Just because you’ve decided to design your visual brand yourself, doesn’t mean you need to start from scratch. There are plenty of free or cheap tools created by designers that can save you time and energy and help make your DIYed visual brand look professional.
Here are a few of my favorites.
Everyone has probably heard of Canva – right now it’s a fan favorite among DIYers. While it’s a good choice for those who want simple graphics and don’t want to spend much time learning new software, it is limited in its capabilities.
If you’re willing to put in some time learning some more robust software, I suggest looking at some of Adobe’s options. Adobe’s software is the industry standard in almost every digital visual media, which means tutorials and walkthroughs are available in any format you could want.
My top suggestions are:
Adobe Illustrator – good for creating logos, icons, and illustrations
Adobe Photoshop – a versatile tool that can handle pretty much any image format, but can’t create scalable vectors like Illustrator
If you do decide to continue using the programs after 7 days, you can get Photoshop for $10/mo through Adobe’s photography bundle, and/or get Adobe Illustrator for $20/mo.
I suggest using either of them over Canva because they handle outside resources like fonts, illustrations, and logos more easily.
Unless you have an eye for design, I don’t suggest designing your logo completely on your own. Instead, you can buy a template from Creative Market for under $30 and customize it to match your color palette and name. By working from a template, you ensure your logo looks professional without having to pay for custom design work.
(Also be sure to sign up to CreativeMarket’s mailing list to receive 6 free resources every Monday.)
FontSquirrel is the best font resource I’ve found in my 13+ years of designing. All of their cataloged fonts are free (with the occasional low-priced option), and specifically free for commercial use, so they can be legally used for your business.
FontSquirrel has plenty of options, but if you want a font that’s a little more unique for headers or a special graphic, CreativeMarket has some great reasonably priced options.
Thankfully you don’t have to pay to use certain colors, but if you need help coming up with a color palette that works together, check out ColourLovers. Users upload color palettes, complete with the hex code you can use in your website or design software, which makes it easy to browse palettes, find one you like, and implement it in your visual brand.
Finding commercially-free photos can be a challenge for business owners, but UnSplash and Pexels have libraries you can browse of photos submitted by photographers that can be used commercially for free. And if you need a photo of a specific object or scene, try looking on CreativeMarket before heading to the pricier stock photo websites.
Finding nice icons can really help bring your website or graphic together, which is why I love IconFinder. They have cheap and free options for icons of various topics. Just be sure to click “For Commercial Use” under the License Type filter.
That’s it! With just these few resources, you can design a professional visual brand without breaking the bank.
Sierra Kellermeyer who helps business owners who are tired of their marketing efforts pulling “okay” results. She helps them stand out online by designing a noteworthy visual brand that attracts their ideal clients effortlessly. She says, “My favorite part of brand design is the marriage of creativity and strategy. I’m not simply creating something beautiful, I’m creating something beautiful that works and has a purpose.”
There’s a lot of misconception about visual branding, with people thinking it’s just about looking good, but it’s more than that. “Your visual brand is a communication tool, and if you’re only trying to make something that looks nice, rather than telling your audience about your business, you’re missing out.”
Sierra will be sharing her visual branding tips in February, May, August, and November. In the meantime, you can find her online at: