In a nutshell, branding is a marketing practice that identifies and communicates your product or service to existing or potential customers. It encompasses more than just using a business name, logo and design. A brand establishes a specific identity for your business and summarizes all aspects that your business stands for—how your products or services are promoted and a reflection of your customer’s experience. A powerful brand can make a business stick out from the crowd especially in a highly competitive market. It is one of the valuable investments you can make and today I will show you how you can refine your brand identity even on a budget.
If you have some artistic chops, you can actually design your own logo and you won’t have to spend anything (except for some designing tools that you’ll need). However, if you don’t have the skill and time to create one yourself, your best option is to hire a designer. Contrary to what most people think, you don’t have to spend a fortune for this. You can hire designers from design contest sites such as 99designs and CrowdSpring. You can get high quality designs here at reasonable prices.
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Social media is one of the low-cost methods to push your brand online and develop engagement with your customers. Nowadays, it’s pretty commonplace to see businesses with social media presence but only a few find value in it or knows how to use it effectively in terms of branding.
Setting up your profile on social networks like Facebook and Twitter is just one part that can bring credibility and memorability to your brand. The real challenge here is creating an online identity that stands out and to consistently participate in meaningful and relevant discussion in these social networks. Make sure that each social profile that you’re on conforms to your values, brand voice and message.
Your brand doesn’t just stop at your logo and website design. Email is also an effective channel to boost your brand. Since people receive hundreds of emails daily, your emails should have branding elements consistently in place to help recipients become familiar with your business. The logo, fonts, color, tone and personality in your email should echo your brand.
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As customers, we know how frustrating it is to go through a horrible brand experience (who enjoys waiting for orders in restaurants that takes forever, right?). You can actually turn these missteps as opportunities to show an awesome customer service and win them over. If done right, customers generally remember a bad-turned-good experience, and even share them with friends. By bringing positive interactions with customers, you help increase the customer’s lifetime value. Actively involve your team to spend six to ten minutes on the phone to assist each customer with what they’re looking for and perhaps they’ll tweet about their positive encounter with your brand.
Networking is more than just simply increasing personal connections. It’s an invaluable tool in building relationships that can amplify your business as well as personal brand. Of course, desired results may not happen overnight. The key here is persistence and focus in attending networking events that will likely grow your word-of-mouth referrals as more people know your brand.
Now it’s your turn. How do you think small to mid-size businesses can draw attention to their brand even on a limited budget? Share your low-cost tips in the comments below.