Table of Contents:
5. Brand Guide
Whether you’re just launching your business or are fully established, you need to have a solid brand identity. How to accomplish this goal on a limited budget may seem impossible, but it’s not. For example, think back to a time when you just had to have those amazing shoes, or that new tech gadget that wasn’t in your personal budget, but you found a way to buy it anyway. Well, now you must find a way to invest in all of the elements of a well-developed brand if you plan on having an enduring business. Here are the top 5 things you should invest your start-up money on.
A logo is necessary to your brand because when you start to push your brand out to potential clients, it will be one of the most memorable things to your target audience. If you’re not a graphic designer, then the mere thought of creating a distinctive logo can feel baffling...
What colors do you use?
What font is best?
Which file types are best for printing on paper vs. fabric?
Having someone create a logo for you will save you the time it takes for you to create one on your own. And unless you're a graphic designer, it will likely be better than what you could come up with alone!
Getting a logo that stands out like this can rake in money for your company. Since this is part of your business's overall visual identity, you should plan to spend anywhere between $300.00 - $1,300.00 for a logo.
Why spend a month's rent for a logo when you could get one for free on Canva, you ask? Answer: You will fail to get the quality and originality that comes with this decision. Your logo is the face of your business. Spend wisely.
2. Website Design
Your website is the single most popular tool your customers will use to learn about your business. You link it in social media posts, on your business cards, and maybe it's even plastered on a t-shirt or two. It is imperative that your site is clean, functional, user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, blah, blah, blah...
All that "blah blah blah" isn't cheap. Hiring a web developer can cost anywhere from $800 to $50,000 (but you can start in the lower range). But this is an investment. Your website should be bringing in new money for you with little input from you. It is how you will consistently make your own money for your business. You'll also need to factor in the cost of your domain name, website maintenance, and advanced features, such as S.E.O.
S.E.O. stands for search engine optimization, and it helps prospects discover your business!
Yes, you'll need to add all of these details to your cart, so to speak. It may add up fast, but it's money well spent. Your website design represents your brand in the most complete and concise way possible, making it priceless to you AND your customers!
3. Product Photography
Considering your website is the first impression prospects will have when they find you online, you want to make certain the photographs you use catch their attention too. Not just any photo, though. While it’s easy to snap a pic on a cell phone, it’s not easy to get that photo to look incredible online. You have to think about...
And image placement on your webpage.
Sure, you can buy a stock photo for next to nothing, but your customers have seen those same images everywhere. For your brand to stand out, you need to exude authenticity. Stock photos are not unique. Your business is. How much to invest in quality photographs? Anywhere from $400 to over $4,000. Yes, that sounds like waaayyy too much. But if you use quality ‘forever’ photographs, it's well worth the money.
Pro Tip: Make a social media post asking for services from a photographer in your area. Using local photographers will simultaneously expand your network!
4. Graphic Design
When some people hear the term "graphic designer", they may think of a millennial wearing a beanie and a flannel staring at their computer all day long. However, business owners know that graphic design is no joke. When YOU hear graphic designer, you need to think "$$$"!
Graphic design is an important component of your website and branding, and just like product photography, it needs to exude originality. Unfortunately, originality isn't cheap. Most freelance graphic designers charge around $80 per hour, and if you decide to go with an established artist or agency, that amount would increase tenfold.
But the originality you need is, again, priceless. It adds to the authenticity and uniqueness of your brand, which will stick with you forever. You don't want to build your brand from someone else's design; it is YOUR brand after all! Spring for a graphic designer that will work with you to develop your style and aesthetic.
5. Brand Guides
Ask yourself right now: Do you plan on being in business for years? Or do you plan on being in business for only a few months? If you said you plan on being in business for many years, then you have to invest in a Style Guide or Full Brand Identity Guide for your business!
A style guide is a physical or digital book that details these 5 things:
Your Brand’s Typography
Your Brand’s Color Palette
Your Brand’s Dynamic System
Application of Logos and Graphics
Style guides are immensely helpful to your brand. They summarize all of the above tips into one document; think of it as your Business Bible. Everything your business creates should adhere with the aesthetics in your guide. You and your contractors/employees should be able to reference this book for years to come, which is why you may end up spending upwards of $1,500 for one. That may sound like a lot but trust the process. This book will become a token of your brand's legacy!
Fun Fact: Apple's 64-page brand guide has an entire section just for email signature procedures!
In order to create a strong, sustaining brand, you'll need to focus your investments on your business'
If you spend your money on these branding aspects, you will make a lasting impact on your customers and their perception of your brand. Have you completed these key designs for your brand yet? Are you happy with the results? We'd love to hear from you!