Branding on a budget
We’ve talked before about companies spending huge amounts of money on their branding and why it’s often a worthy investment, but what about companies who don’t have the resources to spare? Many start-ups survive on a shoestring while corporate giants continue to slash their budgets. In the midst of all the penny-pinching, companies risk leaving their brands a little unloved. But there are things businesses can do to make sure their brand stays valuable even while they’re on a budget...
If you’re a business starting out, there’s no reason you can’t start building your brand right away.
There may be aspects of your brand you could use some help with like logos or a long-term strategy, but there are things you can do to put tools in your arsenal from the beginning. For example, what’s your brand’s purpose? Do you have any values you stick to when doing business? What makes you different from your competitors? Thinking about these questions can give you a good base to start building your brand. Also, know your brand stories. How did your business get started? Are your products made in a particularly special way? Storytelling is a big hook for customers - it makes your brand more human and more memorable.
Buy-in, not spending
Whether your branding budget is big or small, making sure everyone in the company buys into your brand can make a huge difference. If everyone understands your brand values and message and thinks what you’re doing is worth doing, then your brand is more likely to come across strongly and consistently. This isn’t only important when it comes to developing marketing campaigns; your employees can become your best brand advocates, sharing their favourite products with friends and family or making sure customers get the best experience possible.
Focus on effectiveness
When it comes to marketing methods, prioritising what’s most effective is going to be cost-effective too. Don’t get too distracted by flashy new tools or sexy ad campaigns - if they aren't giving you good returns, stop investing in them. There are a number of inexpensive tools to market your business such as social media, blogs, or e-mail newsletters, and these are also great ways to establish your brand identity.
For start-ups, growth hacking could be an invaluable way to help you market your brand on a budget. If you’re not aware of growth hacking, it’s simply a process where companies rapidly experiment with different marketing channels and develop their product to find the most effective way to grow their business. We have a post that goes into more depth on the topic of Growth Hacking along with a guide full of techniques to help get you started. Growth hacking is already cost effective in that it focuses on prioritising the businesses’ most successful marketing channels in order to grow quickly, and start-ups on a really tight budget can take it further by only testing cheaper marketing methods in the first place. You could hand out free samples, Instagram your products, or get networking - start experimenting and find your hack.
Quality before quantity
Pressures on bigger organisations to be more efficient have seen budget cuts, agency culls, and a rise in zero-based budgeting where companies set their marketing budgets to zero each year and marketers must draw up and cost their plans to be reviewed and approved. While this has proved to be effective for some companies including Unilever and Diageo, it doesn’t work for every business. Whatever method companies end up using to calculate their budget, a focus on effectiveness is key. Quality should come before quantity when it comes to advertising, and campaigns should focus on having a long-term impact that boosts the brand’s image and messaging.
Branding on a budget doesn’t mean your brand has to suffer. There are plenty of ways to build your brand that don’t cost a fortune. Just make sure the brand comes across clearly in what you do, whether it’s in a national ad campaign or an ad on Facebook. It all adds up.