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The Mechanics Behind Logo Creation

 The Mechanics Behind Logo Creation

 As a business, your logo is one of the single most important marketing pieces you will ever create. It is the core of your business brand. That being said, when a business owner approaches a graphic designer about logo creation, this is not something to be taken lightly. It is a huge undertaking that requires a high degree of thought process and planning. It is unreasonable for any business owner to think they can just approach their designer, ask for a new logo and expect it to magically appear. It is important that they understand that there is a process involved and it requires the partnership of both the designer and the business owner to create their desired masterpiece.

Target audience: As a new business, you should know who your customers are. What appeals to them? This information will help you to craft a logo that will attract their attention and help you achieve your desired results.


Mission/Vision: Equally important to the appeal of your customers, your logo should also represent your own values and what is important to you. You want to visually convey your business mission to your audience in a meaningful way.


Remembrance: Your logo should be memorable. The insertion of a tagline often does the job of bringing everything all together. You want your customers and your prospects to associate that tagline and image with you. When you make a call or send a correspondence, they should immediately recognize you.


Shape/easiness on the eyes: Deciding how to shape your logo may require some thought. Should it be square or circular? Should it include and image of a person? These are some of the components you will consider when you are evaluating your target audience and what appeals most to them. When determining the shape, you want to make sure that your lines are clean and easy on the eyes. You don’t want to produce an image that is too busy or confusing. Your message should be clear and simple. Don’t create extra work for your audience by making it difficult for them to discern what it is that you do. Make it easy for them.


Uniquely different: While your logo design should be simple, it must also be unique. This is the fun part of the design process – coming up with something unique that represents all of the qualities of your business and effectively communicates to the audience you serve.  Review similar companies in your industry to see how their brand is represented. How can you stand apart from them? Coming up with something different doesn’t have to be that far out of the box. You can have fun with playful lettering to exemplify the message you want to convey.

As you can see, quite a lot goes into the process of creating a logo that will effectively represent your business and your brand. That being said, as a business owner, you should be respectful of the time your graphic designer has put into developing your concepts and designs. We understand that things are not always perfect the first time around and any proof might require some tweaks to get the perfect finished product.

However, if you should decide to change the concept completely after reviewing the proofs, understand that requires the designer going back to the drawing board, going through all the steps above all over again. And, time is money. Make the best use of your graphic designer’s time to achieve the results you desire. If you have to make changes mid-stream, respect the time and additional costs it will take for your designer to re-design your concept and be patient.

After all, we are talking about the brand that will define your business and how people see you. Take the time to do it right.


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For The Love of Chocolate


Entice your customers’ taste buds this season
As human beings, we all have one surefire thing in common – FOOD. We have to eat to live and while we all have different tastes and ideals, we can all agree that we do like to eat. Why, then, wouldn’t you consider food as a promotional tool to grow your business? Business gifts of food may not be an item that can reused over and over again in, but it can provide a unique impact on your marketing results.
The fact is, using food as an appreciation item for customers is not an overlooked marketing strategy. It is a multi-million-dollar industry. At Christmas time, companies often send gift baskets with cookies and goodies to their customers. Some customers send food offerings to their customers at major milestones in their business or even for birthdays. The problem is, most companies don’t think to consult their promotional products distributor for food related gifts. But, here lies a great opportunity.
By choosing to partner with your promotional products distributor on food gifts, you don’t just get to provide your customers and prospects with a gift that tastes good, but you have an opportunity to personally brand it as well. That’s where your real opportunity is. Mail order companies offer you the chance to send beautiful gift baskets and other food related gifts, but they don’t offer creative options for inserting your branding into those gifts. Your promotional products distributor can do this for you.
One of the most popular edible promotional gifts is chocolate, because who doesn’t love chocolate?! Packaged savory nuts go over very well also. The great thing about partnering with your promotional products distributor to find edible gifts for clients and prospects is that food and/or its packaging can be customized to meet whatever need you have, whether it is a standard giveaway item or something customized for an event or season.
You may decide to create something as simple as a customized chocolate bar. The chocolate can be custom molded:imprinted or what you put on the label is totally up to you. You can customize it with your brand. Perhaps you are running a contest with your customers and you want to include clues on your chocolate bars or within the packaging; the ideas are endless and your promotional products distributor will brainstorm with you to determine the best solution to meet your specific needs.
Chocolate and other edible gifts are quite cost effective. If budget is a concern, your promotional distributor partner can often help yo find some edible solutions for less than $10 each. Of course, the more you customize, the more cost you will incur so take the time to share your budget with your promotional products distributor. Once they know exactly what your budget is, your projected number of gift recipients, targeted in-hands date and what you want to accomplish, they can go to work to strategize the best solution for you.
Have fun with this process! Glean the best edible ideas from your promotional products distributor first so you can achieve a unique gift of sweet, savory or wholesome remembrance that wouldn’t be available through alternate channels


About the author

Lori Brooks started XL4U in 1998 as a print & signage turn-key service, providing qualitative graphic design services, orchestrated product creation and delivery.  As more and more print/signage clients inquired about Lori's ability to assist with promotional marketing services, she became accredited as a promotional products distributor through both ASI and PPAI.  These accreditations provide XL4U with not only ongoing product and safety learning, but the ability to provide a selection of over 300,000 different marketing product tools.  Lori invites you to visit and browse a web-based product store within the XL4U web site to get ideas and the team of excellence welcomes inquiries for further assistance at 804-569-0527.



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Where's The Beef Part 2



Where’s The Beef Part II:  

The promotional product distributor’s role to deliver quality.

The promotional products that you choose represent you and your brand. Therefore, shouldn’t you carefully consider the company you choose to partner with to provide these products for your company? A promotional product is much more than a pen, a cup or giveaway item. It is a representation of your brand in the marketplace. Oftentimes, it is an item your recipients will use over and over again. Don’t you want that item to leave a good impression? To accomplish this goal, you need to work with a qualified promotional products distributor that understands the value of delivering a strong brand recognition.

How much do you know about your promotional products distributor? Are they educating themselves in the industry so that they can provide you with the best products and service? Are they solution-oriented and safety compliant on your behalf or just pressuring you to buy? In such a competitive market, advertising specialty distributors, suppliers and decorators need the skills to help you out-think, outperform and out-service your competition's marketing strategies.

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Is Your Beef Memorable? Part 1


Let’s face it. We all like free stuff.  

That’s why we happily accept free promotional products from companies.

Have you ever been given a promotional product that appeared flimsy & cheap? What kind of impression did that leave? As small of a token as that trinket was, you immediately associated the quality of that product with the perceived quality of that company’s product or service.  Some promotional products specialists say that "SWAG" is a bad word because it instills the clear impression of junk.   Corporate branded promotional products are a reflection of your company’s brand, and therefore, should not be taken lightly.   "WOW" your gift recipients!  That's how they'll remember your brand, it's services and - in many instances, the person who presented the gift.  

Dave Thomas, of the Wendy's Hamburger Chain, sealed his brand with the notorious "Where's The Beef" television commercials back in the 80’s.  For those of you who are too young to recall his message, here's a quick recap:

Where's The Beef?

Wendy’s did an excellent job of branding their company with their popular slogan, “where’s the beef?” As a company, you never want to leave your prospects or customers thinking, “where’s the beef? “The investment to promote our branded message is related strongly to the perceived value of the branded "give away" gift.  We want the gift recipient to remember us and what our company or services can provide for them.  A positive remembrance is accomplished when the gift is re-usable time and time again whether it feels good, smells good, looks good, works great or even tastes yummy.  If the gift falls apart, shrinks, dis-colors or doesn't taste good what kind of positive impression does it leave for the company and the service you provide? The quality of the product(s) you choose to give away has a direct reflection on how the quality of your product or service is remembered. What kind of impression do you want to leave with your gift recipients?

 So, how can we ensure that we maintain a positive remembrance with an affordable cost and a high perceived value when giving away promotional items?

 As you work with your promotional products partner, ensure they not only know what your budget is, but also your standards in conveying your corporate brand.  Don't skirt around unrealistic ideals.  Communicate openly with your promotional products partner.  We all know how to shop and have a basic concept of product values. Upon understanding your realistic promotional budget and the desired result for your marketing campaign, a qualified promotional products partner can go to work for you in finding the products that best fit your parameters.  Think about that first impression.  How does the "give away" communicate your branded message?  Sometimes a picture of a possible worthy marketing item just isn't good enough - ask for a sample so that you can insure the product quality conveys your desired corporate remembrance. 

Always remember The Five Senses.
Each person has five sense organs that take in information from their environment and send it to their brain. The brain then processes the information and tells the body how to respond. The 5 main sense organs are the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin.

When your promotional partner understands not only what you want to communicate, but also your audience and your budget, they are able to work with you more effectively to achieve your marketing goal.  Think about the median age of your audience and what are the types of products that your audience is most likely to appreciate?  When communicating your results-oriented marketing ambition, it does no one any favors keeping your budget a secret. In fact, it is a waste of both of your valuable time. You will find that a qualified partner can save you time if they are given all of the requirements of your marketing goals.

 Don’t leave your customers asking, “where’s the beef?” Start with a clear communication with your promotional products partner so that they can work with you to deliver the highest quality product within your budget that will reflect your brand and services as desired.  The response we received from our recent  Brand Name Products publication shared with our newsletter subscribers proved that "beef" is, indeed, important.

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Let's Have a Barbecue That Sizzles


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Warm weather, good music, hamburgers on the grill – it’s that time of year again.
It’s barbecue time!

As the month of June awakens, we begin to get a glimpse of that warm summer heat. Summertime is often a time to kick back, relax and have a little fun. Pools and water parks are opening and beaches will become packed as people begin to enjoy summer vacation. For some, the first getaway of the summer is right in their own backyard or even a local park. Individuals and companies alike enjoy a good barbeque during the warm summer months. At home, it is a great way to enjoy the company of family and friends over a nice meal. For businesses, hosting a company picnic is a relaxing way to bring employees together to socialize without the daily stress and pressures of work. It is a great morale booster.  Customer appreciation picnic events are a great way to build service relationships too - a great way to bring out that "down to earth / real people" connections. 

But, hosting a barbecue event has even more to offer than just great food. Part of what makes a picnic outing great are the social activities and interactions among the crowd. Need some ideas to bring your team together this summer at your company picnic?

Set a theme: People love party themes. It makes the event more fun and allows people to get into character. One popular summer picnic theme is a luau, complete with tiki lanterns and grass skirts. Also, one of the great things about hosting a luau is that it is often hosted at or near water so that your attendees can enjoy a nice cool dip during the party. Whatever theme you choose, go all out with decorations to really create the illusion you seek. Send personalized invitations to your employees. A direct invitation sent via the mail makes a larger impact because it makes them feel special. Don’t forget that special touch. Encourage people to dress up to support your theme, making the event that much more of a success.  Incorporate barbecue event products that sizzle!

Scavenger Hunt: Who doesn’t love a scavenger hunt?

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It is one of the best ways to get your party people engaged. Start the event out with a scavenger hunt. Eliminate the awkward social moments when people first arrive at an event. Hand out cards to send them on the hunt as soon as they arrive. Your attendees will immediately become engaged and you will find that participating in a scavenger hunt will create great team building skills for your employees while encouraging some healthy competition. It will also give your cooks plenty of time to finish grilling your delicious food without anyone hovering over them.

Party favors & prizes: Everyone loves free prizes. You will want to reward the winner of your scavenger hunt with some cool prizes. Pre-planning some picnic games for your guests to enjoy can be fun too.  Plus it builds friendly team competition.  Maybe a teamed water balloon toss with increasing distance between partners’ tossing.  Have fun giveaway items linked to your party theme available for all attendees. Giveaway ideas can be anything from fun sunglasses, water bottles, water toys to glow in the dark necklaces; the list is endless. In addition to providing your game winners with prizes, you’ll want to have small party favors for everyone who attends. For example, if it’s a luau, maybe give everyone who attends a lei to support your theme. Have fun with it. Personalized candy is fun as well, because who doesn’t like sweets? Hand out chocolate bars personalized to your theme and company. People will love it!  If your event is a company picnic or customer appreciation event, don’t forget branded recognition gifts for your employees and/or customers.

Provide a diverse menu. Everyone loves a good barbeque, but remain sensitive to the fact that everyone does not eat hot dogs and hamburgers. As our nation becomes more health conscious, more people are becoming vegetarian. Offer some diverse menu options to meet the tastes of everyone attending.  Pot-luck food assignments are fun too!  Segregate the assignments by categories such as a side dish, a dessert, beverages, etc.  The host can be in charge of the main course and festive plates, napkins, utensils and the like. A surprise mixture of other dishes that you’ve assigned arriving with each guest will add a bit of fun, and will encourage all of the guests to be a part of the event’s success. 

Summertime is here so dust off those grills and get ready
for summer barbecuing and picnic fun!

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On Your Mark! Celebrating National Fitness & Sports Month May 2016



Yes, you heard us right. May is National Physical Fitness & Sports month. Halfway through Spring, not only are the flowers in full bloom, but we are finally starting to see a break in warm weather, driving us outdoors. So, instead of staying inside doing sedentary activities like watching television and playing on our smart phones and tablets, we encourage you to get out, get active and enjoy the beauty nature has to offer.

XLDesign4U is happy to support National Physical Fitness & Sports month. Have you set some fitness goals that you have not started yet? Take our challenge and just start with 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you hate running on the treadmill, don’t run on the treadmill. Do something you like so you look forward to your physical activity. Play basketball. Play tennis. Get on your bike and bike some trails. Whatever activity you decide to engage in, make sure you can commit to it daily for at least 30 minutes. Did you know that regular physical activity can increase your chances of living a longer, healthier life? According to the American Heart Association, engaging in daily physical activity can significantly reduce your chances of a heart attack or stroke.

According to the CDC, nearly 50% of Americans are getting the recommended physical activity each day. That leaves another 50% that still need to get active. We’ve got some work to do.

As you’re planning your physical activity, aim to get 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate activity each week. You want to get the blood pumping. Moderate activity can range from a swift walk, swimming, dancing or even yard work. You should also look to incorporate some weight training into your routine at least twice a week.

My hometown, Richmond, VA, offers some great events during the Spring and Summer months to support your physical activity goals. One of the biggest events during the month of May is the annual Dominion River Rock. This event is organized by Venture Richmond and Sports Backers and it’s a 3-day event (May 20th-22nd, 2016) on the riverfront offering a host of physical activities from trail running, kayaking, biking, bouldering and more.  Dubbed as the Nations Premier Sports and Music Festival!  Check it out!

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If you’re not quite ready for the rugged adrenaline based events that River Rock brings, you might enjoy the Bubble Run. This is a 5k race through a landscape of bubbles. Want to infuse some fun into your run routine? This is the way to do it!  Quite simply put, this event is Just a Good Clean Run!  Sign up now for this June 4th, 2016 event at the Richmond Raceway Complex - what a great way to spend a Saturday!


Not only are these types of outdoor events fun and a way to challenge us physically, it is a great opportunity to infuse some personal branding since these races all offer the ability to form teams and participate together. Design company branded t-shirts to unify your team. Maybe some branded water bottles or pedometers for your team to carry at the event can make a visible statement to other event participants. Better yet, hand them out at the event. These events not only bring out a large number or participants but an even larger number of spectators to support them. Showcase your brand while supporting Physical Fitness & Sports month through your own participation.  Here's a few ideas we recently shared through email and social media platforms, motivating fitness with the 13 useful fitness products, and yes - they can all be branded with your company's personal message and logo!

Physical activity is important for everyone. You don’t have to run a marathon today, but find those activities that work for you and start to engage. Take small steps, one day at a time. Remember, 30 minutes a day is all it takes.  Whether for an individual goal of maintaining a regular fitness routine, or for an enjoyable corporate team building event, Make it fun! 

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The Value of a Supplier Who is a Team Partner

In the beginning, it is easy to take for granted the valuable relationship with the suppliers of goods and services necessary to run your business. We typically use terms like vendor and supplier which are very sterile terms.  Consider which of your suppliers truly serve as visionary team-players.  Ultimately, all businesses desire a cohesive culture where all players move forward with the same goal.  Order-takers are just mechanical fulfillment positions.  Business partners and team members that have a shared goal to maintain and promote your corporate mission are valuable assets to maintain and reward proactively.

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If maintained properly, the client/supplier relationship can be more than an order giving/taking relationship.  The supplying service partner can only be a valuable asset to your business if they understand your company culture and vision.  After all, the goods and services they provide typically play an integral role in the successful operation of your business. The "right-fit" supplier will be a strong team-player capable of filling your needs not only with the desired end result of the delivered product, but by having the ability to reliably assist with maintaining your branded expectations.

The right-fit service partner understands your business - its budget, it's branding message and its culture. (click to tweet) These partners stay focused on what's best for your company.  They continually look for and implement the best possible product values, functionality and creative promotion of your brand.  This desirable win/win relationship deserves as much cultivation as that of your own clients.

Fostering and nurturing the relationship with your preferred team service partners requires very little effort, but it does require that you pay attention.

Referrals: There is no business that does not appreciate a complimentary referral. (click to tweet) If your service partner has been good to you and you truly appreciate their performance, one of the best ways to show your appreciation is to tell others about them and send them referral business. Your service partner will, in turn, reward and reinforce the integrity of your referral by providing the same level of excellent service. Additionally, they will want to thank you for thinking of their business.  You may be surprised at the impact this subtle way of saying Thank you will have.
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Small gifts of appreciation given to your best team players show that you value their efforts and will develop intangible results that will positively impact your business.

Show your appreciation for the awesome decorated t-shirts and caps your partner provided for your event. Invite your service partner to be a part of the event as a guest or better yet, as a member of your corporate family.  Give them free tickets to the event.

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Thank your service partners with public testimonials on social media -on both your platforms & theirs.  Suggest that your service partners share your success stories about completed projects with tangible examples about how the outcome of the final delivered product fostered your company's mission.
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As the mutual trust, respect and appreciation grows on both sides of the partnership, you may discover more opportunities for your service partner to help you in your business. In turn, they will go out of their way to find solutions to challenges as you encounter them and work to keep your business moving upward toward your goals. By working together as partners actively, you allow each other’s businesses to be top of mind in all business dealings, elevating each of you to new levels.

Take the time to evaluate your current relationship with your suppliers. Are they just sterile suppliers, or has their level of service been more of a team partnership that you just have not recognized or rewarded? If the latter is the case, don’t take that relationship for granted. Treat them as an appreciated team partner instead of a just a supplier, because in the end, you are sure to get out of any relationship, exactly what you put into it. 

Enjoy this excellent parody video about a client/designer relationship - note how the partnering designer keeps performing the challenging task at hand. 

 Image credits: 
cooldesign and Stuart Miles at;


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How the interview process is like dating…the marriage

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How the interview process is like dating…the marriage

The dating process is a time of discovery and anticipation. There is always something new around the corner. You’re learning each other and determining if you fit well into each other’s lives. In the same way, the interview process serves the same purpose between the applicant and the employer. It’s a time of discovery. You’re investigating and learning more about your applicant beyond what is just on their resume. You want to know if they will fit within your culture and if they look as good in person as they do on paper. On the other hand, if they are smart, your applicant is also studying you, learning everything there is to learn about your company, your culture and how you operate. The simple goal here is to see if you will mesh well. Will you meet each other’s needs?

What happens when you say yes? You like what you see. They like what they see. Now it’s time to form a union. You ask for their hand in marriage, or in corporate terms, you extend the job offer. They say yes. You are now a team. The early stages of marriage are new and exciting because it is still a period of discovery. When you get married and start living under the same roof, you learn things about your partner, habits, that you didn’t pick up on when you were dating.

Likewise, when your new employee begins to work with you, you become more fully exposed; vulnerable. As an employee, they can see and experience things you were able to conceal when they were just job applicants. Some of those are good, and some, not so good. Part of this honeymoon period of your new marriage is adjusting to these little nuances.



One of the mistakes couples often make once the marriage deal is closed, is they gradually begin to stop doing the things they did in the beginning to attract their mate. For example, the sweet love notes we talked about before will often stop. Opening the car door used to be a daily thing; now, he hardly ever does it. 

Couldn’t we say that companies are guilty of the same behavior? What traditions do we have when we bring on a new employee in the beginning, when we seal the deal on the marriage? Some companies will do fancy welcome letters or packages to make their new employee feel welcome. Some even offer attractive signing bonuses to lure their new employee into their company in the first place. But, what happens after that?

It seems that HR has the responsibility of bringing on new employees, but spend less of their time on direct appreciation programs beyond benefit management after that point. What about those love notes to show appreciation for your new employee? What are we doing to extend the honeymoon period for our new employees or does the honeymoon period even exist for some of us? Employees want to be appreciated. Consider putting a program in place for your employees to continually show your appreciation for their work which can include anything from handwritten notes to branded gifts to commemorate special milestones. After all, if you worked so hard to get them, you don’t want to make the mistake of neglecting them and watching them slowly slip away. Employees that are appreciated show more loyalty to their company and, in turn, are more productive. 

Are you ready for employee appreciation day?  Its just around the corner on March 4th, 2016.  
Mark your calendars - its always the first Friday in March.
How about some other ideas to keep the honeymoon in the marriage?  Check out the below company employee appreciation ideas through two short video links by clicking on AXXESS and ARIAD logos:

Axxess Logo                    ariad logo      


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The Courtship – the impact of handwritten notes



The Courtship – the impact of handwritten notes


You’ve gotten past the awkward moments of the first date and now you’re dating. This moment in the relationship can be described as bliss. Everything is so new. You’re truly in the honeymoon phase. Every little thing she does is cute. Every little habit he has is adorable. From their laugh to the way they crinkle their nose before a sneeze. This is also the phase of your relationship where your beloved will leave little love notes for you with everything from a love poem to “I miss you.” Don’t you remember passing love notes in elementary and middle school? Do you like me? Check yes or no.

The courtship between a company and employee is very much the same. When an employee starts a new job, they are in bliss. Everything is new and exciting. They enjoy coming to work every day. Each day they find out something new about the company that was better than their last job. They are in their honeymoon phase. But, as a company, what are you doing to extend these feelings of bliss past the honeymoon phase? How can you keep your employees happy and excited about working for you just as they were that first week they started? Have you ever thought about the power of a simple handwritten note?

In our electronic world of email, texts and social media, the art of a simple handwritten note has almost become lost. Even in the example of a couple courting these days, I’m not so sure that handwritten notes are even popular among couples anymore. Notes have been replaced by texts. But, a text cannot convey the sincerity of a handwritten note.

Why send a handwritten note to an employee?

Because it is rare. Handwritten notes are so uncommon these days that when someone takes the time to write one, it carries a lot of weight. The recipient feels appreciated because someone took the time to actually write a note to them. As a new employee getting acclimated into a new environment, this small act further solidifies their decision to join your company. It makes them feel more comfortable with the team they’ve chosen to align themselves with.



Token of appreciation. A handwritten note shows your employee that you appreciate them, and what better way to express that appreciation than taking the time to write a note to say so. Welcome your employees with more than just onboarding paperwork on their first day. Make them really feel welcomed. If your new employee is part of a team, write the note and have the whole team sign the note. What better way to make your new employee feel appreciated?

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However, handwritten notes are crucial to developing and building relationships with your new employees that will lead to longer tenure with your company. But, the key is to maintain this program. Like a new relationship, don’t stop courting your new employee once they say “I do.” Continue to work on developing that relationship by communicating with them on a regular basis to show them how much you care and appreciate them.

Lori can be reached at 804-569-0527 , TwitterFacebook and Pinterest  





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How the interview process is like dating - "the first date"



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How the interview process is like dating 

              –“the first date”

Have you ever noticed the close parallel between the interview process and starting a new relationship? Think about it. You’re nervous on the first date, eager to impress yet unsure of the outcome. You really like this person and you hope things go well and maybe you could start to build some kind of future together.

Isn’t that the same emotions you feel when you are preparing to interview the next impact player on your team? Aren’t your nervous? You’ve reviewed this person’s resume and they look great. You’re excited to meet them in person to see if they are as great in person as they are on paper. But, will they fit your company culture? Will they gel with your team? Sound familiar?

As you prepare for this important meeting, there are several things you review over and over in your mind to make sure everything goes well.

What to wear: Even though you are the one performing the interview, you still want to make a good impression. After all, an interview is a two-way street. You expect your applicant to come in dressed to impress; likewise, you are representing the company and want to reflect the company in a positive manner. If you are ever in conflict on what to wear to the interview, it is always advisable to choose a more conservative route.

Aren’t we guilty of this mental ping pong on the first date as well? We don’t show all of our cards on the first meeting. When choosing your clothing, you want to look nice, but it in the beginning, neutral is always better until you get to know each other a little more.

Location:If your business has a physical office, you will always want to opt to meet at your place of business, because this is an opportunity to you to show off your digs. You want your potential employee to see what you have to offer and observe the company culture in its entirety. If you don’t have a physical office, choose a mutual location like a local coffee shop that will be comfortable for both of you on your first meeting.

Then, there’s probably the hardest part of the first date …breaking the ice.
The first meeting between a man and a woman for the first date, is no doubt awkward. Though you both have established that you like each other and have common interests, breaking the ice can be difficult. The same is true when you sit down with your potential employee for that first interview. A lot of emotions are running high on both sides. There are probably some nerves, especially for your job candidate. Give them some grace, and help ease their nerves by breaking the ice. Start off with something outside of your traditional interview questions, like hobbies or family, to put them at ease. This will not only relax them but help you to more effectively gauge their personality style which is very important. Very similar to dating, right? Break the ice by focusing on something that is important to the other person. During this phase, you are learning a lot about each other. As the employer, it is a great chance to study things such as body language and facial expressions which are very telling.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is the opportunity for your applicant to make an impression on you. In a very short period of time, you will be able to gauge whether they might be a good fit for you and your company. The same is true for them. If they are a smart candidate, they are sizing you up as well to determine if you are a company they’d like to work for. One thing is sure, if it’s not a good fit, you will know immediately. How long does it take you to realize that you’re on a bad date? Not long, right? The same is true when interviewing a job candidate.

Once you’ve broken the ice and established that you’d like to continue with the interview, make sure that you hand the applicant a branded item like a pen or a pad to take with them. This establishes pride in your brand and transfers that pride to your potential new employee.

If a second date is possibility, leaving a branded item like a notepad or brochure invokes remembrance and may even give your applicant something to study for future meetings. Congratulations, you’ve made it to the next step in the process. You’ve gotten past the first date, and now can consider courting or going steady.  


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It's All Good

It's All Good

What lessons did we learn in the 2013 year?
The good, the bad and the ugly - It's All Good!

By now, many of us have either already set our goals for YR14 in to place, or - at least - we're considering what our goals will be.  Some of us find that putting our goals down on paper helps.  We plan to reflect on a monthly or quarterly basis with regard to what we accomplished within our goal set.  Even if only a few proactive steps were actually taken and the desired end-result has yet to be achieved, it's all good.

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Recognition - The Business Case

Recognition - The Business Case

Thanksgiving is Just Around the Corner!

Have you thought about thanking your employees for a job well done?

Consider this business case for recognition:

Effective employee recognition enhances employee motivation and satisfaction, increases employee productivity, and contributes to improved organizational performance.  Organizations that do employee recognition well – and they’re a minority – tend to have a recognition strategy that is integrated, multi-faceted, and multi-tiered. XLDesign4U is creatively capable of assisting the implementation of such a strategy that can work for your specific employee teams.  Recognition and Award Programs are intended to support and reward employees, positively reinforce their initiative and creativity, and enhance business performance. Employee recognition can be used for a wide variety of achievements and contributions, such as innovations and improvements, performance excellence, and length of service and is often
presented at different levels depending on the accomplishment.

Did You Know?
Recognition and Award Programs Can:

• Reinforce company goals

• Strengthen an employee’s image of your company

• Foster employee loyalty and instill a climate of trust

• Create a friendly and competitive environment

• Encourage personal achievement & reward performance

• Build relationships

• Reduce turnover by up to 50%

• Generate 56% higher customer loyalty

• Create a 38% increase in productivity

• Cause a 27% increase in profitability

According to a recent Gallup survey of more than 80,000 employees,recognition is a key factor in employee satisfaction and retention.  The purpose of this survey was to “identify the consistent dimensions of quality  workplaces, defined as those in which four critical outcomes—employee retention, customer satisfaction, productivity, and profitability—are all at high levels.”

Did You Know?

The Tax Benefits of Recognition:

FireBolt-Award 11x176 FS-711-HR • Companies implementing Recognition and Award Program strategies record higher levels of performance, employee retention, and safety levels when compared to those using other forms of incentive.

• An employer can deduct up to $1600 for employee achievement awards provided to any single employee during a qualified Recognition and Award Program initiative throughout a single tax year. (IRS Code 274J)
  Stellar-Award 100x100 FT7801-HR

Recognition and Award Programs can play an important role in the success of your company. In times when corporations are looking for every avenue that can ensure success, don’t overlook those that can - and do - help you achieve: the employees of your organization.

Recognition as a business tool doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, it is a wise investment that will create lasting value and achieve a long-term return. All it takes is thought, care, and a willingness to acknowledge that recognition means something to your most valued and important assets: the people who are your company.



Image & Article credit: Visions/Awardcraft

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Are You Aware?

Are You Aware?

Don't you hate it when you aren't feeling your best?  Whether it's a basic stomach bug, a runny nose or sore throat, no one likes to be sick.  A temporary illness can be bothersome and debilitating.  Your productivity is drastically reduced and you basically just have to rest and follow the doctor's orders while you suffer through the healing process.  Sometimes the challenge of getting through the ordeal of being sick seems unending.  But what about those of us and those we know who have suffered through a chronic or life threatening disease? 

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Computer "Help" Scams

Yesterday I received an uninvited solicitation from a relatively pleasant gentleman claiming he was calling me on behalf of the "Microsoft Windows Care Team".  Having recently sent an assortment of "error messages" to Microsoft upon experiencing software issues, my 1st reaction was that this call might be believable - especially since the caller advised me that he was aware of my recent error reports and he was also aware of the fact that I have been enduring some system "slow downs".  But something was leading my intuition to exert caution during my phone conversation with this situation.  I'm sure you've all been there - here's my story.

My "mega computer" that carries loads of heavy graphic software was recently networked into a "share mode" within my office for a new employee where we will need to access & work on client files simultaneously.  After the network sharing was finally set-up correctly, I've noticed somewhat of a computer performance speed slow-down when I'm working with shared files.  Likewise, my 2 most often used powerful graphic software programs (Illustrator CS6 & PhotoShop CS6) tend to not play very happily together when I bring them in to the same playground simultaneously.

So when I got the call from someone who said they were with the Microsoft Windows Care Team I listened.

Why I listened?

The caller correctly advised me of his knowledge about what I've been experiencing.   Additionally, he advised me that I may loose everything on my system if I don't take corrective measures immediately... he said I have "worms" in my system and there has been and currently is malicious activity coming in to my all-important work machine.  


But wait a minute - my intuition told me something was not "right" with this intrusion of my busy work day.

Here's the "not right" / go with your intuition signals:

-The caller was foreign speaking with broken English.
-Everytime I questioned how he was able to determine I was having issues, he said it was "flagged" via my incoming error messages.
- When I asked him where he was calling from, he said New York - but it was uncanny how I could hear in his audible background lots of other (same foreign language-speaking) conversations going on.I could even detect some foreign yelling in the background!
When I told him I was busy and that this was not a good time, he pushed his call to action with insistance that I was in DANGER.

I then told him I would much rather have "my" computer guy discuss the issues with him on my behalf, and I requested his phone number.  Again, he pushed with the DANGER message.  I demanded his phone # & told him that I was willing to take the risk of waiting until "my" computer guy could follow back up with him while he (someone who I trusted) was sitting at my computer.  Finally, I was given the number: 760-306-4030.  I still have to look up that 706  area code to find out if it is really iin New York.


He told me his name was David.  Funny that's one of my sons' names.  Hmmmmm...


So we hung up, and I closed up my shop with a full system shut-down.  Scarely, my Windows Machine wanted to install updates at shut-down.  I acquessed and allowed the long-winded updates & didn't touch anything during that update/shut-down process.



Next day-

I did a web search for Microsoft Windows Care Team...

Yes it is a SCAM! 

Avoid tech support phone scams 


In USA you can contact FBI, State Attorney General, local law enforcement and consumer

watch groups. Arm yourself with knowledge. 


The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation

(FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), funded in part by the Bureau of Justice Assistance



No, Microsoft would not call you unsolicited. Nor would they know if any errors existed on your

computer. So those are frauds or scams, to get your money or worse to steal your identity. 

Avoid scams that use the Microsoft name fraudulently - Microsoft does not make unsolicited

phone calls to help you fix your computer


Hoaxes and Scams


Microsoft Consumer Support Center


Microsoft Support 


Microsoft - Contact Support


Hope this helps. 


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Are you remembered everyday?

Are you remembered everyday?
Wouldn't it be great if your clients and prospects thought of you every day of the year?  We can achieve this easily with subliminal time "remembrance" through a customized calendar gift.  Of course, including an image about you and your company that is viewed daily is a plus, but there are additional calendar enhancements that can really keep your calendar in front of your clients and prospects.  We all use calendars.  Where have you seen a business office/work-space that doesn't have a calendar?  XLDesign4U specializes in customized calendar creation - we can help you with promoting your business and it's services through this every-day medium.  Here are some thought provoking ideas to make your calendar stand out:
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