By Peter Scheir

Over 12 years experience in the holographic industry have helped me to identify a number of recurring themes in potential customers’ objections to using holography. I have made it my goal to create a path of lesser resistance, – to make holography “a solution rather than a new set of problems” (comment made by Doug Miller while president of Holographic Design). The aim of this paper is to outline what many customers’ perceive as obstacles to using holography, and to describe at least one solution. That solution lies in the customization of stock image embossed holograms.

“High Impact Affordable Embossed Holography in Low Production Runs” refers to this solution. Due to its unparalleled visual impact, there exists heavy marketplace interest in the use of holography for promotion. Making embossed holograms affordable in low production runs (runs too short to amortize the tooling costs associated with fully custom embossed holography) is the key to tapping this marketplace. I have found that the best solution to this problem is the use of stock images.

Impact is the word, in my mind, which best befits graphic holography. It is the visual impact of the medium which gives it such great power and generates so much interest. Companies of all sizes are constantly searching for means of promotion which will set them apart from their competitors, and get them noticed. Holography adds three distinct advantages to any promotion: 1. Impact: holograms are eye catching. People will look at holograms for significantly longer periods of time than other graphic mediums. If a customer’s name or slogan is on the hologram, that information is enforced! 2. Pass around value: people are often impressed with good holograms, and they are likely to bring them to the attention of colleagues and associates. 3. Retention: people tend to keep holograms. We receive new leads from potential customers who have holograms on their desk which were created more than 10 years ago!

Given these three factors, it may be hard to understand why holography is not found in much wider use in the promotional marketplace. I feel that it is largely due to false perceptions about holography and its costs. Unfortunately, in the minds of many, affordability has never been a word associated with holography. It would be impossible for me to count the times that I have heard potential customers say “holography is great but too expensive’ or, “we can’t afford to use holography for our project” (can you really afford to ignore the impact of holography?) Or, “holograms are only for large runs”. These decisions are made before a price quote has even been made!

Objections such as these are sometimes based upon past experience; but more often than not, they come from an incomplete or incorrect conception of the holographic industry and what we have to offer. Mainly, objections of this sort stem from experiences in which an inappropriate solution was applied to a project. For instance, a customer may have been looking for 5,000 hologram labels to give away at a trade show. Calling a company found in the phone directory, they were told that there would be a set up cost of $8,000; or, that the minimum run had to be 50,000 pieces. This type of incomplete information creates obstacles in customers’ minds. After such an experience, further exploration into the use of holography would be limited due to the customer’s presumption that holography could not be cost effective.

I have found that there are a great number of projects which fall into the category of ‘not cost effective given the high set up costs of fully custom holography’. One solution to this problem exists in the utilization of stock image holograms. Stock image holograms have just as much impact as fully custom holograms, without the high set up costs. Stock image embossed holograms can, with great ease, add huge impact to most any promotion. Direct mail can be enhanced with a stock hologram label. Memorable premium and specialty items such as magnets, calculators, and tee shirts can be created from stock holograms. Powerful brochure covers, pocket folders, annual reports, magazine covers, advertisements, etc. Can be produced with the addition of a stock image embossed hologram. Packaging can benefit from the draw and appeal of a stock hologram. New life can, in fact, be breathed into almost any promotion with a stock image hologram.

Many hologram production companies have existing stock images. Sometimes images are created ‘on spec.’ for projects which do not come to fruition, and the originator retains the rights of ‘replication’ (embossing the image). In other circumstances, originators create holograms for self promotion or for retail markets that can then be utilized as stock images for advertising and promotional projects. These images can often be customized to suit individual customer’s needs. Customizing a stock image can take a number of forms. A simple after printing stage adds a customer’s logo, ad copy, or slogan to a stock image, making it (for all practical purposes) a custom image! Stock images can also be die cut (cropped) to specific shapes and/or sizes which give them a custom appearance. Placing ad copy around the image on the literature or product can further enhance the design and make a stock image unique.

Generally, stock images are more expensive per piece than custom images due to ‘short run costs’ and/or royalties (paid to the owner of the image) which are included in the price per piece. This higher cost per piece is deceptive. Since no custom tooling costs need to be amortized, the total cost for the production run is low enough to make the project viable where a fully custom hologram would have been out of the question. Though the average ‘total dollar value’ of stock image jobs are lower than those for fully custom projects, the lack of high set up costs and the availability of low minimum runs create a much greater conversion rate, so there are more jobs. Just as important, customers see the image before the project begins, eliminating the long, potentially problematic proof stages and chances for image rejection.

Qualification of customers is often complicated in fully custom holography. It can take a long conversation and an expensive packet of samples just to determine that a customer does not have the budget for a custom image. Stock images offer an excellent back-up option. If the budget does not allow for custom work, the project may often be salvaged with a stock image hologram. Furthermore, some of our sales reps have found that offering an affordable alternative in stock imagery can remove the obstacles in a customer’s mind. As the customer looks further into the project, he or she finds that a custom piece is really more attractive, and a budget is ‘created’ which includes custom tooling!

In the photographic industry, stock images have long been a well used alternative to custom photography. Various collections of stock photos offer a dazzling array of imagery, so images can be found to suit even the most obscure project parameters. Holography has not yet developed into such a serviceable industry as photography. The stock holographic images that do exist are scattered around the globe, many collecting dust on the shelves of large holographic manufacturing companies who have bigger fish to fry.

We have created a stock hologram collection named HoloBank . We have assembled the worlds largest selection of stock images by licensing available images from many of the worlds finest origination facilities. This compendium of over 300 stock images (and growing) ranges in usable size from 3/4″ to 6″ square.

Most promotional projects have a theme or slogan which can be addressed with a stock image. HoloBank contains images with general themes such as world (earth), high tech, space, communications, travel, time, thought, sports, animals, aquatics, etc.. A large selection of specific images (such as individual sports types, individual flowers and animals, particular celebrities, special products, etc.) Allows us a reasonable hit rate on the exact image which a customer is seeking.

HoloBank offers a number of customization formats. Overprinting the image with standard printing techniques is quick and low cost. For greater impact, ‘holographic’ etching in matte or diffraction creates a truly custom look for a low set up cost and no additional running charge.

All of the HoloBank stock images are offered as labels. Plain or customized with the customer’s ad copy, logo, or slogan, these images are available in production runs as low as 500 pieces! All of the images are also offered as promotional products such as pins, magnets, calculators, tee shirts, etc., which can be customized and purchased in runs as low as 50 pieces. By offering a wide variety of stock images in a number of stock products, we take the guess work out of adding the impact of holography to almost any promotion. In a matter of weeks from start to finish, the project is complete and in the field.

Stock images can be run in multiple formats. For instance, HoloBank stock images can be purchased as pressure sensitive labels, tamper evident security backing, un-cut roll stock, hot stamping foil, heat transfer material (for application to tee shirts and garments), and many other adhesives for special applications.

HoloBank offers a number of sales tools which can make instant hologram salesmen out of even the novice to holography. All HoloBank sales materials are generic, as they contain no references to A D 2000, phone #’s, addresses, etc.. This allows marketing firms, advertising agencies, printers, etc. to use HoloBank information as their own sales tools, without fear of source disclosure to their clients.

Holographic marketing companies can benefit from the HoloBank. It’s pre cataloged assortment of stock images allows easy use and access to a huge variety of imagery with ‘one stop shopping’. Besides easy access and low minimum runs, a stock image project purchased through HoloBank can run smoothly on the side, leaving important man hours to be spent on the larger and more pressing projects.

Due to the service orientation of HoloBank , special handling such as die sizes / shapes, adhesives, application, etc. are all offered on a cost plus basis, increasing the versatility in utilization of stock images. In order to assure cost effectiveness, we offer recombination’s to produce efficient panels (press sheets) where larger orders create a need for lower per piece costs.

It is important to recognize that short runs and low budgets are not restricted to small companies. Many large corporations make use of short runs for specific projects which have relatively small budgets but are extremely important never the less. These projects can be high profile; and, they can create an ‘in’ because your company was there for them on the smaller project. The customization of stock images ultimately makes them custom images. The majority of those viewing the images will never know that they were not created specifically for the company using them, particularly if holographic diffraction imprinting is employed.

In short, customized stock embossed holograms add a powerful new dimension to the sales of holograms and holographic products. Consider the benefits:


  • 1. The visual impact of custom holography without the high tooling costs.
  • 2. Affordability in low production runs.
  • 3. Multiple applications from print advertising to premium items.
  • 4. Additional sales to customers who are presently turned away.
  • 5. Ease of presentation and higher lead conversion, especially
    when used in conjunction with a full stock image program
    such as HoloBank ease of presentation and higher lead conversion, especially when used in conjunction with a full stock image program such as HoloBank .

All in all, the best solution we have found to the question of “how to make high impact embossed holography affordable in low production runs” is the customization of stock images. More and more customers are turning to stock images to enhance their promotions. In the future, the use of stock imagery will be wide spread. HoloBank will increase its image selection continually, and is already targeting images to particular industries. Eventually, stock image holography could become as inexpensive and common a graphic element as stock image photography is now.