Brand Design Tools I’m Using (And Loving!) in 2023

August 15, 2023

Fellow graphic and brand designers, I know just how important the brand design tools we use on a daily basis are for the success and growth of our businesses! Over the years, I’ve tried all sorts of tech, tools, and apps. And while many have served their purpose, only a few keep me coming back year after year.

My best tools as a brand designer

From capturing new design leads to onboarding new branding clients to sharing the final project deliverables with ease, your process as a brand designer requires tech and tools that will do the heavy lifting for you consistently. And whether you’re just starting out as a designer or you’re revamping your tech stack to simplify things a bit, keep reading for my favorite tools I use in my brand design business daily.

HoneyBook: My clientflow management tool

If you’ve been around my corner of the internet for a minute, then you already know how much I love HoneyBook. Over the years, HoneyBook has helped me streamline my client experience, build out a seamless booking experience, and utilize automations that save me time and energy.

From managing new client inquiries to legal contracts to scheduling calls and accepting payments, it truly handles everything I need to serve my clients as a brand designer and strategist. I appreciate that HoneyBook covers not only the client-facing steps but it also covers the back-end workflows of my business.

For instance, when I send over a proposal after a discovery call with a potential client, the client sees the gorgeous proposal that outlines their service offerings, next steps, and more. But on my end, I’m able to add in automated next steps like auto-generating an invoice and client contract using an existing template after the client selects the offerings they’d like to move forward with. So as soon as the client makes their selections, they’re able to make things official without waiting for me to send over any additional steps! This means less friction in the booking process on the client side and it means I have a successfully signed client agreement and retainer payment captured without any additional action on my part.

But enough of what I love about HoneyBook. Why don’t you check it out for yourself to discover what tools will best serve you and your design business? You can use my link for a free 7-day trial, and to save 50% off your first year if you end up signing up!

Loom: my secret for fewer meetings

If you are communicating with clients in any way, shape, or form, and you want to cut down on the number of meetings you’re having or the number of emails you’re sending, recording a quick video using the screen share feature in Loom is worth exploring!

I personally use Loom presentations to share brand presentations and mockups with my custom branding clients so they can better envision how their brand will come to life, as well as my strategic thinking behind each design decision. Loom videos are also a fantastic way to record custom tutorials for clients! If you offer website design, a Loom video or two walking the client through the backend of their site or how to make simple copy or image edits can make a big difference in how empowered your client feels with using their new website.

I also will use Loom to present proposals to potential clients to walk them through what their investment options look like, how we can work together, and what each package includes. I’ve found that sending over a five-minute Loom video along with the link to their proposal gives a more personalized feel to viewing what can be kind of boring information. When I started sending these personalized videos along with my proposals, I also saw an increase in successful bookings.

Google Workspace: file sharing and more

I doubt at this point that I could run my business as efficiently as I’m able to without Google Workspace. From Gmail to Docs to file sharing via Drive, this suite of tools thanks to Google helps me run my design business thoughtfully.

Never underestimate the convenience of using a simple Google Doc to grab a client’s brain dump of ideas or copy for specific design deliverables! Or creating a custom folder to house all of a client’s final files so we can share massive files with ease. And don’t even get me started on how my Google Calendar pretty much keeps my entire life organized at this point. 😉

Design Tools

We can’t talk about running a thriving design business without mastering the tools of the trade. Whether you are a brand designer, a website designer, a surface pattern designer, an illustrator, or any other incredible niche within our industry, your design tools are what make this career possible. So give yourself the opportunity to get to know those tools and become incredibly proficient in your use of them. And you can do that through a variety of free classes, like Skillshare or YouTube.

Of course, there are some great paid programs out there that can teach you how to use Illustrator or InDesign or Showit, but what kind of support you seek out will be tailored to what kinds of tools you use. Personally, when I was getting started, I spent a lot of time really learning the ins and outs of Illustrator and InDesign. Those were the two tools that I used the most in my design process over the years, I became more proficient in WordPress and then Showit.

It’s important to remember that as your journey as a designer evolves, the tools that you use will also evolve. You don’t need to feel the pressure to be an absolute pro at the any of these programs on day one. Instead, I encourage you to design for fun, to set aside some time for you to be creative outside of your client work. That will help just stretch your skills and your abilities within these programs. It’ll give you a chance to try out new techniques to look up tutorials on YouTube and learn as you go.

Asana: Internal Project Management

I use Asana to manage all of the internal workings of my business, from my content calendar to my client projects, to any launches that I have coming up. This is only internal facing, so my clients never see any of this. But this means that I can easily break a project out into as many steps as it takes in order to do it to the level that I want. I can assign myself due dates and that can help give some structure to what I’m working on and when I’m working on it.

I highly recommend setting up an internal project management tool like Asana for client projects so you never lose track of where you are in the design process, what next steps are required, or what deadlines you have coming up. Having your client projects mapped out in this way also helps you better understand your capacity to take on new design projects. Knowing when you’re currently booked with client work and where you may have a future opening can help you plan out your own project calendar more clearly.

Grow Your Design Business With Intention

Every graphic, brand, or web designer utilizes different tech and tools to run their business. But finding a resource that will make your life easier, help you serve your incredible clients better, and grow your bottom line along the way shouldn’t have to be such a process of trial and error. Especially when the internet makes it so easy for us all to find just what we’re looking for!

I hope today’s post points you towards a new-to-use tool that continues to help your design business flourish.

It’s worth noting that some of these links are affiliate links or referral links, and I may earn a small commission on any purchases you make through these links. I only recommend resources I love and use myself and that I think you will, too. Thank you for your support!

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My name is Bonnie – I’m a brand designer, strategist, and writer which all adds up to one eclectic conglomeration of qualities that enables me to serve you well! Past clients have dubbed me "the Joanna Gaines of brand design," and I've had more than a few call me a dream maker, a game changer, and a design wizard (my Harry Potter-loving heart didn't hate that one, let me tell you!). At the end of the day, I'm a big-hearted creative who will get teary-eyed as you share the heart behind your business; who will lose sleep over the perfect font pairings and color selections to bring your brand to life visually; and who will work tirelessly to empower, encourage, and equip you to share your work with the world intentionally. 

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