First thing’s first, every business needs branding. It’s the core ingredient to building a successful business in the modern age. Like bread without flour, a business without branding simply won’t rise.
But investing in an expert branding strategy can cost a pretty penny. While it’s true that, ultimately, the only way to guarantee quality whilst maintaining a low risk approach is to procure the help of professionals, if your budget is closer to broke than booming, ditching the professionals to brand your business on a budget is possible.
In this post I’ll break down a few essential things. Firstly, why branding is so important to growing your business; how you can brand your business on a budget; and finally, the key differences between budget branding and professional branding and which one you should choose for your business.
WHY YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS BRANDING
Branding may seem to some like just a random amalgamation of funky logos and cool colors whose only purpose is to look flash and grab peoples attention, but a brand is so much more than that. These things aren’t random at all and actually require a great deal of foresight and considered time and research in order to work effectively. After all, they’re not there just for show, your brand is your identity. It is the identity of your entire business. It’s what gives your business its personality. Customers, to an extent, interact with businesses on a human level. Have you ever been stuck in small talk purgatory with a person seemingly void of personality or character? It sounds harsh, but wasn’t the main thing on your mind: “I’ve got to get away from this person!” Well, customers will absolutely 100% think the same thing about your business if it is lacking in personality and identity. Whereas a business with recognisable, cohesive branding will be far more memorable with any potential customers. It also offers customers a way to connect with your business beyond the one-dimensional transaction basis, which will help in getting them to see you as their go-to for those products instead of your competition.
It may seem like an exaggeration, after all, branding isn’t some magical force that magnetizes customers to your business. What it does do is build trust and attraction. There’s no dark arts at play. It’s just relationship building on a macro level, and, when done right, it is 100% achievable for all businesses.
Your business needs branding because it’s what helps connect customers to your business in a memorable way whilst communicating what they need to know and what they should expect from you. It is the key way to distinguish yourself from your competitors in order to demonstrate why you should be their first choice.
BRANDING YOUR BUSINESS ON A BUDGET: DIY!
So, now you’re thinking, “Yeah, I get it, branding’s important, yada yada yada. But I don’t want to spend that kind of dough on an outside expert. Surely there’s a cheaper way?”
Well, yeah, there is.
The go to cost-cutter way to brand your business is to do it yourself.
We all love a good do it yourself deal right? It helps cut the fat, puts you in control and is the quickest way to save yourself cash. And with the infinite encyclopaedia of knowledge that is the internet, it’s now easier than ever to do it DIY style.
There are plenty of cheap and even free tools online meaning you can now teach yourself how to do branding on a budget. It’s never been easier to do your own branding.
Of course, it’s important to remember that quality branding takes time, and researching and defining all of the elements required to brand your business will significantly eat into your time. These things include naming your business and designing and generating just as a start. Of course, logo and web design has never been easier or cheaper due to the endless list of online tools you can use to take branding into your own hands.
But never underestimate the time it takes to produce quality branding. DIY branding might be cheap or even free, but with it comes a significant cost. Can you afford to build a business with the same name as your competitors? Can you afford being sued because your logo looks identical to another, much bigger company? Can you afford to be considered ‘average’ or ‘cheap’ in the minds of your target audience? Can you afford an expensive brand overhaul or rebrand later down the road putting your brand awareness back to ground-zero? Despite being free or cheap, unless you really know what you’re doing, DIY branding is high-risk. If any stones are left unturned, DIY branding could potentially devastate your business in the long-run, potentially costing your business millions in lost revenue & legal trademark disputes.
“HOW DO I BRAND MY BUSINESS?” WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN BRANDING YOUR BUSINESS
Still, if you’re adamant that the costs of hiring an expert aren’t worth it, doing it yourself is certainly still a possibility. But what are the key things you need to consider? Well, the most important ones I’ve outlined below:
- Your brand strategy encompasses the long term goals for how your business will come to be defined by its desired brand image and how you intend to communicate that with your target audience. This includes your brand’s mission, its promises to its customers, and how these things are communicated.
- Seemingly simple, but seriously important. Your business’s name is often the first thing your customers see or hear in relation to your company, so you need to make sure you get it right. There are of course many things to consider here. You want your name to concisely communicate your identity, defining what you do and how you do it in as few words as possible. You also need to put in some extensive research to make sure your name won’t land you in a legal dispute. It’s no good settling on your first idea, your brand leads with its name, you better make sure it’s a good one.
- Logo Design
- What if your name isn’t the first thing your customers see? Well then, it’s very likely, and almost certain, that in its place the first thing they will see is your logo. Your logo has many of the same requirements as your name. You need to ask yourself: does it communicate what we do? Does it effectively portray who we are and what we’re about? Is it memorable and eye-catching? Is someone going to sue me over it?…
- Extended Brand Identity
- Here’s where you fill in the final details of the picture. Your extended brand identity really needs to include the final touches that help to portray what your brand stands for. These often include all the little things you maybe don’t even think about, but trust me, they make an impact. They’re what give a brand its sense of wholeness in its identity. A consistent and complete sense of self. This can be summarised within your brand identity guidelines, which will include things like slogans, your logo, brand name, tone of voice, colour scheme, typography, brand values, brand imagery and eny design elements you’d like to include.
- Another element which helps to keep your branding memorable and consistent. Your packaging should match your brand’s design identity so that everything you do in the physical and virtual realms feels like a continuation of your brand’s unique identity.
- Website & other touchpoints
- Again, like packaging, these things shouldn’t be willy nilly. They need to be consistent with your brand’s voice both in terms of how you communicate visually and with your words. Customers want to come to your website and feel a sense of familiarity, an identification with all elements of your brand. It’s no good coming across like a stranger, you’re looking to build trust and recognition.
THE ALTERNATIVE: HIRE AN EXPERT TO BRAND YOUR BUSINESS
Sure, it’s easier than ever to DIY your branding, but, as you can see, there’s still A LOT you need to do. If you want the quality, low risk guarantee, then hiring an expert is really the only way to go.
Branding has always been a pivotal part of building a business, but at this moment in time it’s probably more important than ever. With social media and online advertising and marketing, customers are more accustomed to coming into contact with multiple new brands on the daily. This over-exposure makes it harder to stand out than ever, with customers becoming desensitized as the illusion of choice drives them further into their own eco-chamber of brand familiarity. It’s almost impossible to stand out from the crowd.
That’s why businesses need to go the extra mile to ensure they get recognized. The only way to really guarantee this is to hire a branding expert. Yes it is possible to do it yourself these days, but the quality guarantee is very low. If you’re lacking in experience in this area, you don’t know for sure how good your work really is until you’ve already spent a massive amount of your own time and money on producing that work. Hiring an expert may cost a pretty penny, but does it cost as much as doing it yourself only to find out you need to scrap everything and hire an expert anyway? Quick answer: nope!
The right branding could make or break your business.
DIY VS EXPERT BRANDING
So, apart from that quality guarantee, what else does hiring an expert get for you in comparison to doing it yourself?
BRANDING: YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
The thing with branding is, you get what you pay for. Doing it yourself can save you a lot of money, but it also takes up a huge amount of your time, something a lot of people don’t factor into the cost. After all, time is money. Can you really afford to divert that much of your focus from your business into DIY branding? Whereas an expert is exactly that. They have experience, they’re professionals, it’s what they do. They take the pressure off you.
But if you’re heart’s set on DIY branding, then your best bet is to start putting in the research and to carefully consider the elements we’ve discussed. But if you want a low risk to high quality guarantee, I say go with an external expert who will get the job done right the first time round.