How to Be Your Own Amazing Graphics Department

6 Graphic Design Tools for Small Business

Every business needs to place a major emphasis on building brand awareness, and the visual nature of the Internet makes it necessary to utilize eye-catching graphics.

This is especially true on social media; in fact, 75 percent of consumers report that their desire to purchase an item is positively impacted by seeing a video or photo of it on a social networking site.

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for a single graphic designer is $53,280. As you can see, building an entire graphics department would quickly become very expensive.

But what if you can’t afford a graphics department or even a single designer or high-quality freelancer? Even worse, what if don’t have the natural ability to easily create your own attractive banners, logos, videos, and other imagery?

Fortunately, there are many options available to professionals in your position. Whether you’re trying to launch a small online business or boost the profile of a multinational company, you need to use visuals to your advantage.

Graphic Design Tools for Small Business

The following graphic design tools will help your company look professional without requiring a huge financial investment.

Small Business Deals

1. Logo Maker

Getting a freelancer to create a logo is typically going to set you back at least $100, and that’s only for a very basic design. If you want something complex, you could easily spend more than $1,000.

Do you have an eye for details but absolutely no idea where to start? Instead of sitting at your desk staring at a blank project page, head to a discount online logo creator.

It is absolutely imperative to create a visually appealing logo that enables consumers to instantly recognize your brand. Here are some created by small businesses using an inexpensive logo maker:

6 Graphic Design Tools for Small Business - Logos Designed by Small Businesses Using Designhill Logo Maker

Source: Designhill

You won’t have any problems finding a wide variety of options, but Designhill is particularly interesting because it offers a highly unusual feature: an A.I. that assists in creating logos.

Most logo creators require you to look through a long list of options to cobble something together. Designhill, on the other hand, asks users to fill out a few questions, generates many options, and then allows users to choose from among them.

The software contains more than 1 million icons. It also has a database with thousands of colors, fonts, shapes, and containers. The best part? Logo designs start at only $20.

2. Banner Maker

Banners can be useful in several scenarios, ranging from creating the perfect website header to placing strategic advertisements on websites that your customers are likely to visit.

Although banner ads are subject to “banner blindness” when over-used, they are still beneficial strategically placed within content and used for retargeting.

Anyone with basic software can make their own banners, but this often leads to awkward-looking results that aren’t going to generate many clicks.

And they provide no way to analyze what is working and what isn’t. You can save a lot of time, energy, and frustration by utilizing an online banner maker.

Again, there are a wide array of sites available, but we’re going to take a closer look at Bannersnack because ensuring banners are HTML5 responsive is critical to display correctly on mobile devices.
Their statistics indicate that HTML5 banner ads are used almost twice as often as GIFS due to the many advantages of the newer format. 6 Graphic Design Tools for Small Business - Most Used Types of Animated Ads

Source: Bannersnack

Additionally, you can easily drag and drop any imagery you’d like into a banner of any conceivable size and style. The best part, though, is having the ability to generate everything from basic to animated banners without switching to another platform.

To be clear, when we use the word “banner,” we don’t just mean the old-school website ad style that typically comes to mind. You’ll be able to create high-quality imagery that’s made to fit every social media site and major ad network.

It’s no wonder this banner creator boasts an impressive list of clients, including Google, MOZ, and Airbnb.

3. Video Editor

Videos are a great way to increase customer engagement. However, in most cases, you’ll need to go beyond the basics of just shooting a video with your smartphone.

That’s not to say you can’t use your smartphone, because you absolutely can, but it’s necessary to go a little further to give your videos the slick production values that really win over consumers.

Much like logos and banners, you won’t struggle to find an online video editor. Simply read 10 Tools to Create Animated Videos for Business and choose one. You’ll be able to use a comprehensive list of editing features for free.

For example, once you upload your existing videos, you can splice things together as desired, adding text, royalty-free images, music, sound-effects, and voice-overs.

6 Graphic Design Tools for Small Business - Video Editing image from Flickr

Video Editor via Flickr CC

Depending on the purpose of your video, you want to use a video editor to add pre-recorded intros at the beginning and outros with your contact information at the end.

Brand your videos with your logo, typically in the upper right corner. You may also wish to put your phone number or other contact information at the bottom throughout the video.

Make them small so they are not too distracting. Wherever you put your logo or contact information, ensure it doesn’t interfere with any text or important visuals you have on the video.

Placing captioning text near the bottom in the video is wise if you intend to publish them to social media sites. This is especially true for Facebook where videos default to auto-play with audio muted until clicked on or tapped.

4. Slideshows

If you prefer to make a slideshow out of existing imagery, you can turn to a slideshow maker. Some use Microsoft PowerPoint to create slideshows and others use apps for smartphones or online.

Slideshow editors will help you create slideshows that are specifically intended for social media. Compare the features as some are very basic while others offer cool effects like reverse, transitions, slow and fast motion.

One of the biggest perks of some online slideshow editors is that you’re not restricted to minimal basics. They offer an extensive list of special effects including adding music, GIFs, and text.

On Facebook, you can turn your photos into slideshows and carousels. Facebook’s slideshow feature turns your images into videos. They even have slideshow ads.

5. Meme Creator

Speaking of social media, you might want to connect with your customers on a more informal, humorous level from time to time. Memes are a great way to do this but be sure to steer clear of controversial content.

You can create your own meme with unique imagery and text; if you make it particularly compelling, your meme might even go viral.

The most popular memes strike a cord with viewers. They aren’t typically specific to your business, but they may illustrate a common human condition everyone can relate to.

There’s a virtually endless list of free meme creators to choose from online. One important piece of advice: steer clear of outdated memes. They can actually hurt your company’s reputation.

6. Animated GIFS

Another way to stand out on social media is through creating custom animated GIFS. The popular Twitter chat #SEMrushchat is a great example of how to use GIFS to liven things up and stand out.

SmallBizTrends recently published a post on the Best 10 Online Tools to Create GIFS for Your Small Business. If you plan to be a guest or participant on a Twitter chat, create some GIFS in advance to post during the chat.

Speaking of Twitter chats, when hosting, you should create images to announce the chat and for each question being asked. You can also share images by using the URLs of related posts if the sites they are on have Twitter cards set up.

Be Your Own Low Cost Graphics Department

Ultimately, a highly skilled graphics department or freelancer can typically produce original work that goes beyond any of the sites listed above, but you’re going to pay a lot more for it.

Meanwhile, companies operating on a razor-thin budget can make themselves more competitive by taking advantage of free or discount tools such as online creators and editors for videos, banners, logos, and memes.

Photo via Shutterstock 12 Comments ▼

Gail Gardner Gail Gardner is a staff writer for Small Business Trends as well as the Community Manager at BizSugar. She is also the Small Business Marketing Strategist who founded and co-founded the Blogger Mastermind Skype group. She mentors small businesses and freelancers, especially writers and social media marketing managers.

12 Reactions
  1. Brilliant post about all the different graphic design software that can help just about anybody become a graphic artist. There are many tutorial videos for these tools to help you along the way. Thanks for this post!

    • Thank you, Nathan. I’m sure it isn’t all of them, but it is a representative example of what is possible. While we are unlikely to generate the results a top graphic artist can, we can create compelling, colorful images at a fraction of the cost.

    • I’m researching a video app named Vlipsy. at first blush it seems clever

  2. The tools are really helpful. Back then, you have to look for a graphic designer for everything but now you have all these tools.

    • Hi Aira,

      Yes, they really help. But having an eye for design is still a valuable skill. I can make basic images, but there are things that designers still do far better than I can. So each business and blog owner has to set their own standards for when to use a designer and when to DIY.

  3. Graphic design has been an integral part of online businesses nowadays. You can no longer launch an online business with a crappy design.

    • Hi Ivan,

      Yes, and even though there are page-builders now, a person still has to understand some basic concepts of design to get a decent result. The use of white space and which colors work well together, and getting enough contrast so that text is easily read are all very important.

  4. This goes to show that graphics really play a vital role in businesses. We are truly lucky that we now have these options.

    • Yes, we must be using compelling images especially as our audiences use mobile devices more and more. Especially if they are older, the small text on these devices makes reading text less likely. Without images and videos, that audience cannot be reached well.

  5. Hi
    Happy to read this post. Online tools are proving to be very useful for small and big businesses. There are many tools available online where you can create graphics for your business. It is very necessary to create compelling graphics for your business to grab peoples attention.

    There are lots of online tools available which you can use for particular purposes. You can use it for designing a logo, editing video, creating GIFs, banner and much more. If you can’t afford to hire a professional then you do it yourself by using online tools.

    Thanks for sharing this post with us.

    Have a great day.
    Praveen Verma

    • Hi Praveen,

      Yes, small businesses and freelancers who don’t have graphics departments can use tools to create all types of media themselves now. It is just a matter of making the time to choose and then learn them. I recommend choosing one at a time, getting comfortable with it, and then choosing another to increase your abilities over time at a pace that won’t seem overwhelming.

  6. These are all great, budget-friendly marketing options! My only exception, speaking from the perspective of a graphic designer, is logo design, and more specifically branding as a whole. This is one critical professional service that can set the visual foundation for all the rest of your marketing or design.

    Investing a little more in partnering with a freelance designer during this initial phase can set your brand up for success as you move forward with visual ads and social content. This can provide customized visual guidelines as you move forward with the above programs, making it even easier to stand out.

    Don’t be afraid to reach out to a designer, there are many who would love to work with small businesses and can certainly work with your budget.