How to get a fabulous brand when you have a low budget

The challenge

Achieve brand fabulousness without spending loads of money. Your budget (and time) is limited.

The solution for success

Don’t focus on what you can’t afford and instead follow these 5 MicroEntrepreneur-friendly tips to get started on a brand that you (and your audience) will soon begin to know and love.

Begin with a simple message

Call me old-fashioned, but when it comes to building a fabulous brand, I’m not much for the overly-fussy or over-produced messaging. Just like a successful entrepreneur needs to clear the clutter to focus on what is truly important to move a business forward, my #1 rule for creating a brand is to “keep it simple and authentic”. For a brand to be embraced and ultimately trusted and loved, it needs to be accessible and relatable, which is hard to achieve when your tagline is too clever or gimmicky.

Find your message by focusing on what your customers or readers love about your content, products or services. Try to capture that sentiment in a concise phrase and place it prominently on your blog, website or products. Just as Women Unlimited have set the tone for this very website by focusing on learning and empowerment, take the time to find your core message. It’s worth it.

docsTight budget doesn’t mean low quality

Don’t overextend your budget, business or yourself in order to achieve high quality design results. Explore alternatives to the very talented, but very pricey graphic designer you were recommended and create a logo at a more affordable price point by doing it yourself. When you leverage an online logo maker, you put cloud technology to work to create a memorable, high-quality logo. Plus, you’ll have a wide variety of design options to choose from, to inspire you creatively. Make sure that your new company logo can be modified for a variety of marketing materials such as a storefront sign, your company website, your email signature or your list of products and services.

Whether you opt to “DIY” or work with a third-party, a high quality logo design will be provided in multiple file formats. These additional files are your design insurance policy: they guarantee that your new logo will still look clear and crisp when it is scaled up or down to fit a specific medium. Do not skimp on these extra file formats, because it could end up costing you more time and money later.

Create your power duo of products

Building a brand is not reserved solely for those who have big budgets, marketing agencies at hand, and a 60 second spot airing during the breaks of Sherlock Holmes. Two of the most practical products to help build your brand will also assist in building your business: business cards and custom pens. In fact, even with our professional and social lives migrating online more and more, business cards remain to be the easiest, most economical and practical way to exchange contact details with new connections. They make it easy to reach out again and remember a person or business.

It’s also easier and more affordable than ever to quickly create business cards online yourself. Custom pens are another great branded option for spreading your contact information. Think of a custom pen like a business card you write with – you are literally putting your contact details at your customer’s fingertips. A pen has a long life span and is often shared, thereby exposing your brand and business to even more people than originally anticipated. I am particularly enthusiastic about custom pens because of the versatility that comes with design possibilities – I’ve wrapped my business card around a larger barrel pen, or simply placed my logo and website in a large, bold font. Whatever your design, a potential customer could use a pen for months, even years, and with every use, your business name, phone number and website will be in plain site.

Combine results for greater effect

Just because you are operating on a tight budget, it does not mean that you cannot start building your brand equity. By reinforcing the same visual and verbal cues, you instantly increase the likelihood that your existing customers and potential customers will remember your business. Keep your colors the same, and use the same core visuals, especially in your messaging. Case in point: Burberry has been associated with its iconic trench coat and plaid pattern since its founding in 1856.

The brand preserved these consistent visuals, products and details, even when they fell out of vogue or temporarily decreased in value when counterfeiters were recreating the plaid and plastering it on cheap items across the globe. Under the leadership of then-CEO Angela Ahrendts and Creative Director (now CEO) Christopher Bailey, the Burberry brand once again capitalized on what made the brand quintessentially Burberry, and leveraged online e-commerce trends and social media to turn it into one of the fastest growing companies in the world.

Be proud of the assets you have created, and whether it’s your website, your phone number, or the kind of request to be reviewed on business directories, repeat that message everywhere you put your brand and magnify the effects. Your future customers and business will both benefit!

Repeat, repeat, repeat

Now that you have your message and visual identity, put them where people can see them. Is your logo design and company message included in the signature of every single email sent from your business? It certainly should be. You want to add your brand and contact information to items that are easily seen and frequently used. How about on the top of your invoices, menu or list of products and services? Survey all of the materials that you use every day to make your business run. Can these items be branded economically? Are you due to reorder some items anyway? For example, before ordering more team uniforms, put your website on them (easily works on the left chest of a polo) or your phone number on the back of your t-shirts.

By doing so, you make it nearly effortless for potential customers to contact you about working together. Put lawn signs with your logo, website and phone number at your current job sites or leave flyers with a special offer for new customers at the counters of other local businesses. These economical branded items spread your company name while driving new potential customers. Start with a small batch of products to put into use and figure out what works best for your business, to stay within budget and increase your effectiveness

Be the change that you want to see. Step into your leadership.


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