If you’re a small business owner, you have so many options when it comes to finding ways to promote your business. Whether you’ve been around for years or are just getting started, you may be looking for ways to customize your space without breaking the bank. We’ve previously written about how to print your own marketing materials like brochures and business cards, but what if you’re looking to find more pragmatic marketing methods? Whether you own a bakery, a coffee shop, a retail space, an office, or any other type of business, we’ve put together this helpful guide to branding your business. Read on to learn how you can decorate your workspace and create branded items that promote your business using your home printer and a little creativity!
Decorating Your Place of Business
There’s a lot you can do to decorate your business. While banners and signs may be the first things that come to mind, you can actually use your home printer to make a gorgeous, decorative wooden plaque with your business’s name or logo on it. All you’ll need is a plain wooden plaque (it can be painted or stained, but it doesn’t have to be), a brush, water, a spoon, an inkjet printer, and a logo for your business.
Start by deciding on a logo or design you’d like to use. This is something we covered in our blog post from a few weeks ago, “A Guide to Printing Your Own Marketing Materials,” but ultimately you want a logo that catches a customer’s attention and conveys your business’s name/identity. Whether you choose a symbol, a text-based logo, or a combination of the two, make sure you consider how other people will view the aesthetic choices you make. You may want to run your design by a few people to get a consensus on the appearance and effectiveness. Remember: just because you or your close friends understand what a logo is trying to convey, it doesn’t necessarily mean an average consumer will understand it.
Once you’ve got a logo picked out, decide how large you’d like it to be displayed. Depending on the size of your printer, you may be limited to a maximum size of 8.5 x 11 inches, though some printers can accommodate a larger paper size. You also have the option of printing out multiple pages and then assembling them across the plaque.
Change the format settings before printing so that the page prints backwards. You’ll be pressing the inked page(s) to your plaque, making the text or logo right side up once you’re finished. Then lay the page or pages across your plaque with the ink side touching the wood. You may want to tape them down to ensure that they don’t move around, since any movement of the paper might smudge your final product. Dip a clean brush in water and lightly coat the letters or image in your logo. Try to avoid getting the whole page wet, as this can make your plaque a bit messy. You just want to get the printed lettering/logo wet enough for the ink to transfer to your plaque. Once the lettering is wet, it should be somewhat visible through the page. To really imprint your logo onto the plaque, you’ll take the back of a spoon and rub firmly over each individual letter while the paper is still wet. Carefully remove the tape and lift your pages off the plaque. You should have a nice imprint of your logo on the wood at this point. If there are any spots that are faded or otherwise blemished, you can touch them up using either a permanent marker or a bit of slightly diluted acrylic paint. Once it dries, your plaque is ready to be hung behind the counter in your shop or over the front desk in your office! Depending on the age and appearance of the wood you’ve chosen, your sign can give a nice rustic touch to an otherwise modern workplace. It’s sure to garner complements, and it’ll make a great conversation piece when you tell your customers or clients that you made that sign using your inkjet printer!
Creating Branded Dinnerware
If your business involves serving food or drink, you can use your branded plates, bowls, mugs, and glasses in your establishment. However, even accountants and other office-based businesses can make promotional dinnerware like pint glasses and coffee cups to give out to clients! Whether you own a restaurant or café or you simply want to give out coffee mugs as promotional items, branded dinnerware is a great way to remind customers of your business while they use practical, everyday items.
Choose a logo for your business and select the type(s) of dinnerware you want your logo to appear on. Again, for restaurants and cafés, you could use plates, bowls, and anything else you use to serve food and beverages. Choose either plain ceramic dishware or clear glass, as dinnerware with flashy patterns will make it difficult for your logo to catch anyone’s attention. You’re going through the trouble of branding your own dishware, so you want that logo to stand front and center when a customer is using it!
Use a plain white or clear decal paper to print out your logo. Be sure to get decal paper that’s made for use with your printer, as most decal paper is formatted specifically for either an inkjet printer or a laser printer. You may have to make adjustments to the sizing and placement of the logo, so always print out a test page so you don't end up with dozens of logos that you won’t be able to use.
Follow the instructions on your chosen decal paper. You’ll typically need to print out the logo, trim off any excess border that you don’t want, soak the cut out logo in water, and then apply it to your dinnerware. The paper should peel off, leaving your logo affixed to the plate or cup of your choice. Don’t forget to smooth out your logo so there aren’t any pesky air bubbles ruining the design on your dishware!
Next, you’ll want to use a food-safe sealer to ensure that the logo doesn’t come off your dinnerware easily. It’s very important that you only use food-safe sealers that are non-toxic since people will use your dinnerware to consume food or beverages. In addition to being food-safe, you may also want your sealer to be microwave or dishwasher safe. Generally speaking, something like the Mod Podge Dishwasher Safe Waterbase Sealer is a safe bet. It’s non-toxic and it makes your final product top-rack dishwasher safe. However, be aware that many sealers need time to dry and cure properly before being used. Many consumers report that Mod Podge takes around 28 days to properly dry, so give your creation enough time to dry before it needs to be used. Make sure you only apply a thin layer when using the sealer, since a thicker layer may take even longer to fully dry. Always call or email the manufacturer of a given sealer if you have any questions about the dry time or the safety of using that product on dinnerware.
Once your product has fully dried, you can use your dishware as a form of subtle, functional advertising. Serve up a scone and a latte to your customers using a plate and mug that bear your restaurant’s logo. Alternatively, if you run a business, you can distribute mugs and glasses with your business’s logo to your clients. Your customers will think about your services whenever they enjoy a tasty treat or a refreshing beverage, at home or at your place of business!
Putting Your Logo on a Paper Bag
This is another great way for retail stores and cafés/restaurants to advertise when a customer takes their purchase home. Whether your store sells clothing, records and CDs, books, or even baked goods like muffins or cookies, putting your logo onto a paper bag subtly reminds your customers where they got that great purchase once they’ve already taken it home.
You’ll still need to have a logo designed, so be sure to follow the advice that we touched on earlier in this post (and covered in greater detail in our previous blog post from January 20, 2017). Once your logo is ready, place your paper bag in the paper tray of your printer and give it a spin! You may need to make adjustments to the size and placement of your logo, but this shouldn’t be too difficult. Then you’ll be ready to give your customers paper bags with your logo on them. You’ll be providing them with a necessary means of carrying home your products and simultaneously slipping in a low-key advertisement that they’ll actually take home!
Branding Your Napkins
If you own a restaurant/café, you may want to print your logo onto some paper napkins. The process is a little time consuming, so you may not want to print your logo on every napkin you put out in your establishment. However, you could print a stack of napkins and save them for to-go orders. Slipping your branded napkin into a take-home bag is yet another way to subtly advertise your business on an object that your customers will take home with them – all the more effective if the bag you use bears your logo as well! Business owners who don’t serve food can still use printed napkins to their benefit. For example, even if you own a stationary store or a record shop, you might decide to put out small treats or refreshments once a week to lure foot traffic into your store. Having a napkin with your logo on it can help remind customers where they got that tasty cookie or cup of coffee while they were strolling through your shop.
To get started, make sure you only attempt this project with an inkjet printer. Laser printers rely on heating up the toner powder so that it sticks to the page, and since napkins are so much thinner than a standard sheet of paper, putting a napkin into your laser printer could cause it to overheat or even burn through the napkin. While many crafty individuals swear by printing on napkins, you may want to invest in a cheap inkjet printer so that you don’t risk jamming up your expensive printer. You can find cheap new and used printers online – again, just be sure you use an inkjet device, not a laser printer.
If you’re using a standard four-fold (square) napkin, open one fold so that it forms a long rectangle. You can’t unfold the entire napkin (making a larger square), as this will leave the printing surface too thin to print on. You'll need at least one fold in the napkin to successfully print on a paper napkin, and depending on your printer and the thickness of the napkins, you may need an even thicker fold.
Feed the folded napkin into your printer’s paper tray. You can print any logo you like, though a text-based design may be easier. Having too much ink on the napkin from a large, detailed design could cause it to get oversaturated, rendering the napkin unusable. Once the napkin is in your printer’s paper slot, you’ll just hit print and wait for the results! Again, you may need to make minor adjustments to the size, format, and placement of your logo, so be patient and always do at least one test print before breezing through a huge stack of napkins.
Choosing the Right Supplies
Whether you try one of these suggestions or all of them, make sure you’re getting quality print work without spending too much money. At 1ink.com, you’ll get print quality and performance on par with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) ink and toner cartridges, all while saving up to 85% off the OEM retail price! You can find compatible or remanufactured replacement ink/toner cartridges for every major OEM cartridge model from HP, Brother, Canon, and more! We understand the struggles of owning a small business. Our family-owned business has been selling remanufactured/compatible ink and toner cartridges for nearly two decades! In that time, we’ve managed to build a reputation for ourselves that’s kept our customers returning time and time again. See for yourself how our many years of experience, our customer-oriented service model, our premium ink and toner, and our unbeatably low prices can help your business.