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Applying Your Identity

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Identifying your identity isn't easy, but it is essential. Try to convey that identity in all of your marketing materials. In this article, award-winning author Robin Williams explains how to state your identity in your business cards and stationary.
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A word to strike from your marketing vocabulary is image. An image is a facade, something phony. A far better word to use is identity. This is real. It is not simple to come up with a statement of your identity, but it is essential. Once you can state your true identity, try to convey that identity in all of your marketing materials. It won't be difficult, because it is real. Be sure your ads, brochures, stationery, logo, wording, graphics, telephone demeanor, your employees, indeed everything about your business, reflect your true identity.

A standard business card provides a name, company, address, and phone number. Savvy marketers create business cards that really mean business by also including their company theme line, logo, fax number, email address, and website address.

Many cards use color and artwork if they wish to convey their identity more eloquently. Fold-over business cards that open up to become mini-brochures are increasing in number. On the front is the standard information; inside is a list of the company's benefits, products, services, mission, clients, or information to further the sale.

These informative types of business cards do a lot more than the standard ones, which are really mere reminders and not much else. Business cards can be powerful selling tools, marketing weapons that set you apart from your competition.

Stick with the standard business card size so that your cards fit easily into a card storage file, wallet, or can be stapled to an address file card. Be sure to include your area code, zip code, and other important details—it's surprising how often these pieces of critical information are left out. Computer software enables you to design first-rate cards on your own, ready for your printer, and ready to be distributed to your prospects at trade shows, at presentations, in mailings, in networking functions, and wherever you encounter potential customers.

The main points to remember about creating a business card are:

Probably no one has ever looked at a company's stationery and thought, "This is so beautiful, I'll triple my order," or "This is so ugly, I'll cancel my order." But when people see your stationery, they think something about you and it's going to be positive or negative, depending on the design and feel of that stationery.

Remember that you'll use your stationery to communicate with prospects, customers, suppliers, and allied businesses. It carries a potent message about your identity. That's why it makes so much sense to invest talent and time in the design and production of your stationery. It carries the banner you wave. Consider factors such as paper stock, design, color, typeface, information provided, and the all-important envelope. The message you wish to impart should signify quality and high standards so as to inspire confidence in your business.

Consider using several colors. And recognize the variety of printed pieces to which you can add your stationery design: invoices, receipts, questionnaires, purchase orders, notes, and other business material. Many people will have their first contact with you by means of your stationery. It will provide their first impression of you and establish your identity. The logo, typeface, color, and even the address will reinforce the feelings. By the time the recipient opens the envelope, your stationery has stated articulately and silently that yours is a boring, exciting, innovative, old-fashioned, or fifth-rate firm. It communicates a message, whether you like it or not. What you say in your letter will carry substantial weight, and your offer will be crucial to your success. Still, don't overlook the unconscious influence exerted by the letterhead itself.

For more design tips from Robin Williams, check out The Non-Designer's Design Book, The Non-Designer's Web Book, The Non-Designer's Type Book, and The Non-Designer's Scan and Print Book, all published by Peachpit Press and found at quality bookstores everywhere.

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