Here’s some good news: not that much. We know what it’s like to start a business. I’d say it’s 90% hard work and 10% “What am I even doing PLS help.” The first steps you make in starting your business should be focused on learning more about your audience and how to serve them best. In the beginning, there’s only a few things you need to do to make sure everything looks professional.
Take a deep breath with me. You don’t need a logo right from the start. I am a firm believer in diving in, doing the work and testing the concept before making a large investment in design. You learn so much in the first year.
You might find a niche you never knew existed. You might not even like what you set out to do. Your business will go through many changes as you grow and learn. Don't get me wrong, you still need to look good in this first year, but it's not as difficult as you might think. Here’s a few things you can pull together to create that foundational brand.
Get a professional head shot.
You will never stop needing a professional headshot! Invest in a session with a photographer. No photos of you in your wedding dress unless you are a professional bride. (But I bet you looked so beautiful!)
Pick three fonts.
There are many resources to help you with this. My favorite right now is Google Fonts. The site even suggests matches and helps you make font pairings. Use one only for your business name, one for the headers and titles and one only for paragraphs. If you stick to these two fonts in all you do, your brand will already start to feel unified.
Note: Some platforms such as Mailchimp only have so many fonts to choose from. In that case it’s okay to go with as close a match as you can get.
Double Note: When you’ve chosen your business name font, see if a designer or computer savvy friend can vectorize this and export it as a jpeg and png and send you the .ai file. You’ll need a vector version (.ai) for any larger print projects and having standard jpeg and png will help you keep the temporary logo the same across all uses.
Pick two or three colors.
A good thing to keep in mind is that big companies are doing tons of marketing research and you can benefit from this for free. All it takes is a little craftiness! Look at the biggest version of your company and see what colors they are using. Then don’t use those exact colors (that’s stealing and lame), but pick something with the same vibe. For example, lots of skincare companies use white, and light feminine colors for their branding. If I was developing a skin care line, I’d probably use lots of white space, but make it my own by using a little bits of mint and hot pink. Boom.
Get a home on the web to go with all that social media.
Choose 2 or 3 social media platforms to be on. This will be where you publish most of your content. Then bring everything back to a home on the web. Squarespace makes it easy to launch a one page site and the domain is usually free for the first year. At this early stage, all you need in a site is a description of what you do, a place for people to sign up for your mailing list and a contact form. Through Squarespace, you'll be able to update the cover page to match your fonts and colors.
Bonus Points: Get a professional email with your domain, like firstname.lastname@example.org. (Psst, you can do this through squarespace and get super awesome gmail.)
Double Bonus Points: Use Mailchimp to send monthly updates on your business. You’ll need a professional email for this.
I know our business has changed dramatically as we've grown. We gave ourselves the space to pivot and serve an underserved audience in a way that is unique and special. If we had kept going in our original direction, I think we'd be burned out by now. Give yourself some space and time to test your new idea or business.
Once you’ve seen what’s working, you’ll be able to make a wise and solid investment in your branding with a professional designer.
Want some help? Let's meet for coffee. Contact us here.