The key to a strong brand is consistency. From messaging to graphic design, a strong brand should be consistent across all forms of marketing. As digital marketers, we believe in the power of a strong brand and as a small business we also understand that budgets can be tight. Branding is extremely important but does not have to be extremely expensive.  In order to help, we have come up with some tips for branding on a budget.

Before you begin the branding process you should have a clear vision of the look and feel you want your brand to have.  A free way to cultivate this ideal aesthetic is by putting together a brand inspiration board.  You can pull inspiration from brands that have elements that stand out to you.  Another way to fill your inspiration board is by compiling photos that represent the brand image you have in your head.  This can help bring the brand image in your head to life.  Your inspiration board doesn’t need to be all fonts and colors.  It can be anything that tangibly illustrates the look and feel you want your brand to have.  As you begin putting the inspiration board together, you won’t know immediately what you want your logo to look like or what your primary font will be.  The inspiration board may take a little time, but once you have it figured out, you can start creating elements of your brand.

Here is an example of a branding inspiration board we put together for TEN31 Marketing. We included pictures that represent some key pillars for our brand such as partnership, education, and design.

When branding on a budget, it is important to prioritize branding elements based on your needs.  The top priority will most likely be a logo that accurately represents your brand. To create a logo you do not necessarily have to have an experienced graphic designer on staff or spend a ton of money to hire one.  Because a logo is number one on the priority list, you should definitely allocate a portion of your budget to creating a well-designed, aesthetically pleasing logo.  To justify the spending, remember, your logo is crucial to your brand identity and brand recognition.  The cost of hiring a graphic designer or design company to create your logo may vary but can certainly be very affordable.

If your budget is not yet big enough to incur the cost of hiring someone to design your logo, there are online tools available to use.  There are several free websites that with just a few clicks can design a logo for your brand.

TIP: Here is a list of some free and paid online logo creation tools. For a more complete list and a brief summary of each, check out Small Business Trend’s complete list

  • Free/Mostly Free: Supalogo, Logo Victory, The Logo Creator
  • Paid: LogoWorks, AAA Logo, Free Logo Services

To keep things consistent, a brand kit should also fall at the top of your priority list.  Elements included in a brand kit are: your logo and variations of it, colors, fonts, and sizing details. A brand kit allows you to organize these key elements in one easy-to-access place. By having these elements in your brand kit, you can ensure that all future branding and usage are consistent.  Creating a brand kit is a fairly easy task and is very inexpensive. Your brand’s logo can be thought of as the centerpiece of your brand kit.

The primary fonts and colors of your brand are most likely part of your logo and will be included in your brand kit.  Your secondary fonts and colors will be included as well. Once again, the internet is a very useful tool when it comes to branding on a budget,. There are free fonts available to download as well as articles and tips for font pairing.  If you already have a logo, you won’t be starting from scratch when it comes to selecting your brands fonts and colors.  These choices can be made solely based on personal preference or by consulting with a graphic designer.  Reference your inspiration board to guide these decisions and make sure the choices you’re making align with your desired brand image.

Here is an example of a simple and basic brand kit for TEN31 Marketing:

TIP: Things to keep in mind when selecting colors & fonts:

  • Select colors that complement each other
  • Font selection should include both serif and sans serif fonts
  • Readability is extremely important
  • Brand colors are not the same as your favorite colors

Beginning to build your brand is an exciting process.  Having a tight budget isn’t a setback and there are still tons of things you can do to make your brand everything you want it to be.

-Written by Kelsie Ebel, Marketing Specialist