First impressions can be everything. Your branding and marketing materials are perhaps some of the most important elements that will contribute or take away from your success. Get them right from the start and you will not have to waste a lot of time an money recreating yourself in the future.
Think of your impression and willingness to do business with someone who hands you a business card printed on their home computer, and a one-page sell-sheet that was designed by a kid in Microsoft Word, compared with someone who gives you something that looks like it came from a fortune 500 company. All other things being equal, who are you going to do business with?
Here’s a big secret: It doesn’t have to cost very much more to get your marketing done right.
For most business, you’re going to need only 4 basic marketing components: A great business name, a great logo, a great business card, and a great website. With those 4 things in your pocket, how far you take your business will be up to do.
Choose a name that’s to-the-point, cleaver, and will make you feel proud of your choice for years to come. Try to choose a name that has the domain available as a dot com (yoursite.com). You will want to get a dot com address for your website. If your domain name also says what you do, it can work to your advantage when it comes to SEO. SmithPlumbing.com is an example of a good domain name. SuperWebDesign.com, is a good decent name. Although a name like Web Design New York City, was at one time a great way to get almost instant high rankings on Google, that tactic is out favor, and can even work against you for a number of reasons.
As far as design goes, it’s a good idea to do some research to see what looks good, and what the current design trends are in your chosen industry before you begin working on your branding. It may also be a good idea to work with someone who knows design, so you don’t make any beginners mistakes. When I look back on the first logo I designed for myself as a teen-ager, I have to laugh at my lack of knowledge. I would have been much better-off hiring a professional.
When it comes to your logo, stick with something classic as opposed to trendy, whenever possible. Think IBM, Coca-cola, FedEx, etc. But keep it appropriate to you industry. Google “logo your-industry” and click on the images link on the search results page for a decent idea of some possibilities. Flat looking logos, as opposed to 3-D looking logos, are always in and classy.
Logos with 3-D affects are still not the norm, and may never become so, as it is difficult to embroider a 3-D type of logo, and it’s difficult to create a realistic 3-D logo that is vector art. You will also want to make sure whoever creates your logo gives you a genuine vector art logo file, usually created in a software program like Adobe Illustrator. Vector art can be scaled up as big as you want it, without ever pixilating or breaking down. Once they have that file, they can generate any type of file you will ever need for your business cards, website, T-shirts, hats, etc.
You can pay as much as you want for a logo – as high as tens of thousands, or as little as about $200 – for a great logo that will take your business into the future with style. Logos can be purchased online, created via Elance or ODesk, or created by a local graphic designer. Good deals can be had at 99designs, where pre-made logos can be purchased for a very good price, or you can have a contest for the creation of your logo, where you decide how much you’re going to pay the winner. The more you pay, the more people compete, so results will be better.
Once you have your logo, you can design your own business cards, have business designed and printed, or have your business cards designed by a professional, and get the printing done yourself. The cheapest way is to design and print yourself, but that could take some skills and time you don’t have. The most expensive way is usually to find someone local to design and print for you. The next most cost-effective way to get great cards is to have someone design them for you, and for you to get them printed.
In order to do this you will want to find a professional online printing service like the one at gotprint.com, and then have the cards designed to their specs. Just go to the site and click on preparing files to see what specs they require, then tell your designer what you want. You won’t believe the prices. And the quality is as good as you can get. If you’re a designer you can and should do it yourself. If you’re not a designer you can use their automated online designer if you’re feeling creative.
If you have someone design for you, make sure you tell your designer you want all editable files, and a flat CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) version for printing. If you do this up front you will be able to make your own cards for everyone in your organization, and you’ll be able to use the editable file to change addresses and numbers in the future, as long as you have or know someone who has a program like Adobe Photoshop. If you don’t do it you’ll be at your designer’s mercy for years. Some designers will charge extra for editable files, but they can be worth it if you have a lot of printing done and you like to do things yourself to save money.
Action Tip: Decide on a name for your company, have a logo created, and have business cards designed and printed (or do it yourself).