Designing a brand that represents a business

and then implementing all of the print and digital variations on that theme can be a daunting task. There are many high-end tools available for this purpose, but not everyone is always working with a high end budget. Fortunately, there are also a few options that don’t require you to compare credit card offers in order to afford them. A few of the best low-cost and free alternatives that can make creating and implementing a brand easier include:

GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)

GIMP is the culmination of a few decades of open source collaboration that has resulted in a large, robust image editing program that has nearly all of the features of its commercial counterparts. GIMP gives designers total freedom to create, composite and edit images. It easily integrates with most graphics tablets and can handle multiple levels of pressure, stylus angles and other features. GIMP is capable of outputting to a variety of different file formats and has multiple algorithms included for high-quality image resizing and filtering. The program is open source and is free to use.

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Blender is a commercial product that was converted into a community-driven open source project. It is a fully featured three-dimensional (3D) modeling, rendering and animation tool that has been used to create professional commercials, animations and digital shorts. The program supports nearly all features that are necessary to create logos, characters and packaging that can be used to define a brand. Advanced features can be used to create animations and can even be bound to motion-capture systems with plug-ins. High quality rendering software can create photorealistic images for the web and for print media.

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Microsoft Publisher

Microsoft publisher is a low-cost solution for branding outside of the digital realm. Many companies eventually need to produce brochures, letterheads and business cards that can be distributed to promote brand awareness at different events. Publisher offers advanced layout features and easy interfaces that support most major print formats and a variety of different styles. There is even drag and drop functionality that can allow a designer to quickly create a pamphlet from any website.

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Hypertext Markup Language Version 5 (HTML5)>

HTML5 is not an application. It is a free tool that can be used to help branding efforts. HTML5 provides users with an alternative to using the expensive Flash-based tools to create fast-loading web animations, interactive websites and mobile apps. HTML5 requires a little more programming knowledge than standard Flash but the results can be loaded without special plug-ins on browsers and devices that support the standard. HTML5 is flexible and can be used to create branded websites that perform a variety of services. Using free and low-cost design tools for branding can sometimes require a little innovation on the part of the designer. Not all tools work well together and it is often helpful to have many conversion programs so that different formats can be passed easily from one application to another. Ultimately, however, the low-cost branding tools that are available will yield the same results as the more expensive versions, and when your business funds are so limited that they have you comparing checking fees choosing to use a less expensive program may be your best bet.

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