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So far Brandcasters has created 104 blog entries.

Branding Through Product Packaging with Apurva Batra

2021-02-22T15:27:06+00:00February 15th, 2019|Office Hours, Podcasts|

  Packaging is what breaks or makes a product. As entrepreneurs, we want our customers to be satisfied right from the get-go by making our mark on their impressions right from the packaging alone. Apurva Batra from FlexiblePouches imparts his expertise on that as he talks about branding through product packaging and the competitive business happening on the retail shelves. He also takes us on a different journey with his personal business experience. Watch the episode here: Listen to the podcast here: --- We've got one of our new experts on the platform, Apurva Batra from FlexiblePouches. He's been on once before. Tracy had him on and they had a good general session to get you acquainted with our new expert here. He's going to take us on a little different journey talking about a few things from his personal business experience, not only about packaging, which is [...]

Celebrity Product Placement Process That Actually Works with Sarah Shaw

2021-02-22T15:35:53+00:00February 1st, 2019|Office Hours, Podcasts|

  The marketplace has indeed evolved, but one thing that remains the same is the influence. We all know the power of having celebrities to be your product endorser due to their wide influence in the market. This is what led Sarah Shaw to craft this trend of endorsement and marketing into a new mold. Sarah talks about the Celebrity Product Placement Process which actually works for more and more entrepreneurs. Discover how you can scale your business by getting celebrity access for your products. You may get these influencers to use your product, be photographed with it, and get them to talk about it. You'll never know when one of these famous faces can eventually make a huge difference in your bank account. Listen to the podcast here: --- I have an interesting guest to bring you. I have Sarah Shaw. She's an entrepreneur, designer, and CEO [...]

How to Register as an Expert

2017-12-06T21:29:47+00:00December 6th, 2017|Site Resources|

Go to the registration link emailed to you from the site administrator. Fill out your registration information Wait for your approval email. Log in and fill out your profile. Schedule your first office hour! See the video below for step by step instructions.

How Sugar 3D Printing Can Sweeten Main Street Profits One Cake at a Time

2016-02-12T02:27:41+00:00February 12th, 2016|Brand It, Free Articles, INC Articles, Promote It, Prototype It|

Foodies are as passionate as techies. Mix the two at CES 2016 and you get a revolutionary new business model recipe for creating profits through 3D Printing. The 3D Systems Culinary Lab, formerly known as Sugar Lab demonstrates ways 3D Printing brings Main Street restaurants and bakeries a more creative and profitable  business model. They are concocting a recipe for how 3D Printing can bring relevance back to Main Street businesses. As co-host of the WTFFF?! 3D Printing Podcast, I struggle with clear examples of why I am so bullish on 3D Printing being not just an industrial revolution, but a Main Street one. 3D Printed food is the perfect example thanks to the many food and bakery shows on TV today. The amount of decorating skill and effort put into a cake by Duff Goldman, or the Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, is worth its weight in flour. So, how can [...]

Costco Metro Chair on YouTube

2014-06-06T23:20:57+00:00June 6th, 2014|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Promote It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box|

NEW - Metrex Mesh Costco's Metro Mesh Chair Funny how things on the internet manage to connect back. Our daughter's friend, Jonatan sent this YouTube video to us after recognizing our $99 Costco Metro Mesh office chair design. Ironically it comes on the day we first saw the new version of this chair, now called Metrex, in Costco stores in our Southern California region. Consumer Review - Costco Metro Chair Barnacles Nerdgasm gives a really thorough consumer view of the Costco Metro Chair from why he's getting rid of his old chair to why he bought our design and how he assembled it and even the trade-offs of buying a $99 chair versus the more expensive models. Thanks!

Patent Protection: David Takes On Goliath

2014-05-14T14:51:15+00:00May 14th, 2014|Capital Funding, Free Articles, Inventors, Licensing, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Retail & Big Box|

Launching a company based on a patent can seem like a solid bet until the day the industry Goliath decides to knock-off your product. Counting on their ability to outspend you in a legal battle – if you can even afford a worthy fight – they steamroll you to maintain their market position. But just like when IDEO, the largest industrial design firm in the world, and 3Com (soon-to-be Palm Computing) infringed on our patented stylus pens, a low-cost fighting strategy can bolster your patent protection and its strength. Better Ammo Wins Patent War with Giant In 1998, we launched ttools, LLC to sell a patented combination stylus-ink pen that worked with the recently launched PalmPilot PDA (personal digital assistant). We thought we had something good. We were first on the scene. We had earned the loyalty of early PalmPilot adopters. Our design was beautifully simple and our [...]

Identity Theft Issues with Living Spaces – Buyer Beware

2014-02-22T19:50:50+00:00February 22nd, 2014|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Promote It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box|

We are furniture designers, but it is not that often that we buy a retail furniture item for our own use. We expected a fairly hassle-free transaction from Living Spaces. But this on-line purchase was anything but hassle-free.

Intentional Invention Can Make You Knock-Off Proof

2013-12-14T19:13:44+00:00December 14th, 2013|Brand It, e-Commerce, Free Articles, Inventors, Licensing, Private Label, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Retail & Big Box|

Too many times in retail product development, importers find themselves competing with their own customers and their own factories too. Every product can become a commodity in a global-sourced world. It doesn't matter how good a relationship you think you have or how much service you provide, if margin pressure is there, direct sourcing is tempting. An original-looking design is not a guarantee that you won't be "knocked-off" either. We recently found ourselves in that situation with one of our designs sold at a retail office super store. As a Genderblend style with a distinctive "female-friendly" color and pattern, it was designed for a U.S. import company and has been an in-store item selling successfully for about 2 years. We found out last month that the retailer put our design out to bid to replace it with a direct source duplication early next year. They asked for a [...]

Avoid Shark Tank Bites – Bring Lots of Sales

2013-09-24T23:42:43+00:00September 24th, 2013|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Promote It, Prototype It|

As product designers, we watch ABC's Shark Tank like people watch a freeway car chase. We're just waiting for the Sharks to bite. Interestingly enough, over the last few seasons, we have found that the Sharks always take the "Sales" decoy bait, even when the rest of the product/invention has weak spots. Take Shark Tank Episode 501 which aired September 20, 2013 as a perfect example. Two specialty food products were featured - one Lynnae's Gourmet Pickles and Sweet Ballz. While we have to admit, Sweet Ballz has the hands down better name and sweet is by far preferred over sour by consumers, it isn't the products that stirred up the Sharks and got only one of them a deal. It was the sales. They first met with the pickle girls and attacked with their standard go-to bite - big guys will "crush them by putting out a comparable product." [...]

How to Keep from Being a Hostage to Your Factory

2013-07-03T12:41:25+00:00July 3rd, 2013|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Logistics, Produce It, Promote It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box|

Chip Starnes, the executive held hostage for 6 days in his Beijing, China factory found out the hard way that Chinese workers are unusually empowered in labor disputes. To some, this might seem like an isolated incident, but it is not. As product designers, we spend almost 3 months each year working with our clients’ factories in China and these heavy-handed and unusual negotiation tactics are very common. On behalf of our U.S. import clients, we have developed some ways to ease the mistrust and build a better partnership. We also build safeguards into the products we design so if things go awry with a factory, we have flexibility to avoid damaging business interruptions. Partnership Building Tips: Eat the Food – Every time we are in China, we take extra time to visit our supply factories to build a stronger relationship. We know of company CEOs and executives that [...]

Fallon’s ‘Game of Desks’ Victorious – Desk Needs Vanquishing

2013-06-06T15:51:29+00:00June 6th, 2013|Brand It, Free Articles, Promote It, Prototype It|

Did you miss the Game of Desks sketch on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon? Hilarious. Well-costumed. Over-the-top parody of Game of Thrones. But, if you expected a to-kill-for actual desk like we did, you will be disappointed. The desk design looked like one of the themed printed plastic tablecloths you buy from a party store. We thought this was supposed to be a brutal battle, Game of Desks, not princess castle play. The desk needs a mercy kill. via LateNightJimmy.tumblr.com Jimmy should have (and could have) afforded or designed a better desk for something hyped as the Game of Desks. The chair was brilliant - Game of Chairs would have suited the final set better. Fire the desk designer, please! We are already critical of how bad Jimmy's regular nightly desk is as detailed in our previous blog entry - Fix Jimmy Fallon's Set. So again, Jimmy Fallon's [...]

5 Reasons Not to Kickstart

2013-05-23T14:29:29+00:00May 23rd, 2013|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Produce It, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box, Sourcing|

Yes, we do learn more from our failures, but nobody likes to fail. Least of all me.  Our reVue TV Mount is not a failure as a product, but using Kickstarter to launch it seems to be. Maybe you can benefit from our hindsight and reconsider your campaign before it is too late. Here are top 5 reasons NOT to Kickstart your product:     The Fine Print – Kickstarter Stats – At the time I wrote this, there was a 66% Kickstarter failure rate across all projects. Stats are updated daily. Be sure to drill down and see your particular category. Today Design has a 61% failure rate – out of 4124 projects, 2380 fail. Don’t get sucked into to all the success stories – the failures are blocked from indexing in the main searching on the site and hard to find. No Email List – You need to have a large [...]

Is NIHS (Not Invented Here Syndrome) Suffocating Your Company?

2013-05-15T18:39:27+00:00May 15th, 2013|Capital Funding, Free Articles, Inventors, Licensing, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box|

Not Invented Here Syndrome (NIHS). Haven’t heard of it? NIHS is the tendency for self-proclaimed “innovators” to immediately reject any solutions, inventions, ideas or products originating outside the organization, especially from independent product designers. Often, NIHS begins as a benign reluctance to outside ideas. But outbreaks of widespread paranoia are all too common. Once NIHS spreads into group thinking, a company, especially a retail consumer products company, is headed for a slow, painful demise. Symptoms: Companies and individuals with NIHS develop a similar pathology to the psychological signs of denial and self-delusion. Some individuals exhibit obvious symptoms, but typically, symptoms become obscured en masse.     Swearing – “S**t. Why didn’t I think of that?” is the most common outward expression of this symptom. Smacking of the forehead or banging the head against a wall may also occur. Innovation Arrogance – Once presented with a better idea, individuals with underlying inferiority [...]

Floor Sample Quality Directly Links Sell-Through

2013-02-12T16:00:42+00:00February 12th, 2013|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Produce It, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box, Sourcing|

Consumers walking through the product or furniture displays of mass-market retailers such as Costco, Sam’s Club, Target and Walmart make split-second purchase decisions based solely on the sample displayed. There is only one opportunity to catch their attention as they pass. Consequently, the floor sample quality can seriously affect the item’s overall success. It can also influence repeat business for a manufacturer. Far too often the display samples are assembled incorrectly, broken due to the high amount of abuse from consumers, or made of materials that are not of high enough quality to withstand the amount of wear expected in a retail environment. They are also often displayed in ways that hurt the sales potential of an item that otherwise is properly made and a good value. While some of the factors, like the amount of display space and the location, result from restrictions the retailer imposes others [...]

Patent Your Way to Market Success

2013-02-07T16:00:58+00:00February 7th, 2013|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Produce It, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box, Sourcing|

In the U.S., importers and trading companies are employing Intentional Invention patent strategies to hold their market position against direct source alternatives and combat parity issues at retail. By patenting designs and functions, they are free to source the product from any manufacturer they choose. They can also protect their position with retailers so that an item cannot be second sourced or bid out. As a manufacturer, clear business goals that include a patent strategy can be a competitive advantage for selling to the U.S. market. The more complex issue is deciding what to patent, how to develop the patent, and in which country or countries to apply for that patent to maximize those business benefits. Patent Due Diligence When designing and manufacturing products for the U.S. market, patent due diligence is a critical requirement.  Even if you are not interested in using patents as a competitive business [...]

Secrets to China Success – Communication

2013-01-24T08:00:46+00:00January 24th, 2013|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Produce It, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box, Sourcing|

After embarking on ten trips to China in 2012, we thought we would share some tips on how we easily communicate back to the U.S. from China. The ability to Skype, get email, and even Facebook, can make the difference between being productive and in touch and feeling homesick. We utilize a combination of hardware and software/apps to make sure that we are always in touch with each other, our clients and our girls at all times when traveling in China. Hazz Design China Communication Tools China Cell Phone - we keep a dedicated China cell phone with rechargeable minutes. Our contact in China charges it for us just before we arrive or whenever minutes run low and it is billed directly to our credit card. Ours also has a special discount number to dial before the U.S. phone number for the lowest rates. We use this phone [...]

Hazz Design 2012 Year in Review

2013-01-19T03:52:31+00:00January 19th, 2013|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Produce It, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box, Sourcing|

    HAZZ DESIGN IN THE NEWS Orange County Register - December 21, 2012 Expert Couple on How to Shop, What to Buy RISDxyz - Fall/Winter 2012  24/7 Partnership Furniture World - Sept. 2012 - Dec. 2012 Furniture Materials Crash Courses: Part 1-5 Furniture Today | Home World Business | HFN - June 2012 - Aug. 2012 Articles on Genderblend™ Design Process Home World Business - March 19, 2012 Hazz Design Sees Growth in Women's Office Furniture Segment Reprinted/republished with permission of HomeWorld Business and ICD Publications  Home World Business - February 20, 2012 Las Vegas Market's RTA Vendors Report 'Quality Buyer' Attendance           TRACY & TOM'S    TOP MOMENTS OF 2012         COLLABORATING with the Martha Stewart Home Office™ team on the Chase Task Chair. CONSULTING during 10 productive trips to China - (read about our travel secrets). TEACHING at Las Vegas Furniture Market - [...]

Secrets to China Success – Eat Well

2013-01-11T00:12:10+00:00January 11th, 2013|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Produce It, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box, Sourcing|

After embarking on ten trips to China in 2012, we thought we would share some tips on why we both look forward to these trips to build strong personal relationships with our factory clients and partners and enjoy some really great food. We have worked with a few too many who dread China travel, complain the entire time and won't eat anything that isn't from McDonald's or their own suitcase, but with the right attitude, your next trip can be rewarding too. Eating Well Bird's Nest Soup is delicacy just for women, supposed to enhance your skin and hair. Men usually eat Sea Cucumber which, no surprise, enhances virility. Especially on your first trip, just try the food, no matter what. Meals are as important, if not more, to the success of your business relationships. Their intention is to impress you with their local cuisine, not [...]

Healthy Resolutions for Our Business

2013-01-07T09:03:03+00:00January 7th, 2013|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Produce It, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box, Sourcing|

Every year before the ball finishes dropping, Tracy's Dad never fails to ask if we have made our New Year's resolutions yet. This year we've got it covered. With the most popular personal resolution to "get healthy," we thought that we should make some resolutions to make our business healthier as well. Healthy Diversity - this year we want to diversify our clients, our products and our services. Past years have been too volatile focusing too specifically on one industry. Healthy Distractions - sometimes in order to be creative, we have to stop designing, get out of the office or do something different. This year, we plan to spend even more time writing and conducting retail store visits to increase our design productivity. Healthy Competition - we have always believed that the best way to win is to out-design, so this year we are challenging ourselves to Intentionally [...]

10 Things Every Designer Should Know

2012-11-02T07:34:30+00:00November 2nd, 2012|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Produce It, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box, Sourcing|

Being a good designer is not enough for success and career growth. Below are the top 10 tips from our own firsthand experience that you should know or accept if you want to succeed in the business of design. 1) Never do speculative work for anyone but yourself. 2) A contract is never a guarantee you will get paid. 3) Employers and clients believe they own your mind, not just your design. 4) Non-competes might be unenforceable, but that will not stop a client or employer from coming after you in unimaginable ways. 5) You need a mentor of the opposite sex. 6) You need a brainstorm buddy who doesn't think like you. 7) Focus groups are not market tests. Results are never statistically capable of taking into account consumer rationale and buyer motivations. 8) There will always be that designer who is really a one note (and [...]

Digital Portfolio/Resume Landmines – Image Rights

2012-04-11T03:35:02+00:00April 11th, 2012|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box|

In the second part of our three part blog on the field of legal landmines product designers face when selecting designs and images to use in design portfolios and digital resumes, we discuss some options for obtaining images that should be safe to use now that you are sure that you have the rights to display the design itself. If you are still unsure about whether you can show the design, read the first part, Digital Portfolio/Resume Landmines – Design Ownership again or consult an attorney. So which images should you use? Now it gets even more complicated and potentially litigious. You must make sure that you have a right to even have those images in your possession. Again, check all your contracts and employment manuals specifically for non-disclosure clauses. Many technology use policies also apply and prohibit you from copying, printing and removing files, so unless you [...]

Digital Portfolio/Resume Landmines – Credit Where Credit is Due

2012-03-11T05:25:49+00:00March 11th, 2012|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box|

Even though you have determined that you have complete rights or permission to display the design and image, our third blog in this series tackles titling with annotation or credit as the next tricky landmine. Logically, you should give proper name credit to the photographer, company manufacturing or selling, or even to other designers if the product was designed in a team. However, it has come to my attention recently that some companies do not want to be associated with designers that left or were forced to leave the company. I personally think this is very shortsighted because it sends the message to their clients that designs during your tenure are questionable. It is also can be even more dangerous for them to distance themselves from you like this – bordering on defamation and disparagement if they go so far to say that even though you were employed [...]

Digital Portfolio/Resume Landmines – Design Ownership

2012-02-28T07:16:17+00:00February 28th, 2012|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box|

Today’s product designers face a field of legal landmines in regards to design and image use in design portfolios and digital resumes, especially over sites like linkedin, coroflot or on your own website. When a cease and desist letter lands in your inbox, the explosion can cause irreparable damage both financially and professionally. No prospective employer or client wants to hire you without seeing a portfolio of past work, yet that same employer/client does not want you to be able to ever show any designs you did for them in that same portfolio. So what is reasonable or fair use of design images, who owns the intellectual property, and how should you obtain those images, especially when your job or project is completed? Can your employer/client prevent you from using representations of your work to obtain new work? In this series of posts, we will get into more [...]

CES 2012 Key Misses

2012-01-13T11:10:38+00:00January 13th, 2012|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box|

Part 3 of 3: Consumer electronics exhibitors at the 2012 CES Show had many misses by the mere fact that so many didn't stand out and leave an impression. Flat Screen TVs - getting thinner, larger and brighter. Products are more interactive and connected to the internet. With consumers wanting the flattest, largest TV they can afford, why are all these mid to low end TV manufacturers one-upping each other with minor technical differences the average consumer can't see but increases the retail price they pay. Where is the user-focused innovation? How about some guaranteed longevity? We are on our second repair to a TV less than 5 years old. That would be worth a second look. Tablets - everyone has one and everyone now seems to be making one. iPad was first so it stands out, but all the others are a blur of tiny differences. This [...]

CES 2012 Cool Gadgets

2012-01-12T10:05:12+00:00January 12th, 2012|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box|

Part 2 of 3  - impressions of the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. There are always some cool gadgets at CES and this year we are coveting some tech tools that might never see the cool white light of retail shelving. 32923868 - modern computer gadgets Victorinox has reinvented its classic quality pocket knife as a line of flash drives. These flash drives are very handy and beautiful objects, plus they are not going to get taken away by TSA. Parrot's display was a show stopper - at least for Tom and many, many others - two battery-operated remote control helicopters fairly large in size were "dancing" in a large cage to beat of blaring music. Can't remember what their products were, but the copters would make a fun gift. Along those same fun gift lines, Xybotyx debuted small affordable robots that can be controlled by [...]

CES 2012 Impressions

2012-01-11T08:42:52+00:00January 11th, 2012|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box|

As furniture and product designers, we attend the Consumer Electronics Show to keep on top of changes in technology that affect our future home office designs. Over the course of the next 3 blogs, we will give our general impressions of CES, cool gadgets and key misses. Here is part 1 of 3. CES Impressions: CEA says this was the most attended in recent years and there was no shortage of exhibitors and visitors and although it seemed like the economy is being strengthened, we did not get the impression that there was a lot new and worth spending more than a day visiting. Tons of small business were promoting "the gadget" everyone will want, but the most abundant were the Smart Phone case companies. It amazes us that they think of these products as unique - they are really fashion to us. For many this show will [...]

5 Tips to Get a Patent that has Market Value

2011-12-28T08:48:13+00:00December 28th, 2011|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box|

So you’ve developed the best new gadget the world has ever seen and now you’re wondering how to get a patent to protect your idea and corner of the market. Inexperience and blind faith can waste millions of dollars and years of time despite the best intentions. Choosing a patent attorney may be the most important decision you’ll make, but learning how to work with them effectively is just as critical.  Here are our top five tips on working with a patent attorney. Choose a patent attorney who understands your industry and has experience working with professionals like you. One of our clients hired an experienced attorney, spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and after several years still did not have an issued patent from the US Patent and Trade Mark Office (PTO), just rounds of claim rejections. After reviewing the situation and offering our [...]

Favorite Apps

2011-11-04T05:45:24+00:00November 4th, 2011|Brand It, Free Articles, Inventors, Promote It, Protect It, Prototype It, Prove It, Retail & Big Box|

As product designers and working parents, we are always searching for ways to make our job and life more organized. Here are some of our favorite apps: Skype - Free! Great to have breakfast with the baby while getting ready for bed in China. JuneCloud Deliveries - Free! So easy to track on any device whether or not our samples arrive as planned. Sunyu Mobile Patent Search - Free! Leave it to the Chinese to search our own US Patent and Trademark Office Database better. This is more comprehensive and complete than using the PTO's own search engine and even includes the ability to search intellectual property worldwide. With patent strategy such a significant part of our design process, we use this all the time. No need to spend money on a patent attorney for initial research. Plex - Free! We no longer have any DVDs, everything is [...]