Easy Ways to Look Professional

While thinking of what to write for a blog this week one of the things that I thought of is “what are some things that really drive me nuts as a designer?” and a few things started running through my head – so here’s a summary of what they are and easy ways for you to avoid them!  Basically they are ways that a lot of people make themselves look less professional when they could easily have saved themselves the problem.  So here they are my “pet peeves” of designing, or a nice way to think of it “Easy Waysto Look Professional”:

Don’t use handwritten signs for advertising – ANYWHERE!  This photo speaks volumes! Spray Painted SignExpand it further though, do you really want to eat at the Sushi place that has a spray painted sign on the street, or faded orange poster board signs on their walls with old prices replaced covered with whatever colour paper they had lying around to update the price?  I would question the freshness of their food if they can’t spend enough time to make nice displays for their business!  If you need “do it yourself” advertisements print them off on your computer, or if your printer doesn’t print big enough take a print out to a local photo copy place and ask them to increase the size to what you need – at most it will cost a few dollars which would be comparable to buying a piece of poster paper anyway!  Need to make a spray paint road sign?   Buy a stencil of different letters from a dollar store first instead of free-handing it.  And even that should be temporary while you get your permanent sign.  If you NEED to do it yourself take a couple extra moments like this and it will make a huge difference.

If you have your own website don’t use a webmail email address for business!  This joke picture that circulated not long ago speaks volumes!

What Your Email Address Says About You

As much as it’s a joke it’s actually quite accurate. What sounds better to you janedoe@professionalaccountant.com or iloveunicorns@hotmail.com?  If you want people to take you seriously use whatever methods you have access to.  If you have a web domain for your company then you should also have the ability to have email address that use that domain as well – if you don’t then you may need to look for a new web host!  This is something that any good web host provides when you host your website with them.  So if you own your own website, use your domain for your email – you can even forward it to your existing email if you’re really stuck on using it!

If you have a logo carry that look and feel through all of your marketing material.  If you have a logo you’ve likely invested decent money into it, so use it!  Take the colours from it and use them on anything from your business card, brochure, to website and twitter profile.  This unifies your look and increases your professionalism, a marketing 101 kind of trick.  And it really surprises me how many people don’t personalize their Twitter profile, it’s easy to do!  Check out our post about it – Social Media – Personalizing Twitter.

One more short one to end off, this one’s not design related but definitely affects your professionalism – When you write business emails, write them professionally!  Avoid internet slang (no “lol”, no shortened words like “ur” instead our your) and make sure to have a polite introduction and dismissal.  It doesn’t have to be “Dear Mr. Smith” but starting with “Hello John” personalizes the email.  Signing off with a Sincerely, Regards, Until next time, etc. Is also professional.  It really makes me shake my head when a business owner emails me and is far too casual – my impression of their professionalism is affected!

A few tips to help you keep yourself looking good in front of others – I’d think most of them are common sense, but as I’ve heard often “Common sense is not that common”.  And with how many times I see all of these done I tend to agree!

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This entry was posted by Anna Kouwenberg on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011 at 12:27 pm and is filed under Branding, Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.