Thumb Drives, Flash Drives, Memory Sticks

We’ve been asked what is the difference between a thumb drive, a flash drive and a memory stick.

For promotional products, the terms are used interchangeably, referring to a promotional item that stores information and plugs into the USB port of a computer. The flash drive / thumb drive/ memory stick has a logo or other imprinted graphic and is used for both practical data storage needs and promotional marketing needs. However, if we want to get technical, the differences are:

Memory Sticks

The “true” Memory Stick was a simple memory card introduced by Sony in 1998. It morphed over the years and become a type of SD card. The real “Memory Stick” is now an SD card used primarily for cameras and digital video recording devises. A Sony Memory Stick requires and adapter to plug into a standard USB port on computers to transfer data.

USB Flash Drive - Retract

USB Flash Drives

USB Flash Drive technically refers to the technology that combines flash memory storage and an integrated USB connector. When we think of promotional flash drives, this is the actual product that is being described. With the imagination and creativity in the technology sector, many versions of the USB Flash Drive have been created.


ThumbDrive is a brand name created by Trek Technologies for the first commercial USB Flash Drive. As the first to come to market with the technology in 2000, they have the honor of becoming the “kleenex” of flash drives. The brand name and the category are nearly synonymous today.

The latest development in Flash Drives is the 1TB capacity flash drive released in 2013. Rumor has it that a 2TB capacity flash drive is not far off.

To be sure we are discussing the right item, we preface Flash Drive, Thumb Drive or memory stick with terms such as ‘promotional’, ‘imprinted’, ‘custom’, ‘logo’, or ‘branded’.

Neat Twist to the Custom USB Flash Drive

When we work with clients to a design Custom USB flash drive, we normally look at imprinting or etching the design on the material. This works well. But, with Baby Face Portraits, we had a neat opportunity to use printed label stickers.

The process of applying stickers works a best when the flash drive shape has a flat surface, in this case somewhat recessed. This particular design was full color process and included nuances of shape, lines and colors.



As the surface is twisted, the USB Flash Drive extends from the side of the unit. This protects the flash drive when not in use and makes it very convenient to carry.

Baby Face Portraits uses the custom USB flash drive to share the image files with their customers. It is a great way to ensure the images are continually associated with the company, and adds some extra value to their customers who can use the flash drive for purposes in addition to storing the image files.

See why USB Credit Card Flash Drives are a best seller

Credit card usb flash drives are among our best sellers. The attraction is the versatility of the credit card shape. With the large flat surface, nearly anything can be imprinted.

The three styles are the  metallic usb flash drive,  the click card usb and the flipper credit card usb. With the click card flash drive, the usb slides out of the card, and then ‘clicks’ back into it for safe keeping. With the flipper, the usb drive remains connected to the card, and simply ‘flips’ the usb out and then flips it back in. The metallic is… well, metallic.

Our customers have used these flash drives in some really creative ways. While it has nearly always involved sharing information, you can see how the medium becomes the message with the credit card flash drive’s large imprint area.

Examples of USB Credit Card Flash Drives

Citizen, ever the classic watch really says fashion with the way the artwork applied. This is a full color print on a white body.


citizen usb credit card flash drive

IBIS really made their credit card usb stand out with deep contrast of blue on white. This really took advantage of full color printing on the white body to make the creative pop.

IBIS credit card flash drive

IBIS credit card flash drive

The x-lite creative tells you what the product is. If your product is not well understood or know, using the creative to communicate what you do is key. X-lite does this phenomenally well with their flash drive creative.


xlite usb credit card flash drive

There is something about a metal surface the implies strength. Shake The Nation used this to its fullest with the credit card usb flash drive.

Shake the Nation credit card flash drive

Shake the Nation credit card flash drive

Photography reproduces very well on on the body of the flash drive. On this example the Littleton/englewood credit card usb applies four photos and all look really sharp. On the opposite side, they provide a wealth of contact information in addition to the files saved onto the drive itself.

city of littleton-englewood-full color print-usb credit card

city of littleton-englewood-full color print-usb credit card

The Terri Lynne foundation makes a striking impression for their charity event. This credit card flash drive used deep red to stand out.


Terri lLynne child foundation-credit card-flash drive

Terri Lynne Child Care foundation-credit card-flash drive

Finally, simple can also be impactful. This World Bank associated charity is clear on the association and the purpose with simple artwork and copy.


The World Bank- Poverty Lab - credit card usb

The World Bank- Poverty Lab – credit card usb

For creativity, the credit card usb flash drive  really can’t be beat. If you are interested in a project with the credit card usb flash drive Contact us,  we’d love to work with you.

Custom Shaped Flash Drives: Under Armour Fast

Under Armour’s SpeedForm Apollo “THIS IS WHAT FAST FEELS LIKE” Campaign  is one of the most innovative, creative projects for which we developed one of our custom shaped flash drives.  Art and Design by Chichi Bello, with the creative direction of Sean Flannagan, this packaging was phenomenal.

The design team for the packaging was brilliantly creative in the unconventional shoebox shape, product presentation and “extras”, include a custom shaped flash drives created by iPromo at their direction. The images below take you through the components of the packaging as well as the video for the campaign. The flash drive is right in line with the overall design of the program.

The custom shaped usb flash drive design was intricate and required multiple iterations to match the look and feel the design team created. When it was done, the custom flash drives fit beautifully with the packaging concept.

Under Armour  Custom Flash Drive 1 Under Armour  Custom Flash Drive 2

Under Armour Shoe box Concept Under Armour Shoe box elenents

You will see the likeness to the Jet at the end of this Under Armour SpeedForm Apollo video:

When you consider the different applications for custom usb flash drives, this shows how integrating multiple features into a single package concept is very powerful. The custom shape flash drive is cool, but the real impact comes from the totality of the elements in this unique shoe box.

Why 4Wall Entertainment and Give Away Flash Drives at Trade Shows

4Wall Entertainment rents, installs, and sells lighting equipment to venues that need entertainment lighting, such as theaters, concert halls, and seminar auditoriums. They’ve worked on some really high-profile projects such as TV’s So You Think You Can Dance and lighting for Hello, Dolly! at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC and Hakkasan nightclub in Las Vegas, NV. They also sell lighting equipment at, their e-commerce store. This means they’re communicating their services and equipment to a large audience. Show business isn’t easy. Like many companies in the theater, 4Wall Entertainment spends a lot of time getting their name out to customers, including at trade shows and events and through contests and giveaways. But after exhausting the traditional swag such as pens, t-shirts, mugs so they decided to upgrade to flash drives. We got in touch with Luke Lytle, who works in the Marketing department, to see what the response has been.

Give-A-Ways at Trade Shows: Give the People What They Want

The idea is to impart your company’s information, in a format your customers will appreciate on a platform they’ll actually use. With iPromo flash drives, Luke says “We still have a lot of the other giveaways, but the flash drives are our most popular.” 4Wall and UsedLighting each have their own custom flash drives with information preloaded onto the drive. “We give these out at trade shows, events, with orders, contests and giveaways in general. In the past we had flash drives with our logos printed on them which were a good giveaway that people liked. Once we had the 3D versions made though, the response has been fantastic. It has been great to hear the reactions and comments as people realize that they are flash drives. Besides giving away the flash drives, 4Wall also uses them for sales presentations. “We upload the information we are using to the flash drive and give it to the client when we make the presentation. It is a good way to reinforce what we just presented. “

The iPromo Difference

4Wall Entertainment and are able to target their audience more effectively, streamline their marketing approach, save time with preloaded flash drives, and the environment. Get started building your custom 3D drive today Here’s the full text of our interview: Please describe your organization and what it does. 1) 4Wall Entertainment is an Entertainment Lighting company that rents and sells stage and theatrical lighting equipment. We rent, install, and sell equipment to Theaters, Churches, Concerts, Seminars, and any other venues that require entertainment lighting. Some of our recent projects have been Blake Shelton “Ten Times Crazier Tour”, “So You Think You Can Dance”, One Republic “Native Tour”, Hakkasan Night Club, “Hello, Dolly!” at Ford’s Theatre, and more. We are able to maintain the highest quality of rental equipment by selling off and replacing the equipment on our E-commerce website Whats your role and how do you fit in w/in the organization? 2) My role within the company is Marketing and Graphic Design. I am based in Las Vegas and work with our 5 nationwide locations in designing and printing custom swag, flyers, banners, signs, web & print ads, and more for them to use. I also update both and on a daily basis. What is the main use of the flash drives that you got from us? 3) We actually had two flash drives created, one for 4Wall and one for We give these out at tradeshows, events, with orders, contests and giveaways in general. In the past we had flash drives with our logos printed on them which were a good giveaway that people liked. Once we had the 3D versions made though, the response has been fantastic. It has been great to hear the reactions and comments as people realize that they are flash drives. Before you started using flash drives for this need, what were you doing? 4) Before and besides flash drives we have used pens, t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc. We still have a lot of the other giveaways, but the flash drives are our most popular. Besides the main use, do you use the flash drives for any other purposes? 5) We actually use the flash drives when we have presentations to potential clients. We upload the information we are using to the flash drive and give it to the client when we make the presentation. It is a good way to reinforce what we just presented. We also use them in house with our lighting consoles that use flash drives to create and upload show designs to. What was the best part of your experience with us? 6) The best part of the experience was the quick and free design to see how our logo would look in 3D. We actually had a pre-production proof made first so we could see it in person. The process was very smooth and quick.