Up Your Design Game: 8 Free and Easy-to-Use Design Tools
When you run a small business, you often find yourself wearing many hats, including designer and marketer. This can be especially stressful when you don’t have the funds to purchase expensive software or the time to learn a new skill. Luckily, there are a lot of free resources out there to help you create polished marketing materials. This guide will cover some free and easy-to-use tools for branding, photo editing, and creating social media posts and other marketing materials. Whether you’re just starting a tour and activity business, trying to market on a reduced budget, or looking for ways to save money during the pandemic, these design tools can help you step up your branding game, even if you’re new to design.
Hatchful by Shopify
If you’re just starting your business, one of the first elements of your brand identity you will need to create is a logo. When you’re starting from the ground up, you might not have the funds to hire a professional graphic designer, but this tool makes designing a simple and attractive logo quick and easy. You begin by selecting your type of industry, choosing the design style you like, and entering your business name, and Hatchful creates a variety of logo options for you to choose from. Once you find one you like, you can tailor the logo to fit your brand colors (more on that in a moment) and tweak the elements to suit your business’s personality. When you’re happy with your logo, you can download a branding package that includes materials you can use on social media and beyond. Learn more on Hatchful‘s website.
Your brand colors help reinforce your company’s identity and create a cohesive sense of your brand across platforms. If you don’t know a lot about color theory or putting together a color palette, you might not know where you start selecting your brand colors. Coolors makes creating a color palette easy with its free generator. You simply start by pressing the space bar to see different colors, and you can lock in the colors you like as you go. As you lock in colors, the generator only gives you other colors that will work well with what you’ve selected so far. Simply lock in five colors to create a palette.
You can also extract colors from an image to create a palette. This is useful if you have a beautiful photo of the location where you offer tours and activities and you’d like to create a color palette based on that photo. Go to the Coolors site to give it a try.
Selecting one or two signature fonts for your website and marketing materials will help you create a consistent brand look across the board. It’s important to choose a font that is easy to read and matches your brand style. You can get started by browsing fonts on Google Fonts. Once you find one you like, you can also browse font pairings to find a secondary font that works well with your main one. Finally, you can download your fonts for free. Explore the options on Google Fonts.
Adobe Photoshop Express
This is a great option if you’re editing photos on the go. This mobile app offers a simplified version of Photoshop, allowing you to create professional-looking images right from your phone. You can retouch your images before posting them on social media, create photo collages, add effects, and more. You can download the app from the Apple App Store, Google Play, or Windows Store.
If you prefer to edit your images on desktop, Pixlr is a useful option that allows you to edit images right in the browser, so you don’t even need to download anything. Pixlr offers a basic editor, Pixlr X, and a more advanced one, Pixlr E. You simply go to the Pixlr website, select your editor, upload your image, and start editing. With a variety of options to retouch images, add filters, and more, the free version of Pixlr is robust enough for basic marketing needs, but you can choose to upgrade to a paid plan if you need more.
Social Posts and Marketing Materials
Canva is one of the most popular free design tools out there due to its vast library of templates for all kinds of marketing materials, from social media posts and presentations to brochures and beyond. One of the great features is the brand kit, where you can upload your company logo and colors so you can easily customize anything you create on Canva. You can start with pre-made templates (many are free, while others are paid), or you can upload your own images and use Canva’s editing tools to add text, stickers, and more. With a drag-and-drop interface and a handy mobile app, this tool makes it easy to create engaging marketing materials. Learn more on Canva’s website.
If you want to take your Instagram Stories to the next level, Unfold offers great templates for free. This mobile app for iOS and Android has minimalist templates for Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat stories, helping you easily create appealing posts. While these apps already have a lot of tools for creating stories, Unfold’s templates can help you create a more polished look that really makes your photos stand out.
Pablo by Buffer
Text-based social media posts can come in handy when you want to share customer testimonials, publicize a giveaway, or market a promotion. However, it can be hard to make these posts attention-grabbing. Pablo is a useful tool when it comes to overlaying text over images. They have tons of templates that work well for the tours and activities industry, and you can add text, filters, and logos to customize your posts. Pablo is easy to use, so you can create a great image in just a few minutes. Check out the Pablo website to get started.
The look and feel of your brand will ultimately influence whether people decide to book with you, but not all businesses have the resources to work with a graphic designer. Even if you don’t have a designer on your team, with these tools, you can create a professional look for your business to help you stand out online, on social media, and beyond. Try out some of these tools today and start creating great marketing materials! For more ways to boost your web presence on a budget, check out our guide to free SEO tools.