You don't just need a logo and some colors - you need a brand identity system.

How to avoid a DIY branding disaster in your online business with a brand identity system - Emily Banks Creative

If you’ve ever tried to DIY any design or graphics for your online business, you might have come to realize just how frustrating that experience can be. 

You want beautiful designs and standout graphics like the brands you follow on Instagram or the posts you find on Pinterest. But every time you open up Canva you end up shutting the whole thing down, fed up with your less-than-awesome attempts. 

You might have wasted hours trying to pick fonts and colors, only to realize that you don’t like them, or they don’t work the way you thought. Your DIY attempts at graphics feel messy, and even when they’re not terrible, you still don’t know if they’re up to standard.

You invest so much time into creating valuable content, products, and services for your audience, but when it comes to promoting them, you feel uninspired. You even worry that people will judge your content by the clumsy graphics you made to go with. 

You’re not wrong to feel burnt out on DIY branding. 

I’ve written before about some of the hidden costs of DIY design, and they can run deep into your business. It’s easy to feel like you’re saving money by choosing to take on design work yourself. 

But DIY design can often cost you new customers and clients, and it’s robbing you of your time, productivity, and positive energy. You’re wasting your limited hours on activities that you’re not strong in. That means your overall impact is lower than it could be if you put all your focus into showing up with value for your customers, clients, and wider audience. 

A lot of people will try to hack their way around branding. Working 1-1 with a brand designer is not always an affordable or accessible option for online business owners just getting started. So instead, you might try and hack together a pre-made canva logo, some fonts pairings from a helpful Pinterest post, your favorite color, and a blog post graphic template from Creative Market. 

I’ve heard “But if I could just have X, I’ll be able to do the rest myself!” so many times. And often, those people come back to me later having tried and failed at doing the rest.

Frankenstein-ing together a whole bunch of unrelated brand assets rarely works. 

You might not have to spend time designing them all from scratch, but figuring out how to get them to play nicely can be hard and time-consuming, especially if you're not particularly skilled at design. 

You’ll still be just as lost trying to make them all work together. You’ll still be spending hours questioning whether or not they work well together, which font should be used where, or what color your blog post graphics should be.

To avoid a DIY disaster, you need a complete brand identity system. 

A well-designed brand identity system will cover all bases and allow you to move on from trying to tackle design yourself. It’ll provide you with the appropriate files, guidelines, assets, and templates to ensure that you always have everything you need within reach. It can give you a solid foundation to build on as your business grows. 

A foundational brand identity system should include:

  • Your logo saved out in all your common colors, sizes, and file types. 

  • A color palette and font system, with usage guidelines on how to implement them. 

  • Photography and image guidelines to ensure that any images you choose to use fit with your brand theme.

  • Essential graphics templates for your business. For online business owners, this usually covers social media and blog graphics but can extend into PDF documents, webinar slide decks, podcast covers, video thumbnails and more. 

When all of those elements come together to form a brand identity system, a few awesome things can happen for your online business. 

1. A brand identity system will save you time in your online business. 

When those files are all pre-prepared and waiting for you, you can cut down on design tasks overall. When you need your logo, you can drag and drop the pre-prepared file from your computer, instead of having to go into your editor, change the color, and save it out. When you need a blog graphic, you can just open up your template and swap out the copy, instead of spending an hour designing a new one. All of that time that you lose doing boring, menial design tasks can be largely eliminated by having a good brand identity system. 

2. Be more productive in your online business with a brand identity system. 

When we work on tasks that we don’t love for our businesses, there’s often a lot of resistance, frustration and even resentment. Those tasks tend to take longer because we don’t want to work on them, so we procrastinate and let them drag out longer than they need to. 

It’s frustrating and mood-killing to spend hours staring at a blank Canva document. By eliminating that frustration with a brand identity system, you can work more productively and with a clear mind on the things you enjoy. As a bonus, this also usually leads to you showing up more for your audience, and providing them with more value.

3. A solid brand identity system can help you get more customers and clients for your online business. 

When you have a well designed, consistent brand identity in place, it demonstrates the level of attention and care you put into your business. This helps you communicate the value of your business to your audience, as they'll likely associate the care and attention to detail you put into your own business with the level of detail and attention they'll receive from you.

When the perceived value of your brand identity matches the value of the product or service that you’re selling, it’s much easier to communicate and sell to your ideal customer or client. 

4. A brand identity system can also help you craft a memorable experience with your online business.

When each piece of your brand design & identity is consistent, it starts to tell a story. Every time your audience, customers or clients interact with your business, they’ll get another piece of that story. People resonate with and love to engage with consistent messaging. That’s why we tune into our favorite shows or podcasts every week.  

Consistent stories = memorable experiences. 

When someone has a memorable experience with your business, they’re far more likely to talk about it than if your brand was completely forgettable. Other people talking about your business without you having to prompt them is the best kind of free marketing you can get!

So to recap on what a solid brand identity system can do for your online business…

It can:

  • Save you time by cutting down on unnecessary design tasks.

  • Allow you to be more productive by eliminating frustration and refocusing on your passion.

  • Help you bring in more customers or clients because your brand communicates your value.

  • Give you a source of free marketing by creating a memorable and share-worthy experience with your business. 

If you’re done being frustrating with your DIY branding, it’s time for a complete, brand identity system. 

If working with a designer on your own, custom identity system is out of reach for you right now, you might want to check out my Brand Kits. 

They’re a set of comprehensive, pre-made designs for your logo, colors, fonts, imagery, and even Instagram + blog post templates. They’ve been designed using the exact same process that I use with my 1-1 design clients, and they cover all the foundational bases for a strong brand identity system. 

They’ll be launching in the fall of 2019, so be sure to check them out here and register for the VIP list to be the first to know when they go on sale. 

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And if you’ve got any questions about brand identity systems, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer you!


See you in the next one!


Emily Banks - Emily Banks Creative.

How to avoid a DIY branding disaster in your online business with a brand identity system - Emily Banks Creative
DIY, Branding, DesignEmily BanksComment