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When to Go Custom & Where to Save Money with Business Illustration

When clients start working with me they have tons of ideas for how they want their brand to look and they either don’t know how to make it happen or they didn’t know that their idea was actually possible so they never told anyone. 

This post is going to help you decide what’s possible, when to get it made custom and when to just go get a pre-made lower-cost illustration for your goal. I’ll also list some tools that you can use to make slam bang amazing content on your social media accounts so you can turn your knowledge into eye-catching gold. 


What’s Possible

The beautiful thing about using illustration in your branding is that anything is possible. No matter what you want to create for your audience, you can make it exist. 

With photography there’s a limit to what you can create, in that it has to be real. (You can always photoshop over your photograph to add an element of magic but really that’s its own form of illustration through painting pictures – and I’ve got a photographer I’m working with to make this happen for you in 2020, but more on that another time).

So, for example, if you want to portray your audience back to themselves (showing them someone who looks like them) you may not find those photos on Instagram to repost or on stock photography sites, unless your audience fits into the mold of what is “beautiful” and what is “acceptable”. 

Illustration can create your audience. You can create your audience with all of their lovely “flaws” and unique characteristics so that they see themselves in your content and know that they are worth being there. 

This is one of my favorite ways to use brand illustration. In fact, I take a night every week to go out and people watch/sketch. You probably know this but the world does NOT look like Instagram. 

It’s full of amazing bodies that are all soooo different and sooo impressive. With illustration you can bring the real world online. 

What’s also possible:

  • Adding a flower arrangement and a unicorn to your quotes
  • Creating memorable faceless characters that match your brand mood
  • Making a mark that no one has seen before that you can use to help others recognize and understand your brand (logo)
  • Showing your signature something you created 
  • Demonstrating a feeling or an idea
  • Stacking people on top of each other to show how many people like something (an infographic)
  • Writing words onto an object that aren’t actually there in real life (quote on a mug, words on shirt, women on the moon, etc)

Are you seeing where I’m going with this?? It’s exciting isn’t it! 

Now you know why I hop out of bed every morning to make art for my clients. 

You guys are game changers. 

The new ideas and lessons you are bringing to your audience are magical and momentous!

What’s Better Custom?

Now that you know that you can create anything, let’s look at what needs to be created custom. 

Anything that’s new to the world or not the status-quo is something you’ll usually want illustrated custom.

For example, bodies that are not in vogue, foods that are not attractive, lifestyles that are not the norm, ideas that are just recently introduced, concepts that are abstract.

Anything that is specific to your brand that you don’t want to see popping up everywhere you’ll want to have custom.

For example, your logo, your mascot, your key phrases, your website header, your avatar/portrait, your name, your product logos, etc.

That’s It! That’s pretty much the only custom I recommend. 

So what does that look like project-wise? Here are some examples:

  • Logo design
  • Character design
  • Editorial Illustration for new ideas
  • Infographics for new facts
  • Your Main Web illustrations
  • Social Media cornerstone posts*
  • Cornerstone blog posts*

*Cornerstone posts are ones that your offering rests on. The things your audience needs to know to even realize they need your offering.

Where Can You Save Money on Illustration?

Now, let’s look at where you can save some money on illustration and just go with stock. 

Obviously, these items below can be created custom too which will keep them completely on brand. If you want to make sure the stock you find is on brand, just run it by your designer/illustrator and they’ll let ya. But, we have payments to make and courses/coaches to pay so here’s some ways to save:

Anything that is used as embellishment or to bring a collection of content together.

For example, templates, backgrounds, slide designs, general quote graphics, images for blog posts (non cornerstone), illustrations for your forms, illustrations for mailers or email, handwritten type, etc. 

Anything that guides your audience’s eye but isn’t helping them understand something better.

For example, your instagram highlights, website icons, shapes and lines, frames, templates, charts, etc.

So what does that look like project-wise? Here are some examples:

  • General social media posts that will be changed and repeated often
  • Client/Customer forms
  • Blog post design
  • Stationary
  • Instagram Story designs
  • Admin designs
  • Powerpoint presentations
  • Worksheets

And where do you go to get these illustrations? 

Go ahead and open the Beautiful Content Resource List below to see all the amazing places to get this stock illustration from. I made it a web page resource list so I can keep it updated.

In general, if what you’re making is for beautification it can be purchased pre-made. If you’re helping your audience understand text better or growing understanding around a new idea you’ll want custom artwork.

Your Action Step:

Your action step is to look through the resource list. 

Easy peezy! If you’ve been dreaming about adding illustration to your branding, customer care or marketing you can look through those resources and pick find what you need to bring your dreams to life!! 

    The Littlest Guide Shop is all about support and education. If you are wondering what illustration can bring to a project, what branding looks like for a small business/ solopreneur or just want some support brainstorming just click the photo above.

    Can I help you find something?

    I mean, you know this, but… you’re totally invited to ask me about custom artwork. I’m happy to answer questions about pricing, timeline, strategy, custom vs stock with no strings attached. No question is dumb. Creative professionals can use crazy lingo and have big ideas about their work and I want you to know that I’m on your side. If you would rather know what’s included first before talking to me here you go.