I hate to say it, but not everyone can or should DIY their own brand.
Now, before you get flustered, there is one thing you should know. I am definitely an advocate for saving money on your brand to get your business off the ground.
In the beginning stages of establishing your business it can be challenging because you're still trying to find your voice, your target audience, and which services to offer.
But once you have established your business mission, your direction, your audience, and your offering, it’s time to get serious and hire a professional.
So what are some DIY design things we do for our business that can make us look like we’re not professional and frankly, inexperienced? Let’s dive in.
Creating a logo, just like other design elements, seems really easy. Until you design your own.
Normally, one can tell at a glance if you have a professional logo or if it has been a DIY project.
Here are some tell-tale things that can make your logo look like you did it yourself, in a bad way:
Using too many colors and fonts in your logo
And when I say too many colors, I mean 3 or more.
If you're struggling with narrowing down colors, think of which 2 represent your business the best and go for something unique but also one that reflects your style of business.
Same as using too many colors, using too many fonts can look crowded, not cohesive, and disorganized. You want something that looks clean and professional so I would suggest 2 fonts at the most.
Designer tip: this may go without saying, but DO NOT use these fonts: Comic Sans, Papyrus, and Zapfino. It kind of screams “inexperience.”
An unbalanced Logo
What I mean by unbalanced is that it doesn’t visually look well composed. As soon as you look at it, it seems off and not easy to look at.
So when you’re creating a logo for yourself, make sure it looks balanced, not text heavy on one end and then no text on the other.
And if you use an image or icon, incorporate it in such a way that it looks effortless.
Out of any problems with logo design, this is the one I see the most often. A logo isn't simply the name of your business in calligraphy. I mean, it can be, but you want your logo to be original in design and concept.
If you think your logo is just a combination of serif and sans serif fonts you are mistaken. Go for originality and uniqueness when coming up with your logo. One of the best forms of advertising is using your logo as a mark on items that represents your business.
On the other hand you don't want to go overboard with making something that doesn't make sense. All in all, it's about composition, balance, and aiming for originality in concept and design.
Using too many colors
You use your color palette in lots of places, your social media, your Instagram, your website, your business cards. Needless to say, it’s pretty important.
When choosing colors make sure that (No. 1) they will be attractive to your ideal client. If you want to find out more about that, take a look at this post to learn about color psychology and how it impacts your visitors.
Stick with 2-3 dominant colors, and around 3-4 to be your secondary colors. What makes a brand look very cohesive is your use of color.
Using too many colors looks indecisive and using too few can look bland. Again, it’s about balance and coordination.
Not Using the color wheel to guide you
The color wheel isn’t just for first-graders. The color wheel helps you with using science to bring balance to your color palette.
So here's a quick review of how you can use the color wheel:
Primary Colors: The primary colors are red, yellow and blue. You cannot mix anything to get these colors.
Complementary Colors: Complementary are opposite colors colors on the color wheel. So it would be red and green, blue and yellow, and orange and purple. These colors naturally go together and complement the warm and cool tones.
Analogous Colors: These are the colors side by side on the color wheel. It would be the cool colors; green, blue and purple, or the warm colors red, orange, and yellow.
Doing this is a great way to take the guessing game out of color combinations.
Designer tip: If you’re struggling with your color palette check out DesignSeeds where they offer tons of color inspiration and hundreds of color palettes that are beautiful and balanced.
Using colors that are trendy rather than matching your biz
This is a big one. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest trends without thinking through the personality of your business and those you want to attract.
An example of this is the color teal. It was a very popular color a couple years ago and SO many businesses chose to brand their business with teal when maybe it wouldn’t have been the best choice.
Just because a majority of people go for a color doesn’t mean you have to. Think through your goals, your audience, and how you want to come across, then thoughtfully choose your colors.
Using multiple photos that don’t look like they go together
This happens more often than not. And not even with using your own photos, but with finding photos from different free stock photo websites and choosing ones that don’t quite go together.
It’s hard when each free photo has a different designer and photographer behind it, but try to find photos that match with color, lighting, and style.
Lighting is the make or break it factor when it comes to “handmade” photos and professional photos. When you’re taking your own pictures, making sure your photos have enough light is crucial to get quality photos.
Designer tip: Never use indoor overhead lights (especially the yellow ones) to take pictures in. The best lighting you can get is outside on an overcast day.
Using a selfie as your headshot
Ok guys, let’s get real. In order to come off as professional, you need a good, professional headshot. Not a selfie. End of story.
A poor layout
When someone comes to your website, the first feeling you want people to feel when coming to your site is ease.
Sometimes inexperienced web designs can make people feel confused or overwhelmed. Make sure you’re not sharing too much information all at once.
Give people a clear path to follow when coming to your site. To find out 5 ways to make your website more effective, check out this post.
Every good website has a clear call-to-action when people come to their site. Whether it’s to find out more about the services, start a free trial, or sign up for an incentive.
Make sure the outcome you want your visitor to take is clear and obvious.
I would love to hear what you think of this list.
Have you found that some of your designs fit on the DIY list?
What next steps do you plan to take if you have a DIY brand?