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When to invest in custom branding or rebranding

Most business owners think they need to hire a brand designer and get a custom brand and website right out of the gate when starting a business because they think that’s when to invest in custom branding.

But actually, that’s not the best idea for most entrepreneurs.

In fact, I typically reserve my 1:1 custom brand and website design slots for more established businesses, because I know that it is much more beneficial for them to invest in custom branding at that point in their business rather than spend the time and money (that you probably don’t have) right when you’re starting your business.

So when is the best time to invest in custom branding?

What you need to do BEFORE investing

The truth is when you’re just starting your business all you need is a solid brand strategy, a simple and professional-looking brand design, and a strategically designed website template.

Don’t get me wrong, it still needs to be done right, well-thought, and built with intention, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune and take all your time. You are better off keeping things simple in the beginning and focusing on your strategy, messaging, and execution so you can grow your business.

THEN, when you have grown your business to the point that you are ready to get more serious and reach an elevated level, you can invest in custom brand and website solutions that are tailored to your specific needs.

This timeframe is different for every entrepreneur, but the process is still the same (although there are always exceptions).

Here’s what will happen if you invest too early:

  1. You’ll want to change your design again and again with every tiny shift you make in your business because it just doesn’t feel “right”.

  2. You’ll spend a lot of time and money working on it with a designer and feel chained to it for years because you don’t have any money left to change it.

  3. It might look good but there won’t be anything holding up the face of your brand because you haven’t had time to truly develop and refine your brand strategy.

How to know when you’ve outgrown the template

After you’ve established a strong but simple foundation for your brand, you’ll be able to use that in action with your business and learn more about how to align your brand with your business better. There is only one thing that can give you the answers you need: time. It just takes time to develop your brand to the point where you need to invest in custom branding solutions that will elevate your brand to the next level.

If you’ve built the foundation of your brand strategically, you will be set up for a more successful investment that will truly benefit your business.

3 signs that you’re ready to invest:

  1. You’ve outgrown that templated logo or site design that helped you get started. Although templates are great for starting out, at some point you will need to rework your designs to match up with the elevated level of your business and that’s when custom can really pay off.

  2. Your current logo isn’t conveying the high-end quality of the services you now offer. If your business has grown but your brand hasn’t, then it’s time for a new look that clearly communicates the right message to the right person.

  3. You feel like your brand is all over the place and want to look more cohesive. Over time your brand and website get a little cluttered as you tweak, change, and add to it. If yours feels a little crazy, it’s time to streamline, organize, refine, and align with custom brand and website design.

How to DIY your brand the right way until you’re ready to invest

In some cases, hiring a designer at the beginning of your business might be the best path to take. But if you’re like the majority of business owners, you’ll need to go the “DIY” route until you get your feet planted and can afford to invest.

But here’s the thing about DIY – I’m not telling you to browse Pinterest until you find a brand you like and then attempt to copy it when you don’t really know what you’re doing and don’t have any skills to make it happen.

I’m talking about utilizing well-designed templates and resources to get your brand off to the right start. You still need a good brand system in place, but it doesn’t have to be all out yet.

Step 1: Brand Strategy

The first thing to do is define your brand strategy. This will be the foundation for the rest of your business and with this in place, everything else will make more sense and come more easily. Invest the time into developing a well-thought-out brand strategy so you have clarity and direction when building the rest of your brand and business.

Plus, this is something you can do on your own (or with guidance like this) without spending too much time or money on it. And there is no better time to work on your brand strategy than when you have time to work on your business before you get too bogged down working in your business.

Step 2: Brand Visuals

After you get the strategy nailed down, you’ll want to create a brand design. The best way to start is with a simple, professional-looking design. It doesn’t have to be the “perfect” design. It doesn’t have to be completely on brand yet either.

You will continue to develop and refine your style as you get your bearings in your business and when you are ready to invest in custom design, you’ll know more about what your brand identity should look like (or your designer will be able to understand better) because you’ll have a grounded foundation for growth. The key here is to be consistent and keep it simple. You can purchase a pre-made brand or work with a designer that offers starter packages to get something simple.

Step 3: Website

Then you’ll need a strategically designed website to get started. You can utilize a strategically designed website template and focus on making sure your content and message are clear and direct. The key here is that you focus on the content first and make sure you are saying the right things to the right person so you can start making sales.

There can be a lot of strategy that goes into building a website, but that comes with time. As your business evolves you’ll need more specific solutions and strategies for your website, which is why DIY, in the beginning, works just fine.

Step 4: Custom Branding

After you’ve taken some time (it could be 3 months, it could be 3 years) to establish a foundation for your business, you are more prepared for custom design. This might go against the grain in our industry, but over the years I’ve seen how much more beneficial it is to wait just a bit before investing hard-earned money into something like this.

Then, once you do invest in custom brand and website solutions, you’ll be primed for serious growth and it will only help to propel your business forward even more.

Custom branding solutions come only after you’ve established a strong brand foundation, which is typically done DIY style. In the beginning of building a brand, you need to establish your strategy, define your style, and start with a simple but professional-looking brand and website template.

If you’re at a point in your business where you need to invest, it’s time to chat with a designer to find the best fit. From there, they will be able to guide you to strategically build on your brand foundation and take it to the next level with custom solutions.


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