Branding is all about how you make your audience feel. A strong brand will generate a strong and positive emotional reaction. But do you need a large budget to achieve this?
Actually, there are many small but crucial branding tasks that do not cost much – and some are completely free. So how should you go about branding effectively without splashing out on an expensive branding agency? Here’s a guide to seven steps that you can use to brand your business without breaking the bank.
1. Write a Mission Statement
Start by creating a mission statement. This comprises a few short sentences that aim to encapsulate who you are, what your business does and how it provides value. Some mission statements are a single sentence long.
Although short, a mission statement can take some time to create. You want to get it right, and it provides you with an opportunity to sit down and think carefully about your business and your direction.
You can include your mission statement on your website, but it is primarily for your own purposes to give you a foundation to build upon. It’s something you can return to over time, so that every time you write an ad, create a blog or converse with a customer, you can use it as your guide.
2. Develop and Clarify Your USP
At the same time, create a USP – a unique selling proposition – for your business. This is free to do, but it can be challenging.
It’s easy to know that your business provides value – you know that people should hire you – but it can be trickier when you try and capture exactly what makes you different.
What do you do better than anyone else? Why should people choose your business over your competitors? This is the very essence of your branding, and you need to be able to communicate this quickly and effortlessly. You want people to think of this USP when they think of you.
Determine who you are targeting. Know who your customers are, what they want and what they value. Create a buyer persona and really nail down who they are.
Then think long and hard about why they should choose you over the competition. Are your products sustainable? Do you use a unique process? Are you the cheapest? Are you the most expensive but the best?
Put all of this together to develop your USP, and you can then use this to guide all of your branding activities going forward.
3. Design a Unique Logo
If you don’t have a logo, you should get one sorted out ASAP. Your logo is the visual representation of your brand. A strong logo can give you instant recognition, and you can – and should – use it everywhere.
Designing a logo will involve a cost (unless you do it yourself), but it is a cost that is well worth the investment, especially if you end up using your logo for many years.
Your logo is what people will see when they first encounter your brand as well as every time they encounter it in the future. Use it on your website, your social media platforms, your letterhead – everywhere. People will associate it with your business, and it will therefore have a big impact on your branding.
Make this a priority. In short, if your budget is small, spend most of it on getting your logo designed.
4. Create a Style Guide
This is also a good time to create a style guide for your brand. Your style guide helps to define your brand and ensure you stay consistent across all your channels and marketing activities so your brand becomes recognisable across every engagement.
It includes the colours and fonts that you use on your website and in your marketing materials. Think about how you want people to feel when they encounter your brand, and consider how different colours can affect this.
Even something as simple as choosing a colour and sticking to it can help to make your brand consistent. Think of big brands: Facebook is blue, Evernote is green, Snapchat is yellow. You too can have your own colour.
It also includes your voice, the words you use, how you want to come across. Do you want people to see your business as young, vibrant, funny, traditional, serious? Again, this stage takes time – but there is no cost involved.
5. Launch Your Website
Use everything you have created up to now and put it together on your website. This includes your logo, style guide, USP, brand voice – the lot.
Redesign your website if you need to. Yes, this will involve a cost, but it does not have to cost a fortune. And, like your logo, it’s a cost worth paying. You could even use a website-building tool like Wix if your budget is really tight, and you could always update it in the future when you have more money to spend.
Your website should clearly convey your branding. Your logo, colours, design, tone of content, the images you use – everything should instantly communicate who you are and what makes your business unique.
6. Create and Share Content
Your content is just as important as your design, and the two work hand in hand. As such, whenever you create content, you should focus on your brand voice and make sure it comes through. Think back to what you want to convey, whether that is trust, expertise, confidence, etc. Then ensure this comes through not just the content on the main pages of your website, but also in your blog posts and social media posts.
Create content that focuses on providing value to your target audience, then share it across your social channels. Create images using a tool like Canva to accompany your content, and brand them with your logo. Develop a distinctive style that people can recognise instantly.
Content marketing is one of the best ways to get your voice out there. Your content will have a certain ‘feel’ to it that makes it different from other content, getting your voice across. Providing genuine value will also help to establish your authority.
Often it is hard to decide on a voice and then stick to it. Rather, it tends to come naturally over time, and creating content regularly is one of the best ways to develop it.
7. Focus on Improving Customer Service
Customer service is one area where you can make your branding stand out, so make a real effort here. Provide multiple channels to respond to queries including telephone, email, live chat. Use your social platforms too – many people enjoy being able to reach out via Twitter or Facebook without having to leave their favourite platforms.
Consider launching a chatbot to help with simple queries. People may enjoy the 24/7 support it offers, and this could be another way to improve your branding by demonstrating that you run a business that employs the latest tech.
Boost Your Branding
Branding is hard work. It takes time and effort, and it is an ongoing process. But one thing you don’t need to do is spend a lot of money.
If you are dedicated to building your brand on a budget, you can do it. Start with the above ideas. Once you have got your website, logo, social media and content up and running, you can build a strong brand without having to spend much money at all.