Before you can assemble the most rudimentary advertising campaign, there are certain basics you should have handy. Oddly, the vast majority of drycleaning businesses I’ve dealt with in the last four years don’t have these basics on hand — and it’s only two things.
You should have a list of contact information for all of your stores and all of your key staffers, including addresses, zip codes, phone numbers, cell phone numbers, fax numbers and e-mail addresses.
Do a simple test: Can you reach over to your desk drawer or filing cabinet and pull out a single sheet that has this information on it? If you’re like the majority of drycleaners out there, I’d be willing to bet that you can’t.
I know it seems like a no-brainer to have contact information at the ready — and if you don’t have it at your fingertips, get it together now! It’s frustrating to set up a print piece without a complete list of all the locations to which you wish to direct customers and potential customers.
If you ask an advertising agency to collect your contact information, the time it takes is often billable and will be added to the cost of your campaign. Keep your ads cost-effective.
A COPY OF YOUR LOGO
Your logo is the single most important visual element of your brand. I’m shocked at how many cleaners don’t have a clear, clean and easy-to-access copy of their logo in their files.
All original artwork should be kept close at hand. You should have a crisp, clean copy of your logo printed in color and black & white on a sheet of 8-inch by 11-inch paper. Having a clean copy of your logo makes it easy to create a digital copy of it on a scanner.
Digital copies of your logo are critical these days, since more and more companies perform layout and design on computers. If you anticipate doing any e-mail marketing or building a website, digital files are a must.
When you make digital files of your logo, save them in various formats. You should have a JPEG, an EPS, a PDF, and, if possible, a high-resolution vector-based version of your logo. Vector files are useful because they can be scaled to almost any size without compromising image quality.
Probably the most important format is a PSD file with its layers intact and all of its fonts included. PSDs are the Adobe Photoshop files that were probably used to create your logo in the first place — assuming your logo was created digitally. Keeping the layers intact means that you have all the individual layers used to create the image; you can isolate each layer from the other and make changes to your logo more easily down the road.
Keeping copies of the fonts used in the text of your logo is critical. Fonts are highly specific, and some graphic designers often create their own. Tracking down fonts can be time-consuming — again, adding to your billable hours and driving up your costs.
Also, record the colors used to create your logo, so you can always re-create the color scheme accurately. What good is a brand strategy when parts of the brand identity are allowed to change?
The letters CYMK refer to Cyan, Yellow and Magenta and blacK — the colors used for print advertisements that appear in newspapers, magazines and brochures. RGB are the letters indicating the Red/Green/Blue color blend found on television and the web. HEX values are used more rarely, and refer to the hexidecimal system used on websites and HTML-enabled e-mail messages.
Pantone colors are the be-all, end-all of color definition. Pantone colors transcend languages and boundaries, as the global standard for inks’ color values. Pantone colors are the same in India as they are in China, Brazil, the United States, Canada and England. If you’re lucky enough to have an international brand (or you’re planning to be more than a Mom-and-Pop operation one day), Pantone colors are the way to go.
Have your logo files produced in the highest possible resolution. This makes the size of the digital files large, but larger is better — large files can be made smaller, and large images can be reduced. Trying to make a smaller or low-resolution image bigger usually delivers poor end results.
You can tell when a low-resolution image has been stretched to its breaking point — the edges of the image will appear all jagged or chunky as the image pixelates. Nothing says “unprofessional” more than an image that’s been pushed beyond its limits.
If you don’t have an original copy of your logo, you may have to hire a graphic artist to re-create it and put it into a digital file format for you. This may not be cheap — the going rate for a logo redesign starts at $1,200. You may be able to find a design student to do it more cheaply.
If you lose your original logo file, it’s a great time to upgrade or refresh your logo. Fonts and color schemes get “tired” over time, and Pantone introduces new colors every year. Perhaps you could update your logo to whatever “the new black” is today, or update your font to something more timeless.
Once you have all your contacts, locations and logos together, make multiple copies of the file(s) in case an advertising sales representative fails to return yours.
When a rep asks for your identity kit, you should be able to reach over to your files and give him or her pretty much everything required to generate a proof. You are now ready to take the first steps toward placing your new ad in the Yellow Pages, newspaper, website or mailer.