The Ultimate (ZERO BUDGET) Branding Guide For Startups! – And Why branding is so important

I’m often approached by people exploring an idea, or trying to experiment with a niche. Wether they want to start a small side hustle drop shipping online, or are trying to break into the entrepreneurial world, they just don’t have the capital to put towards branding (just  yet!). Often they don’t have the budget to get a full blown Branding Package put together, or even opt for one of my boutique logo designs(good design isn’t cheap!), so instead; I suggest trying out one of the free online tools available.

Don’t think I don’t value my role as a branding expert, or think I’m saying a free online logo generator will ever suffice as a real logo! But hear me out – if you are just starting out, have zero budget, and aren’t able to continue following your entrepreneurial DREAM because you are stuck without a logo and brand – which means your business has no face, now is the time to do it yourself! You can create your own business branding for FREE – so you can continue following your business dreams!

All start-ups, small business, or whatever you like to call them, need some form of branding. Think of branding as a way to visually express your business values, a way to connect to and attract your target audience, be memorable, and most importantly strengthen your legitimacy, without you having to say “Trust me! You have nothing to worry about…” over and over again!

“Would you fly on a plane if you saw the pilot dressed in his Bahamas beach gear?”

Think about it – would you fly on a plane if you saw the pilot dressed in his casual Bahamas beach gear? Probably not. Much like your business, before a customer enters their credit card details, they want to feel safe.  A pilots uniform creates a sense of trust, authenticity and the stripes on their shoulders shows they have years of experience – these are all visual cues that you subconsciously pick up. So when you walk onto that plane you can relax and know you are in good hands.

What are the POSITIVE visual cues you’d want your customers to see, to convince them to click BUY, and feel at ease when doing so?

Let’s start with a recipe of what your branding package could be:

    • A Logo – Memorable, inline with what you do and who you are targeting.
    • A Pattern – You can use as a background element, on a banner, in your email footer, etc – this really reinforces your brand!
    • Secondary Design Elements, Made up using your chosen colours, and your chosen font(s) overlaying your pattern. Things like a Facebook / Twitter / Etsy cover pic, or a website header image.
    • Your Voice – The way your BUSINESS speaks can be different to how you express yourself personally – but it should be consistent, throughout every written product description, instagram post, or blog article.

Here comes the fun part!

Now that we know what elements we need – we can use some free online tools and websites to create them!

My “FREE” logo creation. No awards here – but it will do.

 

LOGO:

I spent hours trying to find an online logo maker that was actually FREE! 99% of the so called “Free Logo Makers” only let you download a really low quality or watermarked logo, and want you to pay up to $80 to download a high resolution version! I was ready to give up on this whole guide – thinking there was no free logo maker that produced anything worthy, until I finally found //logomaker.thehoth.com/

The Hoth’s Logo Maker is the best I could find. It lets you create a logo that can be downloaded just by entering your email. And the logo options / customisability on the website was fairly good, and easy to use. Expect to spend about 20 mins getting something you are happy with!

 

A few tips to get the most out of your free logo:

    • Keep It simple
    • Try limit your colours – or even better opt for simple black or monotone if you aren’t sure.
    • Align your elements vertically to keep it neat.
    • Try balance the size of each element – imagine how your logo will look as a profile pic (ie. small) and as a website header (big)
    • Double click the logo and copy one colour value – save it in a text document. (we’ll use this as our pattern background colour later.)
    • Make a note of the final font(s) you chose – save the name in your text document.

Once you are happy click download and save it somewhere that you can keep coming back to as you share and upload your logo in the future.

 

My FREE pattern.

PATTERN:

//patternico.com

Using a pattern is an easy way to maintain a consistent brand. Using the same pattern as an extra element on your website, social media platforms, as a background, in your footer or header or anywhere else is a great visual mnemonic and can really tie all your platforms together.

In //patternico.com you select 3 or 4 graphic elements that represent your business. You will have to get creative here and think outside the box to find elements that will work along side your logo and correspond with your business values. Edit the background colour of your pattern, to do this paste the colour code you saved earlier, then edit it to be a little lighter (or darker) so you won’t have any issues when you overlay your logo later. When you are happy – click SAVE!

Once you have download the PNG file of your pattern, we still need to tile or repeat the pattern.  For this we will use //www.richardwestenra.com/repeater/  in order to save your now repeated pattern a simple screen grab will suffice. On a mac use: Command+Shift+4  and on Windows: Windows + Shift + S this will let you select an area to save. Save this screen grab for later use.

 

This will do.

 

Secondary Design elements:

Things have been going smoothly I hope. And you are now ready to combine the elements you’ve created to create a few secondary graphic elements. For this we will use: //vectr.com this is a free online graphic editor where you’ll be able to layer up your logo, some text, and have your pattern as the background. Creating a few of these with different statements, like; quotes, announcements, sales, etc, will come in handy when you are populating your instagram feed or to use as a cover image on facebook.

First you will upload your background pattern – the one you screen grabbed. Scale it to fill your art board. Then click the text icon and type out a sentence in the same font you used for your logo. If you can’t find the exact font, try one that’s similar (like I did in my example). I then added another text layer to include a website address, using the same font but a little smaller.

Finally; import your logo, and place it on top of all your elements. Make sure there’s some breathing room around your elements and there’s some visual hierarchy. Once you are satisfied, click the export icon to save the first of your secondary design elements. Now change the text, and export again. Repeat this until you have a solid set of design elements you can use to strengthen your brand!

VOICE:

For this you won’t need any site, just a little thought, preparation, patience and practice. Think about who you’re are marketing towards, what language would best suit them. The more you understand their voice the better you can create and manage yours. Think of your voice as a style, is it laid back, funny, serious, or a combination of those? Once you’ve selected your voice, try and keep all your writings consistent, this will build your brand and business persona. By now you might have noticed consistency is a key value throughout your branding creation.

Now look at that you have (hopefully) created a pretty decent business branding package for yourself (and something you can build upon once you start to grow). Make sure all your individual files are saved somewhere safe, so you can start using them through out your social media accounts, blog headers, avatars, and profile pics! Use them over and over again, and soon your entire business entity should be visually in sync. Helping your future clients feel safe and secure, developing trust and increasing sales!

Please share your links to your own creations, I’d love to see your creations – and feel free to comment and share if I was able to provide some helpful information!

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