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    Brand Stratos Blog

    State of the Industry Update: Holiday 2022

    As we move into this year's holiday season, one of our busiest times of year for corporate gifting and branded merch, we are asking for your help so we can provide you with the items you need and the service you expect.

    While the supply chain has improved, there are still gaps here and there. Nearly everything we touch—apparel, paper, plastic products—has seen increased cost, shortages, and slowdowns, as well as longer production and shipping timelines which will only increase the closer we get to the holidays.

    What does this mean for you?

    1. The availability of products and/or colors shown on presentations and sales orders are not guaranteed until we have order confirmation from our supplier factories. We are seeing inventory levels change rapidly, and we are in constant communication with our supplier partners for up-to-date inventory. If any concerns should arise we will communicate those with you.

    2. We are experiencing longer than usual production times, running anywhere from 10-30 business days once the artwork proof has been approved. Our supplier partners are actively trying to increase staffing and training to meet the daily production demand while maintaining safe work environments for their employees. We will communicate production times for your project once the order is confirmed.

    Here are some things you can do to help alleviate potential delays:

    1. Plan ahead: Place orders as far in advance as possible to allow room for any stock issues, as well as, production and shipping delays. In most cases this means allowing at least 3+ weeks for production, plus shipping. At this time we cannot accept rush orders, or guarantee delivery dates and shipping times. The reality is that last-minute orders just won't make it in the timeframes we’ve been used to in the past. FOR HOLIDAY ORDERS: we recommend placing any gift/merch orders at least TWO WEEKS PRIOR to Thanksgiving, to ensure delivery before Christmas. This is especially important for all those apparel orders.

    2. Be flexible: Having a second choice or alternative option is advised in the event that your first choice is not available. This is especially important for apparel orders. We are seeing lots of gaps in apparel availability and stock levels change daily … sometimes hourly. We are doing our best to stay on top of these changes and will always notify you if a substitution needs to be made.

    Our service depends on a lot of things to happen reliably. As always, it is our goal to eliminate your stress. Our promise to you is to continue providing timely communication and fast reflexes. We appreciate your business and are grateful for the trust you've put in Brand Stratos as your branding partner.

    Industry Updates and Holiday Orders

    By now you’re probably aware that the pandemic has sent global supply chains topsy-turvy. Nearly everything we touch—apparel, paper, plastic products—has seen increased cost, shortages, and slowdowns in production and shipping. The latest information we are receiving from our supplier and manufacturing partners is that they do not expect to see any meaningful improvements until at least mid-2022.

    Read more

    2021 Small Business Spotlight on Business Award Winner

    We have some exciting news:

    Brand Stratos just won the Spotlight on Business Award from the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, in the Small Business category.

    We won in large part due to our Here For Good 253 campaign, aimed at struggling businesses in the early days of the pandemic. A lot of local places found themselves in danger of closing up—sometimes for good—even though there was still demand for their products and services. 

    The entire staff here felt it was important to do something to help these small businesses survive. We not only depend on these places for work, it’s also our community. We live here. We wanted these places to be here when the pandemic is over, but how could people support their favorite businesses if they couldn’t access them? And for businesses dependent on foot traffic, what alternative could they offer? 

    Our team had an idea. We designed some custom apparel featuring local landmarks, and offered them to the community to buy. Proceeds went to the local business of one’s choice. Brand Stratos managed the whole process, from production to sales to outreach, asking only that participating businesses help promote it to their customers. 

    It worked, too. Twelve businesses participated, and we raised more than eight thousand dollars, and reminded the business owners of their customer’s loyalty and desire for them to succeed . We’re pretty proud of the work we did. And we’re proud of this formal recognition for our effort. It’s amazing what we can do when we work together as a diverse yet interdependent business community. 

    We hope we can work with you all again soon.

    Brand Stratos Team

    A guide to color processes

    As printers, color is a big deal to us. Often times, we find ourselves trying to explain what different color systems are, how they are used, and why one color might look different from screen to print.

    This post is your one stop guide to understanding color modes and how they make a difference in print & design projects.

    Pantone Matching System

    PMS or Pantone colors are the most precise measurement of color because they are made from pre-mixed ink, ensuring the most accurate print possible.

    “The Pantone colour guides have been widely adopted and are used by artists, designers, printers, manufacturers, marketers and clients in all industries worldwide for accurate colour identification, design specification, quality control and communication.” Pantone-colours

    While printing with PMS colors is generally more expensive, it ensures that your brand is maintained to the highest degree possible. Because of the cost, pantone colors are best used as a spot color with black and white.


    CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black). This is the most widely used color system for printing because it requires less time, set-up, and money to print.

    “CMYK colors are mixed during the printing process itself. Layers of CMYK ink are laid in varying densities to create tonal differences. CMYK can create a wide range of colors, so it is primarily used for full color printing.” Sonnie, Design the Planet

    When picking colors for a project or brand, we always recommend referencing a PMS swatch book, then print the closest CMYK equivalent. While some PMS colors simply can’t be exactly duplicated, the CMYK process will closely approximate your PMS colors.


    RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue. The RGB system is used to color light, which is much different than coloring ink or paint.

    “When combined, red and green light rays produce yellow, blue and green produce cyan, red and blue produce magenta. Red, green and blue mix to create white (light).” Color Systems, colormatters.com

    RGB is the system used on screen displays like your phone, TV, computer monitor, and on theaters screens. Printing in RGB will, in almost every case, produce undesired color shifts.

    Material Affects Color

    One thing that can be difficult to predict is how the material that is being printed on will affect the print color. Printing on a high gloss material, for example, will increase color contrast and make dark colors seem darker. Likewise, printing on an uncoated or matte surface can make colors seem a bit dull. On the same note, special mask coatings like spot UV, Endless Metallics (or some other metallic treatment), or luster will obviously change the way we perceive the printed color because it is treated to look glossy, shimmery, or shiny in specific areas. Finally the slight tint of different papers can make the same print file look totally different after production.