Image by Bart Sadowski – ID: 519863146: a detail shot of pointer closing a browser window.
Next to making the decision to go into business for yourself, the most exciting aspect of being in business is how to create a logo, your visual identity and your brand.
What? You thought a logo, a visual identity and brand were all the same thing? Think again. They are quite different and if you get them collapsed into the same thing, you’ll find yourself wasting a lot of money.
In this article, I’m going to give you a process and tools to develop your brand, outline your visual identity and create a logo creation on a budget — even if you don’t have any design skills.
What’s the difference between branding, visual identity and a logo?
Your brand is what you stand for, it’s what your customers think of you, it’s the promise that you make to your customers.
Your visual identity consists of all the tangible elements you use to communicate your branding; your brand colors, fonts, logos, business cards, marketing materials, signs, etc.
Your logo design is actually part of your visual identity and your overall brand. A logo is usually an icon or image that serves as a shortcut for your overall brand.
How to Create a Brand That Sells
Build Your Brand
Start with building a solid marketing message that clearly communicates what your brand stands for, what makes you different from everyone else and who your ideal customer is.
Going through the process of creating your brand can be a process — but it’s time well spent.
Try this branding exercise that you can use to build a solid brand and marketing message:
Top of Mind
When I want__________ I go to _________ (insert your name here)
- Go get some index cards or sticky notes
- On each sticky note write something that your customer WANTS when they are buying what you are selling
- Now look for where you can be more specific — add those descriptions to your “want” note or create a new note
I’ve got nine more branding exercises you can try to help you define your ideal customer and why they should choose you.
Develop the Look and Feel of Your Visual Identity
The next step involves choosing the visual elements such as type, color and brand voice that will best communicate your brand story to your ideal customer.
HELPFUL HINT: Think of your brand as a person — with a personality. Also, think of your ideal customer and what type of brand personality they will connect with. Use this as your guide in choosing visual elements. Do not choose colors or fonts simply because YOU like them. What you like isn’t as important as what your ideal customers will like or connect with.
This exercise will help you with that.
This Not That
This is a fun kids game that can be easily adapted as a branding exercise to help you understand exactly what sets you apart from the competition.
The name of the game is simple. You can brainstorm this on your own or you can enroll your team in the game. Make a list of brand attributes but focus on opposites. For example:
Funny not serious
Friendly not stilted
Detail oriented not obsessive
Wait Until the End to Create a Logo
Now that you’ve gone through the first two steps you can see why leaving the logo for last is a much smarter way to go. With a solid brand promise and visual identity chosen, you will be armed with a very clear idea of exactly what your new logo design should look like.
Your next step is to use an online logo maker to create your own logo, DIY style. Sure, you can hire a designer, but I’d recommend you run through this process first — because it’s FREE and only costs your time and because this process will help you clearly define what you like and what you don’t like.
How to Create Your Own Logo
There are three basic types of logos. Most logos are a combination of these elements, but you’ll find that often ONE of these three elements is prominent:
- Typographical – Font or Text based logos, where you use a font or typography as a design element.
- Descriptive – These are logos that have images that show exactly what the business is selling.
- Abstract – Using basic shapes or abstract designs to convey a brand message.
Before you jump into creating your logo, think about your ideal customer and your overall branding — which of these three types of logos do you feel will best connect to your ideal customer.
Notice – I didn’t ask which do you LIKE. Focus on your ideal customer and the brand image you want to create and decide which type of logo will best accomplish your branding goals.
Armed with this information, you’re ready to play with any online logo maker.
Just for fun, I ran through this process on the Wix Logo Maker to see how close their logo came to my professionally designed logo. Take a look and see what you think:
Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the result. As you can see, taking the time to develop your brand message, identify your visual identity will help you create a DIY logo that rivals that of a pricey professional design.