It’s no surprise that companies today place a significant emphasis on branding. Thanks to near-instant exposure on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, firms must engage with their target audiences more frequently and on a more personal level. Branding is the best way to create a consistent, approachable, and memorable persona for consumers.
However, branding can cost a pretty penny, and though larger corporations have budgets prepared to handle the overheads, smaller businesses and startups usually cannot match this rate of spending. Yet, being able to promote a brand’s image and share its message are vital components of any company’s success.
Crafting a branding strategy on a budget may seem complex. After all, a successful campaign is more than simply changing a color scheme or posting on Facebook. Nevertheless, it doesn’t need to be prohibitively expensive to design and launch your brand. There are tried-and-tested solutions that can help even a budget-conscious designer or marketing department save on overheads.
Here are some excellent ways to create a powerful brand strategy, even on a reduced budget.
1. ‘In-source’ your design and initial branding work
Graphic design is a key component of any branding strategy. Creating a company logo, color palette, and variant designs helps lay the foundation for future brand strategy while giving a company its personality. However, graphic designers can be expensive if you don’t have an in-house team or handle design work yourself.
You could always find a freelancer is always an option, but results can vary greatly, and if you use outsourcing platforms you’re not guaranteed to get a product you’ll love in the end. Instead, focus on finding ways to bring design work in-house with cost-effective solutions that let you maintain creative control.
An easy solution for creating a logo and branding materials is to use a logo design tool. It may not seem ideal at first, but modern logo makers can create unique and powerful designs thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning. Additionally, these options also include a suite of branding tools to get started, cutting down on expenses and work hours in many cases.
Taking advantage of existing technology is a valuable strategy for any company, big or small. More importantly, it can expedite the branding process, allowing for better use of resources and time.
2. Take full advantage of social media
It’s hard to overstate how important social media is for marketers and brands alike. They’re increasingly the most popular form of communication, and offer companies a free way to interact and convert users into customers. Most importantly, however, they don’t have to cost a penny.
Today, most businesses have a presence on more than one social media platform, and some have gone as far as focusing their entire efforts on social, with positive results. Massachusetts-based bike-builders Firefly exclusively market themselves on social media, and others have recognized the potential. Moreover, there are several straightforward ways to boost your profile online without having to resort to paying for web traffic.
By implementing a variety of small adjustments, your strategies can pay bigger dividends that don’t cost a dime. For example, you could focus on improving your hashtags to expand your organic reach, or try to place yourself in the center of your industry’s conversation. You can also uncover diverse ways to engage your community, presenting a friendly face that’s approachable and human.
A necessity for fully exploiting your social media potential is coming to the table with a plan already etched out. While a post or photo here and there might be useful in the short run, the best way to expand your reach is to have a strategy in place. Take the time to create a detailed timeline of when, what, and where you’re posting. Social media can help you strengthen your brand through repetition and familiarity with your target audience.
3. Find free ways to broaden your brand’s appeal
Paid campaigns and advertisements on TV are great, but getting to know the people you’re trying to convert is priceless. Paid channels have their merits, but can be hard on a budget, and in many cases, you can compensate by creating a strong presence in your niche. Finding ways to expose your brand to audiences can seem difficult, but there are numerous tactics you can easily pursue:
- Participating in events held in the communities you’re selling to
- Forming partnerships with local businesses to promote your services
- Attending conferences, conventions, and other gatherings
- Writing for community news and opinion outlets
- Becoming an authority in your field
One of the best ways to get your brand recognized is to be an active participant in the community you’re serving. You can do this in more than one way though a surefire tactic is to attend events centered around your niche. Conventions are excellent for networking and learning more about the latest consumer preferences and trends.
Local businesses are also an excellent resource considering partnering with them carries several noteworthy benefits. Crucially, it creates goodwill within your community while providing a free opportunity for recognition and brand exposure. Partnerships can also create financial opportunities.
Finally, you can join conversations in your community, becoming an authority in the field while displaying an approachable personality. It’s easy to find major outlets online and in print, and they’re great ways to let the world know about you in a friendly, more direct way.
4. Track your brand’s progress and adjust
One of the best things about doing business online is the ability to keep track of everything. Analytics are a vital tool in any brand’s toolkit, offering a straightforward way to judge strategies and see how well the brand is performing. Understanding how people react to you online can help you abandon tactics that aren’t working or explore new avenues to test.
Understanding your brand’s analytics is a vital feedback mechanism for visualizing how people are reacting to you, and how they perceive your company. This includes how people see your brand on social media, how they interact with it, and what people are saying. You can combine this with a sound social media monitoring strategy, which lets you review how your brand is being represented in conversations across multiple channels.
Many services that offer branding tools include brand analytics, letting you manage everything from a single dashboard. By combining these tools with site analytics and monitoring tools, you can gain a full picture of how your brand is performing.
Analytics can also show you new potential campaigns. While one strategy may not have worked, it can reveal consumer tastes and preferences, giving you new ideas and approaches that better suit your mission. Uncovering actionable insights helps you adjust quicker and continue pushing your brand forward.
5. Find your community’s influencers
More and more brands are turning to influencers to expand their appeal. This is not surprising considering studies show that a majority of people make purchases based on references in social media. For a company on a budget, gaining the kind of exposure an influencer with thousands of followers can offer is a potential goldmine.
Influencers aren’t always free, but they offer something many other channels simply can’t—a direct link to a captive audience. Moreover, not all influencers are the same, and sometimes you can find specific thought leaders or celebrities that are more in tune with your specific audience.
Micro-influencers offer the benefit of authority in niche communities. Their focus on smaller, more specialized audiences can help you target your efforts and provide a more affordable marketing strategy. However, one type of influencer isn’t necessarily better than another.
Each can reach a different audience and serves a different purpose. You can develop strategies that take advantage of both, or find influencers who are willing to promote your brand free or in exchange for sponsorships, gear or services.
Branding doesn’t always have to be a prohibitive cost and an either/or decision. While not every company has the same budget, there are ways for smaller firms and upstarts to obtain exposure and build their names without having to break open their wallets every time.
Focusing on free or less expensive channels can ease the financial burden while still offering excellent visibility, and you can never go wrong by presenting your customers with a friendly face. While TV ads and expensive campaigns serve a purpose, you can always source different solutions to expand your reach.
The best way forward is to find services and tools that can give you a variety of services, keeping your costs low while delivering comparable functionality relative to an expensive team. Finding ways to do more with less can help you develop a powerful brand even on a budget.