Custom Brand Series | When to Transition from DIY to Custom Branding

March 2, 2017

I’m assuming the role of mind reader today and you’re thinking, Ok Stefani. You explained why it’s ok for me to start with a DIY brand for my business. But I think I’m ready to hire someone to create a custom brand for me. But how can I be sure?

Well you’ve come to the right place my friend. I’m covering when it’s best to hire a designer, what to look for when you’re deciding who gets the honor of designing your brand, and what you need to be prepared to provide if you’re making this investment.


As I mentioned earlier this week, having a DIY brand is totally normal when starting your business or if you aren’t looking to make a full-time income from your blog or hobby. But if you’re truly in for the long haul and your business will provide for you and your family, eventually you’ll be at a stage where investing in a custom brand can take you to the next level.

Now, what do I mean by ‘next level’? Success is different for everyone. When you elevate your business, it’s a way to build confidence. And not only from your audience, trusting you to help them solve a problem they face. But branding can make you as the business owner feel more legitimate, professional, and like the expert you’ve worked hard to become.

The single question that can help you know what it’s time to invest in a custom brand is simply this: Is there a disconnect between what I provide and my mission to the impression others get when they see elements of my brand? If the answer is yes, it may be time to start looking for a brand designer to make the vision behind your business a visual reality.

Finding the perfect designer for you and your business

When you begin the search for a designer, there are certain traits you should look for that may not seem so obvious from the start. Of course you want to enjoy their artistic style. You wouldn’t hire a minimal designer who uses a lot of bold typography if you’re looking for a more romantic, calligraphy and watercolor kind of design. So that’s the obvious one: aesthetic.

But you also want to research what type of experience they have and what your investment (because solid branding is not cheap) will be getting you at the end of the project. Not only should your brand designer provide logos, color palettes, files, and all those goodies for your visuals. You want to make sure if you need an amazing website, you have a way doing so. Do you need collateral or content that is above and beyond? Look for that as well! And don’t forget the strategy behind it all.

If people you’re looking at don’t provide brand style guides at a minimum, you may be looking in the wrong places. You need the tools to implement your new brand and create consistency. Don’t lose out on thousands of dollars hiring someone who will essentially give you a pretty logo with no research or meaning behind it.

Questions you should be able to answer about your own business

Now, here’s the the most overlooked part of the process of hiring a designer: understanding your business. If you don’t know about your own industry and where you stand, it will make designing a brand for you that works well and stands the test of time that much more difficult. There are 4 questions you absolutely have to know before signing a contract or paying any money to book your project date.

Your mission and why

You should have a clear mission statement stating who you are, what you do, and who you serve. When it comes to your WHY, this takes a bit of digging. Your reason for sticking through the harder parts of business ownership will help define your why. Mine, for instance, is that I believe to my core that life is meant to be fulfilling and there is no better way to achieve that than by following your passions and being able to work each day on something that makes you truly happy. I want to provide the tools necessary for others to go for their dream and succeed.

Short and long term goals

You should have some goals that you’d like to reach for this year and the next 5-10 years. Without a direction, your designer won’t be able to keep your path in mind and your brand could not feel as relevant once a few years have passed. Well-established goals allow for a flexible design that can grow with your business.

A solid idea of who you love to work with and sell to

The term ‘ideal client’ gets thrown around a lot in business and you should absolutely understand your audience. Also, having a picture in your head of what your client looks like, what she struggles with, and how you can help her directs your content and decisions towards meeting her needs. You don’t want to speak to a ton of people because most likely, they won’t be listening over all the noise. But when you pinpoint who would benefit from your product or service most, you’re able to feel more comfortable and confident in your messaging. This will give your designer a fantastic place to start when creating the visual elements of your brand, because they can think of what this ideal client will be drawn to.

What makes you shine

Chances are your industry, regardless of which one you choose, will be pretty saturated with other people doing something the same as you are. Whether it’s the creative, wedding, food, or legal industries, you need to stand out. This is maybe one of the hardest questions but you should have a firm understanding of what makes you different. Is it your story or process? Maybe it’s what you deliver to clients? Something about the way you help your clients and customers should be memorable and connect with them long after their project or purchase is completed.

Exactly what your designer will need from you for a successful project

Branding is not only a two-way process between you and the designer, but more intimate than people originally anticipate. Your designer should be asking you some personal questions and getting to know you and your business inside and out, especially if they want to create a flexible and unforgettable brand for your business. After finishing your client homework, you’ll need to bring 3 key items to the table so that your project can be beneficial and well worth your investment.


Make sure you’ve got the time to rebrand. You don’t have to make it a full-time job but keeping to deadlines and providing timely feedback keeps the project on track and done by your launch date! And let’s be honest, the night before launch feels like Christmas Eve…


Having respect for each other during the process truly does create an even better design. Your designer should be giving you respect by meeting their own deadlines and making sure to answer any concerns you have. But that must be reciprocated. Don’t bombard your designer outside of office hours. Pay invoices on time. Give feedback that is constructive and gives them an idea of how they can make the design more to your liking if any marks have been missed. We’re all #girlbosses, let’s keep it professional!


You’ve hired a designer for a reason. They have the knowledge, skill set, and connection with your values to produce the best brand for your business they can. Trust the process. Trust when they explain that your favorite font isn’t ideal for the project. Designers definitely want to make you happy but they know that will come long term from you booking clients and living up to those goals you shared with them. Get your money’s worth and let them do the designing!

How about you: do you have a DIY brand and you’re ready to confidently show off your business and a custom brand? What’s the biggest obstacle in your way? Let me know in the comments!

  1. RuthAnn Rafiq

    March 7th, 2017 at 10:35 AM

    Such a great post Stefani! You hit the nail on the head on all fronts 🙂

  2. Stefani

    March 7th, 2017 at 11:24 AM

    Thank you so much RuthAnn! I wanted to hopefully educate others that you’re not always ready for a custom brand. Saving money is the best! 🙂

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