The first quotes I got for branding collateral for my new company were $10,650 and $20,000. To say I had sticker shock would be a gross understatement. While these ad agencies are the top in this town, it was hardly how I wanted to spend a good portion of my investment money. I would still need, samples, product, packaging, print materials, hosting fees, travel expenses, retail show fees, 3rd party website applications, office space, legal, the list goes on and on. I know how important a logo and branding can be, but I also know that you can iterate anything. Look at any business that has been around any amount of time and how they have continued to develop their logo. I once listened to a Ted Talk that explained how it took Facebook 280 hours to redesign their "Like button". It is seen 22 billion times a day, so of course it would need to be the best and simplest design. And as Margaret Gould Stewart, director of product design at Facebook puts it, "As a designer, it's not about you or your portfolio, it's about the people you are designing for and how your work just might help them build better lives."
We here at Wishing Well did not have 280 hours, nor a team of graphic designers to design for humanity, but we do want to help people build better lives. So I started within my personal network and found a friend who was willing to design our logo for a small fee and also barter for Wishing Well jewelry. I started by creating a secret pinterest board with graphics I loved and from there we worked on creating the Wishing Well logo. You will be surprised at how many people in your network can either take on your branding project or knows someone who can. Start by putting your request in to your Facebook network, or peruse your LinkedIn contacts. If none of that works, there are plenty of talented designers on Etsy that can create your first logo. And remember, you can always evolve it over time. Don't forget you can always go to an ad agency for a full branding blowout once your budget permits.
Next up was how I was going to whip up a website without the help of professionals. The good news is that I had already created a website using Shopify and was very familiar with it's capabilities. I still took the time to research Squarespace, Wix, Weebly and Wordpress. Ultimately I decided to go with Shopify because of all the 3rd party apps that make using the site so customized. I knew I wanted to have a video element be very prominent so Shopify's theme choices were narrowed down to 2. They have hundreds, and they are very affordable at $140 + the site's monthly service of $29, $79 or $179 a month. I started with the $29/mo package while I was in build mode. But other sites are completely free, and if you are just needing to test your market before going full force into business, they are very good options and super simple to use. If you have a site that you love, and think it might have been built with one of these e-commerce platforms, then you can use the Developer tool with your Mac to see what platform they are using. In safari, go to preferences --> advanced --> show toolbar and you will see the checkbox that says "show developer tools". Click that and you should get a new menu item called "Develop". Once you have the Developer tool, go to the site you like, two-finger tap and select Inspect Element. Then start digging around the folders to see if the words Shopify, Squarespace, etc appear. You can also hit Control F (find) and search those e-commerce platform names.
I started building the site using image placeholders, or as a friend once put it "Fill Murrays". Google it, it's a thing. I actually used images very similar to the photography feel that I wanted the photographer to capture when we had product ready to shoot. I found the images on Pinterest and plugged them into the site making notes for the photographer. I also began writing place holder copy until Jen Engel, our chief storyteller, could work her magic. And thank goodness for that because I am so proud to show anyone the site and have them read about our mission and understand our products. She's nailed our voice.
You know, I really can't say enough good things about Shopify. I have pinged their customer support chat box more than probably any other client of theirs, but they continue to answer all my questions instantaneously and in laymen's terms. Throughout the process of getting to know their system a little better I have been able to learn how to embed code on specific pages (like Spotify or Vimeo), install pixels (for affiliate marketing and Facebook conversion), and integrate 3rd party apps such as a pop-up email window and Mailchimp for Shopify. If this all sounds daunting and foreign to you, I can assure you I knew nothing about this a couple of years ago and have been learning as I go. It is truly fascinating and I hope to learn more and help others with their own sites and businesses.
Finally when it came to going live, we had our close friends and family peruse the site to catch any errors. And what we found after launching is that some of the navigation need to be changed and photographs rearranged. We are still making changes to the site every week to be more user friendly or as the people in the industry like to call it UX (user experience). Would you keep the same display in your brick and mortar storefront for months or years? Of course not, you need to keep your website fresh and updated as well.
We hope this has been a bit enlightening and empowering for you. Don't forget to check out our other hack here for white background photography. And if you still think you need affordable professional help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can suggest some services for you to check out.
Hacking my way to breakout success,