Your Grandpa Digs Your Letterhead but Your Son Thinks Your Website Sucks

Your Grandpa Digs Your Letterhead but Your Son Thinks Your Website Sucks: Making Your Brand Work in the Digital Media Age


While a well-designed business card can still be a cool conversation piece and maybe even land you a client or two, the day where business cards and snappy letterheads can win over an audience are over. Sure, these stationary items were once the main staple of advertising for many businesses. Back then, they had to make the same considerations that most business aren’t really faced with today.

Does this logo look good in this color? Is the spacing on this flier attractive? Is the gloss on this paper blinding?

No, today we deal with a whole different set of issues. Although, truth be told, much of the goals we strive for are often the same. We want our colors to be attractive (only now we want them to look good on a screen). We still want our message to appeal to people visually. We want everything about our brand to look attractive.

Being that we’re now in an almost strictly digital age, many older businesses have finally had to face facts and embrace our digital overlords. In that, they’ve had to make the transition from creating attractive print media to online media. You might think that there’s isn’t a huge difference, but there are a lot of differences that they need to consider.


Believe it or not, colors and even fonts show up differently on screen and on paper. For colors, this makes a degree of sense. Unless you have an incredibly sophisticated printer, you’re going to have problems getting the bright colors you see in your graphics program to print 100% true to hue on paper. And even then, you’d have to have some of the best quality paper around.

You’ll find pretty quickly that designs that look great on the screen will look washed out on paper almost every single time. And because most of today’s advertising is bright and more expressive on screens today, your older designs that looked awesome on paper probably need to be redesigned.


As for fonts, you can do a simple print test to see the validation here, too. Arial, for example, tends to look great on websites and even in periodical-based sites. However, you’ll notice that hardly any print magazines feature the Arial font because it just isn’t as attractive on paper.

Likewise, most default web text sizes tend to be 10 for advertising copy. In print, however, 12 looks much better. Sure, these differences may seem miniscule but when they start to add up, layer upon outdated layer, it can really catch up to you and your brand’s marketing efforts.


If you’ve waited this long to get online with your business, you’ve got something of a double-whammy on your hands. Not only are you going to have to adapt to all of the ins and outs of putting your brand online, you also have mobile devices to worry about. Even if you manage to get the most attractive website up and running, it doesn’t mean much these days unless it’s mobile friendly.

The majority of audiences are checking out business websites and advertising e-mails such as newsletters and special offer mails on mobile devices. Your site has to be mobile or you’re going to lose a large chunk of potential clients. When your site is viewed on a mobile device, certain colors, layouts and fonts have to translate to the device is a way that is also attractive.

Chances are that if you’ve not yet gone online with your business, you’re pretty terrified by now. But fret not…a great web designer will know how to get you online and mobile ready, as it’s a basic necessity for businesses these days and, therefore, a skill that designers have to know to stay competitive.


The main trick these days is to come up with banding imagery that translates well on printed media as well as digital media. This is especially true of your logo. If your logo is placed strategically on your social media profiles, your web site and any online articles located somewhere other than your site, people will begin to recognize your logo when they see it. As a result, this helps you get the reputation as a go-to source within your industry.

You’ll need to place all of your “first look” sort of information on the web in as many places as you can get it (social media, websites, etc.).  Because people’s first impression of you now comes online, you need to remain just as up-to-date and competitive as your competitors, You need to stand out—and the best way to do that is by having attractive branding materials that resonate with an online audience.

People will also look for you on the internet before they look anywhere else. Because of this, make sure they don’t turn away and head elsewhere just because your web presence seems severely outdated or inferior.


Look on the bright side…if you do have to make some changes in making the transition for printed to digital media, it gives you the opportunity to finally spruce up your marketing material.

Why not add some flair to your logo or perhaps give it a slight tweak to make it more modern. You want to have a logo and maybe even a simple tagline that people will remember right away (this is one of the holdovers from printed media that has remained true). Swap out those old pictures you’ve had on your marketing pieces for the last few years. Take a look at what some of your competitors are doing online and see what you can do to go one step beyond them.

You may also want to update your company and employee bios. Take advantage of this time and really go all out in making sure your company is going to be current and relevant in the digital marketplace.


If you can manage to pull off all of the tips you’ve read here, you stand a good chance as being just as successful as the next guy. While you’ll find that the internet is much more competitive than your one single city, you will also find that word of mouth is priceless. When someone finds something they like, they’ll take to social media and talk about it. Companies have literally become overnight successes thanks to the internet.

So go…take your newfangled digital branding and start owning the internet one client at a time!

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