When you can’t spend much on your marketing efforts, read on for how to do branding on a budget.
Branding is a must for any small business looking to stand out because it differentiates your company from the competition and builds a foundation for the rest of your customer-facing content. Did you know that solid branding can actually make your small business money? Presenting a consistent brand identity across all platforms and channels can increase your revenue by 23 percent.
However, as a small business leader, it can be difficult to know where to start. Since branding is so abstract, it’s tricky to know what activities will make an impact until you actually carry them out.
Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a lot to pack a punch. You just need a little thought and strategy. Below, we detail out some practical and feasible steps for you to take to brand well and brand on a budget.
Your branding success depends on the ability to appeal to the right audience. For that to happen, you need to know precisely who you’re trying to work with and what draws them into your business. A great start in understanding your audience is walking through the exercise of creating a content strategy in a week. Create buyer personas so you can really zero in on your audience and their preferences, then use those personas to understand how others currently see your brand.
The needs, goals, and behavior of your potential customers dictate how you convey your product or service. Understanding those goals helps you determine what kind of media your personas are consuming, what motivates them, and where they “live” online. With this information, you can also develop a compelling, effective brand that reaches the right people.
This may sound like you’re knocking out the entire process in one step, but your brand identity is different from your actual branding. To solidify your brand identity, you want to focus on the kind of feel your brand will evoke instead of the physical representation.
Have a meeting with your employees and work together to list the various elements that define your brand. You’ll want to ask and answer questions like:
Together, these variables will help you hone in on what you’re trying to deliver to the world with your brand identity, as well as how branding fits into your broader objectives.
You might see this step and wonder, “Really? This is a part of a branding on a budget effort?” The answer is a resounding, YES!
Having a regular blog is an incredibly important part of attracting new visitors to your site. It helps you reach qualified customers, by creating content that matches what they’re searching for. That’s why it’s so important to make blog posts relevant to audiences (and even more important that you know what these audiences are searching).
Oftentimes, a blog is the first interaction people will have with your business. It’s designed to start off the relationship in a positive way and give audiences a taste of what you’re all about. A blog should be something that is scheduled, frequent, of great quality, and true to who your brand claims to be. And, it’s free.
This is the fun part (or, at least, we think so). The cornerstone of the identity is the logo, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Your digital, printed and spatial presence all needs to be tied together in a coherent system.
Use the answers from the above identity exercise to talk through things like:
If your brand is trying to evoke emotions of a strong, female presence, your images would likely center around women with bold backgrounds. Or perhaps your business seeks to provide professional coaching to young college students. Your branding on a budget should use eye-catching colors, but shouldn’t be flashy since you’re trying to attract individuals who are serious about finding a job. You see where we’re going here?
Most importantly, keep it simple. The more complicated you make your graphics, taglines, and posts, the more expensive it becomes to keep up with it all.
The visual part is where you can also save a lot of money. Seek to hire a local photographer or someone who likes to capture people in an environment they’re most comfortable in. They can provide headshots and employee engagement shots that will send a clear message, without looking posed or costing you a fortune.
Also seek to look within your own employee-base. Does someone have a natural gifting for graphics and wants to take a stab at designing a logo? Or maybe you consider a “logo design contest” where you give a prize to the winner of the design that best resonates with the business identity. This will be both a fun way to drive excitement in the company branding and a great way to save some cash.
Need ideas on additional free tools to help create material for your company or social media? Try using Canva for graphics on business cards, presentations, mailers, social media images and more!
The 21st century has given brands one of the most useful tools available — social media.
As there are literally billions of people on social media, these platforms offer young brands a free and easy way to connect to their audiences and build loyalty. An Instagram page, for example, is a great place to showcase your brand personality and increase follower engagement.
There are so many ways to use social media to increase brand awareness, like creating fun competitions that encourage customers to share, or making low-cost Facebook ads that are tailored to a specific demographic.
Even though many of these social media platforms offer business accounts, many successful small businesses use a regular profile to post on-brand posts that look great, are simple, and don’t cost a lot to keep up with. Just remember, to really leverage a successful social media presence, you need to engage with others on the platform. Follow like-minded accounts or people that support and drive home your brand message. Also, try to use video and interactive features to increase engagement. All of these are ways to circle audiences around a cohesive brand image without needing to hand over loads of ad cash.
While nailing a brand can seem like a heavy lift, if you use the above tactics, you’ll be well on your way to becoming recognizable, even as a small business. It doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg to brand your small business. In fact, the most important part is creating purpose that you and your audience can rally around.
And of course, if there are questions about branding on a budget or needs with content marketing or photography, feel free to give us a call. We would love to sit down and grab a beer!