Customized USB Sticks – A Marketing Tool for Photographers

by Dr. Robert Berdan
December 7, 2016

USB drives I received from Memory Direct to use as a promotional tool - they are 8 GB USB 2.0 .

As a photographer I use USB flash drives every day to back up files, store web sites and transfer files from one computer to the next (sneaker net). I have a network connecting my computers but I often find it easier and more convenient to just transfer files using a USB stick. Recently I started to use customized USB drives to promote my brand name and\or sell these drives to customers when they require digital image files. In this article I will describe how reliable USB drives are, their speeds, and how you might use them to promote your photography business.


Logo layout for Memory Direct

In the past we used floppy disks, zip drives, CDs and DVDs to store digital data such as documents, music, and images. Floppies and zip disks are now rare. CD and DVDs are still around, but the new USB (Universal Serial Bus) flash drives are the most common storage means used today and have the advantage that they are small,portable and transfer data quickly. There are 4 basic formats or drive speeds 1) General USB 1.0, 2) High Speed 2.0 and 3) Superspeed 3.0 and 4) Superspeed+ 3.1 (see table below). I have been storing pictures and web sites on USB drives for over 10 years and generally find them reliable. I have had one or two fail out of hundreds usually because of static electricity or I used them so frequently I wore out the electrical contacts.

USB was developed by 7 companies: Compaq, DEC, IBM, Microsoft, NEC and Nortel. The goal was to make it easier to connect external devices to Personal computers and also permit greater data transfer rates.


Gross data rate

Introduced in

Low Speed

1.5 Mbit/s

USB 1.0

Full Speed

12 Mbit/s

USB 1.0

High Speed
Also, Hi-Speed

480 Mbit/s

USB 2.0


5 Gbit/s

USB 3.0


10 Gbit/s

USB 3.1

USB symbol (logo and data source Wikipedia)

The lifespan of a computer hard drive is estimated to be between 2-5 years (50,000 hours before mean time to failure). There are enterprise drives that last longer, but the bottom line is all forms of storage media today should be considered temporary. This is a problem for anyone that stores digital assets like photos, music and movies because these type of files require a significant amount of space.  It’s likely that new forms of data storage will emerge every decade and we will need to transfer our data to them to stay current with new devices.

USB drives with a wood shell and my company name and web site imprinted on them using laser engraving.

The advantage of CDs\DVDs is that their storage cost is very low – you can buy 50 disks for under $50. The downside is you need cases or envelopes to store them in and the discs take more time to burn the data to then copying to a USB stick. Blue ray discs can store more data, but they cost more and only a few computers have blue ray drives capable of reading them. The good news is that blue ray discs have come down substantially in price to about $1.00 a disc. I remember paying $25 a disc.

Shown above is a screen shot from USB Memory Direct web site showing the wide variety of USB drives available.

A better alternative today is to store your digital assets on USB flash drives. These drives are generally available in sizes from 4GB up to 256 GB and are capable of holding a lot of data. I have several hundred USB drives. An important questions is how long is that data stable on a USB drive? Industry web sites indicates that they can hold data for 10 or more years. I have stored data on USB disks for longer than this and they still operate fine. Their lifespan depends on how frequently you use them. Industry claims you can read\write to them between 10,000 to 100,000 times depending on the technology used. The electrical contacts, however can also wear out from inserting and removing them from your computer. I have had few USB drives fail because of worn contacts.

Tips to care for your USB Flash Drives.

1. When not in use cover the contact end with a cap to prevent the accumulation of dust and dirt.
2. Don’t expose your USB flash disks to extreme temperatures & humidity.
3. Never pull out a USB drive while in operation, reading or writing - it could corrupt the data. Always Eject the drive. In practice, I have pulled out drives if they are not being written to and never had one fail.
4. Do not leave the USB drive plugged into your device for long periods of time.

Recently I was offered some USB drives in exchange for an article about them (just want to come clean). I do think USB disks can make a good promotional tool and I always need more of them. USB drives are available to purchase in bulk and one of the great things is that you can order custom shapes and have your logo or web site printed on them. You can also sell them to your customers instead of providing digital images on a CD or DVD. USB disks are small and will fit into an envelope and can be mailed. Promotional pens run out of ink, fridge magnets aren't really useful, whereas almost everyone today uses USB drives to store some of their data and transfer it from one computer to the next and they are unlikely to be discarded. Some companies will even preload data on the disks for you I am thinking about providing customized slide shows this way.

In most electronic stores around Calgary an 8 -16 GB USB 2.0 drive will cost you between $5.00 to $15.00, the faster USB 3.0 drives cost about twice this.  For a similar price you can purchase customized USB drives with your logo or web site printed on them to give or sell to your customers.

If you think your business might benefit consider contacting There is no shortage of companies offering customized USB sticks so you would be wise to check out the competition. Most USB suppliers offer a quote within 30 minutes. To give you an idea of their cost about 100 customized 8 GB USB 2.0 drives will be about $5.00 -$6.00 each, though companies do offer specials or free disks with your order depending on how many you purchase. If you run a photography business customized USB sticks might work for you as a promotional tool. RB

USB Wikipedia -
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Memory Direct Phone: +1 866.404.4645 ext. 413 | Fax: 954.337.0206


Authors Biography & Contact Information

Portrait of Robert Berdan

Robert Berdan is a professional nature photographer living in Calgary, AB specializing in nature, wildlife and science photography. Robert offers photo guiding and private instruction in all aspects of nature photography and Adobe Photoshop training.






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Phone: MST 9am -7 pm (403) 247-2457.


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