How to avoid a DIY

brand design disaster

Avoid a DIY Brand Design DISASTER

Posted on 

November 11, 2020

Posted By

Peti Morgan

DIY Brand Design Tools

You don’t need to be a pro designer to create some pretty cool DIY brand design assets. You know, like logos, colour palettes, social media graphics, banners for your website, and such.

BUT as empowered as we are. In particular, these days to DIY our branding. Unfortunately, you can also spend a lot of time mucking around with fonts and colours and buttons etc!

… ask me how I know….?

Look, don’t get me wrong! I love to DIY Brand Design and I encourage it. But there just isn’t a lot of sense spending too much of your time on your branding. Especially if it takes away from valuable time developing your products and services. Whether that is by promoting them, or connecting and engaging with your audience.

What I’d just like for you, is to be able to identify your limits. You know, recognising when it’s time to call for help. In addition, knowing what your options might look like for getting help too.?

So in this weeks episode we explore the question:-

What’s the BARE MINIMUM you can do to make your brand look legit and professional, and so that it attracts the right people?

Related: The best tools for DIY branding on a budget.

More importantly, what sort of things do you definitely NOT want to waste your time on. Especially when growing your brand presence?

Well after my decade or so owning and running online businesses I’ve developed some strong guiding principles. Through lots of experimentation and a boatload of fails.?

I hope that what I’ve learned may help you refocus on the really IMPORTANT branding related tasks. For the most part, you are also the right person to take care of.

So when you’re thinking about growing your online brand presence, yes, you could go all out and:

  • Pay a professional web designer and a web developer to create a stunning and functional website.
  • Hire a professional branding photographer to create a suite of images. You know, the ones that you feel really proud of, and that perfectly represent your brand “feels”.
  • Outsource to a professional copywriter, to write conversion-focused copy. The aim is to have the right people falling over themselves to buy from you.

If you really wanted to, you could go all out! Pay the pros to create an incredible brand presence for you. Hell yes!! One that gives your business a head start and stands you above all the competition – isn’t that the dream!

Related: 3 insider tips for launching a new brand

Bootstrapping and side-hustles

Only when you’re juuuust starting out, or you’re bootstrapping a business, or you’re side hustling your way out of your main hustle. Realistically, it’s highly, highly unlikely that you have the funding required to do all of the above.

There’s a limit to how much capital you can put towards branding. Particularly when you’re starting or growing a biz this way. Plus that limit is usually quite small – if anything!

Of course, once you’ve started to grow your biz and generate some profits. Before you know it, it becomes easier and more of a priority to bring the professionals in.

In the beginning, though, you need to start somewhere. Especially when you’re bootstrapping a business and you’re funding the business out of your own back pocket.

That starting point is often DIY brand design, and DIY branding.

But the problem I see with so many businesses that start this way, is that they try to DIY it ALL without understanding all of the options available to them first.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with DIY. I am an advocate for DIY, and sometimes that path is the only current option – so you just roll your sleeves up and do it.

Related: Know, like, trust – but is it actually safe to buy from you?

Know your own DIY Brand Design skills.

But firstly, what elements of your branding actually MUST look at least semi professional in the beginning?

Which elements, if you get them right, will help you to stand out, look legit and look professional, and attract the right people towards you? People, who will eventually buy and get value from what you have to offer.

Be honest with yourself about your skills and know when you’re pouring time down the drain.

Let’s look at what each of these elements are, and then we’ll look at what you can do when you realise you aren’t possibly the right person to do a proper PRO job yourself.

Spoiler alert, the alternative is not always ‘pay the pros’ but sometimes it will be!

There are degrees and today I’ll help you identify where you should continue to DIY, when you should consider calling in the pros.

I’ll also talk about a sneaky hack you can employ that sits in between doing DIY and calling in the pros.


Number 1: A Website

The first brand element that you need to get right, to make your brand look semi professional, is a website.

Haha, I know that sounds huge but it doesn’t have to be!

It can be just ONE PAGE.

I can’t tell you how many people who skip over a decent website, and don’t think it’s important!

It doesn’t matter who you are and what you sell, how you sell it and where – you need a website. Even if it’s only one page. This is about trust more than anything. This goal is to show your customers that you are legit and that they can trust you.

Before you even think about design and branding of your website though, there are a few key pieces of INFORMATION that are needed.

If you have a one-pager of unstyled text with this information, it’s better than a fancy design without it.

  • Who are you, who do you help and what do you want that person to DO when they come to your website?
  • Do you want them to sign up to a lead magnet? Make it simple and easy for them to do this.
  • Do you want them to contact you? Again make it really easy for them to do this for you.
  • Do you have a special offer right now? Make that super obvious, and the path to taking up that offer.
  • You also want to display a simple list of offerings – or ways to work with you, further down the page, for those interested enough to keep scrolling.

Maybe they’re not quite ready to do what you want them to do i.e. buy your top package, but they want to learn more about you.

How can you help them learn more about what you have to offer, or get a taste for it at least?

Can you do this by yourself? Yes – if YOU can create a one page website that LOOKs professional then yes, sure!

But good design is just as much about the placement and space around key messaging, as it is about the fonts and colours you use.

So, IF you understand how to do that for maximum impact then you could DIY design it.

But if you can’t judge your designs objectively, or you are spending way too long fussing on the details, then pay someone who can sort it for you.

If you need to, pay an professional designer to do the hard stuff for you.

Not all designers cost the same, but beware that the less you pay, the less you should probably expect – both in terms of quality and output.

If paying a designer is still not a feasible option for you, then the interim solution is to buy pre-designed templates.

Pre-designed templates

You can buy design templates for everything!! Logos, lead magnets, web pages, whole websites, everything.

Templates can be a huge time saver and you can rest happily in the knowledge that they have been designed by ACTUAL DESIGNERS haha.

For my website, I had been drooling over the website design of a fellow podcaster and online course provider.

I can’t YET afford to pay her designer to do my site, but I saw that this designer offered some of her website designs as templates, so I bought them!

It was so time-saving. Particularly, because her templates were all modern marketing focused too. Remarkably, in some parts, I’ve kept some of her original copy even. Brilliant!?

So yes, even though, I am capable enough and proficient enough to design my own website. More importantly, I also knew that it would take me a significant amount of time to create a beautiful site like that – so I bought the templates from her!!

As a reminder, if you’re not tech-savvy you could always think about investing in a template and hiring a VA to put it up for you. Find design templates off all kinds, for everything over at Creative Market. (Affiliate link).

My point is, that it’s easier than ever to create a semi-professional looking website for your business, no matter what your budget is.

Number 2. Your brand photos.

If you’re providing products or services online, then people want to know who they’re buying from.

If you’re a coach, or a blogger, a designer or a copywriter, an accountant or a personal trainer, whoever you are, you are a person, right?

And people buy from people. I can’t stress that enough. It’s a trust thing.

Your customers need to see your photo, so that they can begin to trust you.

But your brand photos are absolutely-definitely something that need to look professional, but also brand appropriate.

A great brand photographer will help you create images that you love, and that work really well for your brand.

But a great brand photographer can be a big investment and Murphy’s Law dictates that there’s always a really long wait to get in with the one you really want.

So there’s the investment.

But there’s something else no one talks about, and that is, some of us just really hate getting our photos taken!

For a variety of reasons – we might not know how to pose, we might not feel comfortable about some aspect of our appearance, we might feel awkward or super self conscious in front of a camera.

I was all of these things – all of them haha. So I do my own brand photos – for now.

That’s the interim solution – that you do your own brand photos. I have some really straightforward, fun tips to help you DIY some brand-appropriate photos in my Pro Selfies Masterclass so nab that if you need some help. If you’re not ready, financially or personally, to line up a professional brand photo shoot, then this masterclass is for you.

Right – so a one page website and a brand appropriate pro selfie, what’s next…

Number 3 : Your personal social media presence.

Weird as it sounds, your personal social media account is an extension of your website. It forms part of your online brand presence. A strong part of your presence, if you’re interacting with potential customers on social media.

I chat to a lot of potentially ideal customers on social media – in business groups I belong to, tech support groups, loads of people who need to sort their brand photography – and I offer a pro DIY solution.

So of COURSE, my personal social media account needs to look professional, and represent my biz well because that’s what these people see FIRST.

If you are chatting in these groups, offering valuable advice for nothing, or making a positive impression in some way then people will naturally want to check you out.

And if you have your Facebook profile looking tip top then they can learn all about what you have to offer, without you having to do the hard sell – or even mention your business.

I call it soft social selling. I coined it here you heard it first haha.?

I’m not even talking about jazzing up your Facebook page – you might not even have one for your business. It’s your personal Facebook account we’re talking about here.

So what do you need to have in place to take advantage of soft social selling?

Just these two things:

  1. A decent, brand-appropriate bio photo, and
  2. Links to your current offerings in your personal profile.

You could additionally put a call to action in your personal Facebook banner – promote something different every week if you wanted! Just give the people that CLICK on your profile, a clear path to [whatever you want them to do].

There are plenty of great templates on Canva, or find a designer you LOVE who offers Facebook templates and buy theirs – I’ve listed some of mine in the show notes.

Ok we’re done now. Haha I’m kidding, I can hear you yelling “What about the logo? What about the brand colours?”

Look to be super honest, you do not need a fancy logo in the beginning – if ever!

In fact there’s a real case for just having a simple text logo to begin with, so that your logo doesn’t cramp your style if your business evolves or changes in the future.

Or if you must, grab a bunch of templates from Creative Market – here’ a great example of customisable logo templates.

Look at Marie Forleo, she has a super simple logo and is a huge brand.

So don’t fuss on the logo.

Again, Canva has lots of logo templates, as does Creative Market. Or there are logo generators, or you can pay your designer to create a logo as part of a brand package. There are people who offer to create beautiful handwritten logos – it all depends on what you need and how much you want to pay. . Or just use a simple text logo. Seriously…!?

And brand colours?

Yes, these are really important but I argue, not critically necessary in the beginning. In saying that, it’s a good thing because colours and colour palettes DO require professional input.

Not just because of the different emotions colours evoke, but because of website accessibility.

Pro designers know about how to mix the right colours to elicit a particular look or feeling, but they also know how to mix colours and shades so that they are using the right amount of contrast so that the text is always legible online.

There are colour palette generators that you can use like Coolors, Adobe also has one, as does Canva.

There’s also a lot of science behind the use of colours on web pages. Did you know that GOLD is the most clickable button colour? I can kind of see why haha.?

As a bare minimum, pick an accent colour – one that will stand out for buttons and text links, and use black and white and neutral for the rest.

My recommendation here is to wait, and pay a pro designer to do something that really works for your brand – once you’re off the ground and flying!

So let’s recap about DIY Brand Design.

3 things to sort:

  1. A one page website
  2. Brand photos
  3. Your personal Facebook profile

2 things not to fuss over:

  1. Your logo
  2. Your brand colours.

Focus on the right things

I think that’s why it has gotten easier and easier for me to create a new brand and to get to a greater level of success than previous brands, faster, because my focus has been on the right things.

Now have a think about your skills, where you really need a professional’s help and when you might be able to buy templates!

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