When is DIY design appropriate for a brand?
Recently we’ve seen an increase in DIY design – from social media posts created on Canva to websites on WIX or Squarespace – small businesses globally are taking their brands into their own hands. It’s an easy way to get things out into the world with fewer obstacles. It’s cheaper, can be done on the fly and you don’t have to deal with us annoying designers. We get the appeal.
As designers, we obviously hold some “opinions” on this kind of thing, but as small business owners we have empathy for it too. We thought it might be helpful to explore some of those opinions here to help other business owners make informed decisions around how to manage their brand.
When deciding whether or not to DIY, you should consider:
Business vision and goals
Is this business something you’re testing out? Maybe something you’re doing on the side of a permanent job? Or do you have longterm goals and expectations of the business?
If it’s the former, then rolling out your brand in a DIY manner could work really well for you. The agile nature will mean you can test out ideas on-the-fly and your audience may just respond positively to the human feel of your brand.
If the latter, it’s worth thinking of your brand (and relationships connected to it) as an investment. You also need to be wary of the other costs (like reputation and your own time) associated with cutting corners, which brings us to our next point.
Your brand position
Where do you want your brand to sit in the market? Who are your peers and competitors? Get to know them and familiarise yourself with the quality of their design and marketing material. You need to meet them we’re they’re at as a minimum, but preferably do better.
Carving out a place for yourself in the market doesn’t mean doing everything perfectly, but it does mean playing the game seriously. Because….
Your audience has expectations that you should understand
Who are you talking to? This is a really important question many small business owners can’t answer confidently.
Big brands invest massively in understanding their target market, and while not many small businesses can afford to match their efforts, it’s something you need to at least explore intermittently. You can do this with a professional, or you can run yourself through activities at home too. Whatever your choice, our advice is… don’t ignore it!
Lastly, be honest with yourself about your (or your team’s) skillset/ability
We see plenty of DIY design examples that fit the saying ‘close but no cigar’ pretty well. While you might have an idea of what you think looks good, you may just not have the skills to execute it well. If you don’t, partner with a professional you trust. It’s not worth damaging your brand reputation to save a few dollars.
You could save yourself a lot of heartache, wasted time and reputational damage by working with a designer. In small business, longterm partnerships with external suppliers you trust are worth their weight in gold. People grasp this concept easily when it comes to accountants and lawyers, but often overlook the value when it comes to design.
Summing up, we think DIY design has a place in the world. Not everyone can (or should) dive into a thorough branding process. It can be a big undertaking. If your business just isn’t there, your audience doesn’t require it and you have the skills to DIY, go for it. Like any decision in business though, consider the pros and cons to know what you’re getting yourself into. Today’s decision is tomorrow’s opportunity (or problem).
Our Home School workbook contains activities to help you explore your brand positioning and audience. Or, if you’re wanting a more ad-hoc approach try googling some of these terms to find articles and step-by-steps aplenty:
- Brand position
- Brand positioning map
- Audience profiling
- Define your target audience
And of course, we’re here for you too. Book a 10 minute discovery call to chat about your goals and see how we can help.