Build a business image that creates positive first impressions

Your professional image is important for business recognition and continued growth.

Your business image is truly a package, one that includes your business name, your logo, your signage, business cards, brochures and any other materials that you use to communicate with customers, both established and prospective. It may also include your mission or purpose, and your business values. You’ll want to have a consistent image so that when your customer sees your logo on any of your products they will know right away that this is something you produced.

While there are no hard and fast rules about design features, you should be aware that the decisions you make about style, color, lettering, images and shapes will send some message about your business. It is worth the time and effort to be sure that you are sending the right message before you spend a lot of money producing materials.

Consider using a very different logo than similar businesses to be sure that your business is the one that people remember.

Your business name should be simple, relatively short and say something about your product(s) or service(s). For example, "Rocky Mountain Farm" doesn’t say much about what type of farm it is. Customers seeing this farm in an advertisement wouldn’t know whether they should be interested or not. If you plan to rely on direct marketing you will want to be especially careful in naming your business. For example, "Rocky Mountain Farm Quality Meats" or "Rocky Mountain Greenhouse or Rocky Mountain Farm & Guesthouse" all tell customers a bit more about the type of business without being too long.

Logos can be images, colors, text or a combination of all three. In general, simple is better. Your logo should have clean, simple lines that are easy to reproduce. Stay away from designs that contain a lot of fine detail or excess text; these will be more difficult for people to recall and will be hard to read when printed in smaller sizes.

Use color with care. A well-designed logo will print well in black and white because there may be times when that is your only option. When you choose color, limit the number of colors that you use to one or two.

It is a good idea to show your design ideas to a variety of people before you make any final decision. Think of people that are similar to your target customer. Ask what they think of when they see the logo; if the design or color reminds them of anything; and how likely they would be to remember the business name after seeing the design. This information will give you some perspective about what others will think when they see your design.

Remember that your business image should stay constant over time. While you most likely will change your marketing strategy eventually, and may expand or decrease your product line, your business image should be something that represents your business well for years to come.

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