Pardon the singing. Fonts make me happy. Beautiful fonts that are free for COMMERCIAL USE (and can therefore be used for branding purposes!) make me very happy. They are unicorns among an Internet of font horses. So with no further ado, here are links to my top ten favorites (in no particular order) . . . .
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About Corel Draw: If you’re a graphic designer by trade, Corel Draw may not be your graphics editor of choice. If you’re a small business owner without a lot of graphic design experience choosing to do your branding in-house, Corel Draw is a great choice. You can pretty much address all your web and print graphics needs for a faction of the price of the typical designer preference, Adobe. Since you’ve landed on this page in your travels, you probably already know that. If, however, buying a copy has been on your to do list for a while, there’s no time like the present. You can buy yours here and support this blog in the process.
A Quick Note About Versions: I’m using Corel Draw 18. As long as you’re using a version in that same vicinity (i.e., 16, 17, 19, or 20), your view should look pretty similar to the screenshots included throughout these directions.
You can have yours ready to use in about ten minutes, assuming, of course, you’ve already made the hard decisions about your brand identity and:
already have a logo;
have your chosen fonts; and
have selected your color palette to use with your logo.
1. Launch Corel Draw and click the “New Document” button on the Welcome Screen. Set the document to 8.5” wide by 11” high, CMYK color mode, and 300 dpi; click “OK.”
Then, you’ll want to prepare the document a bit. First, click on the “Snap To” dropdown towards the top of the page; check Document Grid, Guidelines, Objects, and Page; then, click the “X” to close the dropdown.
Next, add Guidelines to create your margins by clicking on the ruler (just above your workspace) and dragging the cursor from the ruler towards your page. You’ll see a highlighted dotted line will appear and will continuously “snap” into certain placements while moving. (The word “grid” will appear over the line at those snap points; since you chose to “snap to” the document grid, the guideline will snap at each quarter inch on the page.) We want to set the guidelines to create a 1/2″ margin on the page, so let go of your guideline at the second snap on the page. For the bottom, let go of the guideline two snaps from the bottom of the page. Do the same for the left and right. Add one more vertical guideline to the center of the page at 4 1/4″.
2. Then, insert your logo into the document. From the File menu, choose “Import,” navigate to your logo, select the file, press “Import,” and click within your document to place the logo file.
You’ll probably need to adjust the sizing of your logo. If so, just click on a corner of the image and drag diagonally to increase or decrease the size as needed. (If you drag other than diagonally, you’ll resize your logo disproportionately.)
Next, move your logo so that the top of the image is aligned with your top guideline and the center of the image is aligned with the center guideline.
3. Next, you can add your footer. At left, you’ll see an A, which is the text tool. Click on that and create a square at the bottom of the page within the margins.
With the text box selected, set the font properties at the top of the page. (I went with Calibri in size 11 Centered.) At this point, zooming in on the text box is helpful. Click the magnifying glass at left (which is your zoom tool) and click on the text box.
In the footer, you can include your company name (or omit if you’d like since your company name is most likely already in your logo), your tag line (don’t waste any opportunities to educate people about your business), your web site address, email, address, phone number, etc.
You can begin typing by simply clicking into your text box. If you find you need to increase the size of your text box, click the top center handle and drag upwards as needed.
I included our business name, tag line, and web address; I also added some dashes above the web address for visual separation.
Next, zoom back out to the full page view by clicking on the magnifying glass and then selecting the “zoom to page” button at the top of the page.
Create another text box for your body copy. Click the A text tool and draw your box in between your logo and footer and within your left and right margins.
Set the font properties. (I went with Calibri Light in size 10).
And you’re done! You can now save your template future use. Go to File > “Save;” then, navigate to your desired location, name your file something that will be clear to you in the future (like “letterhead”), and click “Save.”
Fonts. Oh, how I love fonts. They can make the simplest design unique and elegant. With the right font, your company name can transform from mere words to a professional and striking logo. So, how does a small business owner make best use of their branding budget (mine is usually $0/mo) to obtain the fonts that are perfect for the job?
The obvious answer . . . you can search “free fonts” on google and see the results. Unfortunately, the majority of the fonts in those search results are “free for personal use,” meaning you can use the font for a decoration for your son’s birthday party but not to create your business’s logo. However, “free for commercial use” fonts do exist, you just need to dig a little deeper for these gems . . . or simply view the list below, because I’ve already done the digging.
A favored resource, I’ve recommended this site many times. About a thousand *free* fonts are available, and they’re presented in a wonderfully searchable format (it is google after all). You’re able to type in your sample text, select the size you want to preview, and choose your desired font characteristic(s); then, your search results populate accordingly. According to google, “You can use [the fonts] freely in your products & projects – print or digital, commercial or otherwise.”
While this web site does have fonts for sale, hundreds are also available free for commercial use (as they promote right in their company tagline). Fonts are organized by category (i.e., san serif, serif, display, etc.) as well as by other useful attributes (i.e., language, number of font styles included in font family, etc.).
Another site in which most of the free fonts are for personal use, you have to look a little closer to find the free commercial fonts. Click the “Font Categories” at top and within the “Special” section, you’ll find “Free Fonts for Commercial Use.” At the time of this writing, the count of free commercial fonts was over 12,000, so the choices are still plentiful.
I will provide a disclaimer that web sites from this point down are probably only recommended for true font enthusiasts (like myself). The casual font appreciator will probably not appreciate needing to create an account (albeit free) for access to the free font selection . . . or the regular emails that result (though you can unsubscribe to those; I personally enjoy seeing what’s new in the world of fonts from week to week, but that may just be me). Now that I’ve mentioned the inconveniences, the benefit is that these types of sites usually have nicer options available. If you decide to go this route, Font Bundles gives you access to everything in their “free fonts” section, including a new font added every week.
Another site requiring a free account for access, this source is actually one of my favorites. They have a “Freebies” section of their web site, in which you’ll find a rotating selection of hundreds of free fonts. However, my favorite membership perk is their daily emails, each linking to a free font – only available that day. I enjoy having a free digital treasure delivered to my inbox each morning. Well, sometimes, the freebie isn’t a treasure, but I can just delete those; no hard feelings.
Similar to Creative Fabrica described above, you need an account for freebies, and they are regularly emailed to you. At Creative Market, however, you get one email per week letting you know about six available free goods, which can include fonts, graphics, stock photography, templates, etc. I would say in general half of the six free goods are fonts. One nice aspect of this site is that every time you download one of their free goods, its saved for you in your “Purchases.” If you download your free goods every week like I do, hundreds of fonts will be available in that section – all with a nice sort feature and large, graphic preview.
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Do you have a favorite source for free fonts (for commercial use) that I missed? Let us know in the comments section below!
A seemingly infinite number of resources exist on branding, and a similarly large number of small business resources exist. Once you narrow in your search on resources for small business branding (and of course eliminate those who want to offer you that service in exchange for a fee), a much, much smaller pool exists. Well, we scoured the Internet for some of the most valuable of these resources for fellow small business brand builders and compiled the best of the best for you below . . . .
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Pexels – “The world’s first inclusive free stock photo & video library”
While you need to attribute credit to the photographer (as you can see in the example pictured above), you get access to a really impressive selection of *free* high-resolution stock photography. The images can be used on your web site, in advertisements, flyers, etc. Pexels is absolutely a must-have in your bookmarks.
This blog is right up our alley! The articles discuss branding from the perspective of small businesses and even provide DIY tips in some areas. If you view the “Articles by Topic,” you’ll see they’re conveniently categorized into the following sections: “Find Your Niche,” “Dream It,” “Create It,” “Grow It,” and “Manage It.”
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Google Fonts – “Making the web more beautiful, fast, and open through great typography.”
About a thousand *free* fonts are available, and they’re presented in a wonderfully searchable format (it is google after all). You’re able to type in your sample text, select the size you want to preview, and choose your desired font characteristic(s), and your search results will populate accordingly. According to google, “You can use [the fonts] freely in your products & projects – print or digital, commercial or otherwise.”
We use the vector and graphics editor, CorelDraw. While the suite is powerful and much cheaper than your standard graphics package, the cost is still pretty steep in the $500 ballpark. I read a few articles on free vector-editing programs, found Inkscape (https://inkscape.org/) to be highly recommended, and gave it a go. The free program seems to have all the features needed to get the job done. (And, they make a number of tutorials available, including one on the basic tools: https://inkscape.org/en/doc/tutorials/basic/tutorial-basic.html.)
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AmEx Blog > Branding – “Hone your presence, online and off. Carve out a niche that customers and clients respond to, and help build a seamless brand, from the color of your logo to the personality of your social posts.”
AmEx has a vastly extensive blog for small businesses. While Branding is only one section within, the quantity of information could easily qualify as a blog of its own. While the section could benefit from some organization, dozens upon dozens of articles as well as videos offer valuable branding insights for small businesses.
While Microsoft dedicates the prime real estate of this page to promoting their “premium” content, hundreds of free options are available. If you browse by category, you’ll see brochures, business cards, flyers, invoices, newsletters, and more. While you’ll certainly want to customize any template with your business’s brand elements, these “off-the-shelf” options often make a great starting point and save you a lot of time and effort.
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The Noun Project – “Over 2 Million curated icons, created by a global community”
Ever wondered where to go for icons that could be used as part of your brand identity or marketing materials for a very minimal cost? A number of options exist, but I like https://thenounproject.com/. They have a large selection and charge nominal, one-time fees per icon. (We obtained the hammer for our logo from this source for $2.99.)
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DIY Marketers – “An Online Magazine for Overwhelmed Small Business Owners on a Budget”
The author of the blog shares her origin story:
Back in 2008 I got a call from MSNBC asking me to be a part of a pilot program they were doing for entrepreneurs. The idea was to bring a TV crew to “our offices” and see how we were able to create all this amazing content and to teach another small business owner how they can market themselves on a budget. I was sorry to tell them that the Ivana Taylor empire ran from my living room with my 3-person staff of Me, Myself and I. The first thing they asked me was how I was able to do so much on a budget — and that’s when DIYMarketers was born.
For me, this story exemplifies all we can accomplish in the world of DIY, investing money from our businesses in growth instead of hiring others to execute the tasks we can accomplish ourselves. And the blog itself doesn’t disappoint. While the design is a little overwhelming, you’ll find oodles of insight and “how-to’s.”
Where to Begin? Once you’ve made the decision for your business that you are going to build your brand from the ground up, you may find yourself a bit overwhelmed. I certainly did. In this post, I reflect on the beginning of my journey as I learned to focus on branding even while in survival mode.
What’s in a Name? This piece examines some of the considerations in selecting the right name for a well-branded operation.
Design Your Own Logo This tutorial provides a very hands-on approach to building your logo. Whether you are considering a totally new design or simply looking to adjust, adapt, and tweak an existing one, these tips (including where to find needed tools) should prove useful.
Know Your Audience A very basic but essential part of any branding exercise should be to make sure you know your audience and choose branding elements that properly reflect their characteristics. This article reviews some of the basics for you to consider.
How to Create a Mission Statement Need a little inspiration for crafting that ever-so-important message? This post includes a couple dozen great examples along with an exercise that breaks down the components of a good mission statement to help you develop yours.
The Role of a Brand Style Guide Once you have completed each of the above activities BUT BEFORE YOU BEGIN BUILDING BASIC TOOLS LIKE BUSINESS CARDS OR LETTERHEAD OR INCORPORATING THE ELEMENTS INTO MARKETING OR ADVERTISING EFFORTS, take the time to create a style guide that puts into writing the most basic rules that must be observed to properly build the visual element of your new brand.
How to Set Up Simple Print-and-Cut Business Cards Start with a blank Word document and develop business cards that are print-ready in only ten steps . . . this “how to” guides the way for you. A Corel Draw tutorial is available as well.