Growing Your Brand on a Budget
By Peter Tuvey
Many small businesses find it hard to get their name out there in the early days. Here are my tips on how to grow your brand without breaking the bank.
Low-Cost Brand Growth Is Possible
Your brand is essentially the personality of your business, products and services. It encompasses the values, tone and voice of your company, and it should be something your customers learn to recognise. At my business Fleximize, we work with many small businesses that might struggle to find the consistent brand exposure that their larger competitors – with bigger marketing budgets – enjoy. There is, however, a lot that small businesses can do to get their name out there in the early days. Better still, they can do it without having to break the bank.
Get your content on brand
To keep your content on brand, it needs to be delivered with that same voice and personality, every time. If you don't already have one, it can be incredibly useful to create a brand identity.
A brand identity is essentially a document setting out how you want to be perceived by people, as well as the content and visual elements that will keep them aligned with the brand.
The first step to doing this is to work out what your brand represents to anyone coming across it, the message it puts across and how it gets that message out there. A SWOT analysis can be a great help when doing this.
Once you've done this, you can more effectively judge whether the key elements of your current branding are meeting these objectives, particularly if you have content being delivered through different channels or parts of the business. Sometimes just subtly altering the tone or choice of words is all that’s required to make sure your message is delivered on brand.
Improve your brand creative
To improve your brand’s creative you need to make sure that all your branding is cohesive and in sync. Your website should look good and be easy to navigate, and any client-facing employees should look professional. Make sure that your brand values are clearly defined and convey how you operate.
Does your strapline really work?
Straplines (or taglines) are one of the quickest ways to showcase your business.To find the perfect strapline, you need to have a clear understanding of who your audience is, who you are, and what you’re selling. You should start by writing these down, along with your unique selling point (USP).
Your USP should be at the centre of your strapline, but your strapline will also need to speak to your audience in your brand’s voice. Find a phrase that explains what makes you different, rewrite it in several ways and decide which variation would resonate best with your audience.
Successful straplines are structured as commanding phrases, confidently telling the reader that you’ve got what they want.
Align your content with social media
Aligning your content with your social media presence is all about ensuring the consistency of your message and branding, and maximising the utility of your content.
One approach is to publish evergreen content, which isn’t time-limited in its relevance. In this way, a single blog post can be posted in numerous different ways on social media over a longer timespan, with the 'permanence' of social media helping to keep the original content alive.
You might also want to consider including more photos, videos and infographics in your blog posts and news items, so that these can be sent and shared separately via social media. For good alignment, all content should be created with the potential for audience engagement and sharing in mind.
Of course this can only be achieved if you have an active presence on social media. And by 'active' I don't mean tweeting twice a week and posting on Facebook once a month. Ideally, you need to be posting something on a daily basis.
Social media can be the cheapest and most effective means of brand exposure. With more of a focus on it, and just a little time and imagination, you can start to engage with discussions about ideas and topics relevant to your business, and make your brand part of the conversation.
People respond positively to brands that portray personal qualities, so where appropriate, make your posts and responses humorous, witty and human. You may already be on Twitter and Facebook, but look out for other opportunities such as Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube.
Blogging your brand
Blogging, like social media, can also help to get your brand noticed, and building a successful business blog is a great way to communicate with a captive audience. Informative, surprising, interesting, funny or useful blog posts can help to establish your brand as a source of valuable content and expert information. This can prompt readers to comment, repost and share your content, thereby spreading your message and your brand.
Targeted search advertising can be an equally effective way of displaying your brand to potential customers online, even if they don’t actually click through to your website. This doesn’t need to be expensive, as search advert tools let you set a budget and keep tight control of your spending.
Away from the online realm, think about all the places that you could put your brand and logo. Branding your delivery vehicles is a great, inexpensive way of making your brand publicly visible. If you’re in retail, branding your shopping bags and packaging can turn your customers into mobile advertisements. Giving out free pens, mouse mats, mugs and keyrings is also a cheap way of inserting your brand into the everyday life of potential clients, customers, suppliers and partners.
By using all of these marketing channels in the right way, small businesses can grow their brand in a way that doesn’t cause too much damage to the company coffers.