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How to Pack an Identity Suitcase

by | Aug 2, 2010

Whether you’re working with a design firm, or acting as your own DIY designer, at some point you’ll need to share your company logo with an outside source. Are you prepared for that moment? Or will that one simple request send you scrambling through the office looking for a wayward CD, covered in dust, that probably slipped between the file cabinet and the waste basket six months ago. More often than not, when I meet a new client they fall into the latter category. Don’t spend another 4 hours calling previous service providers hoping that one of them kept a copy of your logo on file. Instead spend a few minutes packing your Identity Suitcase and you’ll be ready for the next trip to the print shop.

So where do you start? Learn from the pros. And who knows more about packing than a pregnant woman? Really.

Preparing for that inevitable trip to the hospital is the first thing a pregnant woman tackles. And what does she do? She packs a suitcase. That small act of preparation is the single most important step towards becoming a mother. Why? Because when the contractions begin, the water breaks and it’s time to make a dash for the maternity wing, the last thing she wants to do is search the house frantically for an Enya CD, the nursing bra or that special “coming home” outfit knitted by aunt Ida. She needs a grab-and-go bag that’s ready at a moments notice. And so do you…well, sort of.

What you need is an Identity Suitcase. And with the planning and know how only a mother can provide, I’m going to teach you how to pack one.

What is an Identity Suitcase and why do you need one? Simply put it’s a virtual travel bag for all your branding essentials. Once filled it will be ready and waiting for that next big project, or spontaneous request.

What to pack

Logos, and graphics and fonts, Oh My! These are the essential items in an Identity Suitcase.

Black & White Logos

The work horses of the print industry. While the world is quickly becoming digital, you’re still going to need them for print ads, flyers, and inexpensive 1-color print jobs. Make sure your suitcase includes a high resolution TIFF (600 dpi preferably) or a vector based EPS file. For an explanation of file formats (bitmap vs. vector) click here.

Color Logos

So many choices, so little understanding of why. Just like clothing, each one has a specific function. Forget to pack the right one and you’ll be going commando to that important business meeting. There are also dozens of color formats. For a detailed description of color formats check out this post on CMYK, PMS and RGB.

CMYK logos: used for full color printed pieces. Magazine ads, brochures, etc. This is your standard color logo. They can be in nearly any format although TIFF and EPS are the most common. JPEG color logos are great for sending via email, but make sure they are saved in CMYK not RGB.

PMS logos: depending on your industry these can be very important, or rarely used. If your corporate colors are hard to produce in processed color (CMYK), or if you are printing in less than 4 ink colors, then a PMS version of your logo will be necessary. These files will be in EPS format, and most likely created in a vector program like Adobe Illustrator or Freehand.

Web logos/RGB logos:  the digital age has seen a sharp rise in the need for RGB versions of your identity. Logos saved in RGB format, and in a lower resolution such as 72 dpi, are in demand for use on the web, on mobile devices and in television spots. These will likely be in formats such as JPEG, GIF and PNG. While these files are great for sending via email they are not great for print. So always keep in mind the final usage of the logo before choosing which one to send.

Don’t forget the accessories

Like any well packed suitcase, the inclusion of some critical accessories is a sign of intelligent design. In an identity suitcase your accessories could include the following:

Fonts: Many businesses use specific typefaces on their materials. If you want a service provider to match those fonts your best bet is to provide them. Even with a cast of thousands at their disposal it is highly likely that your 1990’s Corel Draw specified a different font than today’s design programs. Better to provide it, than be surprised when they swap it out for something similar.

Graphic elements: Do you like to use a specific decorative ornament on your stationery? A cluster of grapes, or calligraphic drop cap perhaps? Or maybe you have product illustrations that are often included in your materials. These are identity accessories, and they should be kept nearby.

Photos: If you’re producing a lot of full color work, either in print or on the web, and often need to send photos of your products, location or services, these should be well organized and stored along with your logos.

Once your Identity Suitcase is packed and neatly organized in a folder on your computer desktop, make a copy, or two, and burn it to a CD or save it on a thumb drive. You may also want a back-up somewhere else on your hard drive or online in an accessible location like iDisk (for Macs) or on an FTP site. This will allow you to remotely access your important identity info from any location.

Taking the time to pack an identity suitcase will insure a smooth labor and delivery for your next project. Something every pregnant mother, and business woman, can appreciate.

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About the Author

Brandy Wheeler

Brandy Wheeler is the Creative Director and right-brained partner at Visitors Media. She’s a pysanky-making figure skater with a knack for finding Petoskey stones at the beach. Armed with an Albion College degree in visual art and 25 years of experience in graphic design and marketing she loves to share her expertise in writing. You can also find her on-camera as the founder and voice of the Traverse Traveler brand.

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