And why a custom brand identity is worth the investment
Branding templates have been around for a while, but lately I’m seeing more and more of them. For a while, I actually considered creating my own and selling them on my site as a way of earning a little passive income. Actually, I took it a step further and created two simple brand identities and came this close to putting them up for sale. So what stopped me?
First of all, if you’re not familiar with branding templates, they’re essentially premade brand identity kits. Usually, they come with a logo plus variations, which are customized to your brand name, a color palette, mood board, a couple recommended fonts, and a brand style guide. They may also come with templates for business cards, social media graphics, and other marketing collateral.
You don’t have to look far to find these branding kits. They’re all over Etsy, Pinterest, and Creative Market. And lately, I’ve seen them cropping up more and more on designers’ websites. While I’m all for creating a passive income model that doesn’t rely on just selling time for money, I believe there are better ways. Premade branding templates are problematic. I’ll explain why.
Problem 1: Branding templates aren’t strategic
When it comes to creating a visual identity for your brand, strategy must precede design. Why? Because pretty branding won’t do your business any favors if it’s not representative of your brand values and personality and doesn’t resonate with your ideal clients. My number one problem with premade branding templates is that they completely gloss over the strategic aspects of branding your business.
Custom brand identities are rooted in strategy. Strategy is hard work, and it takes time, but it serves a very important purpose. This is why, instead of selling premade brand kits, I’ve begun offering in-depth brand discovery calls and audits. They’re not creating passive income, but they’re far more valuable to my clients.
Problem 2: Branding templates are a dime a dozen
A generic brand identity that looks the same as 100 other brands in your niche is problematic. I can’t even tell you how many photographers I’ve seen using the same exact logo. In a saturated industry like photography, your brand has to stand out. Your brand has to help communicate to your target audience that your service is the best fit for them. If your brand looks the same as everyone else’s, your audience is simply going to hire whichever photographer has the best prices.
A custom brand identity helps you stand out from the crowd. The most memorable brands have a unique identity. Using a logo or branding template could actually do your brand a disservice in the long run.
Side note: I know that some designers limit the number of templates they sell in order to ensure that an identity doesn’t get overused and thus lose its value. This is a step in the right direction and what I planned to do as well. However, it doesn’t solve our first problem regarding the lack of strategy.
Problem 3: Branding templates are cheap
My last problem with branding kits is probably somewhat controversial, and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. One of the major appeals, if not the major selling point, of branding templates is that they’re very affordable compared to custom branding services. Before I get into why this is problematic, I want to make it clear that I understand that starting a business is a huge investment of time and money, and not everyone can afford premium services right off the bat. Believe me, I’ve been there!
Here’s the problem. If you’re serious about building and growing a sustainable brand, you have to invest in it. There’s a reason customized services are more expensive–they’re far more valuable. I’m not just talking about branding here. The same goes for any business investment–product design, sales, marketing, accounting, photography, copywriting, and so on. Up to an extent, investing more in these services usually amounts to greater results. Don’t go overboard, but you might have to get a little uncomfortable in the beginning. If you invest wisely, the results will be worth your while. Hence why I use the word “investment” rather than “cost.”
So, are all design templates bad?
Absolutely not! My qualm is with branding templates specifically. Although I offer an array of custom graphic design services, such as stationery, social media posts, and lead magnets, I believe there are plenty of beautiful and worthwhile design templates out there. The same goes for website design, my other premium service. In pretty much all cases, custom design is superior, but if budget is a major issue, then customizable templates like our Divi child themes can get you pretty far–just not for your brand identity!
Have I convinced you of the value of custom branding? Hop on a call with me to chat about how I can help you create a strategic, unique, and memorable brand identity for your business.