Best Practices: Photo Use

1. Take Your Own Images

When you take your own photos, you create original images and you own the rights. Or hire a photographer to help you build a high quality image library for your business or organization.

2. Use Free Stock Photos

If you don't have the budget to purchase stock photos for a project, check out one of the many stock photography sites that offer free or low cost images: Unsplash, Pexels, Freephotos, Flickr and Pixabay.

3. Purchase Stock Photos

The perfect stock photo is out there. Explore collections such as Getty Images, iStock and Adobe Stock to find just the right image for your next creative project. Review the licensing agreement to understand how the image can be used.

Stock image sites allow you to download low resolution watermarked preview images to try out before purchasing the license. Resist the temptation to publish a preview image on your website, social media page or blog. It is copyright infringement. You may be contacted by the stock photo company's legal department to remove the images and pay a penalty fee that is more costly than simply paying for the license.

Best Practices: Logo & Business Name

1. Perform a Business Name Search

Go to your Secretary of State’s website to perform a business name search. Search “Name Availability” to check whether the business name you are considering has already been registered in your state. When you have your business name registered in your state and a logo design completed, consider registering for a trademark at to protect your investment. The site provides a Trademark Electronic Search System database to make sure another company hasn’t already registered an identical or similar mark for the same categories of goods or services you offer. The site provides a wealth of information for starting a new business.

2. Perform a Google Reverse Image Search

If you develop a logo for your new business and want to perform a basic check that it is not infringing on the logo of another business, do a reverse image search at Option 1: Drag and drop the image file from your desktop into the search bar. Option 2: Click on “Search by Image” and paste the image’s URL. Option 3: If you want to review an image’s origin, such as a logo or image on a website, perform a search on Google Chrome. Right click on the image and scroll down to “Search Google for Image.” Google will provide a sampling of visually similar images to review.

3. Search on WIPO

Perform a search on the World Intellectual Property Organization website at Access the Global Brand Database under the Knowledge tab to research whether a name or trademark similar or identical to yours already exists and has been registered as intellectual property. Save the investment of time and resources into developing a business name and logo design if there is any potential for infringement.

When starting a new business venture, budget for an intellectual property lawyer to assist you in the process of protecting your business name and logo – they can help you protect these valuable assets. It’s a good investment in your peace of mind, and helps you to avoid future dispute resolutions or liabilities if your business name or logo infringes on that of another business.

Choosing a Printing Vendor

Evaluating and Choosing a Printing Vendor

The Benefits of Getting an Estimate
The printing industry has been going through decades of volatile growth, driven by booming technology and robust competition. When preparing to order printed materials – whether you are sourcing a local vendor or an online company – take the opportunity to compare cost, production quality and timely delivery. While a printing vendor may be highly competitive on business cards and rack brochures, they may not be as competitive when printing booklets or banners. Printing companies invest in different printing equipment (digital and offset), they are servicing varying overhead, and they are updating their technology on diverse time lines. Printing vendors come in all specialties and their capabilities rarely match up apples to apples.

• Many printing vendors position themselves as a one-stop shop for all your printing needs. It can be appealing for a business to order all of their office forms, marketing materials and signage from a single source. In order to remain competitive in an ever-changing market, their array of marketing and specialty products may be fulfilled through partnerships with sub-vendors.


What to Look for in a Printing Vendor
• Check out the printing vendor's website for capabilities, staff and how long they have been in business. Review their offset printing and digital printing equipment list to see if they are striving to remain current and competitive. Provide a description of your upcoming projects to your sales associate and ask for a packet of print samples to evaluate along with printing bids and estimated turnaround time.

• Ask for a tour of their facilities. Ask to meet the owner and production manager. Don’t miss an opportunity to attend an open house. Stop by regularly to review a proof, perform a critical press check or pick up a completed order.

• Inquire about the vendor's data handling, privacy and backup policies.

• Get to know your account representative as well as the support staff and production crew. A knowledgeable and motivated account representative will provide accurate quotes and timely project trouble shooting and delivery. Experienced production staff ensure product quality and consistency. 

• Inquire about your printer's "house stocks." These are the paper stocks that they buy in bulk and always have available. If you choose a stock that your vendor purchases by the skid load rather than having to place a special order, the pricing will reflect it.

• If you decide to purchase print or web design services from a printing vendor, meet with their creative staff and request work samples to evaluate their skills and experience. Ask if the design work is performed onsite or subcontracted to a local professional or affiliate.

• If you are considering an online vendor, factor in the shipping costs and transit time. Shipping costs can be hefty for routine orders. Be aware that online printers often subcontract with a printer in your region that has press time open in their production schedule.  

• If you need printed materials for a destination event such as a convention, consider contracting with the local provider of a reputable printing franchise to produce and deliver your programs, brochures and banners directly to the event venue.               


The Benefits of Working with Local Vendors
• Local vendors are invested in your community. A local printing vendor, along with their staff, pay state and local business taxes while supporting local businesses and charitable organizations. Supporting local businesses helps to grow your community.

• A local business is more likely to open up production time for an occasional rush job. Their staff will be on board to work overtime if necessary because they value your continued business. 

• A local vendor is more likely to provide discounts and in-kind donations to non-profit organizations.  

• A local business is more likely to ensure that you are satisfied with the quality of the final project. They want to secure your repeat business and positive online reviews.


The Benefits of Working with an Independent Print Coordinator
• With more than 30 years of print coordination experience, I have acquired the practical knowledge to evaluate and work seamlessly with printing vendors. Procuring project estimates and evaluating economical production methods, while monitoring quality workmanship and timely delivery can make all the difference in your business investment.

• As a graphic designer, I have worked with a multitude of pre-press departments and can ensure that artwork files will be formatted to process direct-to-press. Printing vendors often price projects more competitively when working with an established history of quality assurance in print coordination and artwork preparation. No surprises and a smooth work flow provide value.