Are pre-made brand templates a good fit for your business? Here's how to tell.
There are a lot of things to figure out in the early stages of your online business, and one of them is your brand design.
You might have stumbled across template sets or pre-made design kits before and wondered if they could work for your business. They sure look like they could make things easier for you, but is it worth investing in one when you could just do it yourself?
Pre-made kits and template sets could be an awesome option for you for a number of reasons. In fact, I believe they’re a far better option than DIY design in a lot of cases. A pre-made kit is a great fit for your online business when...
You don’t have the skills to DIY your brand design.
While DIY branding sounds good in theory, it can be not-so-awesome in reality. If you’ve ever tried it, you’ll know it’s rarely as simple as opening up Canva and throwing a few things together. You’ve probably experienced the frustration of not knowing which fonts to choose, or whether your color palette works. Maybe you worry that your graphics don’t feel professional enough for people to want to work with you.
If DIY design is something you want to be able to do quickly and confidently, it’s a skill that you’re going to have to invest in learning. There are plenty of courses or Skillshare classes out there, but it’s definitely not something you can learn in a day.
If you want to be able to stop questioning every single design decision, you’ll likely need to invest some time learning about the basics of design - about shape, and color, and why certain combinations and layouts and fonts work the way they do. If that’s not something you want to be messing with in the early stages of your business when your to-do list is a mile long, you’re probably better off with a template or pre-made design kit.
The template will remove all of those questions and doubts about your own design choices. Instead, you can move on with publishing content or serving your customers and clients while knowing your branding looks great.
You don’t have the time to waste hours on DIY branding.
If you don’t have experience in creative or design fields, taking on your own branding as a DIY project can suck all of the time and energy out of you. It’s kind of like deciding to do your own DIY house renovation. In the beginning, you’re like:
How hard can this be? I watch HGTV all the time! I know the process. It might take me a little longer to learn but that's what YouTube is for, right?
But a few weeks in you realize it’s going to take you three weeks to paint your whole house when a contractor could have done it in a few days. You broke ten tiles while cutting them and had to pay for replacements. You spent a week putting your flat-pack kitchen together. You’re doing all of this at night because you’re paying for it with your day job.
And then when you’re ready to start decorating and bringing in furniture, you realize you have no idea what you’re doing. None of the styling you've done looks like the photos you saved on Pinterest.
DIY design is exactly like that. You spend time learning the software. You have to troubleshoot every single thing that goes wrong. You spend money on a bunch of different tools to try and figure out which ones work for you. You throw a bunch of colors and fonts at the wall and hope something will stick. And in the end, you don’t even know if what you’ve made looks any good. Which means you spend more time fiddling with it and trying to fix it instead of just moving forward.
A pre-made design kit will help you focus your time on growing your business instead of trying to learn and implement a skill that you’ll likely outsource later on in your journey.
You have a limited budget for your brand design.
When I started my business, I was a broke college student. My budget for my business was tiny, and I had to carefully consider each and every purchase. If I wasn’t a designer myself, a custom brand design would have been out of the question for me. But I strongly believe that design is still something you should invest something into if you can stretch it, as DIY options will often cost you more money in the long run.
Many people turn to DIY options because it's free if you do it yourself...right? I wish it worked that way, but unfortunately, your time is money. Any time you spend doing any work is worth being paid for. While you're spending hours on your DIY branding, you're not spending time on your products or with clients, or doing any kind of activity that can directly bring in revenue.
The other way it can cost you money is this: if you’re spending a ton of time working on your branding but you’re not necessarily great at it, the results might not be up to standard. And if that’s the case it could be costing your business new customers or clients.
For some people, your content or skills or product might be enough, but for others, the quality of how something looks will impact their perception of the value of the actual product or service. For our more aesthetically inclined friends, sloppy or inconsistent visuals might put them off working with or buying from you. And that directly impacts your bottom line.
Many people turn to services like Fiverr or 99Designs to try and avoid these kinds of DIY pitfalls, but unfortunately, these services can be riddled with just as many issues. Some people do get lucky and find a perfect fit through these services, but in my experience with clients who have been through those services previously, a great fit is - unfortunately - pretty rare.
The biggest issue is that many designers on those kinds of platforms have a process designed to pump out much work done for as many people as they can in the smallest amount of time.
Best case, that kind of approach will result in super generic work lacking in any kind of personality, and worst case, your design could be a plagiarized copy of someone else's brand.
So for that reason, I believe that pre-made kits are perfect low budget alternatives to more in-depth, expensive custom branding. Your kit has likely been made using the designer’s signature process, meaning you get to take advantage of the same strategy and planning that their 1-1 clients get. And you’ll know for sure that you’re not losing out on customers or clients as a result of unprofessional, DIY design.
Of course, the compromise for the affordability is that a template might not be completely unique to your business. The good news is, many designers (including myself) offer exclusive collections with purchase limits on their templates or kits, meaning you’ll only ever share your design with a handful of people.
It's a great deal and opportunity for professional-level branding on a limited budget.
You’re still in the early stages of your business.
The first 6-12 months of any business can be a bit of a weird time. There’s a lot of rapid change and evolution going on. You’re trying to decide which services or digital products to create, and you’re not really sure how things are going to pan out.
Even if you have the resources to invest in a custom branding package right from the beginning, I firmly believe not everyone is ready to jump into that process right away.
While all of those rapid changes are going on, you often don’t totally understand what you want out of a brand identity. There’s a risk that you’ll hire a designer, build out a completely custom design, and figure out a few months down the line that it doesn’t really fit with the direction you want to go.
As a designer, there’s nothing more upsetting to see a client have no use for the work you did together. We only ever want to see you love your branding and be excited about using it for as long as possible. In fact, if I sense a potential client isn’t sure enough of their business to know what they need, I’ll almost always turn them away with some helpful resources and suggest we meet back up later on. I never want anyone to feel like they invested in me and it went to waste.
It's also important to consider your commitment to your business idea. If you're just testing something or are unsure if you'll stick with it in the long run, sometimes it can be better to hold off on custom work. No one wants to spend a few thousand dollars on something they’re not sure they’ll get continued value out of.
This is why pre-made kits and templates are great for people in the first year or two of business. You can do all of the figuring out, the audience building and the soul searching without worrying about your brand design. And when you’re ready, you can upgrade and surprise your audience with a fresh new look. Your audience will almost always cheer you on and get excited with you about your rebrand. It’s an awesome sign of growth and only serves to improve their experience with your business.
Your DIY branding is keeping you stuck.
This one might not be for everyone, but for those of you who are aesthetically inclined, pre-made design kits can be a huge help. I’ve had clients in the past that hated the way their DIY brand looked so much it stopped them from wanting to upload blog posts or create new products because they didn’t want anyone looking at it until they got it fixed.
It can definitely be hard to find the motivation to put you and your business out there when you don’t feel like it’s looking the best. You want people to get a good first impression of your business, but you worry that your current branding just won’t cut it. So you hide away, hoping that someday you’ll be able to work with a designer and fix it and then you can start putting yourself out there.
Putting yourself and your work out there is such a key part of growing your online business. If you’re so unhappy with your branding that it’s getting in the way of your ability to show up for your audience, you’re only making it harder for your business to gain traction.
Purchasing a kit design you love can help you quickly + easily move past that barrier and make sharing more comfortable for you.
If you said ‘Yeah, that’s me!’ to 2-3 of those, pre-made design kits are a great fit for you.
They’ll help you move through your blocks, ensure that your visuals align with the value you provide for your clients, and save you a ton of time and energy.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive kit designed specifically for online business, you might want to check out my Brand Kits!
They're a comprehensive set of customizable templates and assets to help you sort out your logo, build a sweet Instagram feed, and push eye-catching graphics through to Pinterest.
Brand Kits will be available for pre-sale at a 50% discount on July 8th, 2019, so be sure to register as a VIP to ensure you can take advantage!
If you've got any questions about any part of the article or about branding / design in general, drop them in the comments below and I'll do my best to help you out.
See you in the next one!