Which tools do you need to brand your business?

Small business branding is not just about slapping up a logo and a simple website. There’s a bit more to it than that. Nothing is simple when you haven’t learned, in the end though you are looking for simple and fun. People have a tendency to avoid doing what they don’t like.

However, some people really start their businesses from scratch, with the smallest budget possible. If you lack the budget, or realize there are so many other places a start up must spend, and you still want to start off right, you may want to look at the toolkit below.

1. Exploring fonts:

While many people try to go for fancy fonts in the page content, that is not a good way to go. Stick to something simple and easy to read – like Open Sans or good old Arial.

However, when to comes to headings and the font you want to use on your logo…

That’s a whole different ball game.

The rules are simple:

a. It should be easy to read, even inside the logo on a business card.

b. It should make sense for what you offer, and match your brand message. For instance, a company selling trailers for 18-wheelers will probably not want to use the same font as the local confectionery.

c. If you want to use an unusual font, first ascertain whether it is possible to add it to your website.

Apart from that, keep in mind that the more unusual the font, the higher the cost.

You can simply do a Google search for “font search” or “font finder”. There are several good ones out there. If people can’t read the font it is a waste of time and energy.

Something else to consider is how many people are going to want to print out information they find about your business and are you going to use your logo and other wording on packaging.

If this is the case it makes sense to choose a font that uses as little ink as possible.

2. A good Logo maker

Making your own logo can be a daunting task. And many people who try, get it all wrong. That, however, may be due to the fact that they use cheap and free logo makers on the internet, or they try to create one using MS Powerpoint or something similar.

For creating your own logo, I would suggest looking for a good selection of high quality templates. It makes the process a lot easier for those not into graphic design.

We recommend Placeit,net – It costs $15 per month, but they have thousands of logo templates, and an easy user interface. It is important to remember if it doesn’t work in black and white it won’t work in color. If your product or service is of value to people who are color blind avoid using yellow.

3. Creating social media graphics

To promote your brand on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Instagram, you will want to create graphics that are similar in appearance (unless you are a photographic professional), and ideally contain your brand colors and logo.

Again, using a service like Placeit.net makes it simple. If you don’t want to spend the money on Placeit, you can consider using Canva.com’s free version (Placeit doesn’t have a free version, or even a trial version). While it is still good, you will notice the limitations (in terms of free graphics and templates) when compared to Placeit.net.

4. Social media management

It’s all good and well to be able to create great graphics for use on social media, but it can become a pain to be online at set times every day (assuming that you want to be online when each platform is the busiest – which ranges from just after 8AM for Linkedin, to 11AM for Instagram, to 7PM for Facebook and three different time slots for Pinterest.

The logical solution is to use a scheduling tool like Later or Buffer. That way you can create all of your graphics when it suits you, and schedule them for the coming days or week. If you plan on taking a vacation, you can schedule a few weeks’ worth of content, and not have to worry about it again.

5. Control your home ground – control your own website

Rule#1: Control your own domain, regardless of whether you host your own website, or use an online e-commerce platform like Shopify or Bigcommerce. Do not allow any web designer/developer or service supplier to own your domain – because if anything goes wrong, you have nothing. This was learned the hard way.

(think in terms of businesses closing down, people falling ill, partners falling out, etc. If you are unable to point your domain to a new website at any time, you can lose control over your own brand; not to mention that people trying to find you will experience a broken website, and tell others you are out of business).

If you – at the very least – control the domain, you can rebuild elsewhere ASAP, and your audience will be able to find you again.

Ideally, you should have your own website, where YOU make the rules. You can decide which facilities and tools to install, and you can decide what is allowed and what not. You decide where your mailing list and push subscriber lists are held and managed, and you decide how people get onto those lists.

On anyone else’s website, you have to take what you get – literally. Usually, that doesn’t include everything you want or need.

To create your own website, we suggest using Bluehost. They have been around for many years, and they offer a good balance between quality of service, website speed, facilities and pricing.

If your online venture is a shop, then we suggest going for Shopify. They have been around for long enough that many developers have been able to create shop templates and plugins, which allow you to have a decent amount of control over not only the shop’s appearance, but also a lot of its functionality.

It is also much more secure than having a shop on your own website – it is just a lot more difficult to hack, or to phish people’s information on Shopify.

6. No time to create graphics, or even a logo, but no real budget either?

Fair enough, this is a last resort – but if used properly, it can work:

The humble Fiverr website.

Ok, not everything on Fiverr costs $5, but in general you can find services a lot cheaper over there. Keep in mind that many of the users come from countries with weak currencies and low labor rates, so the $5 you pay them is worth a lot more to them than it is to you.

As you may expect, not everybody on Fiverr is an expert – there are a lot of “wannabe designers”. There are, however, a lot of really capable people too. You will just have to do your due diligence, and look at the existing work and reviews of the people you want to shortlist.

If you do your homework, you can get some useful graphics for a very reasonable fee. Yes, it may not be top class – but if you lack the budget (and the time) for anything else…

You may want to have a look at Fiverr. A reminder here, make sure you know your brand colors and fonts, so the person you hire will use them. The majority of people who have gigs on Fiverr know very little about what is needed to maintain brand needs and voice. Some we as a company have contacted admitted they didn’t know there was such a thing as brand voice.

Brands don’t create themselves

At the end of the day,what you pay for is what you receive. Unfortunately, not everyone believes they have the budget to buy what they need or want. As long as you educate yourself about the basic principles of branding first, the options above will help you to get started without breaking the bank.