The fact that you can actually DIY your branding and have successful and professional looking outcomes often comes as a surprise to most entrepreneurs. The part about doing the process yourself is not the surprise here: many business owners are forced to DIY their branding due to lack of budget or resources. The surprise is the success and professional looking outcome.
The reason for this is that we are accustomed to thinking that especially the visual identity — the design part of the process — requires special expertise. And go back 10-15 years, the resources we have available online these days didn’t exist yet, or were mostly unknown. Today, there are so many design tools online and ready made design elements for sale (or available for free) that building a visual branding is more doable than ever before.Embed from Getty Images
Don’t let the process intimidate you
So, while I tell people that “yes, you can DIY your branding AND make it successful,” I understand that it can feel intimidating — just like learning anything new does. And I will admit that the branding process does take time, and sometimes you really have to work to get everything just right. While the process is fairly simple, it’s not always easy. But just like any other big project, breaking your branding project into bite sized pieces will help you get through it.
Also, no one says you have to do EVERYTHING yourself. Well, to be honest, no one says you have to do any of it yourself, if you don’t want to. Although, I do think it’s a good idea for all entrepreneurs to learn branding. In any case, I wanted to give you a quick idea of which parts of the branding process are easier to DIY and which ones might give you a bit more challenge.Embed from Getty Images
Most of it is “brain work”
Another relatively unknown aspect of the branding process is that it is actually more brain and thought work rather than crazy artistic creativity and designing a bunch of visual stuff. But because of the visual nature of one of the final outcomes, the visual identity, our first assumption about the branding process is that it is mostly about drawing logo sketches.
I would even go as far as to say that all the thought work and introspection that goes into the branding process is much more important than the visual identity part. Let me explain a bit further…
I like to divide the branding process in two major phases: the foundational strategy phase and the visual identity phase. Most people skip the strategy part almost entirely when they’re DIYing their branding. This is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to unsuccessful branding projects. The problem is that your visual identity is based on your brand strategy. If you skip the strategy phase, you don’t have all the right tools for making decisions during the design phase.
Furthermore, most people will find the visual identity work more challenging than the foundational strategy part. Yet, most people skip the strategy and jump directly to the hardest part without realizing that had they started with the strategy the rest of the branding would be much easier to tackle. Getting curious yet?
To show you what each step of the branding process takes to accomplish and why it’s important to do all of those steps, I created the handy table below. The last column will detail the actual actions it takes to accomplish that step in the process. And I promise that you will see that all of it is doable.
The table is optimized for wider screens. Rotate your phone to landscape for a better reading experience.
Process and actions table
|Process step||What you do (or produce/create)?||Why you need this part?||What does it take to accomplish?|
|Your “Why”||Mission, Vision||Connecting with your tribe, communicate the values of your business||Requires introspection and thinking, writing mission & vision statements|
|Value Proposition||Define and polish your offering, find the unique value you provide||Defining the transformation you offer, communicating the value of your offer||Requires analyzing your products and services, writing down your value proposition|
|Your Target Audience||Define you ideal customer||To find a fiercely loyal tribe||If you’ve been in business for a while, then it requires researching and analyzing the existing customers to define who you most want to serve and who most needs your services.|
If you haven’t served customers yet, you still need to create an ideal customer avatar. In this case, it requires some research and introspection.
Writing down your ideal customer definition.
|Brand Personality||Define the characteristics for describing your brand||To start forming the look & feel, use as a tool throughout the process to evaluate brand elements||Requires some researching your ideal customer, visualizing with mood boards, writing down description, and coming up with keywords.|
|Brand Positioning||Defining your desired position in the marketplace||To map a path to where you want to be in future, to understand where you are now, and to see if there are implications to your visual identity||Analyzing your competition, defining where your business is now and where you want it to be in future|
|Mood boards||Start clarifying your look & feel||To find inspiration for your visual identity, to start visualizing the brand attributes||Finding inspiring imagery that reflects the attributes of your brand|
|Brand Tone of Voice||Defining the speaking and writing style for your business||To define the tone of your marketing communications, ensure you’re connecting with your ideal customer||Analyzing your brand personality and your ideal customer, doing some introspection, and writing exercises|
|Logo||Logo or a creative brief documentation to hire a designer||To create a visual symbol that represents your business||Understanding your unique needs for the logo, buy a ready icon/symbol, combine the symbol with text or play with text only, hire an illustrator to create a custom symbol that you then combine with text, or hire a designer to do all of it for you|
|Brand Color Library||Define the color palette for your brand||To create consistency in your branding, to emphasize your brand personality, to help recognizability and memorability of your brand||Analyze your brand personality, analyze your ideal customer, understand what color communicate, choosing the colors|
|Brand Fonts||Choose fonts for your branding||To create consistency in your branding, to emphasize your brand personality||Analyze your brand personality, understand what different font styles communicate, choose 1-2 brand fonts|
|Brand Photography Styles||Define the style of your brand photos||To create consistency in your branding, to emphasize your brand personality, to help recognizability and memorability of your brand||Analyze your brand personality, define verbally and with examples how the photos for your brand should look like (a consistent style),|
|Illustrations, Icons, Textures, Gradients, etc.||Define the style of these elements||To create consistency in your branding, to emphasize your brand personality, to help recognizability and memorability of your brand||Analyze your brand personality, find examples of the kind of design elements and styles you want to use|
NOTE: This step can be optional, not all brands use these elements, but if you do, then you should define these
|Brand Identity System||Pull all the elements of your visual identity into one document||To use as a reminder of yourself to stay consistent, to hand over to a designer with the creative brief documentation so they can follow your brand guidelines||Putting all of the elements of your visual identity into one document|
What do you think? Does it seem doable? I think so. And if you agree with me and are interested in getting a head start with all the introspection and thought work, download my free Ultimate Brand Strategy Blueprint and start your branding process today.
P.S. If you haven’t already done so, come check out our free Facebook group DIY Brand Design & Strategy for Soulpreneurs where I teach soulpreneurs like you to build their own branding and create their own designs.