Branding tips for small businesses with no marketing budget – or experience
Posted in | 30 October, 2015
A strong brand identity is the heart and soul of any business. For companies like oil giant BP, branding is a very deliberate exercise resulting in a $211,000,000USD logo. Companies like Nike on the other hand (who got lucky with their iconic $35USD swoosh) chanced their way to branding success. Here’s how your business can make deliberate branding decisions and get lucky with timeless, unique and ubiquitous branding – without the BP budget.
Design a logo you LOVE
A professional logo (or logo refresh for those looking to reinvent or modernise dated designs) doesn’t have to cost a bomb. Websites like Upwork, Freelancer and 99designs offer logos from as little as $30-$50. Be sure to weigh up unbelievably cheap project costs against quality of designers’ previous work, ratings and feedback, and review their Terms and Conditions (number of design changes and file formats included) before commencing a contract.
The more creative direction you give designers, the more likely you are to reach your dream design in the least amount of changes. Mood boards are great for helping designers realise your vision. As Creative Bloq explains, mood boards “can instantly convey a whole assortment of concepts and feelings that are central to your pitch, but difficult to get across verbally”. Try these 16 great tools for creating mood boards to get your designer on the same page, without penning a 15-page brief.
Find your uniqueness
A well thought out logo and slogan can communicate the overall style, feel and price-point of your brand; luxurious, handmade, haute couture gowns vs. quality secondhand formalwear for eco-conscious couples. But what does your luxury brand offer that the boutique down the road doesn’t? Promoting cheaper prices is inconsistent with high-end positioning, and you’re both creating one-off wonders…. How can you differentiate?
You need a USP (unique selling proposition). USPs can manifest in the form of a guarantee (“From measurements to wedding-day-ready in three weeks or we’ll include a veil for free”), or a complimentary inclusion with purchases (“Receive a bottle of Champagne Cattier with every dress purchased”).
When you’ve found your uniqueness, be it company values, product promises or accomplished staff, ensure this is communicated across all your consumer touch points: website copy, brochures, packaging, email marketing, content marketing, social media and customer service.
Treat customers brilliantly
Branding is so much more than just a consistent colour palette and delivery van decal. Exceptional customer service for both online and physical stores can be the most powerful branding your business has – and it doesn’t cost a fortune.
Whether it’s express posting an exchange item free of charge to arrive in time for the wedding, arranging an after-hours tasting for a busy CEO, or giving a client your personal number in case of emergency, the word of mouth resulting from these positive brand experiences can be lasting and financially rewarding.
Accidentally double-booked a venue, only to realise the following day? Now’s your time to shine! As Mashable explains, mistakes are “actually blessings in disguise — you can use the opportunity to show off your customer service skills and turn the customer’s experience around”. For more ideas (that don’t require making mistakes) read 10 ways to take your customer service to the next level.
Create share-worthy content for your blog and social media
Creating social media business profiles – touch wood – is still a, largely, free branding exercise. Think of your social bios as free advertising space and optimise this real estate. Every social media profile should contain your website URL, a business description telling people who you are and what you’re about (including your USP, character limits permitting), and your logo as your display pic to make you instantly recognisable to new and returning customers.
You don’t need to be on every platform, but doing a great job on two or three of the key photo-sharing players like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest will increase the reach of your wedding brand. Using your own or copyright-free images, you can watermark pics with your brand and add tips and quotes to maximise reach from shares and get your logo in front of more brides’ eyes.
As CEO of Just In Time PR, Dominic Hiatt, says “The good thing about content is that it doesn’t matter how big your competitors are, you can create better content than they can if you put your mind to it and have the desire to.”
Creating a key messages document can be a valuable tool in determining the most important messages you want to communicate to potential customers (or media). When you’ve written no more than five to six succinct, informative statements about your brand answering the who, what, where, when, why and how of your business, use this document as a checklist to ensure your key messages are consistent across all your online and offline communications, including your Easy Weddings profile. As business management guru Tom Peters says, “In a competitive environment, only those who have a strong, unified message, who create and sell quality and value, will survive.”
Does your business have any shoestring branding strategies you’ve found to be effective? Let us know in the comments! And before you go, remember to keep your Easy Weddings profile up to date to earn as many Supplier Badges as possible, showing potential customers quickly and visually how active your brand is on Australia’s No.1 wedding website.