Sticky Sales and Marketing - Artwork and Branding Guide

So…you want to order some branded promotional material but you aren’t quite sure of how the artwork works and what branding methods are available.

Why not have a look at the information in this artwork and branding guide – this should help you a lot. If still need further clarification, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

This handy guide will help you in most of your artwork related queries

Vector artwork is made up of paths and is in an open, editable format. Working with vectors allows us to manipulate the artwork, as required, for branding purposes i.e. we can change colours, stretch or scale the artwork infinitely and make changes as requested. Without vectors we would be unable to make these changes.

Certain branding processes like Pad Printing, Screen Printing, Debossing and Laser Engraving, require vector artwork and we cannot brand without it.

Vector artwork can be created in a number of different applications. Below are a few of the applications which can create vector artwork. Please note: placing non-vector artwork, for example a jpeg or other image file, into one of these applications does not make it a vector and we won’t be able to use it.

Vector Formats

Coreldraw (.cdr)

CDR Logo - New

Freehand (.fh)

fh logo

Adobe Illustrator (.ai)

ai logo

PDF (.pdf)

pdf logo

EPS (.eps)

eps logo

Non-Vector Artwork

Non-vector (raster) artwork is made up of pixels, each a different color and arranged to display an image. Pixels do not retain their appearance as size increases. For this reason, when you enlarge a photograph or image it becomes blurry.

Non-vector artwork cannot be manipulated or changed in any way, essentially it is locked. Most non-vector images are jpeg’s although many different formats are available.

With this type of artwork, we can only change the size of the entire artwork (to a certain degree) but cannot change specific elements within the artwork. For example, if we are supplied with the artwork below and asked to change the colour of the green button, we would not be able to do so.

Logo 1
right arrow
Logo 2

Jpeg’s can be used for all Digital Branding and Embroidery although it must be a high resolution jpeg. If any changes need to be made to the artwork before branding commences, a vector version of the artwork will be requested. Alternatively, we will need new, amended artwork to be supplied.

The below are examples of non-vector file formats: PDF: A PDF is one of the most common file formats that you will have access to. PDF’s are read only document that are great for viewing files that you don’t have programmes for. PDF’s can be viewed, printed and electronically transmitted.

Non-Vector Formats

JPEG (.jpg)


GIF (.gif)


Microsoft Word (.docx)


PNG (.png)


Adobe Photoshop (.psd)


Microsoft Powerpoint (.ppt)



A PDF is one of the most common file formats that you will have access to.

PDF’s are read only document that are great for viewing files that you don’t have programmes for. PDF’s can be viewed, printed and electronically transmitted.

Both vector and non-vector artwork can be saved in a PDF document. To check which type of artwork is saved, do the following:

  1. Open the PDF, move your cursor over the artwork then click on the actual artwork. If a blue block appears, as per the illustration below, it is non-vector artwork.
  2. Zoom into the artwork or image. If it pixilates, then it’s non-vector.
blue block

Quick Traced Artwork

We cannot redraw quick traced artwork as the result will not be acceptable for branding and it will not look like the original artwork.

quick trace 1
quick trace 2

Converting to Curves or Paths

When something is designed and there is text in the logo, a font is used to create the look of the text (cursive, bold, italics, stencil letters etc.).If the design is sent to another computer which doesn’t have the same font installed; the text will automatically display using Arial as the default font. We then cannot use the artwork as the text will not be displaying correctly. If this is the case, only a computer with the necessary font installed can convert the text to curves. This means that the text is changed from a font to a drawing so that when the artwork is dropped into Corel Draw, it reads the artwork as a drawing and not text.

Alternatively, you can send us the font files and we will install the fonts to avoid any issues like this.

As there are thousands of fonts and new fonts are created every day, we will not have every single font. It is very easy to convert text to curves. All that is required is for someone to open the artwork in the original design programme on a computer with the font installed, select the text and then select ‘Convert to curves’ from the text menu.

See the example below:



Not all non-vector artwork can be redrawn. Images such as photographs of people, places or things cannot be traced, as per the example shown.


What is Vector Artwork?

This is artwork that we can manipulate and separate into individual elements for branding. This artwork is also the highest quality and is in the original design format. Vector artwork is created using vector illustration software programmes such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. These programmes use points, lines and shapes to create artwork that can be scaled infinitely without any loss of quality. Vector artwork is editable and the artwork can be changed according to your specifications.

Which formats would be considered Vector?

There are a few formats that will be acceptable, namely:

• Adobe Illustrator (.ai)
• Corel Draw (.cdr)
• Freehand (.fh)

Please note: vector and non-vector artwork, or a combination of the two, can be stored in any of the above formats. In order to check if artwork is vector, zoom into the image. If you see pixelated edges, as illustrated below, it means the artwork is non-vector (vector artwork will remain crisp and clear no matter how much you zoom into the image). Alternatively, click on the artwork and if a blue block appears around it, as illustrated below right, it means that the artwork is non-vector and the elements cannot be separated.

What is quick traced artwork?

There is a tool in Corel Draw that allows you to automatically convert a non-vector logo into vector. This tool does not always work well, the reason is because it simply traces the edges of the artwork and where colours start and end. The result is a vector image but it will be broken and the edges will not be smooth. For this reason Sticky Sales and Marketing does not use quick traced artwork because it compromises the quality of the branding.

What does “convert to curves” or “convert to paths” mean?

When artwork contains wording in a certain font and the font is not converted to curves or paths it remains in a text format. This means that when the artwork is imported into a design programme the programme reads it as text that can be edited. If we do not have the font that the wording was created in, the design programme will automatically convert it to a font that we do have, compromising the original artwork. Converting to curves or paths results in the design programme reading the font as a drawing instead of text and, as such, the programme does not require the font.

Alternatively you can send us the font file to install. We cannot redraw the artwork if it is not converted to curves because as soon as we put the artwork into a design programme to start redrawing it will substitute the font with a different font.

What is redrawing artwork?

If you send us non-vector artwork for a process that requires vector artwork, our redraw artists will have to re-create the artwork in vector. In order for the artist to do this s/he needs to import the non-vector into Corel Draw and trace the artwork.

Not all images can be redrawn, if there is any shading or gradients in the artwork it is impossible to achieve. We are also unable to redraw photographs.

Why does Sticky Sales and Marketing charge to redraw artwork?

This is a time consuming process, which requires a lot of attention so that there are no errors in the redrawn artwork. If the artwork is simple and will take an artist less than 10 minutes to redraw, we redraw the artwork at no charge. If the logo is more complicated, it will be charged for. Please remember that the lead time for redrawing artwork is 24 hours as the demand is quite high.

What types of artwork are required for the different branding processes?

Vector artwork is required for the below processes:

• Screen Printing (spot colours)
• Pad Printing
• Laser Engraving
• Debossing

Non-vector artwork can be used for the below (please note that it must be high quality):

• Screen Printing (CMYK process only)
• Embroidery
• Sublimation
• Stickers
• Dome Stickers
• Heat Press
• Digital Transfer Printing
• Direct to Product Printing

Please remember: vector artwork can be used for all of our branding processes. When using non-vector artwork and a change to the artwork is requested, it cannot be actioned and vector artwork will need to be supplied.

Why can we use non-vector for embroidery and not for screen printing?

Screen printing: the print preparation requires that the artwork be separated into its individual colours. Each element or set of elements that is a different colour gets printed on a different screen, e.g. a 2-colour logo requires 2 different screens.

Embroidery: artwork is digitized as a whole and the colours are specified when digitizing. As the logo does not have to be separated into various elements, we do not have to have vector artwork unless changes need to be made to the artwork.

What is CMYK printing in screen printing?

This is a method employed in Screen Printing to print a full-colour image that has shading and gradients. This is perfect for printing photographs and detailed images.

This process uses 4 colours, namely: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. It works similarly to digital printing in that it uses a combination of the 4 colours mentioned to print almost every available colour. Like a digital printer, white and metallic cannot be created from these 4 colours and if there is white in the artwork, that must be printed first. The screens for this process are made such a way that they allow a certain percentage of each ink colour to flow through individual screens.

When branding via CMYK on a white item we charge for a 4-colour print, however if we are branding CMYK on a coloured item we will need to charge for a 5-colour print because we need to print white as a base owing to CMYK inks being semi-transparent.

Why can't a CMYK colour be matched exactly to a Pantone?

If a client supplies a CMYK colour breakdown, but requires that it match a Pantone colour this is not always possible as there are a limited number of Pantone colours that exist, but innumerable CMYK colours. We try to match the colours as closely as possible.

What programme does your layouts department use?

Corel Draw

How long does it take for a layout to be created?

The times will vary from layout to layout dependent on the complexity of the layout or the quality of the artwork that has been provided.

A general rule is that it will take 24 hours from receipt of order and 50% deposit

What are the minimum height restrictions when branding text in the various branding processes?

With certain branding processes we can make the text smaller depending on the font and the texture of the item.

A basic guideline below:
• Screen Printing 2mm high
• Pad Printing 1mm high
• Debossing/Foiling 4mm high
• Embroidery 5mm high
• Laser Engraving 1mm high
• Sublimation 1mm high
• Heat Press 1mm high
• Stickers/Domed Stickers 1mm high
• Digital Transfer Printing 1mm high
• Direct to Product Printing 0.5mm high

In cases where the text is smaller than given in the above guidelines or the text may close up due to the font used or the texture of the product it is being branded on, we advise leaving off the text.

Why is the number of colours that can be branded limited?

If the item is lined, e.g. a cooler bag, it is difficult to screen print more than one colour. In screen printing we have to apply a light glue spray to the board that the item is loaded on so as to prevent movement of the item during printing. This ensures that the branding position is consistent and that, when branding more than one colour, the registration of the logo is correct. In cases where an item has a lining, only the bottom layer of the lining adheres to the board leaving the top layer loose; as a result we cannot ensure that all of the colours in the logo will register (line up) correctly and consequently restrict the number of colours we brand on certain item.

The number of print colours may be also be restricted due to the type of material the item is made of. When we brand a multi-colour logo the print must be dried after each individual colour is laid down. Some items cannot withstand long periods of heat so we cannot dry each individual colour when branding and we have to restrict the number of print colours.

With regards to branding what does “registration” mean?

This is a term that is used in printing that refers to laying down all the colours of the artwork in the correct places. If the registration is off the colours next to each other will either overlap or be too far apart and spaces will be evident.

Helpful branding tips

• Always check what warnings are on the layouts before you approve it as if it states information like – texture of product will effect print/ small text may not be legible etc and the branding turns out to be as per the layout with the warning we won’t accept that job as a reject job.

• Check the colours stated that we will brand and always try give us a Pantone colour, a colour branded may be one shade out from what is mentioned as the colours are mixed.

• If you have a marathon colour please supply this as there are a fraction of marathon colours compared to Pantone colours so matching a thread colour to Pantone colour will never be exact and is often left up to discretion of what we think will work best but your client may have something else in mind.

Why can we not guarantee the exact positioning of embroidery/ print on a striped item?

Panels on garments are inconsistent and one item will not be exactly the same as the next. Because of this, if we brand according to the stripe detail or the panel, the logos will not come out on the left chest branding position resulting in incorrect positioning when the shirt is worn.

Whilst choosing the perfect promotional product for your campaign provides the platform for placing your brand in your right hands, it’s HOW YOU BRAND that product that makes a lasting impression.

Whether you prefer to keep it traditional with laser engraving or make a splash with a high-impact combination-branding, we employ the latest technology and processes to get the job done!


Make a statement that can’t be ignored with full-colour, digitally branded Belly Bands. A superb way to ensure enhanced visibility for your brand, they are perfect for adding a finishing touch to notebooks.


Benefits of this branding method:

  1. An additional platform to communicate your marketing message in a unique and high-impact manner
  2. Offers prime space for optimizing brand information and strengthening your message on notebooks
sticky sales and marketing belly bands


A logo is burned into a product with a CO2 laser by removing the top layer of the item to expose the second layer.

Benefits of this branding method:

  1. Replicate original logos with great accuracy and in minute detail
  2. Permanent and classy way to brand certain organic materials like glass, leather and wood


A die in the shape of a logo is pressed into the surface of a product using both heat and pressure, creating a permanent stamped impression in the product.

Benefits of this branding method:

  1. Creates a unique 3D look
  2. Subtle and classy branding method
  3. Ideal for genuine and imitation leather products, as well as PU
sticky sales and marketing debossing


Employing the latest customised UV technology we are able to digitally print full-colour, high-definition digital images directly onto notebooks.


Benefits of this branding method:

  1. Ideal for intricate logos with multiple colours, shading, gradients and small text
  2. A high-impact branding method producing excellent clarity and photo-realistic result
sticky sales and marketing digital printing on notebooks


Direct to Product Printing provides for the application of full-colour logos directly onto the product. By using specifically engineered jigs, a specialised digital printing head transfers UV-cured ink onto flat or slightly curved surfaces with photo-print quality and bold, vivid colours.


Benefits of this branding method:

  1. Provides a way to print permanent, full-colour logos
  2. High impact branding method that creates a lasting impression
  3. Can be applied on many shapes and sizes
sticky sales and marketing direct to product printing


A full-colour digital image is printed onto a special transfer paper. This paper is then coated with unique powdered glue which is cured onto the ink with UV rays. Thereafter it is placed onto the product which is inserted into a heat press and the heat from the press allows the print to be transferred directly onto the fabric.


Benefits of this branding method:

  1. Perfect for complex logos with multiple colours, shading and gradients, small text and intricate detail as ink is not absorbed by the material, resulting in sharper artwork with excellent clarity
  2. A high-impact branding method with a bold and vibrant photo-realistic result that brings your brand to life
  3. High definition digital transfer printing producing photo-realistic results
sticky sales and marketing digital printing on bags


This new UV printing process provides for the application of a full-colour digital wrap print directly onto drinkware.


Benefits of this branding method:

  1. Great for printing artwork with vivid colours, multiple tones and gradients
  2. Ideal for replicating logos with fine detail and small text

A photo-realistic branding method that allows your logo or marketing message to make an impact

sticky sales and marketing digital printing on drinkware


Stickers are digitally printed on an adhesive vinyl in full-colour and then automatically cut to the required shape and size. The stickers are coated with a polyurethane resin to give a three-dimensional appearance.


Benefits of this branding method:

  1. Ideal for multi-colour logos which are hard to replicate with other print techniques

Can be applied to smooth and rigid surfaces but works best on products with a purpose-made recessed plaque


Domed & Deboss Combination Branding pairs the eye-popping colour of a raised dome with the subtlety of a full-coverage deboss. Full-coverage deboss gives you a large and versatile branding area, while the full-colour process dome fits into a recessed portion of your debossed artwork to create a focal point for a key part of your message.

sticky sales and marketing domed and deboss combination


Embroidery is the art of decorating fabric with designs stitched in strands of thread. Driven by computers that read digitized embroidery files, embroidery machines automatically create a design on the product in the form of the logo that was input into the machine.


Benefits of this branding method:

  1. Classic decoration technique
  2. Creates a high value look
  3. Suitable for both flat and irregular surfaces
  4. Allows single and multi-colour branding
  5. Logos can be embroidered in up to 9 different thread colours
sticky sales and marketing embroidery


Hot Stamping with foil is a similar process to debossing except that a thin foil is pressed into the product to create a colour. Even though heat and pressure are applied, they are applied in lesser volume than during debossing and therefore the impression is not as deep.


Benefits of this branding method:

  1. Creates an exceptional superior impression
  2. Ideal for genuine and imitation leather products as well as PU
  3. Foils are available in blue, copper, gold, green, light blue, orange, red, silver and yellow (Pantone matches are not possible)
sticky sales and marketing hot foil stamping


A digital image is printed onto a special vinyl surface, which is then placed onto the product in the correct position. At this point the product is placed in a heat press, and the heat from the press melts the adhesive backing on the vinyl, merging it with the fabric.


Benefits of this branding method:

  1. Mainly used where a logo is too intricate for screen printing
  2. Perfect for logos with many colours, extreme detail and small text
  3. Vinyl is not cut to the shape of the logo so the flexibility of the product may be affected
sticky sales and marketing heat transfer printing


A logo is etched into a metal product with a laser beam, replicating the logo with precise accuracy. The laser “burns” the top layer of the product o‑ and reveals the layer beneath. If the layer beneath is a different colour to the top layer, when engraved, the bottom layer’s colour is exposed.


Benefits of this branding method:

  1. Creates a subtle, permanent and upmarket impression in tonal shades
  2. Perfect for awards, BBQ accessories, flasks, keyholders, pens and mugs
sticky sales and marketing laser engraving


Pad Printing is an offset printing process that involves ink being transferred from an engraved metal plate onto a product via a silicone pad, creating an image on the product. Each colour is applied separately but the detail in the print can still be excellent.


Benefits of this branding method:

  1. Great all-round solution that’s fast and economical
  2. Can be applied on virtually any shape
  3. Suitable for most surface textures
  4. Favoured for small plastic items like pens, keyholders and torches
  5. Allows single and multi-colour branding (up to 4 colours)
sticky sales and marketing pad printing


Screen Printing is the process whereby a logo is exposed onto a mesh screen, with the blank areas coated with an impermeable substance. Ink is then placed onto the screen and a squeegee pushes the ink through the screen in the areas where the logo has been imposed. Colours are printed one at a time so accurate registration is essential.


Benefits of this branding method:

  1. Cost-effective solution for larger quantities
  2. Provides excellent coverage and is especially good for large and bold logos
  3. Ideal for bags and t-shirts but can also be used for umbrellas, coolers and smaller items like notebooks and folders
  4. Allows single and multi-colour branding (up to 6 colours)
sticky sales and marketing screen printing


Sublimation Printing is a process done by way of a digital full-colour printer which is fitted with special sublimation inks. The logo is printed onto a special transfer paper and cut automatically to the correct shape. The logo is then placed onto the product and heat is applied, causing the inks to migrate from the paper onto the product.


Benefits of this branding method:

  1. Ensures premium full-colour photorealistic prints
  2. Flexibility characteristics of the product are not affected since the ink simply migrates to the product

Only suitable for white products made from polyester fabric (minimum 60%) and polymer coated products

sticky sales and marketing sublimation printing


Stickers are digitally printed in full-colour on an adhesive vinyl and then automatically cut to almost any shape.


Benefits of this branding method:

  1. Cost-effective, low or high-volume, multi-colour branding method
  2. Strong resistance to fading or damage
  3. Can only be applied to flat or slightly curved surfaces
sticky sales and marketing vinyl stickers

What is the minimum order quantity for branding and branded orders?

There is no minimum order quantity but setup charges associated with each branding process still apply. When the setup charge is amortized over smaller quantities, the cost per unit is higher i.e. branding 50 units versus 10 units always works out cheaper per unit.

Please note that we do have a minimum order value of R 350.00 excl. VAT.

Why is a full setup fee charged for repeat artwork?

Even though we may have the artwork on file, all of our machines need to be setup for individual orders. The machine settings are different for each item and must be adjusted with each order. The greater part of the setup fee is charged for the amount of time and the labour involved in setting up a machine. A setup takes approximately 45-60 minutes in all branding departments, except for screen and pad printing where it can take 45-60 minutes for each colour being branded. 

Why do I have to approve a layout for a repeat job?

This may seem tedious but our layouts are not only for artwork purposes; they also ensure that the correct stock codes and quantities are being branded. Any warnings also remain on the layout so that your client is aware of potential problems which may arise by branding in the manner shown on the layout.

Why can you not do a quick trace of the logo and use it for branding?

Sticky Sales and Marketing does not use quick traced artwork because it is not a true reflection of the original artwork. Quick traced artwork often has uneven edges and detail from the original logo is lost. This leads to the print quality being compromised. See our Artwork FAQ’s available on our website which explains this process in detail.

I have a non-vector logo that my other printer used, why can’t we just redraw it?

The majority of print processes require vector artwork so it is likely that the printer redrew the artwork. Sticky Sales and Marketing does offer redraws and has a designer dedicated to recreating artwork but we have a huge number requests for them. We offer free redraws if it can be done in 10 minutes or less. Unfortunately, anything over 10 minutes has to be charged for. In some instances artwork cannot be redrawn for example photographs and low resolution images where the details are not distinct..

Which branding processes allow for personalisation?

We offer personalisation in:

  1. Embroidery
  2. Laser Engraving
  3. Digital processes (sublimation, heat press, domed and vinyl stickers, digital transfer)


The reason for this is every other department needs a screen, plate or die to be made. This means that we will have to setup for each individual personalisation, which is not cost effective and very labour intensive.

Why is there a limit to the number of colours which can be screen printed?

With screen printing, we have to apply a light glue spray to the board on the machine so that the item sticks to the board. This prevents movement during printing so that the branding position is consistent and, in addition, when branding more than one colour, that the registration of the artwork is correct. In cases where an item has a lining, only the bottom layer of the lining sticks to the board leaving the top layer loose and as a result, we cannot ensure that all the colours in the artwork register correctly.

Another reason why colours may be restricted is due to the nature of the material we are branding on. When we branding a multi-colour logo we need to dry the print after each individual colour is added. Some items cannot withstand long periods of heat therefore we cannot dry each individual colour and we restrict the amount of colours
that we can brand on that item.

What does ‘convert to curves’ mean?

When artwork contains wording in a certain font and the font is not converted to curves, it remains in a text format. This means that when the artwork is imported into a design programme, the programme will read it as text that can be edited. If we do not have the font that the wording was created in, the design programme will automatically convert it to a different font that we do have. This will compromise the artwork and the font will not be exactly the same as what was used in the original artwork.

Converting to curves means that the design programme reads the font as a drawing instead of text and, as such, the programme will not require a font. To do this, the artwork needs to be opened on a computer that has the required font installed and converted to curves. Alternatively, can send us the required font file so we can install it and open the file.

Why do you charge different setups when we are branding the same item with the same logo just in different colours?

If a logo is the same colour but going on different colour items, then only one setup is charged. When we change print colour we have to set up the machine again. For instance, when screen printing, once we print the logo in the first colour, we have to take the screen off the machine, clean off all the ink and then set the machine up again before we print the logo in another colour.

Why do we charge different setups when we are branding the same logo in the same branding process but on different items?

There are a couple reasons for this. Each item has its own jig: a place holder for the item that is mounted onto the machine. Every time we change the item, we have to change the jig and reset the machine so that the logo is printed in the correct position. 

Another reason is that not all the items have the same branding space so on some items we can brand a larger logo than on others which means that the artwork will be different. For instance, if we are screen printing two items with the same logo but the logo is a different size on each item, we need two different screens.