So you’d like to know how to brand your website for your new company (or would-be online company) … but you’ve got a limited budget, and limited design experience. Not to worry!
In 2018, there are tons of free resources that can help you make an on-point, beautifully branded website. And, as ‘your big sister,’ I’m here to guide you through them.
If you’re not sure if you can even build a website, don’t worry about that either – I’ve got you covered. Here’s my free step-by-step guide to building a website from scratch, on a limited budget with limited experience. (Noticing a trend here? I’m all about the newbies! 🙂 )
But if you’re already set up with a website and you want to make things better, let’s jump right into how to brand your website for free.
How To Brand Your Website
Step #1 – Clarify Your Brand
So ….. maybe this is a no-brainer. But if you want to brand your website, you gotta have a brand first, right?
If you don’t have a marketing degree, it’s easy to get intimidated by the idea of branding. But I promise, it’s not that complicated. Let’s have a quick crash course.
The best advice on branding is to get clear about your unique selling points. And then you want to communicate those unique selling points quickly, at a glance.
Think about 3 or 4 adjectives you’d like people to associate with your brand … and use your website and all your messaging and branding to reinforce those adjectives. It’s really not that difficult (marketers just need you to think it is, to justify their price tags).
BUT, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some important digital and visual trends that you can keep in mind while you design.
Namely, I highly recommend you read this guide to current branding trends before you dive in.
So let’s assume you’ve got a pretty good handle on your brand. And let’s get into the nitty gritty of how to actually brand a website.
How to Pick and Pair Fonts
We’ve all heard that font is really important for the user experience. Sometimes novels will even devote a whole page at the end to talk about their typeface and why they chose it.
And you probably also know that you might want one font for your main headings, and one for your regular text.
And you might have heard that it’s reeeeeally bad when your heading and your regular text fonts clash.
And that your fonts also need to match the fonts of your logo.
So what if you know all this, but you know nothing about font pairing???? Hey, like we’ve covered, it’s not like we all have graphic design degrees.
Thankfully, we don’t need those degrees! That’s because our good friends at Canva have done the work for us.
Canva is …. just about the best thing to ever happen to freelance digital strategists like me. I’m not exaggerating. It’s a website that’s free to use, and it lets you make make and manipulate graphics and images just like you would in Photoshop … but without having to, you know, use photoshop.
I’ll get into how you can use Canva to build things like your logo below.
For fonts, though, I want to share their Font Pairing Guide.
This is an amazing article, written by people who have dedicated their lives to studying fonts. And they’ve paired them all up for you.
Or, if you have one font in mind already (or you already have a logo built with a specific font), you can use this generator to find one that matches with it – pretty cool.
So read through the guide or use the generator, pick a font that you like, and make sure that your WordPress theme supports it.
If you use Elegant Themes to build your website like I do (I’m an affiliate marketer), then you’ll likely be in luck. That’s because they have 600 fonts built in.
Otherwise let’s move on to your brand/website colors.
Pick Your Colours
Just like with fonts, you might have one colour in mind. But what if you want to find complimentary colours to support it?
Again, today, there is no reason to DIY your visual branding, because plenty of experts are happy to offer advice for free.
And the experts at Colormind have taken it one step further, by creating an awesome colour generator.
So just got to colormind.io/bootstrap, and you’ll see a place where you can start to generate colour schemes, AND see what they would look like on a demo website.
For more tips on how to make the most of the Colormind generator plus some more guidance on picking the right colours, see here.
Finally, this list of 100 colour combinations is another great Canva resource – great for inspiration if you’re really stuck on which colour to use.
Build Your Logo (For Free)
Maybe you’ve already had a logo built, in which case you can skip over this section.
But you can also use Canva (you guessed it) to build an awesome, professional logo for free.
Building your logo is a bit too complicated to go over in this post (but trust me – because we’re using Canva, it’s not that hard).
Your Best Photo Strategy
Whether we’re talking about websites or your social platforms, you want to ensure you’re using high quality images to represent your brand well.
Thankfully, there are lots of great resources for pretty, free photography these days. Including my favourite resource – Unsplash.
Go to unsplash.com and take a little gander at the quality of images available to you. And yes, you heard me right – these are all copyright free and free to use on your website. Woo hoo!
(Here’s a sample from Unsplash (because when else can I use a hedgehog pic? 🙂 )
So when you’re thinking about choosing images for your brand, try to think about keeping them somewhat related. You can try to keep them in the same colour scheme, or use a filter, or always have them be taken outdoors, or only use people, or only use animals … you get the idea.
But don’t get too stressed about matching them all perfectly. Just try to find high quality images that speak to you, and they’ll probably speak to your audience, too.
Also, remember when using Unsplash that images you download directly from their site will be too big for web design. So make sure you shrink them down before uploading them. This guide will show you how to do that, using a neat new plugin. LINK
Finally, word to the wise: there are a few other resources for sourcing great, affordable images. Check out my complete guide to affordable visual imagery for websites here.
A quick note on putting all your fonts and your colours and your beautiful images together …. it’s still important to ‘keep it simple, stupid!’
Use your colours sparingly, and limit your photos to what should be a minimal design. Current web design trends are favouring simplistic, minimal designs with lots of white space.
And it’s always a good rule of thumb in web design to keep things short and sweet, and communicate your main point quickly. If people land on your page and see a wall of text or a cluttered design, they’re going to bounce right out of there.
Internet users have a lot of options available to them, and they probably have enough reading to do in their day jobs. Suffice it to say your main points need to be communicated upfront, in as little text as possible.
Stay Social, Too
Perhaps it goes without saying, but now that you’ve come up with a Style Guide for your brand, don’t just limit it to your website.
Make sure that you use your fonts, colour and logo across graphics for all your social platforms, so that people always get that same ‘hit’ every time they interact with your brand.
Thanks again to Canva, it’s never been easier to pick a template for your different social media accounts, and then layer in your branded colours, images and font. Seriously – they’ve got templates for just about every social platform out there, even Twitch! So all you have to do is find some templates you love, and populate them with your branding.
Skip All The Steps!
So I’ve covered the basics when it comes to creating a style guide and finding images that you can use to brand your website. And no doubt that Canva will help you build a logo and social media templates that you can use to push that brand out to all your followers.
And these steps will help whether you’re using WordPress or another platform.
But, if you are are using WordPress, and you are using Elegant Themes, then I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that they’ve made it super easy to brand websites for a variety of companies. That’s because they offer industry-specific layouts. You just choose the layout, and the branding is done for you.
So, if you’re building a website for a makeup line, then they’ve picked out pretty fonts and colours that you can build your brand around – take a look.
I love this, because again, it’s letting experts do all the heavy lifting, design-wise. You can use their awesome layouts and branding, and all you have to do is populate it with your own images, copy and logo. And, they put out a new layout each week, so if your company-type isn’t available, it might be soon!
Here’s a list of just SOME of the options currently available:
And there’s more where that came from – here’s some (but not even all!) of your options: Restaurant, Agency, Learning Management (for e-courses), Design Agency, Fashion, Coffee Shop, Farmer’s Market, Yoga Studio, Wedding, Travel Agency, Photo Marketplace, Copywriter, SaaS Company, Web Agency, Interior Design Company, Digital Payments, Pottery Studio, SEO Agency, Business Consultant, Juice Shop, Software Marketing, Babysitter, Design Conference, Food Recipes/Blogger, Marathon, Cosmetics Shop, Tea Shop, Boutique, Auto Repair, Architecture Firm, Real Estate, Law Firm, Author, Handyman, Jeweler, Doctor’s Office, Travel Blog, Job Recruiter, Digital Marketing, Cryptocurrency, Animal Shelter, Elementary School, Locksmith, Life Coach, Wedding Planner, Car Dealer, Pharmacy, Graphic Illustrator, IT Services, Car Rental, Accountant, Insurance Agency, Construction Company, Meetup Website, Therapist, Moving Company, Carpenter, Business Coach, Language School, Electrician, Transportation Services, Food Catering, Gardener, Hosting Company, Plant Nursery, Cleaning Company, Makeup Artist, Bed and Breakfast, Web Freelancer, Political Candidate, Notary Public, Dentist, Nutritionist, Funeral Home, Soccer Club, Personal Trainer, Church, Driving School, Plumber, Fitness Gym, Podcast, Day Care, Laundry Services, Charity, Bank, and Suit Tailer. Whew!
So, hopefully by you now have a good idea of how to brand your website. Whether you choose a strategy that’s a little more ready-made like Elegant Themes, or whether you just use the free tools outlined on this page, you’ll be in good shape. Any questions, please reach out in the comments below!
Psssst …. like the Pinterest graphic in this post? I built it super easily and FOR FREE using Canva.
And all my images are from Unsplash, and they were FREE too!
They’re two of my favourite online resources available to digitial marketers …
find them all with links here!