Getting gorgeous, fancy branding can feel out of reach for a lot of business owners, especially if you’re just starting out. The price tag can be scary, and the process feels overwhelming. You KNOW you need to have a solid strategy and some fantastic design, but you’re not sure if you can swing it.
Here’s the thing: you might be able to do it yourself. Or at least get started!
When you set out to create a brand for your business, you need to look beyond just your logo and what font you’ve chosen to use in your marketing materials. True branding is also the reputation you have, the core mission and values of your business, and how your audience and customers feel when they interact with you.
Excited. Included. Entertained. Supported. Understood.
There are lots of ways to convey those ideas and feelings with your branding, and more specifically, with your website. Each element of branding – colors, photos, fonts – works together to make your website look amazing, which makes YOU and your business look legit and professional.
But without understanding who your audience is, and who you’re trying to attract, those branding elements can miss the mark.
When I first started my business (way too many years ago!), I didn’t think much about creating a brand. I’m a designer first, so I went straight to the logo because it’s the fun and sexy part! But because I skipped over figuring out who I was actually talking to, I ended up jumping around for years between color palettes, fonts, and logos. Basically whatever I felt like using at the time, I used. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I worked 1:1 with a branding designer that it all clicked and came together in a beautiful, cohesive package. (plus it was actually FUN!)
What’s in a brand?
Color & texture
The colors you use on your website are pretty much the first thing people will notice. Do you want to exude energy and fun? Go for red or orange! Or create feelings of safety and trust? Blue or green is your best bet. The psychology of color affects how a person feels and what they think when they see a certain colors. So the color palette you choose for your branding and website can have a big impact on what you’re communicating.
Textures can also alter the way people view your business. If you have a whimsical, cartoon-y pattern or background on your site, it can make you seem fun-loving and approachable. Alternatively, if you want to be perceived as more serious or corporate, a very simple pattern with lines or small, evenly-spaced dots are a better choice.
Just like colors and textures, the right font combination creates an instant idea in your visitor’s minds about your business. A script-y, feminine font and a bold, serif font give two very different impressions.
Along with colors and fonts, images and photos help set the mood and tone for your website. High-quality stock or custom photos highlight your place of business, your products, or you personally! You can choose to go for a more serious vibe or have some fun with it – whatever images match the ideas you’re trying to convey.
Keep this in mind: a logo can’t do it all. It cannot (and should not!) communicate everything about your business by itself. Logos with long taglines or super-detailed illustrations are working to do too much! The best logos are simple, with the company name and maybe a symbol or icon. A logo should be easy to read at all sizes, and look great in color or solid black or white.
What your website says is the most important part of how you’re communicating with your audience. It’s last on my list because it’s not fun or flashy like colors or fonts, but it’s a vital piece of the branding puzzle! Speaking to your ideal customer in a clear way will help them understand why you’re the best choice. This will make it easier for them to make buying decisions and boost your website’s conversion rates.
But can you create a brand for your business yourself?
If you’ve researched at all, you’ve likely realized that branding strategy and design can be pricey – and not everyone has a 5-figure budget to hire a rockstar branding designer. The good news is that if you’re just starting out, you don’t necessarily need to hire the most expensive and experienced designer right away.
You can do some branding strategy on your own to get a solid foundation, and circle back on the specifics of logos and colors later:
- Identify your audience and your ideal customer. Who are they? What values and ideas do they appreciate? What do they do in their daily lives?
- What 3 ideas or concepts do you want to communicate to your audience on a regular basis? Think of this as your core mission and values statement.
- What problem(s) are you solving for your customers? When they come to you, what are they struggling with? How can you help them?
Once you have those ideas figured out, you can use them to develop some basic elements that will help you create a brand for your business.
You need a logo.
If you can only spend money on one thing for your business right now, THIS IS IT. Hire a designer to create just a logo for you based on the strategy you came up with in the section above. A lot of designers offer a simple logo design as a less expensive alternative to a full brand strategy package, and since you’ve already answered some of those questions, that will help the process.Or, if you’ve got the tech and creative skills, you can design a logo yourself. Just keep in mind the basic principles I shared above about logos – SIMPLE IS BETTER. My friend and branding designer, Morgan, has an amazing DIY logo course if you want to make sure your efforts are hitting the mark!
Choose a color palette.
Stick with 1 primary color and 2 secondary colors, plus black and white. That’s all you need! Here’s one of my favorite color palette generators – you can start with one color as the base and it will pick new options for you.
Pick your fonts.
Less is more! To keep things easy, pick one main font for headlines and a secondary font for your body copy. You can use a font pairing tool to start your search!
Write your content!
Revisiting your branding strategy above will help you make sure you’re speaking to the right people. I’ve also got a great website content planner you can download to keep you organized and write some awesome website content! Or you can hire a professional copywriter when you build your new website, and they can help you nail down your messaging.
Put it all together in a brand board.
Once you have everything done – logo, colors, fonts – it’s a good idea to create a brand guide that you can refer to when you’re working on other marketing things in your business and you can’t remember that HEX color code! This can be as simple as a Google doc with the information listed, or as fancy as a full-color PDF with all the graphic elements in your brand. See some examples of branding guides to get some inspiration!
Knowing who your audience is helps you to better understand your own brand and business. That foundation makes it easier to create a visual brand with colors, typography, and photos. With all of that in place, designing a beautiful and effective website comes easier!