Five easy ways to improve your professional image – even when you’re a one man show
It’s said that 80% of business success comes down to these three things: Say “Please” and “Thank You”; be on time; and do what you said you will do. Though this may not be a bad definition of being professional, there are a number of more mundane things that can spoil your whole image if you don’t take care of them.
The first step to creating a powerful brand is your logo. If you are going to have a logo as a graphical representation of your business, it’s critical that it looks the same wherever you use it, so you get the full benefit of branding. However, as a practical matter, you will actually need different files for different applications. The worst mistake you can make is to design a logo in a (low) web-site resolution first, and then attempt to use it for high-quality printed items. It will look terrible.
If your logo doesn’t include your business name, you will probably print the name beside your logo. When this takes on a distinctive look, it is often called a wordmark. Choose a specific position, font and colour you will use for this purpose, and be consistent in always making your wordmark look the same wherever it is used.
When a graphics professional talks about colours and the printing process, listen up! Some colours which look fine on a computer screen do not translate well at the printer’s. Some blues, in particular, will look quite different. An expert will be able to save you before you choose a Corporate Blue which you can never reproduce on paper as well as advise on the psychological impact of colours. Once you have your colours, use them consistently.
Many people overlook the value of having a professional business card that accurately reflects your brand image, yet this small piece of paper can be an important part of your collateral package. It’s often the first item prospects receive from you, so it’s your first opportunity to make a strong, positive impression on them. Cheaper isn’t always better when it comes to first impressions. Make sure it’s a positive reflection of both you and your company, and it mirrors your well-defined brand identity.
With all of these image-makers going for you, how do you think it looks when your e-mail address is a free one? Even if you won’t be doing e-business, a web-site is almost a necessity these days. Get one, so clients can learn a bit about you before calling. Having your own domain gives you a unique e-mail address as well, and if you change your internet provider, your e-mail can stay the same. Naturally, the best time to do this is before you print up all of your business stationary!
A professional image—don’t leave your home office without one!