For Some Members, The Face Of Checking Looks Familiar

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They're on plates, keychains, mousepads, computer screensavers, coffee cups and T-shirts. And now, pictures of kids, grandkids, favorite cars and pets are showing up on Clarke American checks.

Linda Caldwell, director of marketing for personal products for Clarke American, said the newest product, MyStyle checks, allow consumers to put a personal photograph in the check's face.

"Customers have a real affinity for a high level of customization,'' Caldwell said. "And we knew we had the technology to offer it.''

Members can order their personalized checks via mail, but Caldwell said, most have been Internet driven, giving consumers the option of downloading a photo of their choice and placing it on the face of a generic, blue check and ordering them by following a few simple step-by-step instructions. The picture appears in black and white.

"We went with a more generic style so the focus would be on the picture,'' she said.

The strategy is not security-related: it's simply letting the customer express him or herself.

"We didn't go at it as a security standpoint,'' Caldwell said. "The problem with that is if you have a joint account, you would have to put pictures of both people on the check. This is more for appeal and fun. MyStyle shows anything you want-family, a favorite vacation spot, a favorite animal.''

Since the Internet promotion began in 2001, followed by a branch promotion last year, Caldwell said most customers who choose the MyStyle product place mugs of their kids and grandkids on their checks.

"The second choice is pets,'' she said, adding it breaks down to "90% dogs versus 10% cats.''

Linda Roothame, senior product marketing manager for Clarke American said MyStyle checks take personalization to a new level.

"The company offers dozens of check designs,'' Roothame said. "But none are quite as individual as the MyStyle checks because each account holder really gets a check of his or her own design."

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