Originally published on TheStartup
A good product sells itself. But not with an unattractive design. There are people who will tell you that a pretty website comes later, clients come first. That servicing clients’ needs come before the appearance of your internet personality.
And you know what, there is no other statement truer than this. But what happens when a potential client asks you to share your web and social links and you have got nada!? Been there, and it is awkward.
You can almost feel them judging you. ‘Get a load of this guy! He talks about taking my digital business to the next level but he couldn’t be bothered about his own online presence!’
There goes a client who could have been The One!
Here’s how to avoid all of that. Down below is a list of things you need to get right when your startup goes live. Below you will also find digital resources to use for your business.
Your website is the digital equivalent of ‘first impression is the last impression.’ You can choose between spending weeks perfecting your website, paying someone else a bucket-load of money to make it, or DIY! I always go for DIY. There are millions of web design kits available for reasonable prices. You just need to find a good host and a design which sings!
Are you worried it won’t look professional? Well, you can always pay someone to build a website for you. But that costs money. Your business hasn’t even picked up yet.
Let’s not break the bank with money you don’t have or could put to good use elsewhere.
Since you have decided to DIY your way into the startup world, you need a no-fuss web hosting service working for you. If you are a non-technical, no-code-zone ambassador and basically a one-man-army, you need something which is easy to manage. It also needs to be comprehensive, cohesive and, most important, something which can be upgraded when your startup flourishes.
If you want something fuss-free and straightforward with premade themes— SquareSpace and WebFlow are two ways to go. You can call them the alternative to each other. Both offer pretty amazing, efficient, and clean premade themes. Your website can be built as a portfolio or an e-commerce one.
WordPress is another option if you want more control of the website.
You can add unlimited plugins for different functions like stats, job boards, sliders and slideshows, subscribers and user registration, portfolio, notification bars, and most importantly, SEO. You can buy a web design kit (or get it made) with a full license.
You can customize your website in whichever way you want. It is mainly front-end so even if you have no clue about coding and programming, you will be able to master WordPress.
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Logo and Identity
There are a few key points when it comes to differentiating between a good logo and a bad logo.
A good logo is:
- Easily readable and recognizable from point size 8 to point size infinity.
- Have less than three colors.
- Colors stand apart and have enough contrast when seen in black and white.
- Works as efficiently in black and white as in full color.
- Recognizable and readable when upside down and sideways.
- Have some sort of big idea or a profound concept backing it.
There are premade logo kits available online. Or you can buy a suitable font with a complete license.
Corporate identity, which includes your logo, mainly focuses on the brand persona. You pick three or less than three colors for your corporate identity. Two basic colors and one as an accent, one which stands out. There are two fonts — you only use those or something similar. Maybe keep a third for the contrast.
Apart from that, you decide how you want people to look at your brand. Are you a friendly brand-next-door or a serious-serious corporate place which knows no fun? Are you those new-age quirky startups who do not follow the rules?
Pick one and stick to it. Everything you do should within your corporate identity limits.
Social Media Design
If there are two things true about social media design, they are:
a. your social media should speak volumes when it comes to branding with its cohesiveness and thematic look.
b. there must be value in every post. Do not get obsessed with having a theme so much that your entire feed starts looking the same and becomes spam.
When it comes to corporate and/or startups, there is no real restriction to posting on social media. The trick is to translate everything you want to post to align with your brand. That does not mean posting absolutely random content in a frame designed in your corporate colors.
According to ‘scientific’ research, people look at one image for 3 seconds and a video for 7 seconds. Even that is pushing it. When you are scrolling, you are giving each content maybe a microsecond of your attention. That is how long you have to grab your target market’s attention.
You want them to look at your content longer, so make those 3 seconds and 7 seconds worth their while.
That is why social media stories are the way to go. For 10–15 seconds, the entire screen is yours. Even the app colors and the logos are not there and you can add a link as well. If you are not taking full advantage of this awesome feature, you are definitely missing out.
Talking more about cohesiveness in design — your design should come together, and look like they are all a part of each other. Like one person designed them. There is consistency and people get used to its consistency. The language you use plays a strong part too. It translates into successful branding.
There comes a point when people will look at one part of your social media post, any design, icons, characters and they will be able to recognize its you. Next level is when they see a shade of blue and recall your brand. Now you have reached the absolute level of brand awareness.
Icons play a major part as well. Keep your design cohesive, and that includes all the small icons you use on your social media design or your web design. If your design style is line art, sketchy and more hand-drawn, your icons need to follow the same route too.
You never confuse Twitter blue with Facebook blue or Skype blue, or Tumblr blue.
Stock Images and Videos
So you’re just starting out. You obviously do not want to spend $$$ on a photographer, models, locations and the complete works. Keep your initial investment to a minimum. Don’t waste it on the flares and flourishes.
When it comes to stock images, there are a million and one options to go for. You can almost always find something suiting your needs. Most of the pictures are shot in a series i.e. cohesive photography.
Stock images are dirt cheap when compared to doing it yourself or hiring someone. Also, there are different licenses available with stock images. If you want to completely own it and use it for branding and your startup design, buy the images out.
Stock images have been out there for a long time. Something really valuable out there are the stock videos. Video production is even costlier than photography. And believe or not, when you don’t have a budget for a proper set, only three things matter before you set out to shoot a video: location, location, location.
Just cut the hustle and bustle to the minimum and buy gorgeous time-lapse like the one below. Afraid it will not be unique? Look into the licensing and buy it out. It will still be cheaper than getting it done professionally.
Email marketing may be old-fashioned but it is still the most efficient runner in digital marketing. People spend more time reading their emails than reading post social media.
People take emails more seriously. Because they opt-in for it, they feel like they are being sent this email because of their own choice. When you make people feel in charge, they feel important. Emails are generally more formal and taken more seriously than social media content. Reading emails is an important and crucial task and you do it carefully.
Make your email marketing as attractive as you can. Your subscribers, your audience should look forward to it because it is that good.
Prioritize what you share in your email. Do not keep the hard-sell marketing on the top, keep it around the end. Make people want to scroll by putting content they would want to read in the beginning. Give something back around the middle.
Proposal, Pitches, and Presentations
You have put so much effort in making your identity clear and stand out. Now it is time to bring an investor, a sponsor, or the big fishes in. Are you going to go with a standard PPT template everyone else use? Or are you going to go the distance with your brand?
If you are not a designer, maybe something quirky will look like the right font for you. Maybe you get confused between choosing colors. Go through marketing media, media kits, social media, email newsletter, and websites you like — notice the pattern.
What if you want to play safe? Work with three colors and three fonts. One font for header, one font for body, and one as an accent to break the monotony. It works the same way for colors.
Here you go: you have a list to start off. Now you can focus on your product.