Missed Part 1? Check it out here
Below are details and step by step actions you can take to build your brand completely for free using Canva or another design software like Illustrator.
I’ve also included at the bottom links to MANY helpful design articles and sites to assist you in furthering your education of your brand.
Option 3: DIY Your Brand Style Guide in Canva
I’ve written about Canva quite a bit (because it’s seriously my favorite) and while you can do almost everything in Canva for free, it is going to be the most time consuming of the 3 options I’ve provided. If you are on a budget of $0 or just have an idea you want to develop further but not invest in, then here are some steps you can take.
If you are just trying to get something up and going for the short term then Canva will likely be sufficient. However, if your business grows or you own an E-Commerce store and want to brand your products or packaging, you’re going to want something more advanced.
Side Note: If you know how to use Adobe Illustrator it will be more beneficial to you in the long run and I would recommend creating your logo or brand book in that platform if available to you. However, for the purposes of this article I will assume you are using Canva.
Creating a Brand Book from Scratch
In my example of a Brand Book (from Part 1), I started with an A4 size document. Then built a template to walk me through each step of the process.
Your template should look something like this.
Instructions: In Canva, using the “Elements” tab on the left side, add 3-5 circles and place them a little ways down leaving room for your logo at the top. Then you can set aside a small section for Fonts and Icons using the “Text” tab. Next, using the “Grids” option under Elements select the 4 image vertical grid and 3 image vertical grid and place them appropriately.
And the final product will end up looking something like this:
Now you are ready to start building your brand piece by piece.
My suggestion at this step is to go back to your Pinterest board and start pulling out the photos that most relate to the themes you found earlier. You can download those photos and and upload them to Canva using the “Uploads” tab.
- Start filling in the 4 picture grid with the 4 photos that best describe your brand. Play around with a few different photos, changing the order of them, until you feel like they are in a good order of most important (left) to complementary importance (right).
- Once you have your main photos in place, identifying your colors & fonts will come much easier as you can pull them directly from the photos themselves. Look through my additional resources below for more information on identifying your colors and font pairings.
- The 3 photo grid at the bottom is for your textures. These can be used for social media posts or general backgrounds. Textures can be pulled from anywhere so take another look at your photos and see if there are background textures in your photos (such as a lot of denim or light colored wood) if you don’t feel it’s obvious looking through your Pinterest board.
Examples of completed Brand Books created in Canva.
And there you have it! A very quick tutorial on how to DIY a Brand Book. I’ve provided links to additional resources below if you would like to dive further into each design aspect.
- Complete control over each aspect of your brand
- Completely free
- Sufficient for basic needs and brand guidance
- You will learn a lot about design!
- Time consuming
- Cannot download logo with a transparent background or as an ai or eps file
- If you’re not a designer, it may seem very challenging to pick and decide on all the aspects of your brand
Further Resources to Creating Your Brand Identity
If you’re interested in learning more about branding all of the elements that make of a business brand, I highly recommend the book “Branding Beyond Logos” by Ainsley Moir. Ainsley takes her many years of experience in brand marketing for small and large companies and compiles them nicely into an easily digestible and actionable book.
Importance of Colors
I could probably spend days looking at branding colors, tweaking here and there and never decide on anything. But if you’re a new business owner, than you don’t have THAT much time to fret over colors.
If you are going full on DIY or even leaning towards a certain color scheme, I would encourage you to spend a little time becoming familiar with color theory and color psychology.
These posts on Web Design Color Theory , Color Psychology and How to Choose the Right Colors for Your Brand are a great read and really give some good, understandable insights into colors and some things to consider before you select yours for you brand.
Here are some of my favorite websites for helping create beautiful brand colors:
Color Palette Generators (one stop shops):
Color Palettes – I love this site! It will give you the image along with the 5 colors associated with it and their hex numbers. If you have an idea of your color scheme, you can also select 1-2 general colors that you are leaning towards and they’ll give you images associated to those colors. It’s a great way to start visualizing a color palette. The downside if you may have to scroll through dozens of photos until you find one that you like.
Canva Color Palette Generator – This is opposite of Color Palettes in that you start with a picture you like (possibly from your Pinterest board0) and then upload that photo into this tool and it will pop out the color palette and codes for you. I previously dedicated an entire post to this tool. Additionally, Canva has a page called “Colors” where you can select a color to learn more about its meaning and find color combinations.
Coolors.co Generator – This one is super fun! You can start with no idea or one idea and let the wheel turn (figuratively that is). I love this one because you can lock in place one color, hit the space bar and the other 4 colors will change. If you like one, simply lock it in too and so on until you have your color palette. It will automatically select colors that are complementary to those locked in around it.
Material Design Color Palette Generator – If you want to stick to pretty basic color schemes this is the site for you. Just select the 2 colors you want to use and it will generate your entire palette including your primary color, accent color, text color, etc. This is probably one of the quickest and easiest ways to check your colors off your list and move forward!
Other Color Palette Website Options:
If you have some experience or are wanting to dive into colors a bit more here are some other good websites to check out.
Adobe Color CC– Will give you Hex and RGB codes with the ability to change things up a bit using the color harmony drop down or slider at the bottom.
Paletton- Similar to Adobe Color but you start with a color wheel. You can change the Harmony, move the counter along the wheel to change shades, get RGB and Hex codes and even download in multiple forms.
Importance of Fonts
Just like there is a psychology to color, there is an art to font pairings.
Fontjoy – This site takes all the guesswork out of it. Pick a font, generate others that go well with it. Bada bing, bada boom.
Font Wolf – Not a true “generator” but same concept. Pick a font you like and it will tell you what other fonts go well with it.
Purchase your own fonts:
While it can be advantageous to stick to fonts you can access in Google Sheets or Microsoft Office, you may want a signature font to accompany your brand. In which case there are many sites where you can download for free or purchase for a minimal fee other fonts that you can use. My favorites are:
Font Squirrel – Great for getting free fonts that can be uploaded to Google Sheets or Canva for Work.
The Hungry JPEG – I really love this site and the designs that go along with the fonts to show visuals of how they could be used. They have Free Font Fridays and weekly deals and specials. They also frequently bundle fonts so you can get 5-10 for a discounted price. If you’re interested in getting a unique font down the line, I would suggest signing up for their email newsletter and you’ll have fonts sent weekly straight to your inbox!
Did you miss Part 1? Follow the yellow brick road
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link.
Disclaimer: I am not a designer. The information provided in Parts 1 & 2 of this article “How to Build a Good Looking Brand on a Budget” is based on my personal experience. I only recommend products/sites that I have used personally and can speak to. If you would like more robust information or specific guidance on your business brand, I highly recommend speaking to one of the many designers out there.