Start-ups beware!

I was approached by a lovely lady called Sharon Gibbs last week who runs Zip Button and Tuck, a unique style consultancy based in Lancaster. She asked me to try and explain the design process and to help her understand why she was having so many issues with her designs. This inspired me to write this post to try and highlight the possible issues start ups can face.

Top tips when choosing a designer

1) Always do your research- I have dealt with so many start ups coming to me after spending a small fortune on logo design with large agencies, who later realise they have spent over the odds. A design doesn’t have to cost a fortune to have impact.

2) Always research your printing costs before beginning the design process. Although many agencies like ourselves are happy to organise the printing for you, many don’t consider printing costs until the design is finalised. What many businesses don’t realise is that printing an A5 postcard, although quite standard, will cost considerably less than a fancy cut out design. Not only that but depending upon the quantity requested many printers will not deal with numbers under 500. Therefore if you do require something unusual and creative, ensure you always get a print quote before committing to a design. (This is something that we do as standard but if you are working with someone who doesn’t then just ask!)

3) Always get all the files from your designer upon completion. Often a designer will simply send you a high-res PDF of your finished logo. This is fine for most purposes however if you ever decide to alter the logo slightly, having the original file would make this a lot easier and save time chasing the designer a few years later.

4) Before doing anything consider what you want to achieve. Often people assume they need lots of printed materials to start up, however in reality the money can often be invested more productively in strong marketing advice and developing a small number of highly targeted pieces.

5) If you have a specific colour that your designs must match, it is extremely important that you give this information to the designer. Designs on a screen look very different once printed and variations across screens are huge.

6) One thing you should be aware of are the colour variations across different paper stocks and finishes. For example a red on headed paper with no finish will appear as a completely different shade to the same red printed on board with a matt laminate. Again if colour is important then you must keep the paper finishes and paper stock consistent to minimise differences.  Below is a table detailing some paper stocks finishes and recommendations.

7) Finally make sure your designer fully understands your business. A logo should be strongly rooted in your core aims and objectives and should be a true representation of your business. Using a designer abroad or a freelancer you have never met may seem a cost effective option but if they don’t fully understand your requirements this could be a costly mistake.

8 ) The graphic design of your website, logo, business cards and advertising are the first impressions your customers get, creating strong and exciting design and creative copy can have a huge impact on sales.

The tips above need not scare you away from getting a logo designed, they should be kept as a guide for what to look out for when choosing a designer.

The table below is a VERY brief guide to paper finishes and possible uses for the different options.

Gloss Laminate Matt Laminate No Finish
Differences Great for bringing out the colour in images and grabbing attention.I.e. Promotional cards and menus. Luxurious look with a very tactile feel.I.e. Business cards, luxury leaflets and postcards Useful for letterhead and long runs however with no finish they often crease get damaged easily.

We offer packages specifically for business start ups, we can also offer advice and guidance on the best most cost effective solutions to promote your business. Feel free to give me a call on 07729 703557 or 01524 771 726 or email me at


2 responses

  1. Steve Christie

    Hiya BZ,

    Nice piece with some really useful thoughts for business start-ups.

    One point I would consider puting before your first point on the list is ‘Know your own business’ So many times, we’ve had SME’s and new starts come to us at the agency and when I ask them to explain what it is they do, they bimble around with a fairly vague explanation of what their business does and if they can’t communicate it succinctly and quickly, theres no way a designer is going to be able to brand their company effectively.

    I worked in business development in the print industry for twelve year and I’ve worked for a design agency for the last three and I’m about to launch my own branding agency so lets see if I can heed my own advice!!

    Could I just correct you on a couple of the print points you mention at the bottom of your piece (I know I might be being pedantic but I can’t help it!)

    1) There is no spot laminate, you only get a spot UV varnish which is a liquid and doesn’t offer the same protection to a document.

    2) As a rule, you would never apply any kind of laminate to a paper, its too thin and the laminate would start to peel at the edges. Usually only laminate anything about a 250gsm paper weight so you’d never use it for flyers, letterheads or leaflets, which are normally n a 130gsm stock.

    3) Matt laminate won’t make images crisp, although it will make the item very tactile and luxurious. Matt laminate has a slight milky sheen to it and so will dull down any bright colours and won’t make them any more sharp.

    Sorry if that sounded really anal but the amount of times I’ve had clients specify the finish they want on something but they only THINK they’ve got it right and are disappointed when they get the item back.

    Good luck for 2011 and keep up the good work!


    February 24, 2011 at 12:28 pm

  2. Thank you for your comments Steve.
    I totally agree with you and appreciate you being pedantic, as when writing a blog with an 18 month old on your lap, you can occasionally write nonsense!

    What I meant was promotional cards rather than fliers. I rarely design anything under a 250gsm as a lot of my clients are wedding venues or exclusive restaurants, they are often too flimsy under 250gsm but a lot of my clients still refer to then as fliers!

    February 24, 2011 at 12:44 pm

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