum order Just A Few service

            Classic decoration technique
            High value styling
            Suitable for both flat and irregular surfaces
            Tread colours to match any logo
            High impact wool stitch
            Applicable for cotton, polyester, fleece, knitted and towelling materials

    embroidering branded productsembroidering branded products

    Laser Engraving

    How do you laser engrave promotional products?

    Laser engraving is achieved through using a laser beam to precisely etch decoration into a promotional product surface.  Whilst most people immediately think of laser engraving on metal, you can also laser engrave wood, acrylic, glass and even textiles. 

    Laser engraving is ideal for precision.  Once again, it starts with the digitalised artwork. Both promotional pens and metal water bottles are ideally suited to lazer engraving.  Laser engraving is regularly used to embellish high end corporate gifts. Coupled with other full colour printing methods, laser engraving is ideal to add additional flare.  As with all additional embellishments, they add cost to the unit price, but it really depends on what you need the product to offer.  Our experts can give you loads of ideas or help you narrow down to meet a budget.

            Create a high-class impression
            Unique tone on tone
            Superb result for metal, glass and wood


    What promotional products benefit from doming?

    Doming is used to create a hard wearing raised surface with the print beneath. The logo is printed (usually digitally) in an area with raised edges, then filled with clear epoxy resin which is then hardened to maintain its shape. Domed stickers are an easy way to brand products at a relatively low cost.

            Create a 3D effect
            Strong resistance to fading or damage
            Can only be applied to flat surfaces
            Suitable for flat surfaces, which are designed with a depressed area for the domed sticker
            Applicable for plastic, paper, wood and metal materials.
            CMYK colours

    doming your branddoming your brand

    Screen Printing

    Why use Screen Printing for Promtional Products?

    Screen printing is one of the oldest methods of applying a design to a surface.  Screen printing or silk screen is a printing method where the image is imposed on a mesh screen with surrounding areas coated with an impermeable substance. Inks are then pressed through the exposed mesh screen to produce clear, sharp images.

    It is an effective technique for creating bold designs and modern machines can quickly reproduce a design when printing fabrics and textiles; great for creating all sorts of custom clothing and products.

    Screen printing offers a different feel than Digital Printing. The ink or paint is built in layers on the surface of product, which gives the print a pleasingly tactile quality.  However there are certain activities that your branded products may be used that may accelerate the wear of the printing.  Our experts can advise what works best for you. 

    Because the same screen or stencil can be used to replicate a design again and again, it's very useful for creating multiple copies of the same garment or accessory. This makes screen printing a very efficient technique for creating large batches of custom clothing for sports teams or work uniforms.

    How simple is the screen printing process?

    There are a number of stages to screen printing, but once set up we can deliver bulk orders very quickly.

            Your artwork will be printed onto a transparent acetate film. This will be used to create the stencil.

            A mesh screen is coated with a layer of light-reactive emulsion, which will harden when developed under bright light.

            The acetate sheet featuring your design is laid onto the emulsion-coated screen, and mesh exposed to a very bright light.

            The light hardens the emulsion, with the parts of the screen covered by the design remaining in liquid form.

            The unhardened emulsion is carefully rinsed away, leaving the screen mesh clear for the ink to pass through.

            With the screen installed in the printing press, your promotional product is laid down flat onto the printing board, under the screen.

            With multiple screens, colours can be built up.  A different screen is required for each spot colour and print position, but the process remains the same. 

            The screen is lowered down onto the printing board. Ink is added to the top end of the screen, and a squeegee pulls the ink along the full length of the screen. This presses the ink through the open areas of the screen or stencil, imprinting the design on the product underneath.

    After drying, your product is ready for packing and shipping.  As you can see from the above, this process has a greater number of stages than digital printing, including a reasonable drying time.  However, for large orders, where price has a significant element, you can't beat screen printing.

            Economic choice for large multi-coloured decoration
            Great choice for text decorations
            Suitable for flat surfaces
             Maximum of 4 colours for non-textiles and maximum of 5 colours for textiles


    What is more popular embossing or debossing?

    Debossing is the process of pressing a design into the surface of a product to leave a sunken relief of your brand.  You will only beat the elegance of a debossed notebook with a debossed notebook that has been foil blocked.  For the most luxurious finish, we will fill the debossed logo with a metal foil inlay to give an unrivalled branded product. 

    Debossing adds texture to the surface of your product and is a really good way to brand stationery and packaging.  The key is understanding how much pressure and heat needs to be applied to achieve a crisp outline – just as well we are experts!  The most popular products to deboss are notebooks, luggage tags, conference folders and silicone wristbands.

    Instead of printing your brand on your packaging, why not deboss the packaging to provide a premium brand feel? 

    To answer the question: Debossing.

    Debossing is most regularly confused with Embossing! 

    debossing branded productsdebossing branded products

    Dye Sublimation Printing

    Why use dye sublimation printing?

    A relatively new technique, dye sublimation uses inks that when heated change into gases which fuse the colours to your promotional item. The process involves printing a special carrier film with the design. This is matched up to the surface of the item to be printed, held in place with heatproof tape and then heat applied. The heat causes the inks to transform into gases, missing the liquid stage. The design loses contact with the carrier paper, integrating fully into the fibres or surface of the substrate being printed leaving you with a smooth colourful design on your branded merchandise.

    Commonly used on lanyards, towels, promotional socks and photo mugs to give an all over full coverage photographic design. Sports teamwear is commonly dye sublimated as it’s a cost effective way to achieve an enhanced full custom design, edge to edge if desired, without the costly expense of a custom made kit.

    What is Pantone?

    How many colours?

    Set up Charge

    Why do promotional products have a set up charge?

    A set up charge, also referred to as Origination, is a fee to cover the preparation of your digital design file and the machinery used to print your promotional products. The fee covers activity such as making screens if screen printing or pad printing, mixing inks to match the pantone colours (spot colours) required, loading your design into specific software and managing settings to prepare the decoration machinery for your print run.

    When embroidering, set up of embroidery threads and digitisation of your design is required only once on the first order. Thereafter we simply use the set-up files already on file so expect the first run to cost slightly more.  

    How much does Hambleside Merchandise charge for origination?

    Nothing - it is FREE. We want to give you the best experance and make ordering promotional products as simple as possible, so we cover the cost and pass this on directly to you.  The price you see is the price you pay.