How to Design Your Brand Yourself with No Money
Branding is a tricky process. You can spend thousands of dollars to have someone create a brand design for you, but if you’re like most entrepreneurs just starting out – you don’t have the funds to spend that money on a designer. Sometimes, you have to DIY it simply based on the amount of business capital that you have. In other words, do it yourself branding.
So the question is:
How do you make a great do it yourself brand that fascinates your customers, while simultaneously not breaking the budget?
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. This goes to help support me and The Success Mountain website – which I am so thankful for!
First, we need to do a brain dump and do some thinking. Luckily, branding isn’t all about design, but simply a piece of it. You’ll do some thinking on what exactly your vision is and then do some research. Then, you’ll identify what you want your brand to look and feel like and create an experience for your customers.
Finally, I’ll give you some resources where you can find inexpensive materials to purchase, or a few areas to outsource your design without breaking the bank.
A Note About Spending Money On Your Brand:
It’s important to understand that you CAN do this for free, but you will want to think seriously on whether spending a few dollars is worth it rather than making something completely yourself.
In other words, you’re better off spending some money on making your brand. After all, if you’re serious about creating your brand for your business, you should take your business seriously and understand that it takes money to start one.
Even though it can be inexpensive to start, the value you will get for spending only a few dollars will outweigh the DIY if you aren’t a professional designer to begin with. I promise!
On that note, I promise to also give you options that are the least expensive options, with the highest quality that I’ve found to help you on your journey!
I’ve outlined from free to higher priced branding options, so you can pick and choose what will work best for you!
Branding Ideas Brain Dump
Our very first step is to do a brain dump of everything on your mind about your brand. If you’ve already started your business, you can identify where it is, and then identify where you want it to be. Otherwise if you are just beginning, you can start out with your vision that you have in mind.
First, clarify your goals and mission with what you want your brand to accomplish. Write down everything you can think of that you want your brand to look like, feel like, sound like (what kind of language does your ideal customer use?) What’s your mission for your brand?
I recommend not looking online for suggestions, because you don’t want it to influence your inner vision that you have in mind already for your brand.
ACTION STEP: Write down everything currently on your mind about your brand. Spend about 15 minutes to do this. Take the Sally Hogshead’s Quiz on branding to identify how you can use your personality to shine through your brand. Read my article on her book here.
Our second step is to do some research on what is currently out there in your current market. Don’t be too picky about this, because your brand will change and evolve as it gets older anyway, but the purpose of this is to identify what’s currently out there, how you can do it differently or better, and find what things you don’t like.
You also don’t want to spend too long on this, because you can get stuck in the impostor syndrome mindset. You don’t want to start judging your position from where your competitor is, to where you currently are. Trust me, it’s a road you don’t want to go down. Just get your information, and then you can move on to the next step!
Go ahead and choose maybe 5 competitors to look at. You want to choose ones that seem like your absolute ideal vision of your brand that’s currently in your mind. The ones that you want to aspire to be and look like.
Then, write out the answers to these questions:
- What do they look like?
- Overall style and aesthetic notes
- What’s their overall feeling and language that they use for their customers?
- Do they use funny language, more high-end language, relaxed language? What kind of words do they use in their brands language?
- What do you like about their design?
- What do you not like about their design?
- How do they make their money? What products are they promoting and selling?
- What can you do to stand out differently from this competitor?
ACTION STEPS: Answer the above questions to get an overall view of your current market.
Market & Products
Now that you have outlined what your overall vision is on your own and done some research on your competitors, you can now come up with a plan for your own products. It’s okay if you don’t know this yet, but you should be thinking about it.
Questions you should ask yourself:
- What ideas for products do you have?
- What products or services are currently not being offered by your competitors that you think should be offered?
- What price points do you think you could sell these at?
Create Your Customer
You’ll now need to come up with your ideal customer. There’s a reason why everyone on branding talks about creating the ideal customer or your avatar! The main reason you need to create your ideal customer is that you don’t want to be trying to create a product or business to solve everyones problems.
As the saying goes:
If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one.
You can’t be everything to everyone, so you need to narrow down from “everyone” to “someone” by determining who exactly you are making this product or creating this brand for.
This is something you will want to spend a lot of time on. The more you know your ideal customer, the more successful you will be in creating products and services that they will love and buy. If you feel like you have more than one customer, that’s fine, create more than one persona for them!
Hubspot has a great link that talks about how to create your customer.
Create a customer persona
- Who are they?
- Give them a name
- Do they have kids? Are they married?
- What problems do they have in their life that you’re going to help solve?
- What are their likes, dislikes, fears, or what makes them excited?
- How can you help them with all of their problems/where do you fit into their life?
Keep in mind that this is something you may not know all the answers right off the bat. Instead, keep this as a live document somewhere, and adjust it as you get to know the type of audience and readers you’re attracting.
When you do a survey for your customers, update this document.
When you do a live video or read comments from your customers or readers, pay attention to the language they use, and what they say their worried about, or excited about.
Remember: the more you know this person, the more you can speak to them in their language and create a product and business just for them.
ACTION STEPS: Create your ideal customer. Research your competitors in your niche to learn more about your customer.
Creating Your Brand
Now that you know who you’re talking do, you can start creating your ideal brand!
You may have already done this when you started your business, but it’s good to have this in front of you as you create your brand. If you haven’t started your business yet or just barely – I recommend following along.
In this step, you will be creating your mission statement, identifying business goals and creating a business plan. It will help you stay on track and know whether or not you are going astray on your original plans.
- What’s your mission statement? What’s your overall achieving mission is your business going to do?
- What business goals do you have for your business? What goals do you want your business to accomplish?
- Write out a business plan that will get you there. What are the overarching steps you need to take in order to achieve those goals? Keep in mind, this will likely take years to achieve, but it’s best to start and write them out now!
- What products or services are you going to offer?
- How your business is going to stand out from everyone else
- How do you want your customers to feel when they see, feel, touch or hear about your brand? What do you want them to experience as they interact with your brand, your products, or your website?
- Identify three words that you want people to say or feel about your brand when they think about you
ACTION STEPS: Write out your business goals, mission, products, how you’re going to stand out, and the words you want your customer to identify with you and your brand.
Designing Your Brand
Now we are on our last step of your DIY branding experience – the design portion of your brand!
We’ve established that we know what goals we’re going towards, and some of these words may be able to be used in your branding design. In our design, we will create a collection of rough design ideas, and then finalize them afterwards. You may choose to hire a freelancer to do the actual graphic design or web design, but it’s not required.
Create a Mood Board on Pinterest
Next you will want to create a brand mood board that pulls everything from our research so far together. Start gathering pictures to a Pinterest board, and see if you can identify any recurring color schemes.
Collect some color schemes you might like, some logos, some font pairings, and website design ideas onto your Pinterest board. You can also use Trello if that’s easier for you! Wherever you collect it, make it easy for yourself!
Using this mood board, you will then pair these options down to your final ideas and variations of colors, logo, fonts, and design.
Take some time on this – but also realize that it might not be exactly the same as your ideas (actually no, it won’t, and it might change later, too). The point is to determine your customers experience and to create something you actually love.
Create your final brand design
Now you will need to take your ideas and start actually creating your DIY brand design.
It’s probably easiest to use a Trello board for this, but any document or even a physical copy will work just as well.
You can actually purchase brand collections and done for you branding kits or branding package designs on Etsy. My other favorite resource is Creative Market. I’ll go over both of these next!
Free Branding Option: Use Canva to create a logo based on your Pinterest inspiration images for your logo. Use commercial free icons or images from places like Pixabay or Pexels to create your logos, banners, etc for your brand.
Medium Priced Branding Option: Purchasing a custom branding kit through a seller on Etsy, or hiring a designer through Fiverr or Upwork. You can also purchase each individual piece separately for a more custom look (logos, graphics, fonts, photos, etc).
You can purchase website themes on smaller websites too, such as Station Seven.
High Priced Branding Option: 99Designs has a great program where you purchase your product up front, freelance designers recommend options to you, and you choose your favorite!
Professional Branding Option: Hiring a designer. One of my current favorite designers is SpruceRd
If you choose to do each piece separately instead of purchasing a branding kit on Etsy, you can also search individually for each piece, or you can use Creative Market to find your designs.
If you want your logo to be custom but don’t want to do it yourself for free, Etsy also offers that, but I also recommend Fiverr or Upwork to get a logo done. You can also use Upwork or Fiverr for custom website coding, although I highly recommend just purchasing a theme on its own instead of hiring out for that. Otherwise, your best bet is to use 99Designs for a more expensive option.
Choose your final brand color scheme. Collect the HEX code for your colors so that you can use these same colors in Canva, Photoshop, or your photo editing software or website design to maintain your brand across all of your brands pieces.
Try to stick with no more than 5 brand colors to avoid it looking messy.
Hex colors are easy to get by downloading a Chrome extension called ColorPick EyeDropper. There’s others out there too that might work, that’s the one I use. You click on the extension, and then hover over the Pinterest board picture that you’ve chosen. Copy this hex color for future reference. Repeat this for all of your brands colors.
Depending on where you go to host your website will depend what kind of theme you purchase, or if you want to hire someone. You can find some great options on the same websites I recommended above, or even Squarespace or Wix can sometimes be okay.
I personally have the Elegant Themes Divi WordPress Theme. I like the Divi theme because they have quite a few options when it comes to designs so you don’t have to hire a designer, and you can do it yourself – and I had a not-so-professional experience when I hired a web designer for my website, so when the designer bailed I could finish up the design myself because it was user friendly.
That’s a story for another day, but I would recommend going for a paid theme if possible.
There are tons of options for website design, but I highly recommend using WordPress.org (a self-hosted website) for your website, and purchasing an inexpensive WordPress theme. A lot of times the company you go with for your website will have some free options to start with.
ACTION STEPS: Create a moodboard on Pinterest, choose your colors, choose a logo, choose your fonts, and complete your web design and business brand pieces. Decide on a web design and grab a theme for your website that matches your brands look and feel for your customers.
Cost: From $0 to designer price, however there’s no reason why you can’t find some fantastic branding options for less than $50 for everything you need for your brand and website!
Refining Your Brand & Strategy
Alright, so you’ve gone through this whole process of branding, and you should have a fairly good idea of how you want your brand to look like, and hopefully have finalized the majority of your business goals and your customers experience.
Congratulations if you went through all of these steps!
Here’s a few final notes I have for you:
After you’ve launched and been in business for a while, you want to refine and see if your customers are jiving with your brand.
Remember that your brand is a live thing
Anytime you create a new marketing piece for your brand, or talk to your customers, or do any sort of design change – any sort of branding communication, actually – always be asking:
- Is this telling the story that I want to tell my customer?
- Is this going to make them feel the way I want them to feel?
Before you know it, you’ll have a living breathing brand baby right before your very eyes! To put DIY-ing your brand simply – follow what YOU want your brand to be, listen to what your customer want and need, do your research, and you’ll be up and running in no-time with this DIY brand design guide!
I hope you enjoyed this post and hopefully it helped you build your brand. If you have any questions about anything please let me know, I’d love to help you out any way that I can!