One Easy Trick to Brand Yourself (Without a Designer)
1 Simple Trick to Brand Yourself (Without a Designer)
The core of what I do on the business side of Greatest Story Creative is branding. So that's the work of turning your story and the vision for your business into a brand (a logo, color palette, fonts, graphics, copywriting, and more). From there, I can turn that brand into your website, business cards, even social media profile copy + design.
One question that I get often (especially from those who aren’t ready to invest in full branding services yet) is this:
“What can I do on my own to improve my branding?"
So today, I’m going to give you one of my favorite do-it-yourself branding tips.
If you want a stronger brand that's more visually consistent, one thing you can do on your own is choose brand fonts.
Having your own set of "brand fonts" (2-3) is a strong (and generally free) way to improve your business and make it look more professional. This is a clever, easy, and inexpensive way to brand everything you’re doing.
I choose brand fonts for businesses as part of the branding process for clients, so today I'm giving you my favorite advice on this. Here's exactly how to get some brand fonts and put them to work for you!
What's a brand font?
A brand font is simply a font that you choose you to use consistently online and on your printed materials as an extension/representation of your business.
To give you an example, did you know that I have brand fonts? Since day one of Greatest Story, I've had three brand fonts for the overall business and committed to using them in everything I do. The one variation to this is I've also started incorporating my handwriting on the business side (see "Skip to" in my blog header) - which I would argue is technically my 4th "font."
In any case - here's how it looks.
My full business brand fonts are:
- Fjalla One
- Alegreya (Normal and SC, which stands for Small Caps)
- Great Vibes (used on the Weddings + Events side as it's more feminine)
Here, in this close up of the blog header, you can see how I use Fjalla One and Alegreya SC for headers (big type that I want to draw the eye to) and Alegreya Regular or its Italic versions are what I generally use for body text.
You may note that sometimes, I am limited in font choice due to the platform I am writing on. However, keep in mind, I can use my brand fonts on a lot of different platforms that allow images - simply by using those fonts in graphics that I create in a separate graphics program (Adobe Illustrator).
So, creating graphics with your brand fonts can add consistency, even when you're writing in plain old "Arial" in the main part of the platform, like in an email.
What should I look for when choosing brand fonts on my own?
Choose 2-3 fonts total:
- For the first: pick one that'd be good for large headers / subject lines (maybe something bold that will grab attention - a scripty font can work here since you won't be using this to write long lines of text)
- For the second (optional one): Pick another that would work well and be legible for a secondary header (something that sits below the big header one)
- For the third: choose a font that's very readable and would make a good "body" font. You'll want a font that you can write a lot of and it's still looks clean and easy to read.
- Size each of these accordingly and see how they look together. Make the first the largest, then the second, then finally the body as a normal size you would regularly type in - like a 12pt or 14pt.
Other things to consider:
- Contrast: you want to pick fonts that look good together. One way to do that is to pick a Serif and a Sans Serif font (so in the example above, "Primary Header" is a Sans Serif font with clean lines and the "Secondary Information Header" is a Serif font, because it has little edges to it). The contrast works well. Same with picking a font that's more bold for a header and a font that's skinnier/cleaning for a "body" font.
- Tone: Fonts have a look and feel just like anything else. To give you a few examples: if you're a whimsical brand, you probably need to have a fun font in your assortment. If you're a serious lawyer, you probably should choose something cleaner/more modern, rather than a whimsical font. If you're hoping to appeal to both men and women in your business, you may want to avoid cursive fonts that would make your brand feel feminine.
- Platform Availability: think about where you need your font to work for you. Do you have a website and a lot of printed materials? You'll want to pick fonts that are available for both. (I've got some tips on that too, below.)
Here are a few helpful resources for choosing and pairing your own brand fonts:
- Hubspot's Guide to Choosing Fonts points to things like legibility, hierarchy, and more that will help you pick your fonts
- Canva, a website for creating free graphic design (with little to no knowledge), has this great guide on pairing fonts
- Stumped? Click here to search Pinterest for "google font pairs" - You'll find a ton of already paired Google Fonts (see below for more info) you can get right away. Just pick what you like or mix and match!
Where can I find (free) fonts to choose from?
The internet is seriously full of fonts! But I'll warn you that they are not created equal and you can quickly get overwhelmed.
Allow me to suggest something very simple - especially if you are just starting out and DIY-ing your branding right now - pick from Google Fonts.
Google, in its infinite awesome, has an open-source font library available to all of us. It currently has 708 fonts available that you can download right now. Let me tell you why this is a great choice for doing something like this:
- All of the fonts are free
- All of the fonts may be used commercially
- You can preview how text looks before you download any fonts and search the same phrase in various looks in their online viewer
- You can download the fonts to your computer (so you can then use them on your printed / offline materials, too)
- All of the fonts may be used on the Squarespace website platform automatically, if your website is or may be hosted with them in the future
Other places you can get / download free fonts include:
So where can I use my brand fonts once I've got em?
Alright, here's the fun part. Once you've got your 2-3 picked out, download them to your computer and add them to your website. If you add them to your computer's fonts (on Macs, you just add them to "Font Book"). Once done, you can then use them in programs like Word and Excel. By doing that, you'll find that suddenly your boring business spreadsheets are a little more put-together because they have your brand fonts- not boring old Arial or Time News Roman.
Once you have these fonts at your disposal, use them everywhere you're able to. Here are a few places that come to mind.
- Blog Posts
- Powerpoint / Keynote Presentations
- Digital Contracts + Invoices
- Word Documents
- Excel Documents
- Social Media Graphics (a great way to use brand fonts in platforms where you are limited in font choice - like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
- Website Headers + Graphics
- Graphics for emails (like the header in this one)
- Email signatures
- Business Cards
- Printed Contracts + Invoices
You'll see that the more you use your brand fonts, the more they will be associated with you and your brand. It'll lend you a strong consistency that so many people (like your competitors) often skip!
And you know what the best part is? You can totally do-this-yourself!
Glad I could tackle this common question on branding today. Last Wednesday, you may remember that asked if you have any questions about branding, business, or your career that I might be able to help with in a future post. (Thanks if you sent one in already!)
This week, if you have a question in mind, you can go here to anonymouslysubmit any question on your mind! I would love to hear what you want more information about. You can leave your name if you'd like but if you'd rather not, that's cool too. So go ahead...