Good design is good business – we’ve heard it before. It impacts everything about our perception of a company. When we see businesses with good design, we assume a greater sense of professionalism and excellence which sends a powerful message to potential clients or customers.

But for small businesses, it can be hard to afford good design. Resources are expensive, and most businesses have to make spending choices very carefully. Here’s the story of how a designer is helping small businesses make an impact with more accessible, high-quality design.

Hi! My name is Hua Shu, and I am a designer and entrepreneur based in New York City. Right now, I create actionable tips, helpful resources, and how-tos for absolute beginners trying to learn design.

I do this through my newsletter, FontDiscovery and at Typogram, a logo design and editing tool for founders that I co-founded with my partner-in-crime, Wentin. We also create fun side projects together, like CodingFont.

I have always liked art and being creative.

When it was time for college, I chose to study design, and I loved it! I especially loved playing with typography in design, the way you can create something wonderful and helpful to others just by using text and design.

After college, I moved to New York City because my college professors told me there was a great design scene there. I enrolled in a Type Design Program to study the design of fonts and the history of typefaces. At the same time, I started experimenting with design and tool-making – I always knew I was interested in design and tools.

The origin of Typogram

Typogram is a logo design and editing tool for founders, makers, and people who are absolute beginners in design. It helps anyone create a brand kit with unique logos, fonts, and colors with ease and confidence.

It’s an intuitive, beginner-friendly design tool that enables small business owners and start-up founders to easily and quickly design logos and brand kits. We believe, with the right tools, design can be easy and fun. Our design tools aim to make founders feel creative, confident, and in charge of their brand.

Our features, like curated design elements, logo design methods, and design lessons, wrapped in an easy-to-use user interface, are designed to make logo creation easy for folks with no prior design experience. Our process guides you and helps you launch your business faster.

It solves a major struggle for new business owners: logo and brand design creation.

When we talked to our users (mostly small business owners), one frustration they experienced was the difficulty of getting started and creating logos using existing design tools. Many people we talked to found current design tools complex and hard to learn for beginners.

This is an exciting problem for us to solve. My co-founder and I are both passionate designers and tool makers. In addition, we love sharing knowledge of brand design and typography with others.

We developed Typogram as a design tool explicitly aimed at people who have zero design experience and for logo making. Typogram teaches users basic branding design and allows them to create their first logo and brandings easily, mainly through features like:

Integrated mini design lessons and inspirations

We created mini design lessons helping users learn branding design. We help our users understand the design elements in memorable logos, and users then put this knowledge into practice by designing their logos inside the app.

Brand Guideline Creation

Users walk away with a brand guideline –– a formula sheet with their design and typography systems, like logo, color, and fonts, which help them create more creative materials for their future needs.

Curated design elements like fonts and logo design methods

We curated design elements in Typogram to help our users make creative decisions (we explain more in this video).

Proprietary editable icons to allow easy designing

We have created proprietary icons that make manipulation and editing easy.

Why I built Typogram

During our initial user tests, we met many business owners who needed quality branding design to launch their businesses. For these new business owners, creating branding design was a pain point.

Finding freelancers can be difficult and costly, and there aren’t any simple and easy-to-use design tools explicitly dedicated to logo and branding design creations for beginners. Many of these business owners tried to create logos themselves using Office tools, like Microsoft Powerpoint, and were not satisfied.

We saw a need for a simple and beginner-friendly design tool specifically for designing logos and brandings that make people feel creative, confident, and excited to launch their businesses! That’s what we want to create.

Using no-code tools to bring Typogram to life

Though my co-founder and I are both engineers, we love to use no-code tools because they enable us to build, test, and prototype rapidly in every aspect of the product. Tools we regularly used were: Notion, Webflow, Retool, Stripe, Google Sheets, Tallyforms, Zapier, and Make.

For Typogram, we used Notion in the initial user testing process. A key feature in our app is mini, integrated lessons to help users learn logo and branding design. To test quickly, We build out initial features using Notion and Webflow.

We also set up a back-end system to collect and organize user feedback. We connected survey responses to a custom notion template, so responses get mapped and recorded automatically to our feedback database. This enables us to save time and access user feedback quickly.

Last but not least, when we launched our pre-order, we used no-code tools to build the payment system, connecting Stripe and Google Sheet to process payment and generate license codes.

Finally, we create engineering-as-marketing project for Typogram, and a very successful one is Codingfont. A font game tournament-style to help engineers pick the perfect coding font. Codingfont uses retool to run its database of coding fonts.

Being an entrepreneur can be lonely

It can be lonely and challenging to start your own business. When I worked for someone else, I had co-workers I could talk to. Now that I work for myself, I had to find my tribe of entrepreneurs so we could motivate each other to stay in the game. To overcome this, we started Build-in-Public on Twitter and a newsletter to find and create a community around us.

We use our startup journey newsletter to share progress, highs and lows, and use Twitter to make new friends and connections. Joining communities like Indie Hackers and Indie Worldwide also helps a lot with this.

James Clear once said, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” Spending time building and having an excellent (project management) system helps me stick close to my goals and roadmap in creating content and shipping products.

Although sometimes this can be time-consuming, figuring out your process and setting up the system to plan is vital to habit building and success.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Hua Shu! You can follow the Typogram journey on Twitter here.

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