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Archive for the ‘Graphic Design’ Category

Logo Design for Small Businesses and Start Ups

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

marketwebsiteseriesIf you choose to go for a logo then ‘good’ logo design is absolutely essential for any business despite what some may think.

Lets face it, some huge companies have simple text as their logo – many TV manufacturers go with a simple font rather than colourful design but then is that so it can be subtly placed on the front of the equipment? No, they are all logo’s – each and every one of them and they are consistent, wherever you see Philips the logo is exactly the same.

Some companies choose to have a picture logo or a fancy font and its important to get it right as a small business start up, if you choose to change it later on it can become expensive as you will probably have paid to have your letterheads and cards printed by then so think carefully now it will save you money and effort on rebranding later on!

Don’t get us wrong, simply designing a logo and splashing it over your paperwork won’t make customers buy your products. Good logo design will give your small business an identity among the corporate world and it is unique to you and can be identified because of its colour or image and it provides you with a clear identity.

Think of your company as an image, think about your products and services and how you want to be branded as a modern company or do you have more traditional values. Also consider who your clients are and what your future goals are. A good logo design is vital and aimed at making your small business or start-up look professional. A logo should be designed by a true professional who will find out about you and your business but only if you want to shoehorn a logo design into your budget, constraints like this can limit your choices but should not completely hinder them.

No matter how simple or fancy you choose your logo to be you have to be consistent and that is exactly what branding is about. Good logo design is about standing out from your competitors and creating trust and building confidence with customers. When approaching your logo designer go armed with information such as what image you want to give, as we mentioned before you might be a forward facing modern company but your business image might be more traditional.

How do you want customers and others to view your company and at the same time make sure that designer is right for you – are they particularly eccentric when they sit down and brainstorm images and ideas or do they go for simplicity, should you decide to go the professional route make sure you speak to one or two logo designers and get a feel for their art and imagery before selecting the one.

For good pointers on logo design for your small business and effectively branding your company name try our ‘Communicating Confidence to Customers Through Branding’ article coming up.

How much does a website cost?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

howmuchWell this is a difficult question to answer and to coin a well-known phrase it’s very much ‘how long is a piece of string?’  Rather than start with ‘how much’ we need to identify things such as what is the the website for? Who will use it? What are the goals and objectives of the site? And lots of other questions so that we have a firm platform to start the quotation process.

Websites can be as simple or as complicated as you like and that goes for design as well but when it comes to business you only get one chance to make the first impression and a naff website will blow that for you.

So pricing, what to expect?
Lets look at a marketing brochure website that displays info about a business and invites a person to make contact. Well a good graphic designer will charge £300-£400 for a layout and ancillaries such as extra buttons etc. Then to turn that into a website that is coded to standards and looks the same in all browsers and is search engine ready (ie it’s been specially optimised to maximise its effect in search engines when people are searching for a service or product that you offer) then you’re looking at around £500 upwards depending on many variances. So for the website itself then budget for something in the region of £800-£1000.

Wait, it doesn’t end there…
Don’t forget you need great copy for your website that engages people and calls them to do something and makes them want to get in touch. There’s no point having a great looking website if the text on it lets it down, and it’s not the job of the web designer to write this! Hiring a professional copywriter might cost you around £100-£300 depending on how much text is required for the full website. And last but by no means least, what about a logo? You need great looking branding that will make you stand out from your competitors, a logo will cost from £150 up to say £400 to design, however a logo designer will supply with all the files you need for a website or printing of business cards and other marketing materials in the future.

If you’re needing something more complicated such as E-commerce or a database driven website then this will cost more and can go up into the thousands depending on your exact requirements

The DIY Route
OK so building a website is something that can be done yourself but when it comes to presenting your business is the DIY route really going to save money in the long run? I mean would you pull your own teeth out to save a bill from the expert dentist? How much damage would pulling your own teeth out do without the proper tools and expertise? The same goes for web design. Not using professionals will save you money but at what price?

Using cheap professionals
WARNING: There’s plenty of folk out there who are offering websites for £100 or less even but if you are serious about your business is a £100 primary marketing tool really going to make you the next big thing and a success? People are fickle, you get just a few seconds to capture them and keep them on your website rather than them clicking away and spending their money elsewhere.

So, if you buy cheap then you will pay dearly; that’s the best advice you can get. If you pay too much for something then all you loose is that extra you’ve paid, if you pay too less than you risk loosing the lot and your reputation at the same time!

Business Branding for New Ecommerce Businesses

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

marketwebsiteseriesWe all remember when Marks and Spencer rebranded after its terrible announcements of losses some years ago and plenty of companies have done this over the years (Aviva, Abbey, Midland Bank) but more recently the brands have been pinning their luck on advertising their brand as a heritage – perfect for those that have been around all that time but how to carry out business branding if you have a new business?

We’ve added some pointers below that are not aimed at providing a fail-safe for branding your new business but hopefully will give you some idea of how to take your company to the next level and start making your own history:

Firstly its important that any business carries a strong brand and a good image as it helps its reputation and trustworthiness from clients. New ecommerce businesses need to focus on business branding and from selecting a good company name; domain name and designing an image – a logo – of your company will build a good strong resilient company that can survive the recession.

Existing Business Stepping into Ecommerce
If you have an existing brand and are simply new to ecommerce, business branding can be used from your company and be translated in a more modern way solely for the internet. Becoming involved in ecommerce means that you are taking your business forward and promoting it for web customers though it should also provide those customers with a strong image – focusing on your company’s history could be key here regardless of whether you choose to redesign your logo and message or if you have chosen to retain the branding you have already worked with. However, rebranding as you step into ecommerce would be a good choice if your brand is not already successful or does not have a strong reputation.

New Ecommerce Business
For new ecommerce business that is being launched from scratch this is a fantastic time to create your image, make it strong and give your new ecommerce business a short name that will become easy to remember. Have a good logo designed for you that not only delivers your message but screams quality, and don’t forget to choose something that translates well in different languages if you intend to conduct business internationally. Your company message needs to be short and should be memorable. Use it everywhere and try co-branding too…

When you are later established or already have a good relationship with another business you can co-brand. This is a popular way to build up brand recognition on the internet and a great way to split advertising costs two or three ways and giving a good overall image of your companies.

Our next article highlights How to Begin E-marketing Business which should help you start promoting your brand and push your new ecommerce business to reach the relevant people.

How (not) to win clients or ‘a tale of 2 banner printing companies’

Friday, October 16th, 2009

So we’re exhibiting at the All About Business expo in Norwich next Thursday. Now normally we’re ahead of the game and totally organised but we were offered the stand at the last minute and so needed to organise our banner and media at the last minute. Fortunately we’re in the right business design wise to get things going but reliant on others to get things printed.

This blog is the story of one supplier that messed up, was given the chance to rectify but decided they didn’t want to play ball and one supplier who knows about customer service and has potentially won more than a one banner order. When everything goes right it’s fine, it’s not until things go wrong do you really get to know how good someone’s customer service is.

12th October
So we enquired with our regular banner supplier about the price of a vinyl roller banner (see email) it’s quite clear what we wanted. We got an invoice to pay by bacs and duly paid for it the invoice said ‘vinyl banner’ and it went unnoticed that this is in fact not a vinyl roller banner. Maybe presumptuous on our part but when you ask for something then you kind of expect that you are buying what you what you ordered, no?
14th October 10.00
Knock on the door and it’s the courier with a banner – wow that was quick. Opens tube to discover a rolled up vinyl banner with eyelets in the corner. It’s the sort of thing you string up between 2 trees outdoors. I open it anyway and the thing has streaks & scratches down it and is patchy to say the least. It’s not fit for purpose.

After talking to our graphic designer to confirm we ordered correctly I email the printers to tell them what has happened and give them opportunity to correct the mistake, still got plenty of time to get sorted for next Thursday.

15th October 10:00
No reply or call or anything. I phone the printers roughly 10am and the phone rings and rings and rings and rings then a guy picks up the phone and says they have 100’s of emails to go through and anyway he’s the printer it’s not his problem I need to speak to admin. I ask to be put through to admin but they are on the phone so I ask for a call back. I remind the printer that it’s time critical so could they call back asap so we can get it all sorted.

Still no call back so I call them back. Phone rings and rings and rings and guess what… it rings and rings and no one answers

Email arrives form printers basically saying we ordered wrong it’s our problem and no reference to the shoddy goods is mentioned. Unbelievable, talk about not interested in solving or proving that they can deal with the problem. Not very happy!

I reply to their email with something a little stronger making it quite clear they need to get this sorted or we’ll go elsewhere:

I start looking for an alternative supplier and put a post out on for a Norfolk based banner printer who prints on-site so I can collect. Within minutes I have 5 replies with local recommended suppliers of what I need and start looking at who’s nearest to me. I call one and get an immediate response and an offer to email me the technical sheet and all information. Email arrives within seconds. Now this seems more like it.

After exchanging a few more emails we talk abotu trade accounts and prices and confirmations I can collect in time for the expo next thursday no problem. The day ends and no reply from the original printers (Image Makers Ltd in Essex).

16th October 9:48
Our Graphic designer (Colin, he was off the day before so had to catch up) also emails Image makers to ask what’s going on. In this time he has the artwork to the new printers and they exchange a couple of emails all replied to within minutes I may add.

We get an email back from Image Makers as follows:
The staff member keen to get the last word in and still no mention about the bad quality banner that was produced. By now of course it’s too late we’ve gone elsewhere and have been looked after well with our new banner printing people.

As it turns out we have 3 more banners to order of which that order will be going to our new found printing company OTW Imaging not far down the road because they seem to understand good professional customer service. I am thankful the banner was coming to us and not to a client

The Importance of Branding

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

market website seriesIn business today the importance of branding and direct marketing throughout your daily activities is something of a must. If you aren’t already you should be using branding to promote your strong and resilient business as today’s climate is, lets say, slightly wobbly or perhaps difficult to predict!

If you are already using branding to promote your company message then you are helping to form a ‘seal’ and a quality business and increase value in your business. A brand can help to promote a more solid company that your clients, past present and future, can put their trust in which in the current economic business climate and most certainly screams of importance in the success of your business.

Avoid De-Valuing Your Business
Many businesses are unknowingly de-valuing themselves as they feel reducing prices on products and services is the best way to help attract clients in the recession, in fact it can work in the opposite way and lead to dire times for companies that have not done their homework. The importance of branding means that its critical for you to hold your business head up and carry on until the recession is over and by delivering some consistent and solid messages through the use of direct marketing you can keep your head above water and take the company through the bad times and out the other end without breaking the budget.

Logo Branding
From the start, carrying out direct marketing in ecommerce businesses should always carry a subtle mark, your logo brand. It’s vital to the success of your business in a number of ways, the first being that by using the branding or logo that you have used for years in new marketing projects, upon success the logo becomes more recognised and forms a quality seal for your business.

It’s rather important also that your domain name carries your seal – branding your website using your favourite name is fine if that name is used throughout your business as is well regarded within your industry. Choosing the domain name as the name of your business is fine but create your branding and logo around that and mention it wherever and whenever you conduct direct marketing projects. Building brand recognition in whatever you do is key to gaining clients and being recognised in today’s competitive business sectors.

How to Carry out Business Branding for New Business
We’ve added some good marketing and branding pointers in our next article (How to Carry out Business Branding) that should help if you have a new business or simply want to revamp your old business and turn it into a quality business which is reliable, resilient and trustworthy.