Professional branding and graphic design don’t have to be expensive. Of course if you run a big business and have the budget for in-house designers or to hire an agency that’s a different story. There certainly is value in letting professionals handle your branding and graphic design. However, if you are just getting started with your business or running a small web based business you’ll most likely have budget restrictions. This doesn’t mean your branding assets need to suffer. Many entrepreneurs settle for poor design and use the budget limitation as an excuse unfortunately. There are still quite a few small businesses who do a wonderful job branding, some even outperforming large corporation in their strategy and quality of design.
This article will highlight five free design applications that you can leverage to create your own professional looking branding pieces. Now let’s jump right into it.
1. Logo Creator
Your branding always starts with your business logo. All of your other brand assets should derive their creative direction from the logo. The core color, the accent colors, font choice and even tagline messaging set forth in your logo should be followed throughout all of your branding design. It’s worthwhile spending some extra time to get your logo right. With a free tool like Logo Creator you can design unlimited logo concepts. To get started choose a category and then select a template that you like. A team of in-house designers created all of the templates so you’ll have a solid foundation to build from. You’ll be able to then edit layout, text, graphic and more with their editing application. When you are happy with your design click download and start using your logo instantly. If you aren’t quite happy yet or want to gather feedback from business partners first you can save your work and continue later.
2. Stock Snap
An easy and quick way to elevate the design of your branding assets is through the use of images. The trick is not to use poorly shot stock photos but rather find high-resolution sets of photos. On Stock Snap you can browse and search a large database of professionally images. Once you find a fitting photo simply click download for instant access. Their license grants you commercial as well as personal rights which will give you confidence when publishing the images in your art work, whether that’s on your website, throughout your presentation deck or poster. To make sure your branding is consistent find a set of photos and implement those exclusively across your graphic design pieces. Those photos will have the same feel and tone, which will read well across your brand assets.
Fonts often get overlooked as a branding tool. Each font is unique and portrays a different message. When you start building your brand you want to be consistent and deliberate in your font use. Don’t just settle for a basic font in your word processing software. Choose 1-3 fonts that you’ll use across all of your communication from social media posts, to website and business cards. DaFont offers a large database of fonts that you can download for free. They are sorted by style such as serif, sans serif, script, etc. for easy accessibility. Once you find a font you like click download to access it in TTF format. Whenever you submit your brand assets including those fonts make sure to provide your printer with the TTF font file. This way they can ensure the font prints well.
4. Adobe Color
When it comes to branding you can use the most beautiful images, fonts, and icons but if your color scheme is off it won’t work. The study of color is complex and to truly master it takes experience. That’s why a free color generator tool like Adobe Color is a great resource. Their interactive color wheel lets you quickly find monochromatic, complementary, triad and other matching colors. If you have a core color in mind simply set that and find your accent colors from there. You also have the option to generate pretty color palettes at random. Keep in mind, before jumping into colors randomly make sure you understand what message each color communicates. Aligning color with your business message will go a long way in how it resonates with your clientale.
Another quick way to elevate the quality of your branding designs is to incorporate icons. Icons aren’t just visually pleasing but they are also great for drawing attention to certain points in your content or breaking up layout. Freepik offers thousands of free vector icons for personal as well as commercial use. To find a specific icon use their search function. You then have the option to download the icon individually or download the entire icon set it belongs to. It’s best practice to go with the entire set so your icon use looks consistent and professional across all of your brand assets. With a free resource like Freepik there’s no excuse to settle for cheap clipart or poorly designed icons available in your word processing software.
A Few Final Thoughts
A do-it-yourself design tool or resource can’t replace the expertise of a professional designer. Having said that, if you are operating on a small budget putting on your creative hat is a feasible and fun option. To make sure your branding looks professional be consistent in the use of color, fonts, images and icons. The free tools covered in this post will help you do just that. If you aren’t finding what you are looking for with these resources there are alternatives that can be uncovered with a quick Google search. This list is a good starting point however. Before you approach your next branding piece revisit this article and try one or all of these resources. Happy designing!
I’m Jill Raymond, a graphic designer by day and passionate writer by night. I like to cover topics ranging from graphic design, small business branding, and entrepreneurship to social issues. When I’m not writing or designing you can find me at the beach with my puppy Addie.