How to transition from do-it-yourself branding to professional brand design

When you’re starting a business it’s a good idea to keep your investments low and do everything you can by yourself. You know about the importance of making a good first impression to potential clients, so creating the visual brand of your business was a task on your startup-to-do-list. You tried your best with research and templates and got your business of the ground.

Then your business evolved over the years, which means more clients, more tasks, more to-dos. And here you are today, still creating everything by yourself. You do have a feeling that it’s time to hand off some tasks to make your life easier and focus on the things you’re actually good at. But then again, why should you, if things have been working the way they are?

Well, there are a variety of problems that come along with a diy-brand. Which is why you should consider switching to a professional designer. Today I’m sharing these issues and explain when the right time is to hire a professional and how to go about it.

4 problems of diy-ing your visual brand

The problems with creating things yourself are a lack of professionalism, consistency, and originality. You also end up wasting a lot of time because you lack the right skills to get the job done.

Illustration: Simona Cellar

1. Lack of professionalism

When you create your own visual brand without any design skills your company ends up looking amateurish. This is a problem because this makes you look untrustworthy to potential clients. Instead of looking like the established business you have become, you look like a hobbyist and end up losing potential clients and sales.

2. Lack of consistency

Have you been working with design templates of different designers and mixed it with your own designs? It made sense when you started, I know. Those templates saved you time and helped you understand how to design better. But the downside is, that your visuals have now become this mix of different themes. So instead of portraying a consistent image of your company, your visual brand is no longer clear but washed out and hard to recognize. According to strategist and serial entrepreneur Eric Holtzclaw consistency not only establishes your reputation but makes you relevant and maintains your message. This applies just as much to your visuals, not only your actions.

3. Lack of originality

The problem with templates is also the lack of originality. Because you’re not the only one using these templates. Sure, you can adjust colors to match your own brand. But that doesn’t have a significant impact on looking unique. When you look generic, like many other businesses, it will be hard for potential customers to recognize what makes you different and why they should choose you over someone else. Which will lead them to not choose you at all. According to marketing agency Banfield being original is important especially in a competitive space. It helps you stick out in a congested marketplace and reach new customers.

4. Major time suck

Doing something that you haven’t been trained for is a major time suck. While designing, you end up researching and interrupting your task instead of just getting through it and getting it done. You never reach that state of flow that you have in the things you’re actually good at. And no matter how much time you spend on that one piece of design, it still ends up amateurish and unprofessional because you lack the necessary design skills and years of experience.

The question is, can you afford NOT to hire a professional design service? Are you okay with having these problems? Or is your business at a stage, where you need to move away from diy-ing?

When to switch to a professional brand designer

So, when is the right time to hire professional design help? When this is true for you:

  • Your business is in a growth state
  • Your business makes regular income
  • You want your time back

Illustration: Simona Cellar

Your business is in a growth state

It makes sense to outsource design tasks when your business is in a growth state. It has evolved and has become an established business. It’s at this stage you realize that what you have become no longer reflects you in your visuals. This is a sign to think about an upgrade for your visual brand.

Your business makes regular income

You actually have the budget to outsource some tasks. It doesn’t make sense to invest in a professional design service when you don’t have regular income coming in to regularly outsource tasks.

You want your time back

If you’re struggling and wasting way too much time with designing and creating things, then it’s time to consider getting help so you can do the things you’re good at and have other people do what they’re good at.

Some founders skip the diy branding all together, which makes sense for:

  • Experienced specialists transitioning from employee to independent business owner
  • Taking over an established business

Experienced specialist transitions from employee to independent business owner

If this is you, you already have years of experience in your area of expertise and want to outshine your competition. You already know the importance of a professional brand that sets you apart and have set aside the necessary budget for it.

Check out this case study of the Swiss latte art champion for whom I created a distinct visual identity.

Taking over an established business

If you’re taking over an established business, like a dental practice or another expertise business, then it also makes sense to hire a professional designer that helps you stand out from the sea of competition.

In this case study you can see an example of a take-over, where I created a fresh visual identity for a dentist.

How to transition to a professional brand design service

Avoid this mistake

The most common problem I see founders make, when it comes to working with a brand designer, is this: You scrap together all your money to invest in a professional brand identity. You don’t realize that the end of creating your identity design is actually just the beginning. But because you spent all your money on the first part, you no longer have the budget to create all touchpoints like your website, collateral, and everything else your visual brand touches. This leads you back to the beginning – You are forced to design things yourself or create them with a less skilled designer and end up looking unprofessional again. While you had good intentions to invest in quality brand design, you end up devaluing your visual brand again.

You don’t realize that the end of creating your identity design is actually just the beginning. And now you no longer have the budget to create all touchpoints like your website, collateral, and everything else your visual brand touches.

Think things through

When you consider hiring a designer, think about how this collaboration unfolds. Who will end up maintaining your visual brand and how much budget can you set aside for it, regularly? You should hire a designer that fits within your budget regularly and has the design skills that make you look professional. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time, energy, and money.

Who will end up maintaining your visual brand and how much budget can you set aside for it, regularly?

Hire a designer for a long-term collaboration

Your designer should be your partner in a long-term collaboration and not a one-time service. Ideally, the brand designer your hire takes a holistic approach.

Holistic brand design is an approach to branding that considers all aspects of a company’s visual identity and how these elements work together to create a cohesive and consistent experience for customers.

A holistic brand design approach helps to ensure that a company’s visual identity effectively represents its values and resonates with its target audience, and that it is consistently applied across all touchpoints for maximum impact.

The process of holistic brand design

Illustration: Simona Cellar

The process starts with auditing your brand and developing a brand strategy. Part of the brand strategy is the company’s mission, vision, and values. The defined strategy ensures that a brand’s visual elements authentically represent the company and its values to the customers, creating an emotional connection.

Once your designer develops the identity design elements (logo, typography, color palette, photography, and graphic design), they are used to create all touch points such as website, packaging, advertising and more.

After that, you will sporadically want to create new assets along the way. Your designer will make sure to develop and evolve your visual brand further while maintaining consistency by documenting all visual creations in once place. If you can find a holistic brand designer like that, your visual brand will stay consistent and organized. This will boost your brand recognition and build more trust with your target audience.

This approach considers the entire customer journey and how the brand should be perceived and experienced at every stage, rather than just focusing on individual elements of the visual identity.

In conclusion

So remember, to transition from DIY branding, it’s important to have reached the growth stage, have regular income and set aside a regular budget for your designer.

Hire a designer who can also maintain your brand long-term, even after you rebranded your visual identity. This is crucial as the designer will not only keep the quality of your brand high, but also expand it further.

It’s important to have a designer who can not only create a new look for your brand but also maintain it, so that your brand stays consistent and recognizable. This will help your brand to stand out and be more successful in the long run.

About Me

Hi, I’m Simona, brand strategist and designer who helps ambitious business owners transform their business. I’m passionate about creating authentic identity designs which help you stand out from the crowd and are based on a solid strategy.

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