Breaking the myths of DIY branding

Breaking the myths of DIY branding | Spruce Rd.

Breaking the myths of DIY branding | Spruce Rd.

Most brands begin their journeys like this:

  • they create a concept they are passionate about
  • transform that passion into a brand — develop a name + purchase that domain!
  • brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm ideas for the brand growth
  • immediately look into hiring a designer for their logo
  • slowly retreat backwards as they have sticker shock over the price
  • lose momentum in their new venture because of the investment

Despite overwhelming excitement initially, people lose momentum due to the investment of starting a business. As a brand designer, I thought it was time I addressed this issue, and share my (unlikely) take on a few DIY branding myths.

My hope is to encourage you to maintain that excitement in your brand, and not feel held back due to the investment of logo design. If you are in a position where hiring a designer isn’t in the cards quite yet, you can certainly DIY your own branding until you are ready for that next step.

Let’s kick things off with myth #1 in DIY’ing your own brand:

(Myth 1) You need a professional to design your branding

I know, I know… this is a very odd myth to bust as a professional designer. I thought I’d start these myths out with a bang, and allow some immediate relief for those of you just starting your businesses, selling products or courses.

Typically when starting a business, one of the first priorities is creating a logo. Which, I’ll admit, isn’t cheap if you want it done right. The problem with this picture is that it assumes every brand needs to invest a good chunk of change before they can get started on their business.

Yes, having a professionally designed brand identity will most likely create a better first impression with your audience, however it can easily become a costly mistake if you aren’t ready to commit. If you are just getting started and dipping your toes in the water, you might want to invest the time to iron out the kinks of your brand prior to inviting a quality designer to step in.

As a professional designer, I typically work with brands that are more established, or have a crystal clear picture for their brand. They are ready for that next step, and need a brand designer to take them there visually. If you aren’t there yet, I encourage you to not lose that momentum for your brand, and take the stress off of hiring a designer from the start.

An example: This is the case for two of my favorite online businesses — The Nectar Collective and ByRegina — both who DIY’ed their own branding for years, and reached out to Spruce Rd. last year to take their brand + course to the next level. Proof that when you start a business you can invest your money into other avenues such as courses, products, software, etc that will help you grow and keep momentum, then take that leap when you have a more established brand.

(Myth 2) You need to have a design degree

Though I received a degree in Art, graphic design, I truly believe this is one field where you don’t necessarily need the design degree to become a designer. Several established designers are proof of this, and have created stellar work without the formal education. My design degree certainly guided me in the right direction, and provided me a great foundation, so I have absolutely no regrets on the route I took.

However, I fully understand you might find yourself longing to switch careers, or even just design for fun (or your own brand), and didn’t fully realize that passion until later. Or maybe college isn’t in your budget, and that is okay too.

I honestly believe that, like anything else, if you spend enough time investing in learning the tools, design theory and skills, you can develop into a stellar designer yourself.

(Myth 3) Adobe design software is only for designers

While there are several adequate free design programs available, nothing holds a candle to Adobe. Adobe monopolizes the market in terms of design software, and is what every professional designer uses. There is one myth out there that definitely needs to be busted — that Adobe is only for professionals.

That is like saying only chefs can use great kitchen appliances and tools. Could you imagine baking a 3 layer cake with disposable foil pans? Ok — I can because I actually tried that, and it was a mess of a cake. My husband ate it anyway. Because, chocolate.

Or trying to bake a soufflé in the microwave? It doesn’t make since to cut corners.

Back to Adobe. Adobe creates software that is not only robust, but it streamlines your designs. You can create templates, allowing you to design promo graphics in minutes. You can format your e-book into a great design under a half hour. Not to mention, you will have the tools at your fingertips to design all future products, promotional graphics, branding, mockups, etc.

Another Adobe myth is that the software is too difficult to learn. This can easily be the case if you have no guidance and open the program and start designing. Just like any software, you need to understand the tools first and how to use them effectively. I only use a limited amount of tools in Adobe, and once you master those you are all set to roll with your designs.

Though the investment ranges from $19-49 a month for Adobe software, it is well worth it in terms of saving money from hiring a designer for each aspect of your brand. Once you learn the tools, you’ll be all set to maintain your brand on your own.

(Myth 4) You need to have an art background to design

Much like myth #2, I don’t believe you need to necessarily have a “creative” background to design. As I’ve mentioned before, I honestly believe creativity can be learned. It shouldn’t be confined to art, design and aesthetics. Creativity is found in almost every personality. Math requires creative problem solving, social media incorporates strategy, even computer science requires a high creative mind. Point being — you are creative, you just need to shift how you view creativity.

I’ll admit it, I’m not the best at drawing or painting. I get by alright, but in comparison to my art school friends I draw stick figures. You don’t need an artistic background to become a successful designer. Design involves much more than art, it encompasses layouts, typography, photography selection and even grids. All of these skills can be learned without needing that “artistic gene” to back it up. It definitely helps to have an “eye” for design, however this can be learned over time as well.

When I first started designing, my designs were awful, lacked simplicity, and used the “bad” fonts. All this to say, you have to start somewhere and can progress your designs as you grow.

As a business owner, you need to maintain the excitement behind your brand, and not feel “held back” in your business. Learning the design tools and proper skills will enable you to maintain momentum for your business, and take control of your brand.

If you want to learn more about how to DIY your own design, check out my course Share-worthy Design!