Holmes Custom Becomes HC Brands

We have exciting news to share!

As we continue to grow our personalized product offerings and our reach in the retail e-commerce industry, we are excited to announce that Holmes Custom is now HC Brands!

Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, with additional fulfillment centers in Salem, Massachusetts and Austin, Texas, HC Brands is your one stop shop for the highest quality personalized home and business products. We offer a wide selection of merchandise from nine specialty sites, including rubber stamps, custom signs, name tags, promotional products, vinyl wall decals, notary public seals and supplies, personalized gifts, and more!

Name changes are something we are familiar with. In 2017, our company, Holmes Stamp & Sign, became Holmes Custom, in order to better represent our growing brands.

“Much like the need for us to change in 2017, we feel that Holmes Custom no longer represents who we are as an evolving brand,” says owner and CEO Bryan Croft. “We are a marketing/technology/e-commerce company that is innovating and rapidly growing. The name Holmes Custom no longer reflects who we are.”

HC Brands earns annual sales of $20 million, and we’ve experienced annual growth of 30 percent for the third consecutive year. Our investment in internal systems and technology allows us to deliver an easy online ordering experience resulting in quality personalized products, delivered with exceptional speed, directly to your door. Our streamlined ordering experience facilitates same day or next business day shipping.

“Informing our customers of all we do has been a challenge for us for many years,” says Libby O’Regan, VP of Strategic Partnerships. “By letting our customers of one site know that we are part of something much bigger, we hope to introduce audiences of one brand to our other brands and connect the dots.”

We welcome you to join us as we continue to grow as HC Brands! Visit our sites to see what’s in store:




Creative Ways to Share Your Magnetic Business Cards

From multinational corporations to the corner patisserie, business cards are tiny brochures that tell your valued patrons – and potential customers – what you’re all about! And they’re a terrific pocket sized marketing opportunity.



Here are our favorite tried and true ways to jazz up and share business cards so they’re sure to be noticed – and remembered!


A Business Card with a Purpose

Be sure your business card doesn’t become just another card in the deck. Magnetic business cards are terrific for adhering to filing cabinets, refrigerators, or other metal surfaces. Get creative! Use business cards as tickets to special dining or company events, as bookmarks, and even as a reusable discount card for a small percentage off each purchase.


Include a Fun Fact or a Testimonial

When designing your business card, you naturally want it to stand out from the others. And, most certainly, you want the information on your card to be read. Try adding a fun fact that will grab the card recipient’s attention. If you’re a marine biologist or work at an aquarium, for example, you might include a line that says ‘Did you know? An octopus has three hearts’!

 Technology Is In!

Adding a QR code or a specific product SKU to your business cards that offers a discount for visiting your website is an ideal way to easily track the effectiveness of your business cards – and that people are really interested in what information you’re sharing with them.

 Send Those Business Cards in Creative Ways

Send Business Cards along with invoices and to existing – and potential – vendors and suppliers. You may be surprised when an opportunity to gain a new client or expand your business presents itself from something as simple as the interest drawn to your organization via a well-designed business card.

 Show Your Support for a Cause

Just about every company out there loves to give back, whether to the community or somewhere in need around the world. Proudly show your patrons, clients, and guests who or what you support by including a small line about your support somewhere on your magnetic business card, such as ‘We proudly support the March of Dimes.” It may even inspire others to join in and offer support, too!

Instantly Connect Your Face to Your Company

Include your best professional picture or even your favorite social media profile picture (depending on the casualness of your organization) on your business card so that people will remember you and associate you with your business long after your initial meeting.

The Business of Branding: How to Use Blogging to Grow your Business

In today’s tech-savvy world, we turn to Google, Bing or another search engine for our unanswered questions. Often times, considering how you think will lead you down the right road for thinking like your potential customers. So it’s not hard to see why so many businesses are blogging. Blogging is one of the many ways you can give your brand a voice, show that there are people behind your business, and relate to your customers. But these aren’t the only benefits of updating your blog regularly; websites with current blog content also rank higher and gain more traffic than those that don’t. So in today’s The Business of Branding post, we’ll show you how blogging can help grow your business.

  1. Broaden your Customer Base

What small business doesn’t want more customers? The first way blogging can help your business succeed is by growing your customer base. As we mentioned before, so many of us head to our favorite search engine when you want to learn something, and by blogging, you make yourself findable in a search. For example, if you’re the owner of a small pet boutique specializing in holistic pet foods and environmentally-friendly pet toys, you may write about the benefits of feeding your animals a grain-free diet. You could also blog about why a certain toy is better for pets’ teeth than another. However, the key to blogging is to make your content compelling and provide value. Give your readers accurate information that answers their questions. The other trick is to play by the search engines rules and use relevant keywords. This will help search engines find your blog to then provide to your potential customers. In your post, include backlinks to the products you refer to and introduce your readers to your products.

2. Communicate with your Customers

Your business’ blog is also a great place to communicate with your customers. Use your blog as a platform to tell your customers about new products, answer commonly asked questions, and inform them of things happening within your company.  Customers appreciate businesses that are honest and transparent and your blog is a great tool to establish your company as that type of business. When others stumble upon your blog, they’ll be pleased to see this is the type of business you are and more inclined to become a customer.

3. Share your Knowledge

Whether you’re in the restaurant industry, a fashion designer, or a manufacturer of custom logo stamps, you’re educated in your area of expertise. Use your blog as a tool to show the world you’re an expert in your industry. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, you could write a detailed blog post about the differences between vector and rasterized artwork is. By providing information that isn’t widely known, you’ll show the world that you’re an authority in your industry and make your work more creditable. Your blog is also a great place to share tips, tools and suggestions that your customers will find beneficial.

Just like no two businesses are the same, no two blogs are the same. Your blog should be an accurate representation of your brand, featuring your logo, color scheme, and your company’s overall identity. Successful blogs provide value to their readers, use relevant search terms, and hold content the world will want to share. It’s also very important your blog is visually-appealing, so include photos, infographics and videos whenever possible. Create a blog your current and potential customers will want to visit with content they’ll want to absorb and watch how it will positively impact your business!

The Business of Branding: Fundamentals & Branding on a Budget

Ultimately, branding is about creating and maintaining an image. The great news is that this can be done on a budget. The main objective is to stay consistent, all the way from your social media presence to your product presentation and packaging.

Whether you choose a simple yet memorable color scheme and logo that carries over from your online to offline presence, or you have a unique logo that speaks for itself, there are simple ways you can keep your image consistent to achieve the brand identity your business needs.

Today, in our The Business of Branding series, we will discuss five fundamental things you can do to brand your business in an affordable way.

1. Establish an online identity and stay loyal to your color scheme, imagery and diction. When designing your website, even if it is a small, single page website that gives information about your company, remember to adhere to a cohesive color and font scheme, and write in a voice that is true to your brand and culture. Take every small opportunity to make your message and imagery cohesive. Can’t afford a website? Be sure you are present on social media channels that reach your target audience. From creating hashtag campaigns to sending out tweets, there are simple ways to maintain your identity online.

It is key to remember who your target audience is! Use your unique identity and perspective to speak to this audience directly. Don’t get overwhelmed creating your online messaging by trying to reach the wrong audience.

2. Be consistent in your presentation. In today’s digital world, much of your correspondence may begin online, and must be cohesively merged into your real world communication. When it comes to real-life, tangible materials, always remember to incorporate your voice, color scheme, logo and other important elements that are found on your website and social media profiles.

If you’re selling T-Shirts from a brick and mortar shop as well as online, wrap orders in branded tissue paper and bags. If you don’t have the budget to create custom packaging materials for your brand, order a logo stamp. Logo stamps can include not only your logo, but other information including your name, location and website URL.

The objective is to never leave out details that bring customers back to your store or your website. The more a customer comes in contact with your logo, colors and messaging, the more likely they are to remember your brand. This sounds elementary, but when things get busy it’s easy to forget. A cost-effective logo stamp can be used in many ways, from branding your shopping bags to stamping letterhead.

3. Find ways to evolve your brand over time. In order to stay fresh, interesting and ultimately alive, a brand must be able to continue to communicate with its target audience in new ways. There are many fun ways you can keep people interested in what your brand has to say and sell.

From hashtag campaigns to giveaways and contests, social media has made it much more possible for brands to stay versatile. Let’s be honest, people live on their smartphones. Remember this the next time you’re struggling with ideas about how to reach your customer. Find out what your customers care about and build messaging around this.

4. Solve tech issues that may affect your ability to reach your audience online. This sounds complicated, but it can be as simple as making sure your text is in a readable font, or your contest page is view-able on a mobile phone.

Most businesses have a website that is the cornerstone of their communication with customers, so if you do, make sure technical issues like page load times and readability aren’t holding you back. People pay attention to these details, and if they have a bad experience with your web page, they are likely to remember and not return.

5. Be present. Even though people live on their smartphones, they still like to see the faces behind a brand, whenever possible. Make sure you’re in the know about trade shows, concerts, events and other real world opportunities to interface with your target customer. This is a great way to merge online and offline communication as well.

If most of your audience knows your brand online, through Facebook or Instagram, they may revel in the opportunity to engage with you in real life via a pop up shop, contest or meet and greet. On the other hand, real world meet-ups like these are also good for meeting new customers to send to your online experience!

Branding can be overwhelming and oftentimes elusive. When it becomes a struggle to come up with new ideas, or to keep your image recognizable and consistent, it helps to revert back to the fundamentals, like what we’ve discussed in today’s blog. Branding is an ongoing and vital part of business and it includes many aspects.

Fundamentally, however, effective branding involves consistent use of color, fonts, voice, your logo, packaging and presentation, and includes providing real world interaction that merges your online and offline identity. There are ways to reach your customer and stay within your budget!

The Business of Branding: Logo Design Tips & Trends

Your logo speaks volumes about your company, from who you are to what you do, and is arguably one of the most defining elements of your brand. It’s extremely important when developing your brand identity that you design your logo to accurately represent your brand. In the world of design, trends are ever evolving, but there are also many constants you’ll see in strong, successful logos. So today we’ll give you our tips for designing your company’s logo and share the current logo trends for inspiration.

Variation in logos is essential because it shows no two businesses are the same. While seeking inspiration from other brands and identifying elements that reflect how you want your brand to feel is helpful, your logo should be entirely your own. That being said, there are a few things strong logos all have in common.

What do GREAT logos have in common?

First of all, they’re simple. Often times we get excited when designing our logo and want to include as many different design elements as possible, but this can be distracting to potential consumers. Keep it simple by making every design decision with a clear intention. Why do you want your logo to contain three separate colors, or why do you want leaves surrounding your company’s name? If you can’t answer these questions indefinitely, you’ll know they’re unnecessary.

Secondly, powerful logos are always versatile. Keep in mind you’ll be using your logo across different mediums when you’re in the design phase. Your company’s logo should work well on both your website, social media accounts, printed business cards, or company brochures.

Your logo should also be timeless. We sometimes want to design our logo based on what’s trendy, but if your company is as successful as we all hope it will be, you don’t want to design a logo that will be out of style in 10 years.

Most importantly, your logo needs to be memorable. Be sure to design a logo that your customers will be able to easily identify. Make sure it’s unique and is a clear representation of your brand.

What are some of today’s trends in logo design?


Over the last few years, companies like Airbnb, MasterCard and even Google have chosen to simplify their logos.  By choosing simpler fonts and color palettes, they’re able to give their logo a look that’s still easily identifiable as their brand, but is more aesthetically pleasing. Complex logos often make consumers lose focus, which is why large corporations are making their logos more clean cut and memorable.


By adding certain textures to a logo, companies are able to let their brand speak without really say anything at all. There’s an endless number of different textures to add to your logo to make it feel different ways. For example, some companies add texture to their logos to give their brand a rustic or vintage feel.

Geometric Shapes

For years geometry has been used in logos, but the way designers are using it these days is what’s so unique. Whether the logo is made completely of geometry or is the company’s icon, brands are speaking through geometric shapes. If you choose to go this route with your brand, be sure your design makes sense for your brand.

Hand-Sketched Logos

Hand-drawn logos are popular for smaller or more artistic brands. While they’re generally harder to translate to computers than a digital design, they humanize brands, which is extremely important to today’s consumers. If you want to give your company a small-business feel, a sketched logo may be a good option for you, but be sure you make similar decisions when developing the rest of your brand strategy.

Negative Space

Negative space logos are generally used to attract attention. It also gives the brand an opportunity to build meaning within the negative space. These logos are often designed to make consumers think twice.


Cropped logos are rooted in the idea that less is more. This approach to design argues that we don’t need to see the entirety of a letter of word to understand what it means.

Searching for more inspiration for creating a logo? You may find it helpful to view an analysis of some The Best & Worst Real Estate Logos of 2018. This article features useful examples as well as tips for making an unforgettable logo.

Designing your logo will likely be one of the most exciting times in developing your brand. Be sure not to rush through the process, hire professional assistance when necessary, and make every decision with a set intention. Once you’ve decided on a final logo for your company, be sure to keep different versions of your logo, like PSD and other vector art files, in a safe place for future promotional use. In our next “The Business of Branding” post, we’ll share ideas for affordably branding your small business!

Learn how to establish your brand voice and position here.

The Business of Branding: Establishing your Company Culture

What is your company culture and how will it affect your business? You can think of your company culture as the personality of your business, from your workplace environment to team values, company-wide goals to overall expectations. Today we’ll be sharing the importance of establishing your company culture and how this internal element and your business’ brand are closely knit together.

When we think of a great company culture, many of us think of the napping nooks at Google or the tuition reimbursement provided by Starbucks. Many businesses understand that by taking care of their employees, they will in turn be loyal to the company and work hard at everything they do. But what many people don’t realize is that a company’s culture and the business’ brand should be integrated. The most powerful branding starts from within. If you have a team full of individuals ready to show the world how great your company is, whether it’s two or 200 people, you’re already a step ahead of your competition.

Now more than ever, consumers are showing their loyalty to companies they can relate to. They want to see the faces behind the business they’re supporting, which is why humanizing your brand and company culture has become so important. While we here at Holmes Custom have grown exponentially over the years, we value our small business status and our team of #Holmies. Our brand and values makes for a natural connection with so many of our customers because they too are either small business owners or a part of a small business team. We’re eager to help equip their small business with the tools they need and chase their dreams.

Once you’ve defined your brand, you have the foundation for your company culture. What do you value as a company and what is your purpose? If you’re an energetic fitness business helping your customers reach their health goals, your culture should be motivational and competitive.

No matter what your company represents, marrying your brand and culture will give you a powerful platform to create a company that’s both cohesive and authentic. Be sure you’re being unique when establishing what you want your company’s culture to be. It’s easy to look at successful corporations and mock their strategies, but if you create a company culture that is unique to your brand, standing apart will be easy.

When building your team, look for candidates that naturally possess the characteristics you want your business to have. If customer service is a top priority, look for friendly, out-going individuals who want to see your customer’s smile. If you’re opening a high-scale bar that serves craft cocktails, search for drink enthusiasts with keen attention to detail. By finding the right team and creating a solid, transparent company culture, you’re giving your employees the tools they need to succeed. By being clear with your company values, your team will never have to guess what is the right decision and will feel empowered to make judgment calls they know you will approve of.

Once your company culture has been established, let it be known. If you work in an office environment, set a small portion of your budget aside to decorate with motivational signs or other decor to represent your culture. Celebrate achievements with your employees, whether it’s with something as simple as an ice cream social or as big as a weekend retreat for the whole team. Be sure to document it in a professional yet fun and engaging way on your company blog or social media accounts. Not only will your customers enjoy seeing the faces that work so hard behind the scenes, your team will also know they’re a valued part of your company’s mission.

In the next “The Business of Branding” post, you can look forward to learning all about establishing your brand voice!





The Business of Branding: Small Business Spotlight featuring Grease Rags Clothing Co.

Here at Holmes Custom we are passionate about small business. We often receive orders from small businesses with big goals and even cooler logos! Here in our local Jacksonville community, many small businesses are succeeding and thriving, not through sales alone, but also through relationships with their community and passion for what they do.

As part of our “The Business of Branding Series” we are featuring Grease Rags Clothing Co. for our small business spotlight. We would like to introduce you to Cindy Platt, owner of this inspiring and unique Jacksonville based small business. Cindy has just recovered her shop from damage it underwent during Hurricane Irma and she has just had her grand re-opening!

We are excited to share Cindy’s unique point of view and the trials and successes that inspired her to spread her wings and become a business owner.

Q: When did you start grease rags?

A: Grease Rags Clothing Co. celebrated its 4th year anniversary at the beginning of October.

Q: What encouraged you to open your own retro clothing shop?

A: My prior background was in corporate banking. After completing treatment for Stage 4 oral cancer, I realized a few things. My brain worked a bit differently than before and my priorities had completely changed. No more banking for me, but I had to do something to keep me busy enough on my own terms so I could stop worrying about my health. I always loved the styles but they were difficult to find unless I shopped online.

Q: What keeps you passionate about running your business?

A: There have been moments when owning a business is too taxing on my energy. I still have late effects from my previous treatment and this makes daily life a challenge quite often. In those moments when I think I can’t do it anymore, I think about the community we have built around Grease Rags Clothing Co. I think about all of the good things I can do, such as starting my non-profit organization, to help others.

The shop is a home base for all of these other activities and also a safe place for people to come and decompress from things that are bothering them in their lives. It may sound silly, but this is more than a place to buy a pretty dress and I feel both committed and honored to provide such a place to the community.

Q: What damage did Hurricane Irma do to your business?

A: The storm surge flooded our dress shop and adjoining barbershop. The property owner had a crew down the day after the storm to tear out the damaged drywall, dehumidify the building, and replace the drywall. I believe the quick action saved us from having bigger problems. Luckily, the great majority of our merchandise was not harmed. The little things I initially thought were no big deal have really added up though. Most of our furniture had to be thrown out, we had to rent a commercial floor cleaner to scrub the floors (3 passes on that), replace all of the shop rugs, repaint the floors and walls, buy a new steamer, and more. Even though there has been some significant expense, I chose to look at this as a kind of reboot for the business. The rising water was a kind of forced de-cluttering so we are definitely more organized now too.

Q: What has been most difficult about recovering from Irma damage?

A: The most difficult thing has been trying to keep some sort of business activity going while trying to get the shop squared away. Our online community has done a great job at keeping orders coming in and we did some pop up shops at local businesses such as Steele Hair Gallery, The Volstead, and Hourglass Pub. We greatly appreciate how everyone has gone out of their way to support us and hope we have done a good job at expressing that gratitude.

Q: What has been most rewarding about recovering from Irma?

The most rewarding aspect of this process has been the activities we have participated in to help others. It has been very refreshing to see so many different kinds of people come together for a good cause.

Q: Tell us about your grand reopening!

A: Our Grand Re-Opening was held on Saturday, October 14 from 11 am to 7 pm. We had a huge cake along with refreshments, live music by Redneck Hummus and a sidewalk sale chock full of deals! The turn out was great!

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: You can find us all over social media so please feel free to check us out.

Cindy modeling one of her styles

It is the determination of small business owners like Cindy that keeps our team at Holmes Custom passionate about what we do! If you would like to learn more about Cindy Platt’s not-for-profit, visit www.rocstartjax.org. You can also follow Grease Rags on Instagram at @greaseragsclothing.

Grease Rags Clothing Co. is a great example of a small business owner taking her personal passion and style and turning it into a brand. From clothing tags to custom buttons, the company’s aesthetic and brand style is apparent the moment you enter this unique shop.

Check back soon for our next post on establishing your brand’s culture!