Let's be honest. Branding is awfully expensive. A logo design can cost you around $500 - $1,000 depending on you're hiring to do the job. A website can cost you up to $3,000 and branding materials such as pitch decks, proposals, can all sum up to $5,000. That's a lot of money to dish out if you're only just beginning your entrepreneurial journey.
These were the estimates I got when I wanted to build my online identity. I then tried hiring resources on Upwork and Fiverr, but finding someone who could 'get' my vision was a real struggle.
So what’s one to do when one’s picky but also poor? 😄 Well, you go DIY (do-it-yourself)!
Lucky for people like me, the internet has some of the most fantastic tech DIY tools out there that can let you create your own logo, website, and branding materials literally for free or for a quarter of the cost of hiring someone.
Pro-Fact: Know that DIY tools are just temporary solutions. Eventually, when your business brings in good money, you can then hire professionals to rebrand and redesign. But until you don’t have that ROI coming in, spending nearly $10K on branding isn’t recommended.
And so I went on a hunt to try out several tools. I’m not going to review each of them, but I’ll give you a reason why I chose that specific tool over its competitors.
So here goes!
I’ve had my fair share of experiences with logo makers and they never live up to the hype. I didn’t have the time to find, brief, and wait for a logo designer and was on the hunt for something quick. I tried Canva, but I was afraid it would be too redundant. Then, as I was about to go on Twitter to ask for suggestions, I came across Dagobert Renouf, the founder of Logology, who is quite loved for sharing his entrepreneurial journey as it is, with no filters! I checked out Logology, assuming it would be just another logo maker (which it technically is, but with a twist!).
This is one unique logo maker, where you take a quick brand personality test, get logos that match your values, and customize your logo colors and font as you want.
The questions forced me to understand more about my brand and what I wanted the world to see it as. Some of the cool questions were:
The result of my answers:
Here were some of my favorite options:
Of all these, I went with the first one because it was exactly what I wanted!
I tried another for my personal brand name Farah Kim, and here’s what I chose after plenty of options.
What I absolutely love about Logology was the amount of detail that was put into crafting a brand identity. All this would have cost me nearly a $1,000 had a hired a professional. Sure, it could get repetitive because I did see the same symbols from the Caffeinated Pros repeated for Farah Kim, but, even if they were, you had so many options and variations to choose from that your logo would still be unique!
The best part? I was able to see how my logo would look in branding materials!
With previews for how it would look like on a website.
For every option, there would be a detailed explanation:
All this for a mere $49 and literally in 15 minutes. Not bad for a starter I’d say. You could get a unique version of this logo for $499 after a brand discussion call.
→ To use if you want consistency, a reflection of brand values, and plenty of options to choose from.
→ Not to use if you are afraid of a non-original logo. In that case, you can avail the $499 package.
I know, I know, Wix is not a favorite for many people. It’s expensive, it’s sometimes wonky, and annoying, but it really helped me get a nice-looking website for when I needed it most. I pay $100 annually to get:
It did take me a week to pull off a 5 pager website that could host my CV, portfolio, and blog, but it was well worth the effort.
Some of the things I absolutely love about Wix and which would cost me more if I had a developer work on it would be:
This is the coolest feature of Wix. Traditionally, you would have to invest in several tools in order to automate chat responses, signup emails, and tasks reminders. But Wix lets you do that in one dashboard.
Note: Wix provides you with website features, but advanced marketing functions are provided by Ascend, Wix’s suite of marketing and customer management tools that are built into your site dashboard. To get unlimited tools, you will need to pay $49/month. With the free plan, you get limited options.
Here’s what you can get with all Ascend plans. When you upgrade to the Premium plan, you can get unlimited access.
I don’t mind paying $49/month for everything to be on one platform, because if I were to do any of these manually, I’d be having a tech stack costing no less than $500/month!
I don’t have to hire a technical SEO expert to ‘optimize’ my website. Wix takes care of all the technical optimization parts so the website is already Google ready. Now, I just need to start creating content and working on the on-site SEO.
My website was on Google’s 3rd-page result without me having to do any SEO optimization.
Here’s a list of SEO optimization that Wix lets you do easily.
You can optimize the SEO for all your pages without having to hire an SEO expert. For every step you get a guided snippet to do the task yourself.
What sets Wix apart from the other competitors is the Editor. You just have to drag and drop text and boxes to get it done. You can even preview the site on mobile and tablet version to see how the layout functions.
And the best thing? You can change layouts easily. This is great if you want to update your website design without having to go through the whole process of hiring a designer or a development team.
With hundreds of layouts to choose from, you’ll have plenty of fun.
Some of the best features of the editor that I love are:
Overall, Wix is a great option for solo consultants like me who don’t want to spend 5-digits on a website. With everything in one place, I can easily experiment with my needs and wants to decide what tech stack I absolutely need. Here’s the final result of my website.
Now, to the pros and cons.
→ If you want a quick website, don’t have the time, or budget to invest in a website right now, $100 for the Premium plan is good money to build a functional website in a day.
→ Not for people who have specific design or functionality requirements that can only be done through custom coding.
Envato has literally been a lifesaver for the many times I’ve had to design pitch decks and presentations without having access to a designer.
Let me note here that you can make great presentation decks on Canva too, but you’ll have to spend a lot of time adjusting designs and shapes. The easy way out for me is to buy an Envato presentation deck (you don’t need to purchase an individual deck if you have an Envato account) and use Canva to create images that I then add into the Envato deck.
With over 6,000 presentation decks categorized into PowerPoint, KeyNotes, and Google Slides, you’re not short on options. Each deck has around 40 slides that you can use to represent your data.
And every Envato presentation deck that I’ve used for clients and for myself has received stellar responses. From presentations for a solar business to a laundry business, and to an NFT project, you get EVERYTHING.
Here’s one solar presentation deck that I used. All I had to do in this was replace the text and images that I had created on Canva. This presentation template won me an extended contract from the client!
With one Envato account, you can get access to stock videos, images, logos, graphic templates, presentations, audios, and much more. Personally, I find the stock images to be very limited but I loved the slide templates and vector icons for every industry under the sun.
→ Use if you don’t have a designer on hand and need to send out pitch decks with stock images and vector icons that you can download.
→ Don’t use if you want detailed customization and a unique design.
Overall, Envato has been great every time I needed to pull off a presentation. Sure I would have to spend hours perfecting it, but with some decks having over 100 slides to choose from, I get more variety in how I present information. You’ll still have to use tools like Canva to create custom graphics and animations for the deck, but rest assured, once you’re able to do this, you wouldn’t need to hire a designer!
A list of other favorite tools:
And there you go!
Over the past 6 months, I’ve been using a plethora of tools (some free, some paid) to get most of my branding done.
In the coming year though, as I am able to understand my brand identity better, I will be investing in a professional website that will host a community, a job portal, and much more. When you’re just starting out, it doesn’t make sense to spend tens of thousands on designs and branding materials where there are so many free options out there that can help you kickstart your business.
Any more tools that you think I should try out? Let me know!