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What is the Quality of Your Image?

Even the most subtle errors in design regarding logo quality, spacing, and even paper choices can negatively affect how people react to your marketing efforts or correspondences.

I recently received a letter in the mail from a business that was claiming to represent my insurance company. The letter requested some personal information regarding a recent claim. Immediately, it gave off some red flags that caused me to question whether the letter was legitimate or a modern-day phishing scam.

After several phone calls to my insurance company, I finally learned that the company that sent the letter was, indeed, legitimate. But, the company was so poorly represented by their letter that one would never know it was actually a credible organization. The representative at my insurance company said that she’d received a number of calls asking about the validity of the letter but she wasn’t aware of the exact issue until I explained to her the unprofessional appearance of the correspondence.

Good use of whitespace is very important, not only for text legibility, but for directing and guiding the reader's eye through a page.

Here are the elements of the letter that made me suspect foul play:

1. Poor Logo Integrity
Two logos were used in the letter, the logo of my insurance company and the logo of the company sending the letter.  Both logos were a faded gray color and were low resolution/low quality images. The logos were blurry, pixelated throughout and the edges were jagged.  They looked as though they had been copied from another source, rather than inserted as original company logos.

A good way to instill trust in your audience is to use a high resolution logo in full color. The logo should look crisp, clean and flawless. If you are using another company’s logo for your print materials, always ask for a high resolution, digital copy for print. Never download a low resolution copy of their logo off the Internet for use in print.

2. Generation Loss
Along with the faded gray logos, the letter, as a whole, appeared to be washed out. This was a result of generation loss, or loss of quality from making a copy of a copy.

To obtain full quality copies, always print from an original digital document, never from another photocopy.

3. Spacing Issues
There were many spacing issues and inconsistencies throughout the letter, but the one thing that caught my attention the most was that one of logos was pressed up against the company address without any space in between.  

Whitespace is very important for readability and organization. It’s a place for the reader’s eye to rest between design elements and/or text. Good use of whitespace is very important, not only for text legibility, but for directing and guiding the reader's eye through a page.

4. Inadequate Signature
The signature was a low-quality, digital signature with a jagged appearance.

I realize that handwritten signatures are not as common as they used to be.  And, under many circumstances, it is perfectly acceptable to use a high-quality digital signature.  However, if you need an extra level of trust and authenticity, a handwritten signature is essential.

5. Insufficient Letterhead
The letter did not come on company letterhead.  It was printed instead on an undistinguished sheet of white paper and the ink smeared easily when handling the letter.

Letterhead is part of a company’s brand identity, or another way to carry out or market a company’s image. It should contain a company logo and basic contact information. Letterhead should be printed on a good quality paper to further convey a message of professionalism.

6. No Link to Brand Identity
I was able to do a Web search on this company and I did find a website, but, the letter was not, in any way, consistent with the website.

The letter was black and white while the website was very colorful. The fonts were different. The website looked as if it had been designed professionally and the letterhead looked like it had been put together by a novice.

What are your letters and other marketing materials saying about your image? Do they add up when it comes to quality and integrity? Does your website coincide with your marketing materials?

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