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Tips for Creating a Professional Brand Identity for Your Small B

When starting your own small business one of the important tasks to consider is how you are going to create a Corporate / Brand identity that could be the first impression that many of your customers have of you.

Sometimes this area can be an after thought or not even considered. Don't underestimate the importance of this part of your business. Whether its your Shop Signage, your website or your business card, all elements need to look professional and consistent.

This doesn't mean you have to use some Brand Design agency that will cost you a second mortgage. Follow some of these simple steps to keep you on the right track.

LOGO As a starting point, one of the most important elements of your new Corporate identity is your Logo. This is the part of your identity that is worth investing in. Get a professional Graphic Designer to create your Logo. Ask your friends and colleagues if they know any post-graduate designers that are looking to expand their portfolio. For low cost you could get a newly qualified designer to create a great logo for you.

The best way to get the most out of any Designer is to brief them with as much information as possible. Give them details about your company and what it aims to provide. What is your companies unique selling point and what customers are you targeting. Try to resist creating your own draft logo using Word Art and Clip Art. Leave the Designer free to be as creative as they want to be.

As part of your brief, ask the Designer if he could provide the following information with your Logo. Most professionals would include this info. but make sure you get everything you need or might need in the future. This prevents a situation where a Printer might be looking for a certain piece of information and you don't have it, leaving you to dig the email out from that Designer you used, who you find out has emigrated to Australia.

Colours - Ask for a breakdown of any colours that are used in the logo. Ask for a CMYK breakdown for Print and an RGB breakdown for screen. Ask for the appropriate Web Colours and Pantone references. (If you don't know what any of these terms mean, don't worry the Designer will.)

Fonts - If any fonts are used in the design of your logo ask the Designer to provide the names of these fonts and where to locate them. Sometimes these are free to download, but some need to be purchased. You could specify at the outset, as part of the brief, that you only want free fonts as part of your design. A lot of Designers use Macintosh computers. Many Mac fonts are in a different format to PC fonts. Therefore make sure that the Designer uses a font that is compatible with both Mac and PC.

Formats - Ask the Designer to provide you with all these different formats so that you are covered for all uses.

Original Logo artwork - This would usually be an Adobe file, or possibly an file or a file. If it is a Photoshop file ask the Designer to provide you with the original 'layered' file so any future Designers can make amends to the design if required. This file is what most future Designers or Printers will ask for, if you require any work completed in the future.

JPEGs - Ask for a High-Res and Low-Res Jpeg of your logo. The High-res version can be sent to Printers for high quality prints. The Low-Res Jpeg can be inserted into your Powerpoint documents without creating a massive presentation that you can't email to anybody.

PDF - Pdf files are handy to have as everybody can open a PDF file by downloading Adobe Reader.

One last thing: If you have a Colour logo then ask the Designer to create a Black and White version and provide in all the formats listed above.

NEXT STEPS

So now you have a Logo and some colours and fonts to work with. These are the elements that you should keep consistent throughout the rest of your promotional material.

Depending on your budget you could request the Designer to create a Branded stationary set for you, including Letterhead, compliments slip and business card and possibly a PowerPoint document template. If your budget doesn't stretch that far then remember these tips to make your own effective stationary.

Always make sure the logo is scaled in proportion. Depending on what program you are using, this can be an easy mistake to make. If your logo is increased vertically but not horizontally (or the other way around) the distortion will look unprofessional.

If a clear legible font is used with the Logo then use this font through out for your stationary. As stated above, find out what this font is from your Logo designer. If the logo uses a more abstract font that won't work in your body copy then ask the Designer to recommend one. Yes, you could skip all this and just use Arial. But Arial is what everybody else in the world uses. Make your stationary unique and professional and decide upon a font with your Designer.

Choose a dark legible colour from your logo design and use this throughout the stationary. Again ask your Designer if he can recommend a Brand colour for all your body copy. Avoid bright colours such as red and yellow and stick to blues, dark greens or tones of gray.

Once you are finished your document, print it out at the correct size and make sure that both the colour and font size are legible. Also print it in Black and White and again make sure it's legible. Not everybody has a colour printer and sometimes people still use fax machines!

So that's it! Once you have a Logo and design template pulled together just keep this consistent throughout. Your stationary, your invoices, your website, your emails, your Facebook page, your promotional T-Shirts, your tea and coffee mugs. The list goes on.

Good Luck!