Thinkdesign Podcast

Local NJ Café Business Owner Debates DIY Brand Design

“We believe in fresh food you can eat every day. We believe in reasonable portions, and reasonable prices. We believe in buying local and supporting local farms and food businesses.” – Kathy

Chef Kathy started Madeline’s Table personal chef service in 2004 because of her passion for food and her desire to bring real food to the busy families of central New Jersey.  Her small chef business grew into two businesses and a catering service because of her dedication to serving delicious food.

Kathy, the owner of Jersey Girl Café and her team, work to deliver healthy food with fresh, seasonal ingredients to prepare dishes that are balanced, affordable, and locally grown. Not only is the food delicious, the warm personality of the owner and workers makes this restaurant a pleasure to stop by during your lunch hour.

Jersey Girl Cafe After HoursJersey Girl Cafe RestaurantJersey Girl Cafe Catering

DIY Your Brand Design

Just a few short years ago, building a website for your business meant you learned how to code, how to set up hosting services for your website, and all sorts of technical lingo that the majority of the people either don’t have the time or interest to learn. Kathy worked in the technical industry for several years before she decided to make the switch to becoming a restaurant owner.

While she was in the transition between careers, she took the time to learn the basics of HTML and Javascript. This helped her later to build the Jersey Girl Café restaurant website when she decided that she could build it herself with the education she had gone through. Nevertheless, small businesses and startups should focus on user-experience to humanize web designs.

Jersey Girl Cafe Website

However, when it came to creating a brand identity for the Jersey Girl Café brand, Kathy had hired a professional to design her a logo. She bought a few stock illustrations and submitted them to the designer to give them an idea of what she was looking for.

Jersey Girl Cafe Menu and Business Card

Kathy jokingly assured me that the red hair in the logo wasn’t chosen because she also has red hair. While Kathy didn’t design the logo herself, she did have a hand in its final look. The choice to design your own logo or not depends on what your budget is and how complicated of a logo you need.

Networking Can Cut Your Costs

If you’re on a budget, networking and building a relationship with local businesses can be the key to lowering the cost of designing a brand. Many areas have graphic designers that are looking for work and are willing to work with you on prices. Not only do both businesses benefit with this relationship by giving each other discounts and promotional benefits, but they work together to support one another. Smart local business owners are looking to reach out and connect with each other to share tips, form promotional events that benefit all those included, and work together to strengthen their ties to the community.
Listen to Kathleen from Jersey Girl Cafe explain about the importance of networking with local businesses

Should You DIY Your Design?

Most small business owners who start out don’t have the money to hire a designer to build their brand identity. Kathy decided she was going to make the Jersey Girl Café website herself because she knew how. Business owners that don’t have the training to back it up will work with programs that do most of the coding work for them already if they aren’t hiring a professional designer.

There are easy-to-use tools available to help local businesses build their own website, create their logo, and more – but will these designs work with the brand or will it turn customers away? To help you make the choice that’s right for you, your business, and your budget, here’s the argument of DIY vs. professional designer.



When DIY Design Works

There are several simple website building programs designed specifically for people who don’t have web development experience or have knowledge of the basics of coding language. These programs use pre-designed templates to build your website quickly. One of the most popular options is a content management system like WordPress or Joomla. You can choose templates that have stock images and content for your industry to show you how it is supposed to look. Inserting images, text and moving blocks around works similar to Microsoft® Word and PowerPoint.

These quick-start layouts, and drag and drop designer tools mean anyone can build a website. No technical skills are needed and with a template, you can have a website in minutes. However, advanced functions that are needed for specific industries like e-commerce can require specific plug-ins that are unavailable to you.

When You Should Go Professional

Many business owners choose to have a designer create the business brand, including the logo design and the website. Although it’s expensive, hiring a professional designer saves you time and ensures that you receive exactly what you want for your brand. Hiring a designer to create your logo can be costly; however there are several inexpensive logo design solutions out there to save your business some money.

The cost of hiring a professional to design your website will depend on a number of factors, including the amount of pages needed for the site, if they are providing your website copy, the design itself, and if they are updating the website for you. Some website designers simply create the design and hand the website over to you to manage while others offer to manage your site for you, usually for an additional cost.

The Decision Is Up To You

If you want to be unique among your competitors and stand out then you need to factor in the costs of custom design. If you have the time to build and manage your own site and you don’t need too many complicated additions to your design, then a pre-existing template may be right for you. My best advice is for you to assess what you’re willing to invest in a website and the choice of DIY vs. professional designer should become clear.

Kathleen is a New Jersey blogger with an interest in brand design and a passion for graphic design, illustration, and social media. She loves to deliver inspiration to others to give them the means to achieve their branding and design goals.

2 thoughts on “Local NJ Café Business Owner Debates DIY Brand Design

  1. Great article! The brand you chose can be expounded upon as technology progresses. For example your red headed character could be modeled into a 3D character and animated for web commercials or TV commercials and 3D printed in plastic or foam to use as advertising at events. We also are a local business that offers this kind of advertising at an affordable cost, “We Bring CGI to the Little Guy!” http://www.littleguycgi.com

    1. Thanks Susan! I totally agree. The character is perfect for expanding on for TV or web commercials. I can certainly bring the idea to Kathy, the owner of Jersey Girl Cafe, and see what she says. I don’t know what her budget is, but I know she’s a big supporter of small local businesses.

      Thanks for the comment!

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