As a rule, a designer’s biased perspective on a DIY approach to branding and marketing is, “DON’T DO IT! Leave it to the professionals!” Design is one of those things that you either have an aptitude for or you don’t.  Marketing has never been as prolifically inundating as it is today and cutting through the white noise is something that requires strategy. That being said, when you’re just starting out having SOMETHING is better than having nothing and there are more tools and resources than ever to get your brand going!


Step 1: Do your homework

The first step in Branding DIY is to know what you’re getting into. There are limitless options for video tutorials and articles related to design, branding, and marketing. Take a tutorial or two. Aside from Youtube, there are quality professional online courses available for anyone willing to invest the time that are inexpensive. Here are some of our favorites:

MasterClass This site covers a lot of subjects from branding to film and photography. Their content is always changing, so check back often. This site is a pay per class rather than a membership.

Skillshare I use this one often to keep up with new trends and techniques in design. This one is a membership based site, but they also offer a free 30 day trial so you can try it out before committing to a membership.

CreativeLive This site is also pay per class and always has super insightful content that is engaging and easily consumed. They also frequently run specials and have free content as well.

Step 2: Your tool kit

For branding DIY you need the right tools and while it may be intimidating to think about learning new software there is a cornucopia of available resources, both free and paid, many of which can be mastered in short order (or at least after watching some tutorials).

At Minimum you will need a vector based editor (i.e. Adobe Illustrator). Adobe is still the industry standard and while once upon a time was a major investment, now is offered at a nominal monthly membership fee for less taking a date to the movies. They also offer a free trial (if you don’t imagine needing it past designing your logo).

If you have a knack for illustration there are also many free mobile apps, including Adobe Draw, that will build your illustrations as vector layers in real time. Bear in mind, however, that once you’ve created your masterpiece you will still need to be able to export and format it for all the ways your design will be used (web, social media, print, swag, etc.). It’s hard to avoid the need for vector software all together.

If you plan on designing some marketing collateral you will likely need a photo editor as well (i.e. Photoshop or Lightroom). If you only plan to use these on the inter-webs any social media app that allows photo editing can be used. Just email yourself a screen cap and you’ll be one your way. In order to combine your images with text and logos you will need design software of some sort.

Here are some other options, that can accommodate each of the tools we’ve mentioned thus far.

Step 3: Stock

The savior of any branding DIY venturer is definitely Stock libraries! While you don’t have to be DaVinci or even Steadman to make a quality design, today you can do it without so much as an aptitude for stick figures. In addition to their photo libraries, any stock site will have editable content. They will also have several licensing options to choose from to accommodate whatever the intended use situation may be.

All you have to do is enter your search terms on their site and either add ‘vector’ to your search terms or filter content by ‘vector’. Shutterstock, and Adobe are two of the biggest libraries. I’m also a fan of Creative Market, Deviant Art, & Envato.

Once you’ve selected and purchased your design, you can open it in your vector editor of choice and alter, combine with other files, add fonts, backgrounds, etc. to your hearts content.

For fonts as a designer, I’d say stick to the classics, but if you’re feeling fancy, DaFont or Font Squirrel will get you sorted.

Step 4: Rock N Roll!

Branding DIY complete! Well almost…Once you’ve got your finalized design you need to figure out what you’re gonna do with it. My recommendation is that you download a ‘brand book’ or ‘brand bible’ template (you can find both free and paid online). This will walk you through the typical kinds of iterations necessary for a comprehensive brand.  These can include logo versions for both light and dark backgrounds, horizontal and vertical formats, brand color specifications for digital and print, spacing grids, and business assets (i.e. business cards and letterhead, etc.), as well as marketing assets.

After making these decisions, you can then set out to format your brand collaterals for social media, websites, and another places you plan to get the word out!

Hopefully, this will get you all started on your way. This has been a somewhat generic venture into the world of branding and marketing. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for additional articles that will set out to be more in depth tutorials about specific aspects of each of these steps!