Customizing a Customer's Consumer Products
I don't think it's an accident that the words Customize and Customer are so similar. Ten (or more) years ago, when the first digital printing presses were rolled out, I felt this was the direction EVERYTHING would go -- personalized products, printed and manufactured on-demand.
As time goes on, I begin to realize that I'd barely scratched the surface of possibilities.
Everyday new businesses offer completely custom 'one-off' products that are truly made to order. I've collected some links to old favorites, as well as some fun new stuff, below. If I've omitted any of your favorites, please add them to the comments section at the bottom of this blog entry.
I Blog, therefore I am
The ultimate on-demand website. You can be up and running within minutes, spreading your opinions and ideas through your own virtual soapbox. There are many blog sites from which to choose, but TypePad and Blogger are at the top of the list.
One-Man Company Store
CafePress has been offering custom stores that individuals can setup to sell hundreds of items, or just ONE of any number of completely custom imprinted products. This past year, CafePress began offerings BOOKS and CDs among the dozens of other items available in their online stores.
eCreamery was featured in yesterday's entry. Just read below for more info on this company that offers completely custom blended frozen treats.
These things just won't go away. People LOVE them. How about a custom-created bobblehead? Whoopassenterprises.com offers this service. You choose from standard bodies, but the head is custom sculpted from a photographic reference.
Museum art prints
Is your child the next Monet? Van Gogh? Does your fridge not do the little Rembrandt's work justice? How about getting your kid's artwork reproduced on a museum art print? You've seen these formats before -- now you can own Junior's work in the same style.
While it's too late to have a custom Warhol, you CAN get your photographic prints in a Warholesque style at PhotoWow.
From Pop-Art to Soda-Pop
Jonesing for a custom-cola? Jones Soda now offers MyJones, case-quantity bottles of their beverage with custom photo labels. Perfect for weddings, tailgating, etc. It's a brand-name product that is willing to alter their branding in the name of customerzation. They've even patented their MyJones process!
This isn't your father's iMac. These computers from AVA sport custom metals, candy finishes, chrome, wood, leather, suede -- even 24kt gold! They ain't cheap, but take a look at the link -- they certainly seem to qualify as one-of-a-kind pieces of art.
Customize your ride
GG Bailey offers a little customerzation for your vehicle -- have your floormats designed in your favorite colors or team logo. You can even have them monogrammed.
Talking postcards from Mousse Shop allow you to record a custom greeting on a voicechip before mailing it to your penpal. The message can be up to 10 seconds long and you can re-record over an existing message the same number of time. You're also able to insert a photo -- a perfect way to send baby's first words to the grandparents.
Stamp of Approval
Word is quickly spreading about these wonderful items -- personalized photostamps. I actually wonder why it's taken the post office so long to implement this feature -- they're right on top of things with the USPS website and the ability to print postage directly from your computer -- why did it take so long for them to come up with the idea to add a photo? The cost is ridiculous. They currently charge more than twice the cost of a first-class stamp, but the service is offered through Stamps.com, a licensed vendor for the USPS, so I expect it may be awhile before your neighborhood post office offers this item for sale among their standard supplies and service.
And finally... one of my favorites. GentleGiant Studios offers the ultimate customerzation for an old comic book collector like me -- a custom action figure! Gentle Giant is the same company that makes action figures for The Matrix, Spider-Man, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings. They do a full body scan and handpaint the figure. It comes complete with a heroic accessories and is encased in a plastic display box, just like the action figures at your local toy store.
This is about the most expensive item on this list, but it is by far the coolest -- You better believe that if I had the big-bucks required, there'd be an "IDEA GUY" action figure on my desk!