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BrandIn my last piece, “The Importance of Small Businesses Branding”, I explained why branding is so important, even for local businesses. I received feedback from many of my readers and there was a common misconception that in order to turn a business into a brand it requires a huge financial investment.

Yes, you could go out and spend thousands of dollars for a flashy new logo and a slogan, but you don’t HAVE to. Today I want to illustrate how you can start taking steps towards creating your brand identity with only a small financial investment. Building your brand can be inexpensive if you commit the appropriate resources, your time, effort and tap into your creative side.

How to brand your business on a budget

  • Step 1 –Research
    • Your Reputation – In my previous piece, I suggest starting with some analysis on your company and where you stand today. Determine what your reputation is currently. Would you change anything? What do you want to be known for?
    • Identify Your Target Audience – Who are you trying to reach?
    • Determine Your Competitive Advantage – What makes you different?
  • Step 2 – Create Your Brand Identity
    • Write Your Story – Create a short elevator pitch where you can explain to someone new what your business is all about in a minute or less. Also, write out versions that explain your company in a medium length and great detail.
    • Identify Your Company Slogan– Try describing your product or service as simply as possible (Pro Tip- Use your elevator pitch from the last step). What did you come up with? Does this work? Now here is where I need you to get creative… Have a brain storming session, ask others at your company to submit their ideas. Have everyone vote for their favorites.
    • Create Your Logo – If you already have a logo, ask yourself if it fits with your story. If it doesn’t, or you never had one to begin with, then you will want to design a new logo. This is traditionally one of the more pricey aspects of the branding process, but you don’t have to break the bank. Try working with a freelance designer or use an online tool such as Fiverr.  They link you up with designers who create custom logos for as little as $5 each.*Note that I have not used this service personally, but they have tons of reviews listed online for each designer. In my expert opinion it appears to be legitimate.
    • Font & Color Scheme – I know this seems nit-picky but choose 2-3 fonts and colors and stay within that pallet. All company marketing materials should match for brand consistency. It can get expensive to replace everything at once so try to evaluate your marketing materials and start by updating items with high visibility first.
    • Company Goals & Core Values – What do you want to accomplish? Write it down. Create a list of core values or the principals that you want your entire staff to follow. This helps to set expectations on a company wide level.
  • Step 3 – Share Your New Identity
    • Online – Update the look of your website to reflect your new brand identity. Your website content should match too; make small tweaks as needed to align your content with your brand.
    • Get Social – Share on Social Media. I always recommend that at the very least, your business has a presence on Facebook, LinkedIN and Google Plus. If you have a visually stunning product then think about incorporating Instagram and/or Pinterest. Once you think you’ve got a social sharing routine down, the most social savvy can graduate on to Twitter.  Make sure that you save time to monitor your reputation online and respond to feedback both positive and negative
    • Inspire Your Staff – Tell everyone on your staff about your new brand identity. YES, even your cleaning crew. Hold a meeting and share your company goals and core values. Your brand starts with your company culture. Set expectations early on and get everyone on board with your vision.
    • In Store – If you have a brick and mortar location, make sure your brand is being reflected in store too. Always keep your core values in mind when interacting with your customers. Use the same font and color pallet as much as possible.

Just because you’re a small to medium sized business, or a large business on a budget, building your brand doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The small details add up and truly do make a big difference. This process will take time and effort but you have a blue print. In the end, you will be creating value for your company that will last long beyond the life-cycle of your products.

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