That age old question. Do I pay a designer to do it or can I do it myself for free?

Well it all depends on what you’re considering a designer for really. If you’re talking about social media posts, there are definitely things you can do yourself using something like Canva. If you don’t already know about Canva, it’s an app that allows you to use preset templates that are sized to the specific social media channel you need. You have the ability to upload your own designs or photos and change the titles to suit your needs. There’s a fair bit of control, changing colours and fonts etc to suit your branding. It’s a way to play at being a designer and usually what you create will be more than acceptable for the purpose intended. And it’s free. For more control you can upgrade to Canva Pro which will allow you to use your particular brand fonts, colours and assets but honestly, the free version will probably be enough.

However, if you’re talking about actually creating a brand from scratch, then hiring a designer is the way to go. They have the knowledge, experience and software to be able to deliver you something absolutely tailored to your needs. You can usually tell when someone has had a go at it themselves. A bit like trying to fit your own bathroom when your skill set doesn’t really cover that. We’ve all watched Grand Designs when the owner who is creating their dream home decides that he or she can design it better than the architect (and seemingly for a much cheaper price). Cutting out one of the most important people in the build usually ends up costing more while everyone rallies round to put right what’s gone wrong and the result just feels a bit well, unfinished. Do you want your business branding to feel like that?

An experienced designer usually has the creative thinking to look beyond what you might imagine for your brand and therefore is able to give your business the professional appearance it deserves. You could try to do it all yourself. You know, make a logo using the fonts that come with your computer and then bung it on some business cards. Believe me when I say that it will never look as professional as if you’d let the expert do it. I wouldn’t attempt to lay my own driveway to save money so why would you do that to your business? A brand is not just a font. If you could change the name and occupation and still have the same branding as a florist when you’re a car mechanic then that doesn’t really work. A brand is the whole thing. The fonts, the colours, the logo, the symbols or assets you use to define who you are and what you do. The look, tone, feel and personality of your business. There are plenty of websites out there that will offer logos for as little as a fiver if you’re not after something bespoke. There are templates you can buy where you can add your own business name. But be aware that there are probably millions of others who have done the same throughout the world. Is that making your business stand out? The future of your business is in your hands. Isn’t your business worth more than that? Only you know the answer to that. If you’re still determined to go it alone, also be aware that fonts cost money. Most ‘free’ fonts out there are for personal use only. That doesn’t include your business. You need a license for that. See? Getting more expensive by the minute huh? There’s the artwork set up process too for any printed material. If you’re clued up about CMYK, outlined fonts and bleed, you’ll do just fine. If not, find someone who is. 

Your branding is probably one of the most important things to get right (aside from acing what you do for a living obviously). Some of the best branding out there has cost those companies a fortune. While you don’t have to spend mega bucks like the big corporate companies, it’s an area of your business that’s worth investing in. A designer will always know the businesses who did it themselves. I know a funeral director who has used Comic Sans for their logo. I’m not even joking. A designer would never have let that happen. A company like that falls into the same bracket as a solicitors, accountants or bank. They need something more structured to be taken seriously. There is nothing comical about death (as far as I’m aware) and the last thing I’d want to see is ‘bubble writing’ as I say my final goodbye to this world. It’s the equivalent of going in to see your doctor and them wearing a clowns costume. The branding should always reflect the personality of the business. 

Owning a camera doesn’t make you a photographer and owning a computer doesn’t make you a designer. So while you can have fun with the social media stuff, you’re better off handing over the real design work to an expert. There are plenty of them about and you have to find the right fit for you. Not everyone will charge the same. Never underestimate how long it takes to come up with an idea and trawl through the hundreds of fonts to find the perfect fit for your business. Remember you are paying for the experience of the designer as much as for the work they’re creating for you. Always check out their past work that relates to what you’re thinking of commissioning them for. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re doing the thing (dog walking, valeting cars, cleaning etc) as a temporary side hustle and never want to take it more seriously, go ahead and make something yourself. But, if this is a serious career move and you’re committing to a full time business, then think about that first impression you’re putting out there. You owe your future self that step in the right direction surely?