A solid, well executed visual identity may be one investment that small business owners and startups don’t make early enough.
We know it can be intimidating to begin your design process with the limited resources of a small company. But don’t underestimate the importance of great design — and don’t let costs get you down. We’ve come up with a list of the top four ways that you can create a dazzling brand identity without using an expensive design or creative agency.
Canva.com has been a game changer for small businesses. This web-based graphic design platform makes good design more accessible. It’s so quick and user-friendly that you can create fantastic graphics in 5 minutes. The site provides thousands of templates for your most-needed graphics such as facebook banners, website headers, and blog graphics. Canva is made for every skill level and they even offer design courses so you can slowly educate yourself on their tools, as well as overall design practices.
On top of all of this, the business version gives you a place where you can house your brand’s visual identity elements such as specific colors, logos (colored and grayscale), and fonts acting as a mini style guide.
It’s free (or inexpensive if you spring for the business version), easy-to-use, and it actually works.
Use a Website Building Platform
More often than not, your website is going to be a customer’s first interaction with your business. According to Tony Haile of Chartbeat, you have 15 seconds to capture someone’s attention with your website. Let’s say you make it past that first impression, the battle has only just begun. People will continue to look for any reason to close that tab.
In this article from CrazyEgg they break down the top three reasons someone will leave your site.
It comes down to this:
People should already know what you do before they click
Navigating your website should be easy.
Be genuine and credible
Website platforms like Wordpress, SquareSpace, and Wix allow you to do all of this, simply and affordably, without sacrificing anything visually. Each platform has its pros and cons like the ease of use, SEO performance, mobile responsiveness, and analytics.
Hire a Freelancer (Your worst nightmare? Think again.)
Understandably, this can be one of the most difficult things for a small business owner to do.
Giving up a little control of your hard-fought business is difficult but sometimes necessary. Hiring a full-service agency is probably out of the price range for traditional small businesses and startups. That’s why freelance writers and designers may be a great option.
However, before you hire outside help it’s important to know how to separate the good from the bad. Generally, avoid bid sites like Upwork and Fiverr. If you’re looking for the lowest price, just remember, you get what you pay for.
Great freelancers are in your price range if you know what to look for and how to find them. Search for someone who has experience in small business/startups and other niches related to your field whether it’s technology, healthcare, or handcrafted goods. LinkedIn provides a good background of experience, and most freelancers will have a connected portfolio website so you can look at their previous work.
Keep it Consistent
I can’t tell you how often we’ve seen it. Scrolling through a website or social media page and being assaulted by a smattering of different colors, imagery, logos, icons, everything. It comes off as unprofessional, which is the opposite of what you are. You are a small business owner who wants your business taken seriously.
Very simple aspects of uniformity among colors and fonts can completely reinvigorate your website or social media account and create some visual and message cohesiveness for your brand.