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By Randy Pianin

Consumers often make snap decisions about who to do business with – and companies with a polished, professional image usually win out.

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, this comes as no surprise. In fact, according to a recent survey of small businesses, nearly two-thirds believe that having sleek, cohesive communications is key to attracting new customers. However, while the majority feel this type of well-designed collateral is essential, nearly half admit they don’t even have business cards. In fact, nearly 30 percent of respondents stated that their business doesn’t even have a logo.

So what’s the disconnect? More often than not, it’s a budget issue. Most small businesses don’t have the luxury of a dedicated art department or marketing team to create their brand identity. The good news is that developing professional-looking materials has never been more accessible – or affordable.

Investing in corporate image not only helps your small business look larger, but it just might be what sets you apart from the competition. Simple things like a unique logo, an attractive website or appealing business cards will help to establish your business’ brand identity and define its role and services in the marketplace.

Interested in creating some of these materials for your business? Here are a few tips to help you get started:

• Back To Basics. A business card is one of the most essential items that a company should possess. For a minimal price, a business can design and print professional-looking business cards to attract new customers and ensure existing ones know how to get back in touch with you.

• Invest In Your Image. What will people think of your company? An image is one of the most important elements of any organization, and this can start with the creation of a corporate logo.

• Look Professional. With more and more shoppers visiting the Web to research products and services, small businesses need to have a website that will instill confidence. Make sure that your website has a consistent look and feel to other marketing materials and that important information such as phone and fax numbers, business address and hours of operation are prominently listed. If products are being sold on the site, be sure to take the proper measures to ensure customers are shopping on a safe and secure site.

• Give Customers Something To Remember. People love to get things for free. Wouldn’t it be even better if this freebie was branded with your company logo? Items such as pens, pencils, notepads and other items can be purchased and branded with your logo at a minimal cost.

Maximize your company’s potential by utilizing some of these cost-effective and easy-to-use tools. Creating professional-looking materials doesn’t have to be a huge expense – and with available online service options – it’s more convenient than ever before.




Randy Pianin is the Senior Vice President of Design, Print & Ship Depot for Office Depot.
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