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How to Brand Your Small Business on a Budget

How to Brand Your Small Business on a Budget

Effective brand messaging is one of the surefire ways to ensure a business’ success. Every business has a general image that represents its values, expertise, and service. However, not every business has a well-developed image, complete with a voice, a memorable logo, and an overall persona. When you’re just starting out, however, it can be difficult to attain the time and resources needed to achieve this.

Fortunately, you don’t need to hire a professional marketing team or invest a lot of money into making this possible. There are quite a few ways to brand your small business and save money while doing it.

Making Your Mark

The first step to developing a brand is creating a logo. Your logo should embody your company’s work while also visually representing the emotions you want your brand to evoke. Regardless of what it is your company does, your logo should be simple, memorable, and versatile. When considering if your logo meets these criteria, ask yourself: Would it look good on a t-shirt? Or on business cards? A logo should be understated and able to work with various mediums.

Creating a logo doesn’t have to be hard, you can consult with a freelance logo artist on design ideas, looking to websites like Fiverr if you’re on a budget and on the prowl for ideas. It may also be wise to do a little bit of research of your own. Look to similar brands that specialize in the same products/services as you do, and try to assess patterns in their logo design.

For example, notice how most modern-day tech start-ups employ ultra-minimalistic logo designs and heavily utilize blue shades. In fact, a study by The Logo Factory determined that 33% of the top 100 brands in the world use the color blue. This is partly to mirror the success of the Facebook blue theme, but also for these brands to associate themselves with an industry and automatically remind consumers of what that company’s specialty is.

Once you’ve decided on a color scheme, font style, and general idea, you can even dabble in logo creation a little bit yourself. Familiarize yourself with programs such as Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, or even free design websites such as Canva. Each of these tools are quick to learn, and can allow you to develop a working logo for the time being. They also serve as a way for you to create a mock-up that you can later show to a professional designer to perfect.

In any case, you don’t need to pay thousands for logo design. As a new entrepreneur on a budget, use your existing knowledge and goals for the company to determine what you would like to see in a logo and try to get as close to that as possible with the help of various programs.

Spreading the Word

After you’ve decided on a logo, the key is to get your small business on social media. And, what’s the best thing about social media? That it’s free, of course. At least to an extent. There are few companies without social media pages nowadays. So few, in fact, that a company without a social media page almost begins to lack credibility. Social marketing strategist Paul Gillin has even stated that people trust social media more than they trust advertising, and that’s because they trust what their peers have to say more than what brands have to say directly.

Find the right platform for your company, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or all three. The visual cues on your social media page should be the same as those on your website—similar color themes and maximum presence of your logo. Your logo should be your profile picture, and your cover photo should match the visuals on your website as much as possible.

This is the first step to the development of a brand identity. People are now able to recognize you across channels. Having a social media presence now allows you to begin developing a voice. Decide the tone you want to use in your statuses, and keep it consistent for all purposes: announcements, promotions, questions, etc. From here, let your followers do the work. Allow them to lead the discussion, and keep an eye out for the emotions and words they associate with your brand. This feedback is incredibly valuable to brand development.

Another benefit of social media is that it’s free advertising without the negative connotations normally associated with advertising. You can get users to spread the word about your brand without spending much, if you spend at all. If you do feel like your brand needs to gain traction on social media, you can run some low-cost ad campaigns or boost a few posts to get it off the ground.

Set It into Motion

Once you’ve implemented these low-cost (possibly even no-cost) efforts into developing a brand identity, it’s time to introduce your brand to the world. As a small business, it’s extremely important that you make a lasting impression. Everyone is familiar with the logos, slogans, and jingles of the large players in every industry, so how do you make yourself stand out?

Remind customers of your brand imaging in every medium possible—business cards, t-shirts, email signatures. You don’t need a professional marketing team. Begin by sitting down with your employees and discussing how you would like people to perceive your company.

From there, decide on a theme that will be embodied in your logo, slogan, mission/vision statements, website, and social media. Is it going to be light and airy like Apple? Warm and friendly like Coca Cola? Make sure the feeling you’re aiming for is embodied across every channel and every campaign.

There are cost-friendly ways to make this all possible, and there’s no need to outsource the work when you’re a new entrepreneur because you know your business better than anybody else. Nonetheless, knowing the characteristics of top-notch branding is a valuable asset. Think of your brand image as the first impression people get of your company. Much like wearing a sharp suit to an interview or having a firm handshake, an aesthetically pleasing logo and memorable voice are telltale precursors to success.

Published: July 13, 2018

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