The DIY way | #5 must-have design elements to start your small business in a proper way

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This autumn I want to focus on talking about DIY attitude in small business. DIY’ing your way at the beginning is more than acceptable, it is necessary to invest time & energy into your own creation, because who can know it better than you do? I’m a big cheerleader when it comes to doing things on your own & want to introduce you to a new series of blog posts I’m going to write about DIY design process.

If you are a freelancer or small business owner with the need to start somewhere, but the money for buying design services are not there yet, welcome aboard! I hope that through these upcoming blog series you will learn more about the basics of precious design process & the value it can bring to your business. More over, I will provide guidance and help you to DIY your brand in the right way, so when you grow enough, you will definitely know when it is time to hire a designer.


Today we will analyze what are the 5 must-have design elements for a small business that has just started to exist.

#1 The logo

Let’s start with the obvious one, okey? Your brand’s logo. As you’ll be starting out it will be the face of your business. It will tell your story & define your work on social media, in print design and everywhere else a business logo is supposed to be seen. There are so many logo variations to choose from & Kelly Morr has perfectly described the 7 different types of logos and how to use them.

If you are DIY’ing a logo for yourself my advice would be to go for a letter or word mark. Simply because these type of logos doesn’t require a lot of artistic involvement and special software (like Adobe Illustrator). But don’t be fooled by the simplicity of delicate letters. This type of logo creation requires precision & thinking ahead. The most important part of creating this type of logos is thinking about the feeling a brand is supposed to convey to it’s audience. In order to pick the perfect font or letter combination for your brands logo, first, you have to do your homework .

Write down 3 adjectives that would perfectly describe your business. Is it warm, elegant & luxurious at the same time? Or maybe playful and sweet, but also very impactful? This description has to be neat and clear, you will know these words better that anyone else, because it’s your business & your people. Build a logo around this description. Pick a font that will help you carry out this message to the big world.

TIPS:

  • While creating any type of logo – stick to 1 or 2 colors if you can. A good logo should look great in B&W so start with this combination & add color latter. Don’t let it distract you from building the foundation.

  • Use an abstract or pictorial mark for your logo only if you know it will do a great job representing your brand. Avoid involving your cousin (you know, the one acquaintance who draws really good) to paint a lion* for your business only because you love lions*.

*insert here whatever cuteness that makes your eyes turn into little hearts. This works for family photo album, not for a business logo. Moreover, you must think not only about your audience, their likes & little lions*, you have to include time into equation. Because your logo can’t change every few months.

  • Your personal preferences might influence a lot, because you are the big creator here, but try to use a filter when making a decision. Always think about the customer & what’s the best way to tell them the story about the amazing work you do?

#2 E-mail signature

If you are a business, act like one. You don’t have to invest into special inbox account, but be professional & create an e-mail signature that would tell people exactly who you are and preferably include your logo or a photo of you & have a link to your website or social media accounts. It can literally take up to 2 minutes to set it up. A good first impression definitely lasts longer than that.

#3 Templates

Creating templates for social media graphics should be an important part of your to-do list as a DIY’er. Believe me, this will save you time & sanity at the beginning. If you are not planning on hiring a marketing manager right away, you will definitely want to plan ahead and keep your mind free for other work. Having templates helps to keep the visual part of your business intact & allows the visitors, who see you active on social media, to recognize the brand.

TIPS:

  • Have a style or some consistent layout elements that would go in line with your brands vibe & set it apart from the crowd. With tools like Canva, you can easily create templates for different kind of posts and use it whenever necessary.

  • Please, don’t post only about your products or services. Don’t expect to attract people only by selling to them. A lot of business accounts look like little catalogs. In 2019 you have to serve 80% of the time, if not more, and only then about 20% of the content should promote your business.

#4 Color palette

You definitely need one! A strict color palette helps to set the tone, stay on point & spread the word. Would you pick bright & playful tones, or cold & muted ones? All colors are beautiful and fine, but just like creating a logo, you must consider your work field and what will be appropriate. What feelings your communication strategy will translate? Having a strong color palette with 2-3 base colors and 1-2 extra accents, will help you create advertisements, build landing pages & promote your business, everything will feel connected.

Don’t be afraid of colors. Own your brand’s personality & emotion. Show what you stand for!

#5 Mood board

As I really love inspiration boards, this list couldn’t get away without one. Every part of the brand’s mood board should easily connect and define it’s best parts. Refer to it when creative block hits you & the spark is lost. It happens to everyone, from time to time we must remember why we started.

TIPS:

  • When creating a mood board for your business imagine how it will look 3 or 5 years later? How do you want it to look like? This collection of images has to inspire & help you to keep brands visuals consistent. So, the eye should look into the future.

  • Include your story / customer / purpose & values into the mood board. It will help you create content & stand your ground.

#6 Website (opional)

A tough one, so I added it as optional, just as a reminder that it’s inseparable part of a fully grown business. Start off with the right foot & create a hub where people could know more about you and the work you are doing. Share client testimonials, peeks behind the scenes and most importantly – educate. Provide value, give information & serve your clients.