In marketing, the word “brand” seems to be used a lot – the leading brand, off-brand, personal brand … you get the picture.
But there is often confusion about its importance in business. What does that mean? Should you hire an expert? Most of all – branding is expensive, isn’t it? Not exactly.
As it turns out, there are some creative ways to effectively brand your business without spending a lot of money. While this takes time, the ROI doesn’t go unnoticed. In some cases, it can even help you save money while growing your business.
Building your brand is a critical part of developing your business. It is the foundation that gives your business a voice, identity, value and awareness with consumers.
With the multitude of resources, tools, and platforms available today, branding may not be as tedious (or costly) as you might think.
Read on to learn what makes a brand and how you can develop a brand on a budget.
How to brand your company
A brand consists of material and immaterial elements. For example, your logo is a visual representation of your company. It evokes emotions and speaks to your brand’s personality. Your identity, on the other hand, is not concrete, but is an integral part of building a connection with your audience.
These elements work together to drive consumer awareness of your business. So you need to take the time to design each element to make sure your business resonates with your ideal customer.
Not sure where to start? Alicia Collins, campaign manager and copywriter at HubSpot, has some tips.
She recommends developing a branded playbook that includes:
- Your brand history and positioning
- Your company slogan
- Your corporate mission statement and your core values
- Your target audience
- Information about the voice and sound that you want to use to communicate with customers
- High-level copy that your team can use in assets
“This game book will help your team speak clearly and consistently about your business,” said Collins.
Once you know your identity, create strategic messages to target your audience. Your messages should convey what makes your brand unique, what you offer, and why consumers should want your product or service. It should also reflect the attributes that your target audience wants to see.
Take Oatly, the oat milk brand known for its fun, self-referential marketing campaigns.
The brand’s identity is based on ethical food production and sustainability without taking itself too seriously. Oatly amplifies these ideas in its product packaging, on its social media, and in how it interacts with consumers.
Is this a business council from The Richest Man In The World? We’re happy when you drink that much oats, but not everyone wants to consume 2-3 liters within a 5-day window. And the last thing we want is to create food waste. Lots of love, oats
– Oatly (@oatly) April 23, 2021
Next up: your brand values like logo, typography, packaging, colors, visual designs and content.
A 2019 survey by Promotique found that even when consumers hear positive things about a brand, three in five don’t use the company if they think the brand’s image is terrible. The study also found that most consumers believe that the appearance of a logo can affect or affect the brand.
This shows how important your wealth is to brand awareness.
“The goal is to use graphics that reflect your brand in a way that tells your audience what you’re about, too,” he said Harriet Van Tongeren, Canvas creative director for nonprofits. “A timeless, but memorable, branded finish helps maintain brand awareness, and consistency helps build trust.”
So don’t skimp on your creative resources. They are an investment that will add to the longevity and growth of your brand.
“”A great way to ensure consistency of a budget is to develop Canva templates, “said Collins.” Canva allows your team to quickly create beautiful graphics using pre-approved layouts. “
She adds that your team should use the same hex color codes in your designs to ensure a consistent visual identity.
Finally, create a photo library to keep images ready for your marketing efforts. Once you Edit them and use the same editing style to create a cohesive library.
One topic that you may have noticed in this article is the importance of consistency.
According to Van Tongeren, forgetting this key element is the biggest mistake brands can make.
“Everything that comes from your brand should be cohesive and feel like part of a family – the language, the tone, everything,” said Van Tongeren.
“The best way to think about it,” she adds, “is to ask if your audience can tell that the material is your brand, even with the logo removed.”
According to a Lucidpress study of the state of brand consistency in 2019, brands estimate that if they maintained brand consistency across platforms, their sales would increase 33%.
Consistent branding helps consumers recognize and identify with your brand. Another way to solidify your brand is to build a community. It can look like this:
- Set up a platform where your audience can meet and interact with you and other members of the community; B. a Facebook group or a Slack channel.
- Engage your audience through comment sections, polls, and polls on social media.
- Organization of events such as webinars and meet-ups.
- Involve your followers in your process behind the scenes.
As you build your brand, keep in mind that this is not just a marketing game.
“The brand goes beyond marketing,” said Collins. “So make sure your branding strategy style aligns with your product strategy, sales strategy, service strategy and more.”
7 steps to marketing your brand on a budget
You don’t have to break the bank to grow and maintain a brand. In fact, you can do most of these tips without spending any money.
Two things to always remember: think about your customers and convey messages that support your company’s mission.
Below, let’s discuss a budget-friendly way to get better on a budget.
7 steps to marketing on a budget
- Create a persona to understand your audience.
- Develop an identity and voice for your brand.
- Start by creating a consistent social media presence.
- Start a blog on your website.
- Make customer service a priority.
- Make use of the co-branding.
- Host a master class or webinar.
1. Create a persona to understand your audience.
You’ve probably heard that knowing your audience is key to creating marketing messages that will appeal to them. A good way to get to know them? Create a Buyer Personality: a semi-fictional representation of the values and characteristics of your ideal customer.
“The job of brand assets, or ‘paintwork’, is to visually communicate what each brand wants to convey to their audience,” said Van Tongeren. “Before you even think about the visual component, you need to know who your audience is and how you want them to perceive you.”
Personas also describe the challenges your customers face and where your company fits in to solve these problems.
Below is an example buyer personality, Marketing Macy. Notice how my persona lists demographic data like age and education, as well as tools needed for their daily tasks, such as: B. a CRM.
The needs, goals and behavior of your potential customers determine how you convey your product or service. So for Macy, I want to focus on a B2B strategy that meets its lead generation and branding goals.
Understanding these goals can help you determine what type of media your personas are consuming, what motivates them, and where they “live” online. With this information, you can also develop a compelling, effective brand that reaches the right people.
Make your own buyer personality with HubSpot’s free MakeMyPersona tool that walks you through a series of questions about your ideal customer.
The tool is fun, interactive, and makes you think critically about who you want to reach with your brand and how you want to reach them.
2. Develop an identity and voice for your brand.
Once you’ve identified your buyer personalities, your brand can take shape.
Create a brand identity – what makes your brand, your brand – and their voice. This is the tone you use in any marketing copy or public communication.
Developing a brand voice and identity is similar to constructing your personas.
But instead of answering questions about your goal audienceThey answer questions that are more introspective to you brand: What are your company’s values, what do they represent and how would you like people to talk about you?
“The most important part of developing a brand is discovering the groundwork,” said Van Tongeren. “When you’ve done the job, and you know exactly who your brand is, what you want to be known for, and what your brand is, you’re in a great place to start.”
As you answer these questions, your focus will be on creating content that will support them. Create compelling emails, blogs, social posts, and multimedia content that reflect the mission, values, and the way you want to appear to your customers.
For example, if you want one of your values to be accessible to customers, make your contact information available to users, include them regularly, and answer their service questions in comments.
The evolution of your voice is reflected in the copy of this content. Are you using conversational language that relates to customers? Or is it more beneficial to reach your audience from a technical point of view?
For example, a lifestyle company with a good understanding of brand identity is Fanm Djanm.
If you navigate to the brand’s website and social channels, you’ll see the consistency of the branding. Warm and lively colors, powerful images of women and copies that create a sense of community.
It’s a direct reflection of the brand name, which translates into “strong women” and the celebration of sisterhood and self-love.
Even if you’re not starting from scratch, it can be valuable to establish a strong brand voice.
Take the Android operating system software service, for example. The 2019 rebranding was a re-edition of the logo that made the design cleaner and more modern:
The logo was born out of the need to speak to a change in audience. Originally the target group for Android was developers, instead the company has become more consumer-oriented. The change was bred from this analysis.
3. Plan for a consistent social media presence.
So we know who your personas are. And now we have an idea of what and how messaging can be created that is related to them. But where are they?
There’s a good chance you can find her on social media and this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss. We talked about how effective it is to reach people where they are already there, and that includes their online behavior.
A 2020 Sprout Social Index report found that 89% of consumers shop from the brands they follow on social media. The study also shows that social media users want to learn more about brands’ new products and services. In fact, 57% of respondents said that’s the number one reason they follow companies on social media.
After you have a clear picture of what your audience is interested in, the next step is to figure out where they spend most of their time on social media.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to play Inspector Gadget to find out. Take a look at the competitors – see where they are most active (and how their language connects or doesn’t connect with the audience).
Also, take a look at the demographic breakdown of each social platform to better understand who you’re targeting and where.
For example, the highest percentage of US men and women who use Facebook are between the ages of 24 and 35. TikTok, on the other hand, tends to have a younger audience, with many users falling into the Gen Z population.
If you find that the majority of your target audience is prioritizing a social network, you will have an idea of where to allocate your resources.
However, do not ignore other websites. Having a presence on multiple social media platforms gives you the opportunity to diversify the ways in which you reach audiences.
By diversifying the methods and channels you use to get new leads, you can connect with as many potential customers as possible.
Maintaining a presence is just as important as creating a presence. For example, have you ever visited a brand’s Facebook page to find that nothing has been published in the past three months? This probably didn’t have a positive effect on your perception.
This can be avoided by planning and scheduling social media posts like you would with any marketing calendar. This free social media content calendar can help.
It’s also important to think ahead of time about the content you will post on social media and the interactions you will want to have with your followers.
One of the main reasons consumers don’t follow brands on social media is because of irrelevant content and too many ads, according to the Sprout Social Index report.
If you wonder what they’re looking for, respondents said it was engagement first, followed by memorable content and compelling storytelling.
4. Start a company blog.
We have discussed the importance of blogging before, and it cannot be emphasized enough. It’s a central part of the inbound marketing flywheel, especially the “attract” phase where website browsers go from strangers to visitors.
Starting a blog is a fundamental step in inbound marketing. It helps you reach qualified customers like your personas by creating content that matches what they’re looking for. This is why it’s so important to make blog posts relevant to the audience (and optimize them for search engines – here’s how).
“The success of HubSpot was a direct result of our blog. In fact, we had a blog before we even had a product,” said Lisa Toner, director of content at HubSpot.
“Dharmesh and Brian have always believed that to build a remarkable brand, you have to create remarkable content, and we’ve consistently done that since we started our blog in 2006.”
Karla Cook, Senior Team Manager, HubSpot Blogs, adds that our blog is an important discovery point for our target audience.
“It’s the very first interaction a lot of people have with our brand – before they even learn about our products – and it helps us start that relationship in a positive way,” she said.
Customers are looking for information that you can provide. In addition, this content can serve as material to populate your social networks.
To find out what your target audience is looking for, do a keyword research that uses search engines to find out which topics are most important to your target audience.
While blogging can be inexpensive, it takes time.
The inbound marketing version of this question says, “Would you rather blog and promote content created by and for your company for an hour a day, or source content for your ideal customer from your competitors for several hours a day? “
An editorial calendar is also helpful in maintaining consistent timing and fresh content on your blog. That’s why we’ve put together a free editorial calendar template for blogs that includes instructions and tips on how to manage your content.
5. Make customer service a priority.
When we hear the name “Zappos” most of us immediately think, “Unparalleled customer service.” The online clothing retailer has incorporated this level of service into its core approach to doing business.
Why is that so important? For Zappos, the excellent customer service at the cornerstone of its brand has actually saved money on marketing and advertising. That’s because word of mouth has sprung up with existing and potential customers.
This is known as the Deserved Medium: The recognition your brand deserved and not paid for by people who talked about something you did was remarkable.
For example, when I shop on a new website, the first thing I do is read reviews. When I see reviews that mention quick shipping, friendly customer service, and quality products, I’m more inclined to buy.
And I am not alone. A study of Zendesk Customer Experience Trends for 2020 found that customer service plays an important role for consumers in deciding whether to buy from a brand – more than the product or service itself and convenience.
It only takes one bad experience to potentially lose a customer. The report shows that around half of consumers will switch to a competitor after a short period of time one negative experience.
This again verifies the importance of your identity and voice. As you go through these branding steps, keep in mind the values you want your audience to experience, such as: B. excellent service. These values shape the brand’s culture and influence the voice you convey to an audience.
Wondering what actionable steps you can take? Here are research-backed ways to improve your customer experience:
6. Take advantage of co-branding.
I’ll never forget what my colleague Lisa Toner says about negotiating co-branding agreements.
“Larger companies may have a wide reach,” she explains. “But what do they not have?”
If you’re just starting out to build a brand, you may not have the range that toner is talking about. You can follow the steps to create it, but it will take time. Until then, one way to get your name out there with a wider audience is to work with a brand that has that reach.
“Working with a co-marketing partner (an outside brand) can be a very valuable way to grow your audience while building a beneficial relationship with a partner,” said Margot Mazur, chief marketing manager for strategic partnerships at HubSpot.
“You don’t have to have a big budget,” she adds. “When you work with a partner, you can split up the marketing tasks.”
For example, let’s say you’re working with a partner on a lead generation campaign; B. a closed e-book. Mazur explains that depending on your resources, one partner can do the writing and the other can do the design or vice versa.
“This way, working together on a project can save you money on freelance costs. Ideally, both you and your partner are distributing the content to your audience, increasing visibility to an audience you may not have had access to,” she said .
“That saves you advertising costs and exposes you to a new group of people who are interested in your content.”
But don’t just pick a brand to partner with. Make sure it’s one that aligns with yours so it makes sense in the minds of your audience. When looking for a co-branding partner, we recommend the following questions:
- Will your partner’s audience be interested in your brand? Is it difficult for you to reach this audience without this partnership?
- Will your audience trust your co-brand? This is essential for them to listen to you. So, make sure that your partner reaches the audience in a way that builds trust.
- Do you have something to offer your co-brand? Just like Toner asks, “What don’t you have?” The experience should be a win-win-win for you, your co-brand and the consumer. For example, if you have an international audience that your partner brand doesn’t have, this should be pointed out when discussing the partnership.
Building a brand seems like a big undertaking, especially when resources are limited. However, there are many economic ways to get started and keep the momentum going.
A good starting point that is both affordable and high ROI is video. Wondering how you can do it? Just use an iPhone or smartphone with high camera functions and use free video editing software like iMovie.
Mazur explains that you can then script your video in-house, share it on YouTube, and promote it across all digital channels.
“Video marketing is incredibly effective – videos can appear on your product pages, help pages, blog posts, social media posts, product hunt pages, and more,” said Mazur.
She continues, “Work with your partner to split up the recording tasks and distribution. You will gain access to a whole new audience and have engaging content that you can use across your channels.”
And don’t forget to have fun with the process.
Of course, it needs a certain amount of strategy and logic – that’s why there are tools out there to help you determine the different parts of your brand. But it’s a creative exercise, so keep that in mind as you get stuck on technical issues.
7. Host a master class or webinar.
Which talents do the heads of your company show every day? Are you masters of email marketing? Excellent coding? Do you deserve the superlative “World’s Best Brand Strategist” every year?
A fantastic way to grow your brand – and earn leads – is to leverage those talents in a master class or webinar and promote them online.
If you tweak your class with hashtags and fun captions, you’ll find an audience interested in the talent you’re teaching for. These master classes can include 45- to 60-minute sessions that provide an overview of your particular expertise and show you how to get it right.
For example, if I were to offer a webinar it would highlight the art of using emojis for business, an experiment that I love. I would first describe why including copies is important to attract customers.
Then I would explain the pros and cons of using emoji. After all, I’d share the right and wrong times to include emojis in marketing messages.
Then I would present an experiment and report on my results. Whether the experiment supports or negates my thesis always leaves room for fruitful discussions – which leads to the last part, the questions.
Voila – a draft for a master class that uses my talents to underpin the credibility of a company that focuses on marketing or social media, for example.
Running experiments doesn’t have to cost a dime, and hosting a webinar only takes about an hour of your day.
The result, however, is promoting a company’s value, providing data that supports credibility, and promoting company values, such as: B. Engage customers and provide helpful, educational content to your audience.
Branding on a Budget? Absolutely possible. What matters when thinking about how to brand effectively is how to get the most out of the resources you have.
The first step is to keep an eye on your audience. Then it’s about finding creative ways to reach these target customers.
Have fun building your brand. After all, this is a creative process, and while every experiment may not work, you can always learn how to improve. Good luck and enjoy branding.