Sunday, April 23, 2006

Putting the Mojo in Your Logo

Designing a logo that reflects the style and energy of your business can be challenging and fun. As a small business owner, the expense of a logo design may not be a top priority. But, which of these companies would you most likely remember? Sales JaZ or......

Some logos are simply pictures - take Target stores for example with the red and white bulls-eye or the Nike swoosh. A logo serves as a jumpstart to the brain's memory and leaves a greater impact than mere words. The important thing to remember is for your logo to be unique, simple and easy to recognize.

Here are 7 tips for designing a logo for your small business.

  1. Know Your Concept. What type of "big picture" message do you want your business to convey? You must first determine what your logo will say about your company. Do you want to convey the message of trust, honesty, safety, stability, environmentally friendly, etc.? I recently redesigned my logo and wanted to maintain an action oriented theme. Since my company is called, "Sales JaZ" I was playing off of the word "jazz" which promotes a cheerful, upbeat and motion oriented theme. My website also has a man playing a trombone. I wanted the "S" in "Sales" to look like a treble clef and the "J" in "JaZ" to look like a musical note. Again playing off the word "jazz."

  2. Jazz it Up with Color. The psychology of colors in logos runs the gambit: yellow means faith and friendship, blue means peace, love and loyalty, purple connotes royalty and spirituality, orange exudes passion and enthusiasm, green signifies money and wisdom, red means danger, heat and speed, and black shows sophistication and mystery. Here are a few things to consider when using color in your logo:

    • Multiple colors increase the printing costs of letterhead and business cards. So consider the economics before selecting a 3 or 4 color logo.

    • While shading and color gradients look great they may not show up well on faxes, business checks or copies. All of the jazzy colors that look great on your website may not translate to other print media. Make sure your logo is easy to read and looks great in one simple flat color.

  3. Consider the Mediums. Your logo will be used on your website, letterhead, business cards, newspaper ads, magazines, etc. Readability in small and large sizes and fonts is important.

  4. Consider the Trends. Since designing a logo is an expense consider using images that will be viable in 5 to 10 years. Try not to be too trendy so that your logo can maintain its relevancy in years to come. Your logo should have a contemporary look and the message you are trying to convey to your customers should be clear.

  5. Graphics. There are 3 types of logos: text only, illustration only and the combo text and illustration. While the cool details of a logo can be fun and exciting remember that less is more. Even a unique font like the Coca Cola logo is effective. If you use both text and graphics in your logo then keep it simple.

  6. Tagline. This is the short jazzy sentence or phrase below your logo that sums up the essence or philosophy of your business. Mine is "Jazz Up the Sales of Your Business." Narrowing down your business philosophy to one short phrase is a serious challenge. Keep in mind that your tagline can change over time while your logo can remain the same. Consider Coca Cola's taglines over the years: "It's the Real Thing", "I'd like to Buy the World a Coke," "Coke Adds Life," and "Have a Coke and a Smile". When creating a tagline start by thinking of 1 or 2 words that exemplify your business philosophy and use them as your creative base.

  7. Do I need a trademark? Once you've decided on a logo you should consider registering your company name and logo as a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Typically you will register your company name first and then your logo. The USPTO has a minimum filing fee of $325 per class of goods and services. An attorney will first want to do a full search of U.S. availability of federal and state trademarks before filing the application. For definitive questions and answers about trademarking contact a trademark attorney.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Does His Wife Like Mayonnaise or Mustard?

Stanley Marcus, of Neiman Marcus, said, “Consumers are statistics. Customers are people.” Getting to know the people that are your customers is the catalyst for sustaining long-term business relationships.

While talking about one of my key customers my boss once asked me, “Does his wife like mayonnaise or mustard on her sandwiches?” Since my customer was a building manager who employed my company for elevator service I wasn’t sure how the mayo and mustard question made sense. But his point became clear: when you are selling, especially a service, you are selling a relationship. A good relationship is rooted in knowing people: their likes and dislikes, family background, hobby interests, etc.

Here are 6 tips to jazz up the relationships you have with customers:

  1. Communicate regularly. When I worked for Otis Elevator it was surprising to know that the clients with the least amount of elevator problems were more likely to cancel service and hire the competition. The customers with fewer problems had less communication from an Otis mechanic or rep whereas the customers with the most problems had constant communication. The “problem customers” actually had more personal contact and thus stronger personal relationships. Communicate what you are doing for your customers – especially when your actions might not be immediately visible. You might call a customer to let him know that you double-checked the shipping schedule, contacted your warehouse or handled all of the paperwork – just words to give your customer peace of mind.

  2. Communicate with purpose. Dropping in or calling a client just to chew the fat only bugs your customer and wastes his time. A website designer might call his customer and say, “We haven’t provided updates to your website in the last few months and I have a great idea about how we could add an online customer satisfaction survey.” A carpet cleaning contractor might say, “While I was cleaning the 2nd floor I noticed some new stains and so I went ahead and spot treated the areas.”

  3. Spice it up. Use different approaches for building customer relationships. A combination of email, direct mail, newsletters, phone calls and face-to-face visits will maintain customer contact without irritating them.

  4. Write handwritten notes. People do read these! Write, “It was great seeing you yesterday at the luncheon. I’ll give you a call in a few weeks.” Or write, “Spring is around the corner and I thought of you. Give me a call when you are ready to look at our new spring arrivals. I can bring them by any time.”

  5. Walk in their shoes. If you read an article, read a book or see something on the news that would interest your customer drop them a note or make a quick phone call to tell them about it.

  6. Provide entertainment and participate. Don’t just give your customer tickets to the Dallas Cowboys football game. Instead, invite your customer and spouse to attend with you and your spouse. This enables you to get to know your client away from the office and to find out if his wife likes mayo or mustard on her sandwiches!

Monday, April 10, 2006

How Blogs Help Your Small Biz

Not only are blogs helpful for communication on short-term projects or during crisis management but they are useful in creating long-term relationships to help gain and maintain clients. Here are 6 ways a blog will help your small biz:

1. It establishes you as an expert in your industry.

2. They provide instant feedback by allowing readers to respond to your posts. Client likes and dislikes are revealed in an open, honest forum.

3. You can have a web-based presence without having a website. Blogs are inexpensive to set up and most blog service providers offer jazzy templates that have a professional appeal.

4. Seasonal issues can be addressed that provide readers with valuable information in a timely fashion. A landscaping service might provide quick tips and reminders on when it's time to cut back the crepe myrtle trees in your yard. An accountant may provide tax reminders as April 15th approaches.

5. The best small business blogs focus on content and interactivity and not gossip or rants.

6. Blogs provide a personal approach that lets your customers get to know you and help humanize your organization.