Be Your Own Designer: Building Your Company’s Brand on a Budget

Rhiannon Payne
Mar 26 · 13 min read
Source: The New Distributed Workforce

Brand Identity

Now, to the good stuff. When developing your brand, one of the first things to consider is who your company is and what you want to represent — i.e., your brand identity. If you don’t have a real vision behind your brand, you don’t have anything.

  1. Purpose — What is the fundamental purpose behind your business that inspires everyone in and outside of the organization to do what they do — and love doing it?
  2. Company Core Values — What principles are going to shape your company’s culture and support your brand vision?
  3. Personality and Voice — How do you present yourself? Do you have a sense of humor or are you honest to a fault? Are you a casual brand or a “suit and tie” mentality?
  4. Brand Expressions — How does your brand come to life across the broad spectrum of media? What type of content are you going to be known for? How are your customers going to experience your brand?
  1. What customers do I want to have?
  2. Who are my competitors?
  3. What is my competitors’ brand position?
  4. What problem does my company solve? Does anybody care?
  5. What is my value proposition? Is it distinctive? Is it relevant to my customers?
  6. When people think about my company or product, what are the feelings and associations I want them to have? Are they unique? Can we “own” them?
  7. What are the functional benefits that we deliver to our customers?
  8. What are the emotional benefits that only we deliver to our customers?
  9. What kind of personality will my brand have?
TLDR version — while most companies consider their brand from the outside-in, The Golden Circle encourages entrepreneurs to think from the inside-out. The WHY comes before the WHAT. The classic Apple ads are a great example of this. Illustration source: SmartInsights.

Brand Colors

Before designing, a key element to any brand is deciding on a color palette. Strong and intuitive use of color communicates professionalism to anyone who engages with your brand. The colors you pick will also need to be consistent across all your assets — website, social media, infographics, pitch decks, PDFs, everything.

Playing with Coolors.co — this palette was randomly generated. I like the use of blue, sea foam, and purple, something I may not have thought of before. I would adjust this by creating a lighter, faded purple and more contrasting blues and greens.

Style Guide

Once you have your brand colors nailed down, you can add them to your overall style guide.

Style Guide Examples

A simple example: this portion of Uber’s style guide includes colors, badge, preferences for grid map interfaces, and other key design elements.
A more complex style guide from OntraPort.com.

Creating Your Own Logo

Let’s pause for a second on this one. Creating your own logo, as a non-designer, is a contentious subject. There are lots of inexpensive tools out there that provide beautiful logo templates and royalty-free icons and images that you can use to make a starter logo for your company. However, it’s not always advisable, as using generic assets instead of custom illustrations may prevent you from trademarking it later. Plus, if you’re not going to customize the crap out of the logo template you choose, you risk your brand looking like everyone else’s — and your brand identity fading into the background as a result.

My company, Sea Foam Media & Technology, designed professionally by Hanna Dekker.
My second company, DLT.dev. Logo made by me in Logo Maker Shop on my iPad Pro.

Logo Making Tools

Here are some of the best logo generating tools on the market:

Source: WebsiteSetup.com / Canva
Source: LogoMakerShop.com

Designing Your Own Website

Designing your own website is perhaps the most reasonable thing to DIY. With so many template-based and drag-and-drop website tools out there, it’s become more of the norm to do it yourself rather than hiring a professional website designer. However, if you don’t have the best eye for design, a good feel for it, or the time to invest, it’s never a bad idea to get a professional to help out.

  • WebFlow: This was introduced to me recently by a colleague who used it to build several impressive landing pages. It claims to provide “the power to design, build, and launch responsive websites visually while writing clean, semantic code for you” and users can get started with free templates. It also has a great CMS similar to Medium for creating beautiful blogs. My colleague used it to create his site RideWithSurf.com, which he reports took him about 16 hours end-to-end, and that “learning was cake” with its visual builder. Personally, I can’t wait to try it. Here is a great video that demonstrates its power:

Decks, Infographics, Social Assets, and More…

Finally, I’d like to get to what inspired me to create this post — creating slide decks for new projects, as well as infographics for my company, Sea Foam.

Source: Visme.co
Sea Foam whitepaper infographic, created by me in Visme
I outlined my infographic in Goodnotes on my iPad Pro — LOVE this tool
  • Venngage: Venngage is a versatile infographic builder tool that is free to get started with their basic templates.
  • SlidesCarnival: SlidesCarnival isn’t design software itself but is a marketplace for slide deck/presentation themes that can be used with Google Slides, Powerpoint, and Canva. Used with Google Slides, these templates are a great free option for entrepreneurs on a tight budget.

To Recap

The New Distributed Workforce and the move toward remote work and business is opening up doors for entrepreneurs all over the world. This shift in the workforce is particularly impactful for women and disenfranchised groups who historically have not had the capital necessary to start their own businesses. With the ability to start remote, online businesses, overhead costs are reduced dramatically, allowing entrepreneurs to start businesses on the side of their full-time jobs or simply get started without the need for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in start-up capital.

Call For Submissions!

If you’re a woman who has started a remote business or works as a freelancer or remotely for a company, I’d love to include your story in The New Distributed Workforce book, which will be published in June 2019! If you’re interested, please fill out our interview form. I am taking submissions through April 15th. In the meantime, please continue to follow along as I share more tips and inspiration for taking advantage of the new workforce and changing business landscape of the 2020s, and share your favorite design tools in the comments.


The New Distributed Workforce

Taking advantage of opportunities to start remote work and businesses in the changing workforce of the 2020s. The New Distributed Workforce book will be published on June 1st, 2019.

Rhiannon Payne

Written by

CEO of Sea Foam Media & Tech. Helping start-ups (blockchain & AI) build products, tell their stories, & scale. Writing a book on The New Distributed Workforce.

The New Distributed Workforce

Taking advantage of opportunities to start remote work and businesses in the changing workforce of the 2020s. The New Distributed Workforce book will be published on June 1st, 2019.