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Your business cards, letterhead, envelopes and other marketing collateral say a lot about you and your business.

As soon as you can afford it, hire someone to design your collateral. This should be done all at once so the design standards are used across the board. If you have to prioritize these, go in order: 1) business cards, 2) letterhead, 3) envelopes and 4) brochure.

You don’t need to go wild or come up with a bold four-color design. Keep it simple. Two colors work just fine. Usually these colors come from your logo. White or cream are fine for the paper stock. Save the fancy designs for ad agencies and movie stars. You want your business to be noticed for the right reasons, not because your design hurts the recipient’s eyes.

When you hire someone to create a logo for your company, be sure that you get the rights to have all the file formats: .eps, .jpg, .tif, etc. You will need these for your website, for printing more collateral and marketing pieces in the future and for other projects. Ask for them on a CD and keep the CD in a place you’ll remember. If you ask a different designer to create something for you down the road, you don’t want to pay an additional expense for recreating the logo again. Having the original not only saves time, but money.

Be sure the designer writes down which ink colors they used in creating your collateral. These are expressed in one of two ways. If you are using one or two colors, then the colors will be expressed in PMS terms. For example, a medium would be something like PMS 1788. If you work is done in four colors (also known as full color), then colors are expressed in mixes of the four primary ink colors: Cyan (C), Magenta (M), Yellow (Y) and K (Black). This is known as the CMYK color. In CMYK, that same PMS 1788 red is designated this way: 0-C, 87-M, 91-Y, 0-K.

You don’t need to know all the science behind these colors and why they have these names. Suffice it to say you will need to remember them down the road when you have something else designed. A graphics designer will need these to make sure that your colors will match across the board.

Fun Color Trivia: Every color in the world – from the fabric on your couch to the color of your kitchen countertops have a PMS color assigned to it.

It wasn’t so long ago that everyone took their sales efforts online and brochures became a thing of the past. But this was temporary. Today, smart businesses have returned to creating striking brochures that they can mail out, use at tradeshows or include with invoices. They are an inexpensive marketing tool. Your brochure should have the same look as your collateral. Don’t be tempted to use a different set of colors or wildly different type fonts in your brochure. Keep everything consistent so you build value in your company’s brand and have a unified identity in the mind of your customers.