Consistency across the board

Everyone is a designer.  Or so they think.  Many startups have a logo designed professionally, but decide to ‘design’ their stationery themselves.  The results are often disastrous.  All the money spent on a finely crafted brand quickly becomes pointless when a stretched logo is placed on a Comic Sans bespeckled letterhead.

In order to distinguish your business from its competitors, you should build a strong brand through every possible touch point with your customers. Yes, that means spending a little more.  But letting the professionals design the branding collateral will have you reap the benefits later.  Your clients will only view you as truly trustworthy if you portray a consistent brand image across the board.  Some branding touch points you might want to consider having designed professionally include:

  • Letterhead:
    A letterhead isn’t just a piece of paper with your logo on it.  It is often the first impression someone gets of your business and should be an extension of your brand.  Get a professional template with your logo and contact details which you can print out or email to your customers. This is a non-negotiable brand touchpoint. We provide our clients with Word templates which they can use to immediately start typing;
  • Business cards:
    Even in our digital age, business cards remain an effective way of sharing your details and creating a good first impression. If you are networking, you’ll need a business card. One that reflects the company persona without trying too hard;
  • Email signatures:
    A custom HTML signature with your details at the bottom of your emails are a necessity. Don’t make it difficult for your customers to contact you. Ensure that your text is selectable and available for copying and pasting. Nobody likes memorising phone numbers — selectable text can be clicked and dialed immediately.
  • Faxhead:
    It boggles the mind why we still use faxes, but we do. A conversion of your letterhead to a pure black and white document will ensure that no detail gets lost during the faxing process. Note that this is not just a greyscale version of your letterhead.  A proper faxhead will make use of a monochrome logo, not a greyscale one.  Talk to your designer — she’ll know the difference;
  • Website:
    If your business doesn’t have an online presence, for many clients you don’t exist. Get a site up and running before you launch, even if it’s just a single page with your contact details and a temporary ‘under construction’ banner of some sort.  And don’t use clipart or animated GIFs — have it designed by a qualified graphic designer!  And don’t let it stay that way for longer than 3 months — expand the site while there is still time.

Logo formats you can expect from your graphic designer

Clients often don’t know which logo formats they can confidently request from the design company that handle their corporate identity design. Some will make do with the last low resolution proof they have received and gratefully add it to a makeshift letterhead (which will print horribly because of pixelation). Others might request a high resolution version and ask a signage company to sandblast it onto their shopfronts, no doubt causing them nightmares if it is a complex logo.

Here is a summary of logo formats you can (and should) expect from your design team:

  1. High resolution CMYK (print-ready): This logo version must have a resolution of at least 300 dpi and will most probably be in a bitmap format (like JPEG or PNG). At this resolution it will print crisply and clearly without any pixelation. It will, however, be too large to use for on-screen purposes like websites (due to large file size).
  2. Low resolution RGB (web-ready): This logo version will usually have a resolution of 72 dpi and will be in a web-ready bitmap format like JPEG, PNG or GIF. It can be used for any on-screen display purposes, e.g. websites, email footers, presentations, etc. Because of its low resolution the file size will be relatively small, which means it will load quickly on websites, but it is not suitable for printing.
  3. Monochrome version (print-ready):  In certain situations you might need a monochrome (black and white) version of your logo, e.g. fax head, vinyl sandblasting, corporate clothing, etc. This logo version must also have a resolution of at least 300 dpi and will most probably be in a bitmap format (like JPEG or PNG). Note that converting a logo to black and white is sometimes an intricate process that requires some time – complex logos cannot be converted at the click of a button!
  4. Vector version (print- and web-ready): This logo version is resolution independent and can be scaled without loss of quality. Typical formats include EPS (most common), AI (Adobe Illustrator) and CDR (CorelDraw). Although you need special software to open formats like EPS, your printer/other designers will need this version if you ever have large format printing done. Note that logos that have been designed in resolution dependent software, like Adobe Photoshop, can usually not be converted to a vector format without duplication of work. You need to discuss your needs with your design team before the logo is designed.
  5. Reversed out versions (optional): You might require your logo to work on a dark background from time to time. While some logos work fine as is on a dark background, others need some tweaking. If you require a reversed out version of your logo, be sure to discuss it with your design team, because they might not view it as standard practice.

Bear in mind that the source files (aka original or open files) remain the intellectual property of the designer/design company, except if indicated otherwise in their terms and conditions. You should be able to request all the formats mentioned above without hassle or complaint.

A final note: please remember to always scale your logo proportionally and use the appropriate format for its intended purpose!