Really? You want to create your business’s brand (image) using the same look that hundreds (or maybe thousands) of other businesses are using? Not a wise move. Here’s why:
Clip Art is not a logo
First, clip art is not a logo. As a web designer many times I have to build a website around an image that was taken from Microsoft’s clip art. Or even worse, they found it on the internet. Now we’re dealing with copyright violations (that article is coming up real soon). What you use first is the image your customers are going to have of you. What do you want them to think of when they see your image?
I attend a business expo every year in northern Michigan. I always offer some type of giveaway to the business owners at the expo. I see a lot of business cards. This past year I had four different businesses using the same business card from one of those online printers (the guilty shall remain anonymous…both printer and business owners). If you’re using the antique looking card with lots of scrolls…STOP NOW! I have too many of them in my card file (so do other business owners). Take the time to work with your local printer to design a card that is uniquely your business. Better yet, hire a graphic designer to create your complete corporate identity package (logo, business cards, letterhead, etc.). It’s not as expensive as you think and it’s much better than the same image others in your industry are using.
Lack of paper choices
One of the problems I have with online printers is the lack of choice in paper. They keep the choice limited because of the volumes they purchase each month. This also limits the types of paper that needs to be loaded in each machine. Work with your local printer. They can advise you on the best paper stock for your project and get you one of the many hundreds of options offered by the companies they represent. Your graphic designer is also knowledgeable about papers and can get you the image you want.
One on One advice
One thing many don’t think of when ordering online is choosing glossy stock for business cards. When you attend as many networking events as I do you have to write notes about the person you met on their card for reminders. Ink pens don’t write very well on glossy. Did you know you can order a card that is glossy only on one side? Your printer knows this.
Who you gonna call?
When you have a problem with your order who do you go to? Do you talk to some anonymous customer service person (that may or may not be located in this country)? Do they know and understand the printing process? Probably not. When working with your local printer you know you are talking with the person that is involved with your project.
Pony Express rides again
How long do you want to wait for your order? Even if the order can be printed in three days (typically it takes seven days) you still have to add a few days(or much more) for shipping. Can you really wait 2 or 3 weeks for your order to arrive when you can just pick it up locally?
How much Is free?
Then on top of that you have to add shipping and handling costs. Those can be outrageous. Several years ago I took advantage of a “free” offer for a static cling for my car from a big name online printing company. How could I go wrong with free? It allows me to try out their service and see their quality first hand. I was wrong to assume. When I went to check out this free offer was going to cost me $12.95 for something that could have gone into a 5×7 envelope and only cost a few dollars at the most. I ended up buying static cling along with my “free” one to justify the shipping. I haven’t ordered from them since.
Shop Local; Save Local
Your best bet is to shop local. Support your local businesses. In the end the cost will be less harmful not only to wallet but to the image of your business.