Now that you’ve answered the big questions: who you are, what you do, and why it matters, it’s time to start thinking about creating some printed materials to encourage engagement from your audience. The new question becomes: Do you use a pre-made template or create a custom design?
There are costs and benefits on both sides, but, depending on your situation, one choice might prove better than the other.
Templates are best when cost and time are of high priority. Not only is the design already created for you, but purchasing a template is often cheaper than hiring a designer. A template is designed to be distinctive, yet general enough for anyone or any brand to take ownership of it. Using a template is the perfect back-up plan for a design crisis, or a last minute print need.
When choosing a template make sure the design elements blend seamlessly into your brand’s image. Elements like colors, shapes, space, and even typography need to remain consistent. Whatever look you choose will represent your brand over a long period of time to help foster awareness and recognition, so choose wisely.
Most templates can be purchased instantly from an online host and downloaded or even free when ordering printed products. Simply insert your information, stamp your company name on top, and you have a professional document ready for distribution.
Of course, there is a risk of someone else in the marketplace using the same template. This becomes of greater concern when the template is too distinctive and easily recognized.
When distinctive templates are used by multiple companies and even consumers in their own design projects, consumers catch on to recognize them as templates. This disrupts the brand’s credibility in the mind of the consumer. In a worst-case scenario, the consumer could consider the brand lazy, inept, or uncreative because of its lack of innovation in portraying itself.
To avoid this, see if you can find a template that is generic enough for you to modify a little more. Perhaps you can customize the font, insert or delete objects. Look into your options while selecting your template.
If you find yourself unwilling to risk your brand’s unique individuality, you might want to create a custom design right from the beginning. After all, this design will carry your brand as it potentially grows into everything you hoped it could be. It will likely be more expensive and might take longer, but if you value quality, unique work and have the budget for it, it will benefit your brand in the long run.
The most attractive feature of creating a custom design is the use of a custom-designed logo on all of your print materials. When seeking to establish the symbolic identity of your brand, the implementation and proper use of a logo is crucial. Some templates may allow you to insert a graphic image of your logo, but finding a template to match it is often a challenge. Considering the importance of visual consistency in building brand credibility, a custom design may be the better choice if you want to ensure consistency.
In addition to consistency, a custom design allows for more flexibility and creativity. There is a risk that the designer you hire might develop something that isn’t quite what you wanted, but it is often resolvable with feedback and a request for re-design. Sometimes you have to first see what you don’t want in order to help you see what you do. The look your designer comes up with might surprise you.
If you value your brand’s individuality above all else, have extra money and time to spend, then the choice is simple, go with a custom design. If not, you can probably find a professional, brand-consistent template to meet your needs.