Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of Business Identity Systems come through the door, (letterheads, envelopes, business cards, brochures & sales material) and for the most part, most of them really work well, but there are always some packages that just don’t make the cut. At those times, I just wish people would back up and look at the big picture of how they are representing themselves (and what they are paying to do it) and start thinking sensibly. I hate to see wasted money.

So what makes a good value in an identity system? I guess that that you are happy with the product when its done, that it works well for the purpose that you had in mind, and you didn’t over pay for it (plus it has to look good).

Personally, I like to see all the pieces have some continuity, effectively representing your brand and conveying the message you want to send. And with different ways to communicate and market your company today, common sense needs to be applied to the identity system as people are not spending as much as they used to on stationary. So it’s more important than ever that we work with our clients to figure out ways to hold the identity system’s integrity while cutting the costs. 

These are some questions that we might ask you as you get started with your identity;

  • Do you have a design that will carry your brand through to all the components, letterheads to sales sheets and so on. 
  • Is your logo reproducible and your fonts (and logo) readily available to your printer as well as working with your home or office digital printer? 
  • Is your logo in a format that works or all parties involved?
  • Did you define how many colors you are going to use; are they spots or is it CMYK (4 color) 
  • Will your brand or logo look the same when printed on a press, on a copier or embroidered on a shirt? 
  • Is the paper readily available in envelopes and a decent cover weight for your Business cards? 

If you haven’t thought about all these things or your designer has not had this discussion with you, it should happen. There are a lot of good designers who mean well and have good designs, but make sure they have the technical issues under control. You don’t want to be surprised when you pick up the job and pay the bill. Predictable output in printing is not rocket science these days, so if you don’t feel confident in getting what you are paying for, find a new printer or designer.

One of the first things to look at is your paper choice; the look, feel, price and availability. Paper choices have changed so drastically over the last couple of years, if you’re not up on who’s making what and how and where its stocked, you could get stuck using something that’s not very available, not good in a laser printer or ink jet printer, or as happens a lot, just get roped into spending more money than you really need to  to achieve the look your after.

And then there are a plethora of money saving ideas. For example, lets look at pocket folders…Did you know that by embossing a logo on the front with out any printing, they can sometimes be less expensive than just printing alone?  Do you want to put your phone number and other information that could be subject to change on the back, or would you rather have a place to securely put business cards that have all the information on them. Business cards are cheaper to reprint than folders, and I’m not saying either way is the right answer, we just want to make sure we talk about all options. Another benefit about making folders with just your logo, is using them for different departments or projects. On Oregon’s pocket folders, all we have on them is Oregon Printing embossed on the front…I can use them for anything. I only use this as an example of the kind of ideas your printer should be throwing out.

So lets keep this idea going about using pocket folders in your marketing plan, think about the digitally printed insert. Have your designer come up with a good design for an insert, leave some areas* you can add custom information specifically designed for a specific client and either have your printer print just what you need for that presentation or do it on your office printer. That put together with a company brochure, a company pocket  folder with your business card and  all of a sudden you have a very strong targeted marketing piece. And whoever you are working with on design should be able to make you an editable PDF so you can customize your pieces. That means the look and feel stay the same, but you can change the variable information yourself. Let us know if you have trouble getting there, we can help you.

The point is, you can make your identity material and sales material really look good, you can target specific customers with specific messages or not. The good news is that you can do so more than you used to be able to and if you have the right discussions and ideas with the right partners, you can probably save a lot of money.

*Have your design put into an editable PDF. With an editable PDF, you can edit certain parts of a high res design document with Acrobat Writer (Free), thus being able to personalize multiple copies