Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Create a distinct, consistent image

Whether you own a retail store, an online enterprise or a professional service business, your image is crucial to your success. It is what draws in your target customer or client. And, when you─or your designer─create that image, it must be used consistently throughout all your marketing materials. This includes business cards, mailings, website and blog, stationery and order forms.

There are 7 design elements to consider:
1. Color─limit to two to three
2. Typography─or fonts─limit to two to three
3. Graphic elements─limit any design elements, such as lines, logos, graphic devices to three
4. Style of art─be consistent. Clip art makes it tempting to use a variety, but you must be consistent. Use a line drawing? Continue to use a line drawing.
5. Size of promotional piece─will vary dramatically, of course, from piece to piece. An unusual size is better─not based on an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet. And bigger is perceived as better.
6. Paper─considerations include elements such as recycled? Elegant feel? Inexpensive?
7. Grid─the layout used in your promotional pieces sends a message. Formal? Informal? Restricted? Easy to use?

Whatever you choose, you'll want to change no more than two to three elements in any given piece to maintain consistency. You'll notice I show two logos for my business. I use the outline version on the top when it will be printed by me or a client. The orange version uses up too much ink! The orange version works on a blog post or something less likely to be printed.

And there's another issue. I remember receiving a mailing from a bank and tossing it because I assumed they were soliciting me for another credit card. Turns out it was MY credit card statement; but I didn't recognize it because they had changed their name and logo. You guessed it! They had to absorb a number of late charge fees because most of their customers did the same thing. In design─and in the eye of your audience─it's crucial that you be recognizable and memorable to your target customer or client.

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