Tip: Logo Files
The chances are good that your business uses a logo of some kind. I would say that 90% of the new clients I work with have a “logo” that they send out to newspapers, put on the side of pens or mugs, or use for their business cards. I don’t think there are many businesses that need to have the benefits of a logo explained to them. In fact, I think we, as humans, love to have a symbol represent ourselves and our business.
The area where most businesses lack, however, is in what kind of file format they have on their computer when they say, “I have a logo.” Most people will send me a JPEG or a GIF file. And while those are great for some small uses, they are far from ideal. A professional logo designer should provide you with all the files needed to use your logo anywhere, including the original design files (.ai or .eps).
If you don’t have the originals, contact your logo designer to get a copy of them. And if your logo was created without the help of a professional, invest in updating the files to a proper format. A logo designer should be able to help most businesses make that happen.
I’m a fan of consistency. I have the same routine every day. I get up at the same time. Make my coffee the same way. Get to my office at the same time. And eat lunch at the same time. It’s not boring or “vanilla” to me – it’s familiar and established. And I have friends all over the world who have similar habits. I like to think it helps me make the most of my day, but who knows. I just know that the consistency brings me a sense of familiarity, and that makes me happy.
As a business, you present yourself to the world in many ways. Maybe it’s a website and business cards. Maybe you use brochures as well. Or a banner or postcard or flyer. There are so many ways to market yourself, and every time you do that, your business name and information get placed on the “thing” that you’re sending out. The key to make it all work seamlessly, like a well-oiled machine, is to make sure you have consistency in what you do. Let me explain.
Tip: Say More With Less
If someone handed you a blank piece of paper and asked you to create a flyer for your business, chances are good that you would use every inch of that space. You would list out all of your services or products, describe your mission and values, and even add photos or images of things your customers would find interesting. We get flyers like this in the mail all the time. And honestly, I usually throw them away. Why? Because they say so much that they don’t say anything at all.
One important design law to remember as you prepare simple marketing materials for this upcoming holiday season is that you can actually say more with less. It’s true. The less you put on that postcard or mailer or brochure, the more you are going to communicate to the person who picks it up. Find ways to write your message with as few words as possible. Leave blank space on the page. And limit the number of colors and different types of fonts you use to create it. The less you add to the design, the more transparent your message will be.
Like all of our professions, there are many people who do what we do. There are thousands of realtors, and thousands of plumbers and thousands of accountants. And yes, there are thousands of designers. Now, it would be fair to say that many of the individuals who have the same profession as us are great at what they do. But in every field there is the small group of people who misrepresent the profession to clients and customers. I call them Bad Seeds. And when a customer hires a Bad Seed, things go horribly wrong.
The television show Holmes on Homes is a great example of what a Bad Seed can do. Mike Holmes is a contractor in Canada who gets called in by distraught home owners after Bad Seed contractors have begun, and botched, simple renovation projects. Holmes uses the show to teach people how to hire the right contractor for the job, and how things should be “done right the first time”.
Unfortunately there are Bad Seed graphic designers out there, and people hire them every day. And so, while I’m not the only good one, I wanted to lay out some warning signs to help you determine whether the designer you hired is good for you, or a Bad Seed. These are just a few examples, but ones that should serve as a wake-up call if you see them happen.
Getting Ready for Company
Moving into a new home is a surreal experience, is it not? If you’ve never done it yourself, I’m sure you know half a dozen people who have. Moving the boxes and furniture is only the first third of the task; it’s the unpacking and settling that take up much of the time. That’s where my wife and I are at right now. There’s this pressure to make the brand new house a ‘home’ as quickly as possible, and end the process. And along the way, we encounter some natural tendencies that I think we need to carry over into the business world.
Using a graphic designer for the creation of branding or marketing materials can be a great way to bring an extra touch of professionalism and polish to your business. And in many ways it seems easy to interact with a designer. I have been told by many clients that I am very approachable, a clear communicator and an honest guy (though your mileage may vary with other designers). But there are always the little things that get in the way of a project being completed quickly and correctly.
Why would that matter? Well, for one thing, time is money. The longer a designer spends on the clock for you, the larger your bill. It’s the same with a plumber or auto mechanic – time is money. So speeding the process is a great way to save money. And in addition to saving some cash, a faster process can help you meet that impending deadline. Sometimes a single hour or less can stand between you getting your banner or postcards in 5 days or 10. Speed helps you get what you need faster.
So this month I want to pass along the hints and lessons that I’ve learned through the years that help speed design projects along. These aren’t complaints, so don’t read them as such. These are lessons I’ve learned through observing hundreds of design projects, and I’m passing them on to you so that you can benefit.
The Top 10 Signs You Need a Graphic Designer
#10 – When asked for a logo, you go to your website and drag the logo off the page to your desktop.
While this might work if the image is only going to be used on another web page, or in an email, files from websites are never the correct type of file for print. You will experience wild disappointment if you decide to have that logo from your website printed on your business cards. The correct path to take is to find the designer of your logo and have them provide you with a PDF version created at 300dpi in CMYK. That might be Latin to most of you, but it’s the golden rule for doing design right!
#9 – You think that your company “logo” is the name of your business.
The name of your business is just that – the name. A logo is different. It’s a small image or icon, simple in form and color, that’s designed to capture the “heart and soul” of your business. It needs to be memorable (quick…what does the Nike logo look like?), describable and appropriate to your profession. You can set it next to your name, or use it alone.
It’s What I Do
My passion is to help you have a more beautiful business. Did you know that?
Sure, I would love it if you hired me. It helps pay my bills and keeps me from having to work for someone else, doing something I’m not too crazy about. So yeah, I wouldn’t mind working with you on a project or two. Design is what I do best, and it’s less a job than a calling.
But on a higher level, I just want to help your business look better. And if that means passing on a bit of advice here or there, pointers and hints for making things on your own, then I’m being true to my passion. I’m that guy who sees a sign on a restaurant, or a commercial on TV, and I can’t help but criticize the poor design choices. Conversely, I love beautiful design, noticing “hot” design trends, and learning new ways to present a client’s product or service.
Plan to Succeed
With the beginning of December comes a shocking realization for some businesses – the year is almost over! and while many of you are attempting to juggle all the holiday promotions you have planned, in the back of your mind is the reminder that you’d really love to have the marketing and design needs for your business planned out before the new year starts.
Sometimes a promotional idea hits you a month before you need to execute, and the results – while positive – can be rushed and frantic. Nothing beats taking a moment to plan out what promotions and products you think your customers/audience/clients might be interested in seeing. Planning ahead of time has a few other benefits as well, and that’s what I want to touch on today.
How Freelancers Can Make Your Business Better
Just two years ago, all the major companies that ruled their markets employed their own design and advertising departments. It might have been one or two individuals, or a team of two dozen. But each of these companies understood the value of great design so well that they employed their own designers. And then things changed.