Over the past few years, the way we brand our businesses has changed. More and more small businesses are relying on minimal, high-quality branding over heavy-handed marketing, and are pouring more of their budgets into creating simple, elegant designs for their business. With the rise of Pinterest branding boards and influencer culture, businesses have much steeper competition when it comes to finding unique, beautiful brand styles to promote their products.
However, money is tight and branding is expensive. Many small businesses simply don’t have the budget to pay for pricey brand consultants and graphic designs, and their brands can be negatively impacted as a result.
So for this week’s blog post, I’ve created a step-by-step guide to creating, designing and implementing your very own DIY branding for your small business. From choosing your first font to curating your colour scheme mood board, I can walk you through every stage of brand development, sharing the tools and tricks I use for my clients along the way.
Before you begin your branding journey, however, there are a few requirements to start with. Your business will need:
- a strong brand name, that has been approved and established within your business
- social media profiles for marketing
- a website — even a small one-page site to help customers discover your services and products
- a Canva or Adobe design account
- a file management system to store all of your branding assets
My Pinterest Board | Logos: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/mccaig1597/logos/
There are several different directions in which to take your logo. For many modern businesses, the most popular style is a simple, minimalist font with some small illustrative detail to add visual interest to the brand. This is going to be the easiest one for a small business owner to create and requires little design experience to do well.
Using Canva or your own preferred design site, start with the name of your business in the centre of a 2000px x 2000px canvas. Then choose one of the standard Google Fonts provided for a license-free font option. The most popular fonts for logos from Google are:
- Playfair Display
- Source Code Pro
- Old Standard
- Cutive Mono
Any of these can be used to create a solid base for your logo and can be easily altered to suit your branding style as it evolves.
Next play around with some simple illustrations — add a circle around your text, a rectangle, underline it. Add small illustrated leaves to your logo for a more bohemian, organic feel, or a small roof for a business in the property sectors. Small icons can help to place your business in a particular industry, for example — wheat for a bakery, a tyre for vehicles, a tooth for dental, a ballet shoe for dance.
Ideally, your logo should be in black or white for simple application on most branding assets, so make sure it will stand out against multi-coloured backgrounds by testing images and colours behind the text. Then, once you’re happy with your logo, make sure to save it as a transparent PNG file and save it into a branding folder. This will mean that just the design will be applied to your asset, rather than the plain canvas behind it.
Logos can be used it a number of ways — most often they are used as profile pictures on social media sites, used in the headers of website, on product packaging and in physical branding spaces at your business. Make sure that your logo is readable in different sizes, and on different sites, and then begin to apply it across your marketing platforms.
My Pinterest Board | Colour Palettes: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/mccaig1597/colour-palettes/
Colour schemes are often used as an accompaniment to the logo — they should fit the feel of the logo, whether it be through bold colours or simple minimal tones. To help curate your chosen colour palette, you should consider a number of factors:
- Where will these colours be applied i.e. on your website, on your packaging, in your physical space, on your social media?
- What are the typical colours of your industry i.e. blues and whites for medicine, yellow and black for construction?
- Which colour palettes appeal to you personally? Do you prefer warm tones or cool? Do you like bold, bright colours or pastel shades?
For most small businesses, a palette of 3 colours is sufficient for the entire branding scheme. One bold colour to create the base, and two lighter or softer shades for accents. They should help to represent your brand, draw attention from potential customers or users and compliment each other well when combined.
One of the easiest ways to help choose your colour palettes is to take an image that represents your brand and to pull the three most distinctive colours from it.
Use these colours, and the image itself, to guide how you combine your colour palette in future designs and assets.
Typography is a key part of your branding profile. The font you use to reflect your business needs to be clear, accessible and appealing to read, as well as stylish and modern too.
Head back to Google Fonts, and start trying out some fonts that work with your logo. Ideally, you will need between 2–3 fonts — one to form your Headings, so anything in large text i.e. titles, names, product items, menu items. The secondary type will work as Subtitle or Body fonts and will make up any additional writing you need to include. This is usually the text on a page, blog post text, business card copy, newsletter copy, and taglines. Try creating a short tagline for your business, and start pairing some fonts together that compliment each other.
Once you have selected a pairing that works well together, then download it from Google Fonts and save it to your branding folder for future use. Most design programmes and software will have Google Fonts already installed, or have an option for you to upload your own fonts, so it’s a great and copyright-free way to secure your own typography style.
A popular branding device to help you remember and reflect on your business brand is to create a mood board, full of your fonts, colours and typography assets. Using your chosen design programme, start creating a collage of your logo, your colours, relevant imagery and any design illustrations or assets that help to represent your brand. You can curate these assets in any style you like, and make as many mood boards as you feel you need to to truly help you appraise your brand and utilise it for future marketing purposes.
Here’s an example of a mood board I mocked up on Canva:
There are some great mood board templates out there to help you get started, or if you feel like just letting your creativity take over then feel free to just get stuck in. Once you’ve finished, save your mood board to your Branding folder and relax. It’s all taken care of.
Sometimes branding can be a long drawn-out process, with stages and amends and edits and workshops. But other times, branding can be done simply, efficiently and effectively — leaving you to get on with your business.