There are all sorts of good reasons to hire a brand designer. The right brand designer will help you find clarity, discover your look and feel, and translate that look and feel into a visual identity that hopefully contributes to the experience you want to provide clients.
We’re not suggesting that brand design isn’t worth it, or that one should totally DIY their brand. It’s definitely worth investing in!
We are, however, suggesting that some discovery is necessary before investing thousands of dollars in a brand design project, and often this sort of discovery requires some experience. If you’re just starting your business, you likely have an idea about your ideal client; however, you won’t know for sure until you start.
If you haven’t quite come into your own style or don’t have an understanding of your ideal client, it’s probably best to hold-off spending a ton of money on a custom brand design. Instead, save some money and focus on exploring your brand’s identity and your ideal client by getting some experience. There are quite a few easy, do-it-yourself activities that will assist you in the discovery process as you get ready to answer the following questions.
3 Questions to Consider Before Investing in Brand Design
Here are three questions to ask yourself before investing in brand design. These are not just good questions to ask as you’re getting started, but any time that you think you might ready for a rebrand.
1. Have I developed a consistent style and aesthetic throughout my work?
While my college education and background is in design, some of you might know we used to run a photography business. We photographed our first engagement sessions in 2010, and the images from our first engagement session, while cute, were edited in a faux vintage look.
Fast forward just a few months later to the same couple’s wedding and you’ll see that our style had shifted to a cleaner look. The orange skin tones were gone and we were beginning to develop our own style. While it’s still a far cry from what our 2016 images looked like, we were beginning to come into our own as photographers.
Those first few months of experience and looking to other’s work for inspiration eventually led us to develop our own style. If I had hired a designer, I probably would have ended up with some sort of vintage camera for a logo (I LOVED the vintage look!). And that would have totally been my fault because there’s no way a designer could anticipate that we were going to drastically change our style in the coming months. (Fortunately, I created our logo while studying design in college, and it’s the palm tree logo we use to this very day… but that’s a story for another blog post.)
Look at your Instagram feed and the past few months of your blog. Is there a consistent, cohesive aesthetic among posts? Are you at least heading in that direction? If so, you might be ready for brand design.
2. Have I identified my ideal clients?
When we were first getting started, we were happy to be paid to photograph anything. A wedding that takes place in the winter entirely after dark? Sure! Splitting our coverage time between two separate days? Okay!
We learned, especially in that first year, who was and who wasn’t our ideal client. And as our business grew and our prices increased, that client continued to evolve. The kind of client we thought we wanted to work wasn’t exactly the kind of client we ended up loving to work with. This is a totally normal experience. The more work you complete, the more laser focused your ideal client becomes. At the very least you’ll start noticing some nuance in the type of clients that you want to work with as you work with more clients.
What makes a client an ideal fit for your business?
What types of clients are you able to produce the best results for?
Think about a past client who was miserable to work with. Why? Now think about a client who was a blast to work with. Why? What are some of the differences between those two clients?
You get the idea.
With each and every client you work with you’ll likely be able to answer this question with a little more confidence, clarity, and nuance. And we’d argue that it’d be challenging for anyone to answer these questions super definitively within their first year of business.
3. Is this the best use of my money right now?
You’ve likely realized that the costs of starting a business add up quickly. There’s equipment costs, operational and administrative fees, marketing, website hosting… the list goes on.
While brand and website design are important, they’re usually not necessary in order to start finding your first few clients. When Davey cofounded Till Agency, they were able to recruit their first few clients without a brand, website, or social media presence. Obviously these things became necessary the more they expanded beyond their networks, but getting started before investing in brand and website design allowed the Till Agency team to start discovering their ideal client and learning more about how they could best serve those clients.
When Till was ready for a brand and website, we kept things relatively simple to start by doing things like using one of our website templates instead of building something from scratch. Now, after almost 18 months in business, we’re starting to work on a custom website design for the team over at Till Agency.
While you likely don’t want to launch your business with nothing, there are affordable options to get you started while you do more thorough discovery process through getting experience.
What if you’re not ready for custom brand and website design?
So what do we recommend if you’re not ready to invest in a custom brand? There are all sorts of do-it-yourself activities that will help you start dialing in your brand. This post, Defining Your Brand Aesthetic, has an activity that will help you to start defining your visual brand. You can also download 5 questions from our brand questionnaire for free.
We recently launched a few semi-custom brand designs that provide access to an affordable, professionally designed brand and come with a whole suite of brand materials. It’s a fantastic option for people who want something that looks professionally done, yet affordable and customized for them. No need to spend any time in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator—our team customizes the kit for your business.
If a semi-custom brand isn’t in the budget, check out a quality font site like Myfonts.com, pick a font that fits within your brand aesthetic, and use that font for your business name.
We recommend staying away from free font sites because those fonts (especially the scripts) tend to be much more common. It doesn’t take a lot of design or a fancy calligraphy logo to be successful. Think about everything that J. Crew has accomplished with a clean, simple logo!
Fortunately, it’s easy to find professionally pre-designed website templates that you can customize with your own brand aesthetic. Try choosing a template that highlights the incredible work that you’re doing. One mistake we see with first websites is that people try to do too much with them. Make sure it can be navigated easily!
Use the money you saved to hire a lawyer and accountant. Make sure you filed the appropriate paperwork and you have great contracts that make you and your clients comfortable. Don’t ask your friends what taxes you should pay—ask an accountant! Spending some money on these things will prevent you from potentially spending a whole lot more money fixing issues that arise from a bad contract (or no contract at all). Getting these things in place often costs less than a custom brand and website design.
If you don’t have a contract in place already, we strongly recommend looking into The Legal Paige—take a look at their contract templates that you can get up and ready in 15 minutes or less!
It’s a myth that you have to completely figure out your brand before you get started. Often you’ll refine your brand as you get started and gain experience working with clients. The key is being aware of what works and what doesn’t, and being ready to pivot. Remember that your ideal client and style will evolve. And so will your brand.
Are you ready for custom design? Drop us a line at https://daveyandkrista.com/contact/.