From Pinterest, to Etsy, and even eBay, ready-made brands are ubiquitous as of late. Industry standards aside, the fact of the matter is that when you buy a templated brand for your business, it should absolutely have an end goal in mind. There are no corners to cut when it comes to branding! It takes planning, thought, and lots design hours to make a successful brand. There are of course some situations for when a ready-made brand is ideal, but if you want your business to stand out, you’ve got to do the work.
Just starting out
If you’re a brand spanking new business, a ready-made logo could be the best thing that ever graced your life. Notice how I said ‘logo’ and not ‘brand’. A brand is more than a logo, it is a visual and conceptual entity that speaks for you and your business. If you need something––ANYTHING, just to get things up and running right now, I completely understand that. When you’re just starting out, you haven’t had time to really reflect on your market, and how it will react when you make changes, but now is the time to start paying attention. When you begin to get comfortable with who you are, what you’re doing, and why you feel accomplished, you should begin to plan a serious brand that speaks to those qualities. A ready-made logo, will not speak to any level of depth beyond your industry and your business name, and it will never make a brand your business can stand on.
You get bored so easily, who could stick to one look?
This is branding suicide! Effective branding is all about establishing your name deep within your ideal customer/market’s brain space. If you’re changing up your look faster than Lady Gaga has costume changes there is a huge issue here! There is something to be said for stability, and establishing your name–– even with a crummy logo, will at least be better for your long-term recognition than changing with the seasons, trends, or whatever reason you’re throwing in there. I had a client suggest this bold, 1990’s based experimental print would be a great brand, and I turned her down without even blinking an eye. At first she called me a snob, and I explained that while the design she was sending me was a great print, it would make a horrible brand. I asked her to imagine the style on a business card, on her photos and in magazines, and she quickly got my point.
Yes there has to be a personal connection with the style of the brand, but it also needs to be professional–– and something you can stick with, and be proud to use, for at least (ideally longer) 1 year. It’s why I recommend going cleaner, and more minimal, and building elements around it. But then again, I’m also a branding designer. It’s probably why this hits so close to home.
You get for what you pay for.
I’m not saying all successful brands should cost 10k+. I’m not even saying it should cost half that. What I am saying, is that the effort and energy you put in exploring your brand, deciding what’s best for you and your market, is without a doubt a reciprocal process. You get out what you put in. A logo/brand/theme created separately and sold at cost will not provide you with the presence you’ll want to stand out among your competitors, it just won’t! What it will do is take the demon pressure of customized branding off your back, but it won’t break your door down with throes of customers vying for your business.
I’ve worked with clients who laissez-faire’d their way through the branding process, and six months after sending off their final files, had emailed me in a complete and total panic. They hated their brand, they were confused with what they were really doing, and now they were stuck. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. I couldn’t even imagine had they gone with one of these ready-made-brand places, and what that would have been like. Probably less traumatic having less involvement, but I would venture just as empty a result.
When you take the time to really craft your business’ message through the voice of a brand the results speak for themselves. When you shortcut your options for the sake of ease and convenience, the only one you’re really short-changing is yourself.
What about you? Have you worked with insta-logos with clients before, or taken that road for yourself? What was your experience like and was it worth it?
I’m all too curious to see what others experiences have been with branding, so share some thoughts!