In branding, there are three major misconceptions to note:
- It's expensive
- A brand name, logo and tagline constitute branding
- It's a one-time effort
Ostensibly, the most common misconception is the high cost of building a brand for the business. As such, it's often perceived to be exclusive to bigger and more successful businesses. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Perhaps in the past, when branding a business was synonymous with million-dollar ad campaigns, often involving television commercials or print ads in major dailies, it was a costly activity. However, thanks to marketing technology, even a recruitment company or one-person coaching firm can achieve branding excellence.
Today, there are more ways to brand your business on a budget. While some will argue it is more challenging, the fact remains it is doable. But it will require commitment and perseverance. Rome wasn't built in a day; neither can a successful brand for your business. In this article, we share ideas you can consider to brand your business on a budget. You may have to tweak them to suit your business' industry.
1. Get up-close-and-personal with your target audience
Do not be intimidated by the term "up-close-and-personal". It's a point of reference to illustrate the depth of understanding you must have of your target audience. Beyond demographics, you'll need to understand their values, habits and interests. When juxtaposed next to their needs, you'll have a near-complete profile of them. Why is this important?
Having profiled your target audience, you're in a strong position to craft your brand strategy as well as message and ensure they resonate well with them. Having deep pockets to brand your business does not guarantee a deep connection with your target audience. Rather, it is the depth of understanding you have of them and how you connect with them that matters more. Developing this depth of understanding does not have to be an expensive exercise.
2. Be consistent in your brand story
Consistently communicating your brand story with authority and the appropriate tone of voice can be a simple act that doesn't cost much. Whether it is your tagline, the look and feel of your social and digital media presence or brand video marketing, it's pertinent for your brand story to be consistent throughout.
With time, this 360-degree consistency will drive home in your target audience's minds what the brand of your business stands for. To this end, you don't need to embark on a multi-million dollar marketing campaign to achieve the same effect.
3. Be social and digital media-wise
Social and digital media aren't magic wands to grow your brand and business. They need to be worked on. Given its potential reach as well as versatility, it's possible to achieve lots with minimal investment. For example, a well-conceptualised and produced video on a topic that matters to your target audience can go viral pretty quickly. The key to success in using social and digital media to brand your business on a budget lies in the following:
a. Know where your target audience 'hangs out' in the digital space
b. Know the hot topics of relevance to your target audience
c. Know the format that turns them on, for example, will it be a podcast, videos or infographics
4. Develop a content market strategy
When using content marketing as a branding tool, we recommend you abide by this rule - Post with Purpose. What does this mean? Content marketing is one of the most widely used branding tools today and businesses use it to stake their claim in a specific field. Well, that's the intention anyway.
Unfortunately, content marketing has become a numbers game - how many and how often a brand posts. Post with Purpose is a return to ensuring the content you put out there communicates and underlines what your brand stands for. Instead of being another face in the crowd of content', your post is part of the armoury you need to build a brand for your business. In contrast to advertising, content marketing is inexpensive. But its reach, especially if it goes viral, can be just as impactful.
Co-branding involves associating or partnering with an established brand. They must have the reach as well as brand stature you can leverage on. Exercising care in your choice of co-brand is important. For a start, they should have a similar target audience as your business. While there may be a slight variation in the brand stance and values, there must be a certain measure of similarity in the least.
A co-branding is a classic approach that has been used effectively by some of the biggest brands in their early days. As a new business, your reach is limited. In addition, the brand has yet to build its authority and credibility. It takes time and lots of money to arrive at a position when the brand will be the horse that pulls the cart.
Unfortunately, in a competitive business environment, time may not work in your favour. You'll need to get to the apex as quickly as possible and achieve brand saliency fast. A co-branding is like a brand-hack to build the brand of your business. You'll be able to leverage the association with a more established brand to launch you faster that purely on your own..
6. Build a social currency for your brand
What does this mean? Essentially, it's to give customers something newsworthy or valuable to talk about your brand. After all, word-of-mouth is free. But you need to ensure the right stuff is transmitted about your brand. One of the best ways to achieve this is the quality of your customer service and experience. From Zappos to Singapore Airlines and Nordstrom, their unrivalled customer service and experience are talking points that have propelled them forward.
Building your business' brand does not have to be a costly activity. Creativity, resourcefulness and entrepreneurial acumen are more critical in driving success. A sound brand is a foundation you'll need to drive your business further.
Learn more about branding in our previous article on 5 ways to build audience and customers in 2021 and beyond.