Branding your promotional products: the 10 decoration methods explained

The most common question our team at Blue Star get asked is: “How is my logo or brand applied to a promotional item?”

This is referring to what the industry calls decoration methods – which are the ways that your brand or promotional message gets printed onto an item, like a pen, a shirt or a USB.

Each decoration method is different and produces different results, so here is our complete guide to the different decoration methods used to brand promotional products to help you make the right decision.


Pad printing is where a silicone stamp is used to print your logo into smaller or difficult surfaces. It produces great results; however you can only print solid colours without gradients or fades.

The most common items include pens, golf balls, stress balls, drink bottles, USBs and highlighters.



For wider and more rounder surfaces with a large print area, such as a drink bottle or a travel mug, you require a rotary printer. Similar to the pad print, this method can only print solid colours, however it has the scope for a larger image.



Direct Digital Printing is a fairly new process which involves your artwork being printed directly onto the surface of your item using specialist inkjet printers, and the ink immediately adheres to it. This offers the flexibility to print on areas of any size and with any colour, including fades and gradients, producing vibrant results.

This versatility means it’s used on a wide range of products, from notebooks and tech items, to mouse pads.



As the name implies, this involves using a laser beam, instead of inks or tools, to etch a design onto a relatively small area. It looks sophisticated and subtle, which is why it’s often seen on keyrings and premium pens, wine glasses and clocks.



Embossing is the use of a hot metal plate to impress an image that raises it against the background, while debossing is using the hot metal plate to recess the image so that your brand is sunken into the surface.

This works best with a softer material such as leather or pleather, which is why it’s commonly used on leather clothing and patches, however it can be also used on letterheads and books too.



Similar to the debossing process, gold or silver foil is added to the hot metal plate and pressed into the item’s surface so that both the image and foil is indented into it, making the branding really pop. It’s also used for softer surfaces such as leathers.



One of the most commonly used decorative methods, screen printing is where a frame is fitted around the item with a screen and stencil overlay. From there, ink is passed through to brand the surface and then dried by heat.

It’s used for a wide range of typically branded items such as apparel and clothing, ribbon, umbrellas, bags, lanyards and other material items.



Sublimation is a process which involves printing onto sheets of transfer paper and then transferring it to another machine which heat-presses the transfer paper image into the material.

It is suited to different sized areas and artwork with gradient colours, digital images and repeat print patterns, which is why it’s commonly used on clothing, stubby holders, neoprene items and fabrics that can withstand high temperatures.



Plastisol Transfers are screen printed designs that are printed onto a special heat transfer release paper instead of directly on the softer material. This paper is then applied to the item with heat and pressure.

Mainly used on apparel items such as caps, bags and squishable toys, this method is particularly good at getting around difficult gradients and uneven surfaces.



Embroidery uses a sewing machine to stitch a design or brand directly onto a fabric surface, such as clothing, bags, beach towels and fabric items. It provides a premium look and is long-lasting but is limited to solid colours without gradient or shading.


How can Blue Star Promote help your business?

Branding is very important for all businesses today as it differentiates your products and allows customers to build a relationship with you.

To have a successful brand, your target audience must see it. The placement of your name or logo on a promotional item is a great way to raise brand awareness and can be included on almost any type of marketing item.

That’s where our team of specialists can help.

Our promotional product solutions creatively and effectively communicate the essence of your brand to enhance your marketing activities and generating more opportunities for customer engagement.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can promote your brand.

Phone: 1300 669 491