Posts Tagged ‘logo’s’

Business cards – 5 key features for success

February 5, 2009

Business cards – a boring subject…but they are very important. It is said when you first meet someone you make your mind up whether you like them within the first 30 seconds! On these occasions business cards are often exchanged. Quality business cards can help make a good impression and are worth investing time and money on. The business card exchange ritual goes back along way:

businesscardattorney1895
American Attorney business card 1895
(a very serious looking fellow!)

I’ve received 1000’s of business cards over the years. They come in all different shapes, sizes, colours, textures, materials, etc. I’ve even been given a Titanium card!! With so many choices what do you choose for your business card? We dusted off our boxes of other peoples business cards last week and compared 100’s of cards. In the end we decided that the key feature of choosing a business card are:

  1. Text– Clear readable text which is a good font size and is well spaced. This makes the card easier to read and brings the impression of spaciousness. We found plenty of cards which used very small fonts and/or the text/lines were crammed together.
  2. Print quality– First impressions do count. Cut costs here and you maybe sending out a cheap low quality impression of your company and its products/services. Unfortunately we found several poor quality print jobs.
  3. Card thickness – Again quality counts. This is a strange thing to describe but when you hold a thicker business card it gives a feeling of substance. Again quality. When we looked through our cards quality thick paper makes a big difference (preferably 400g+).
  4. Back of card– IN the past I’ve used the back of peoples business cards to write summary notes. Alternatively the back of a business card is a great way to reinforce your logo and brand. It’s a walking advertisement of your brand. We found some great examples including Jive Software, Trampoline Systems and Mindcandy.
  5. Size– Having a card which fits into a wallet or purse is helpful. In a wallet it can be easily found and will be looked at again. I do like the ‘mini’ card funkiness but there just not practical as they get lost easily.

With all this in mind we had our cards designed by a professional designer. In the past we skipped the designer and did it ourselves. I think its worth paying that extra cash even when you are extreme bootstrapping to have it done properly. Here is our final result:

aware-monitoring_business_card1

Armed with a great design/layout you then need to find a good printer. We have looked at several printing companies and selected Printing.com. They offer a local service which is always useful when in a rush, a useful proof checking service and they are a big outfit which means they have good printers. Yes, we checkout what printing machines they used. There are lots of other printing companies. Emma Jones at Enterprise Nation has suggested several  including MOO and vistaprint.co.uk. “They cost as little as £15 for 250, again with free ‘template’ designs that look very professional” (Emma).

Good business cards really are worth investing in to give out the right impression when meeting a potential partner, prospective client, etc for the first time.

My other startup related posts:

Using 99Designs: Sourcing low cost logo designs – PART 2

January 28, 2009

We’ve now got a great logo for our new Aware Monitoring service using 99Designs:

aware-monitoring_finallogo

Our logo was developed with the final designer over a number of ideas:

awaremointoring_keegan1st_99designs

In the end we had 37 designers who produced 146 design concepts which I gave 78 feedback comments on.  The contest started at break neck pace over a weekend. It takes more time than you think to look at, rate and comment on all the designs. The design quality varied a great deal. Here are two examples of the more elaborate designs. In our 99design brief we said we wanted a clean, simple modern logo.

awares_elaberate99designideas

We found it very useful to look at each designers past work. As we did with the Elance bids for our Viisys logo. This approach helps to choose which designers to encourage.  Clearly the designers have to be careful where to put their efforts in because no win, no cash. I did feel uncomfortable rejecting 36 peoples efforts.  These are our final contest results:

awaremonitoring_finalresults

To view the full Aware Logo design contest at 99Designs site click here. The winner Keegan from Indonesia has entered a staggering 716 events and won 43 to date. That’s a mere 6% conversion rate. The contest is definitely in the contest holders favour with the designer taking most of the risk. However at an average of $300 per logo Keegan will have earned $12,900 on his 43 wins plus any extra followup work.

The Internet and crowd sourcing continues to plough through traditional business models e.g. the newspaper industry, music distribution, software, etc and now logo design. 99Designs brought us more choice and ideas which developed between all the competing designers. It was a good experience and I would recommend both 99Designs and Elance despite the ethical debate and unhappy traditional designers.

Local designers will have to adapt to the new market place or they will be marginalised. When our startup grows up and has more cash it would be great to use and compare top end niche designers like this who developed Jive Software’s logo. But for now we are extreme bootstrapping and as the saying goes fail cheaply and quickly.

“The only barrier to failing fast and failing cheap is your ego. You must be willing to fail, fail, and fail again if you are going to win in today’s competitive marketplace.” BusinessWeek 2007

My other startup related posts:

    Sourcing low cost logo designs – PART 1

    January 20, 2009

    Now you’ve got a business name and bagged the URL you’ll need a great logo. Head down the Street and you’ll find the local design agencies charge big business prices. $2000 in our case!  For extreme bootstraping startups like ours the cost of everything needs to be kept down. That includes design work. We’ve now sourced several low cost logo’s from designers across the world. Here are our experiences.

    Our first two logo’s (viisys and E20portal.com) were sourced through Elance. Elance if you’ve not heard is a great resource for tech and design project suppliers. The client puts out a requirement proposal and suppliers bid for the work. After evaluating eleven bids on Elance we chose Canadian Nuvo Logo to produce our Viisys company logo at a cost of $215. We chose Nuvo because they are a small close-knit team offering a personal approach. Nuvo provided us with six initial design ideas based on a detailed questionnaire and lots of feedback:
    concepts
    The final logo was developed from the sixth design concept. We were happy with their final result, however Nuvo were too busy for our next logo. So, we used a much bigger logo design  house – NetMen Corp ($149 cost). Argentinian NetMen were very professional and efficient with account and project managers. They produced nine initial design concepts:

    e20portalcom_lo-01 NetMen’s first three concept logo’s (the final E20portal.com logo was based on number 2.)

    NetMen give us a great final design for our E20portal.com logo, however for our new Aware Monitoring service logo we used 99Design’s. This time we wanted more choice and a wider range of ideas. 99designs are an innovative design sourcing service based in Australia with a HQ now in San Francisco. I’m still amazed by the flat world we live in today with designers in Canada, Argentina, and from all over the world.

    99 are very 2.0, open and like the threadless business model use a form of crowd sourcing. Some are very unhappy with the 99designs concept. The idea is the client sets a contest for designers to out compete each other. The designers do the work before they get paid with most of them not getting paid at all. We set our contest prize at the recommended $300 ($150 minimum/$600 maximum for this type of contest plus $39 going to 99 to post the contest). You also need to grab the designers attention as there are 1000’s of contest’s on the 99Design site.

    I’ll let you know how we got on with 99Design’s and our thoughts on quality of the service, end results and the ethics of 99Design’s in PART 2 of this post..

    My other startup related posts:

  • Using 99Designs: Sourcing low cost logo designs – PART 2
  • 5 factors in choosing a company/product name
  • 5 career alternatives for start-up founders during the recession