1. The importance of Branding ---
Why do people spend $100’s of dollars on their suits but $0 on their logo? I am tired of business owners saying “oh! I had my sisters husbands aunts 12 year old niece do my logo. Isn’t it great!” A logo lasts a lifetime – (or atleast it should). It never goes out of fashion, it fits you no matter what size you are, and it is remembered. Just like Aunt Marges dress with the rip in th back. A bad logo, like a bad suit makes a bad impression. Remember: the 3 “C’’s Clarity, Consistency, Continuity. The logo must be clear – it should be scalable, work in various mediums (newspaper, B&W, web, etc). It must be consistent – use it on everything in the exact same proportions. And Continuity – don’t change your logo every few months! Yes, its OK to “update” every decade or so. Think like the big guys. Nike for example. A simple logo – and a great tagline. The less fuss, the easier to remember. You have to have a good bone structure to be a Supermodel. Just pretty clothes and makeup isn’t enough. In today’s world people think a colorful logo/business card is “beautiful”. Not so. Color Business cards are a dime a dozen. Literally! And remember, there is a lot of clutter in this world. Stand out.
2. The importance of advertising and marketing for small businesses. When you are thinking about advertising or doing a direct mail campaign, set aside a budget. An investment of a few hundred dollars can bring in $1000’s of dollars in orders! It’s a question of sink or swim. Very successful business making billions (Apple is a good example) started in a garage - used the apple icon for a logo even in its early days – and look at them today! They continue to use the same Apple logo (in a different color) and they continue to advertise. If they didn’t – you would forget them. Remember, Apple has only 5% of the market share! Yes, you can design your own ads and direct mail, but then don’t complain that you didn’t get a response. Remember, when you are doing any form of advertising or direct mail – there are 3 critical items that must work in order for the piece to generate response: The creative, the copy and the list. If either one of these 3 is missing or weak, you are asking for trouble! If the graphics are poor, the great copy will not read well. If the copy is poorly written (or if there is just too much) nobody will want to read it. And ofcourse – the list. If you are buying a mailing list for direct mail purposes – buy it from a reliable source. There are a lot of people out there selling lists that are no good. The list should be less than 6 months old. By setting up parameters (age, income bracket, etc.) you can reach your target audience much more effectively.
3. Build a website that works! These days everyone has a website. Even my 6 year old has a site where he regularly posts pictures of himself and his brother. Does he get a lot of traffic? Does anyone respond? Does it encourage anyone to pick up the phone and ask for more info? Only his grandparents. We encourage you to get a professional copywriter who knows how to write for the web --- and design your site so that it gets picked up by search engines. Use a form to gather the visitors data. Ask them to sign up for your newsletter. Give them something of value. Give them a reason to come back. I used to drive around the tristate area showing my portfolio to potential clients. For the past 4 years I have had my portfolio online. Now I can point people to the site – they not only see the work, but can read all about me, my people, our awards, etc... It looks so good! People get the impression that we are big firm – not so. We’re a little studio. Doing lots of “big” work.
4. Finding the right “partner”. What to look for when looking for a design firm – remember you are hiring the firm – so interview them. Ask to see their portfolio. Ask who their clients are. Speak to their past and/present clients. Have they been recognized for their work? Have they won any industry awards? Do they come up with ideas that “work”? Are the creative – not only in the design world, but do they think like a business owner? Designers come with many different talents. Some may be great with logos, but not as good with direct mail. Or, some may do a lot of websites but know very little about print design. If you are looking for someone to design direct mail, ask them what the response rate was on their last piece! Also, look for someone who understands the medium – if your project involves printing, the designer should know how they can design to make best use of the paper to save money on printing. Likewise, if you are designing a website, the designer should have a good understanding of the web.