Brand investment: When to go high, when to go low

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One of the key tasks for first-time business owners is to build a strong brand identity. This can be easier said than done because, in crowded markets, business owners face a wide array of options depending on the message they’d like to send, the audience they want to reach and the competitors they must battle for market share.

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Additionally, it’s rare that a small business has an in-house logo maker or designer readily available to them. Yet, many businesses aspire to become a major player in their market or industry. For these businesses, it may make sense to invest more time and money up front and work with a professional to bring their desired brand identity to life. Thoughtful, custom-made logos and branding can make the difference between just another company and the next great success story.

On the other hand, a venture that does not require a long-term investment, such as a promotion for a special event or recreational activity, may not need as much consideration. In this case, a lower-cost, do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to branding may be more efficient.

Let’s take a look at some situations that make sense to take an all-in approach, along with others where a DIY method might make more sense.

Hire a professional when you plan to make a lasting impact

Any small business that intends to have staying power will want to invest as much as it can to build its brand. A strong brand wins over the minds and hearts of potential customers, so much so that they believe they have an idea of what they’re getting even before they do business with that brand. In most cases, this will mean hiring a professional logo designer — or better yet, a team of designers — to help navigate the brand-building and logo-making process. Like any creative undertaking, the best brands and logos are a team effort, developed when several creative minds collaborate.

Some of the most successful brands in the world have iconic logos that are instantly recognizable: The North Face, Target or Tostitos, just to name a few. Even without the company’s name, most would recognize each of these brands by simply looking at their logos.


Not every business will have brands as iconic as these long-lasting symbols, but these examples prove how powerful a recognizable logo can be. If your goal is to develop a customized identity that makes you memorable to customers, a logo can be the beginning of your journey but shouldn’t be the end.

Branding is more than a logo: It’s the feelings and associations the business wishes to impart on the consumer. The North Face’s logo showcases arcs, alluding to the shape of Half Dome, one of the most recognizable mountain formations in the United States. The North Face, then, positions itself as a gateway to adventure. The Target logo’s famous bulls-eye, born in 1962, has endeared itself to us because of its simplicity and the feeling it evokes — that Target has exactly what you’re looking for. And, look at the bag the next time you purchase Tostitos tortilla chips. The two “T”s in the middle of the name mimic the shape of two people holding a chip above a bowl of salsa. By eating Tostitos chips, the logo says, you too can turn any occasion into a festive one.

In season one of Small Business Revolution — Main Street, Deluxe’s team partnered with Harry and Jill Kilmer, the owners of Harry’s Old Kettle Pub & Grill, on a new logo. The Kilmers had bought the then-called Old Kettle Saloon in Wabash, Indiana, four years earlier and transformed it from a bar to a gastropub.

The Kilmers needed a new logo that showcased the Old Kettle’s rich local history, friendly atmosphere and craft beer selection with its new food offerings. The Deluxe team fused those elements into a new logo that would be the centerpiece of the brand.


Eventually, the new logo for Harry’s Old Kettle Pub & Grill was added to their new website, coasters, menus and other print marketing materials.

There is a science behind developing a brand identity. It may start with the logo, but that logo represents more than just signage. Branding tells your customers or potential customers what your business believes in as an organization. When it’s clear you’ve put thought into your branding choices, customers will be more likely to continue selecting your products or services — even when faced with other choices.

Use DIY methods if you’re branding just one small project

The phrase “you get what you pay for” often rings true when developing a brand identity. Some argue that taking a less-expensive route to branding is one of the worst mistakes a business owner can make. Luckily, there are a number of resources available to those who wish to develop branding for a shorter-term project — for example, if your business is hosting a one-off concert, party, festival or gala. Likewise, if you are branding a wedding, family reunion, conference, sporting event or similar occasion, a DIY logo maker might be the ideal solution. A DIY logo can help boost awareness without the upfront costs of a team of designers. Here are some of the benefits of taking a do-it-yourself logo approach to branding:

  • Efficiency: Creating your own logo is a great way to save both time and money so you can leverage your resources elsewhere, such as planning and organization
  • Flexibility: Since you’re not looking to create a logo or brand that you intend to keep around for years, it allows you to freshen things up and make changes whenever you see fit
  • Speed: With a DIY branding solution, you receive your new logo as quickly as you can create it

There are other situations when a short-term DIY logo and branding effort makes sense as well. For example, if your business has a recreational sports team, you can design a new logo each season to match that team and let others in your league know your squad is a force to be reckoned with.

Deluxe offers resources for every situation

Each brand journey is unique. Whether you’re seeking a brand that stands the test of time or promoting a more temporary entity, an impactful logo will set you apart. Deluxe offers the logo solutions to fit your business and your budget: Explore custom logo design services or experiment with our DIY tool.

All your logo questions, answered

Get expert tips, real-world examples, do’s and don’ts, and design inspiration to help you develop the perfect logo for your business — whether you do it yourself or hire a professional.

Download the eBook >>

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in November 2017 and has been revised for accuracy and relevance.

The post Brand investment: When to go high, when to go low appeared first on Deluxe Small Business Resource Center.

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