The top 3 myths about branding in online business.
There are a ton of myths about branding your online business floating around out there.
I've had the pleasure of working with plenty of online business owners and solopreneurs in several industries since 2016. In that time, I’ve noticed that people are holding onto a ton of ideas about branding that just aren’t true. I've heard it all, but the myths I'm most interested in are a handful that are keeping people stuck in the early stages of their business planning.
When it comes to branding, the simpler you can keep things in the beginning, the better. There’s plenty of room to complicate things later. In the early stages though, when you’ve got limited time and energy and a thousand things to juggle, finding a way to make something easier or quicker for yourself is invaluable.
Here are the top three myths about branding that are making things complicated and keeping you stuck.
Myth: Your branding has to last forever to be recognizable.
One of the biggest myths I see people getting stuck on is the idea that you’ve got to get your brand design exactly right from the beginning. That you have to choose your branding once and stick to it because that's what people will know you for.
I’ve seen people spend hours and hours agonizing over their business name, their color palette, the template on their website… the list goes on.
We start thinking far into the future - what if I want to move away from coaching in 5 years? WIll my name make sense then? What if I get married and change my name and have to have my logo re-done? What if I want to create courses later? Should I brand them under my brand? Should I create whole new brands for them? What if…
We start trying to plan a brand for a stage of business that doesn’t even exist yet. And it’s a big old waste of time.
We think we have to settle on one, all-encompassing brand design because that’s what the big, legit businesses do. But it’s a total lie. Think of the biggest company you know. Google their name followed by ‘first logo’ and let me know if you recognize it (hint: you probably won’t, because they’ve definitely changed it a ton of times since).
Here’s the truth: branding is not static. In fact, the best brands are incredibly flexible.
If there’s one thing we can say about almost every business, it’s that they don’t stay the same forever. The business you have today will be different in a year, five years, and ten years from now. You’ll change as a person and your purpose will grow and evolve. And your business’s brand and visual identity have to grow and change with you.
So if you’re in the early stages of your business and you need visual branding, stop stressing about every future hypothetical. Go for the option that you can implement quickly and easily right now so that you can move on to more important things.
It’s ok to choose a temporary solution and change it up later. And when it comes time to change, you’ll likely find that the audience you've built will cheer you on. It’s an awesome sign of growth + will only improve their experience with you.
Myth: You can easily DIY your own branding in the early stages of your online business.
There are a ton of apps, resources, courses and programs out there designed to teach you how to brand your business yourself. They’re presented as the ultimate alternative to paying for an expensive custom brand design package. And it seems awesome in theory - open up Canva, knock something together, and be done with it.
Thing is, if you’ve ever actually tried DIY branding or graphic design at all, you’ll know it’s rarely quick or easy.
There’s a reason that graphic design exists as a profession. It takes years to fully grasp the basics of design, and then years more to become an expert in brand design.
That’s not to say you can’t open up Canva and throw something half decent together. It’s definitely possible. But here’s the thing. I recently spoke 1-1 with some members of my audience and asked them where they were struggling with DIY design. And I got the same responses from almost everybody.
I tried to use Canva, but I still don’t know what I’m doing, and it’s so frustrating.
I followed a course and made a mood board, but I can't tell if I did it right.
I chose fonts and colors but they’re so basic and I don’t even know if they look good.
I’m not happy with anything I’ve made and I hate looking at it. It makes me not want to put myself out there.
It takes me so much time to make something super average and I’m so busy, I don’t really have time to waste.
So many of you told me you thought DIY would work for your businesses, but it turned out to be a total pain in the ass.
Generally, people turn to DIY in the early stages of their businesses when budgets are tight. It’s definitely an option, but if you’re looking to achieve results you’ll actually be happy with, you have to be prepared to view design as a skill you’re willing to cultivate. If you’re not willing to spend your limited time + energy on a skill you’ll likely outsource later, you might be better off with a pre-made template or kit.
Myth: I’m only just starting out, so good branding is way out of my price range.
When it comes to branding, the consensus seems to be that you get what you pay for. Of course, there’s always the chance you’ll find the perfect fit for next to nothing, or that you’ll pay $10000 and be ripped off.
But generally, you can expect a custom branding package by a good designer for an online business to cost upwards of $1k, usually in the $2k- $5k range.
The myth here is that while custom branding is usually on the pricier end, good branding doesn’t have to be.
So what makes a good brand?
Ideally, perfect fit branding would be completely customized to suit your specific business + strategy. It would be entirely unique to you and flexible as your business matures. It would also have comprehensive, documented guidelines to ensure that your strategic approach and brand assets are implemented consistently. It should feel clean, current, and create a very specific experience for your ideal customer or client and cover all touchpoints.
If that’s a perfect fit brand, a good brand would generally suit the needs of your business, and fit in with you + your vibe. It would likely have some simple guidelines in place to ensure things are consistent. It should feel clean, current, and support a good customer / client experience with you and your business
A poor brand would not reflect you or your business in any real way and would have no guidelines for consistency. It might feel messy or dated, which in turn creates a poor experience for your customers or clients.
What to aim for in your stage of business.
Ideally, we don’t want poor branding. But sometimes, taking a DIY approach can land you there. While it might get you by for the first 3-6 months, it’s not somewhere you want to be for too long. Of course, if you’ve got design experience or creative skills behind you, your DIY ability might rank higher, so it's up to you to know + judge your ability on that.
Good branding is great for your first 12-18 months in business. In the early stages, you might not want to invest too much time or money into something that’s likely to evolve and change rapidly. If you’re not sure of your DIY skills, haven’t got the biggest budget, but want to ensure you’re firmly in the ‘good’ category, your safest option might be pre-made templates or branding kits. Many experienced designers sell them, and they are often created using the same process they work through with their custom clients.
Of course, the payoff for the affordability is that a template might not be completely unique to your business. The good news is, the internet is a big place. The chance of coming across two people with the same design (especially if you’ve customized yours to your name, colors, and photography) is relatively small.
If you’re really concerned, keep an eye out for limited collections. Many designers (including myself!) impose a purchase limit on their templates or kit collections, meaning you’ll only ever share your design with a limited number of people.
When the time and budget is right, you can go for your dream, perfect fit branding.If it's within reach for you early on, awesome! But if it's out of the question in the beginning, it's totally fine to wait.
Sometimes, the best time to go for perfect fit branding is about a year or so into your business. By this stage, you tend to have a far better understanding of your vision + needs, which will get you a better end result (and make your designer's job a lot easier!).
If we all had unlimited time and money, we’d aim for perfect every time. But we don’t, and good is a perfectly acceptable standard for certain stages of business.
Have any of these branding myths been keeping you from moving forward with your online business?
With them busted, I hope you can start making progress towards a brand you can be proud of.
If you're looking for a quick + easy solution, you might want to check out my Brand Kits. They're a comprehensive set of completely customizable templates and assets to help you get your brand identity done, so you can focus on your customers and clients.
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 of the myths we discussed today or about branding in general, drop them in the comments below and I'll do my best to help you out.
See you in the next one!