Your small business brand is like a business card that you present to the marketplace, making it clear who you are and what valuable goods and services you provide. When someone sees your brand you want them to associate it with positive experiences, great products and services, and quality, whether or not they had direct contact with your business. Branding is important to your business success, so you must be intentional about developing it. You could hire an expert and spend tens of thousands of dollars or put in the time and effort to do it yourself. DIY efforts can be very effective and easy on the budget if you know where to look.
Where to Find Branding Help for Small Businesses
Define Your Brand
When going the DIY route, defining your brand is inexpensive will cost you time but not money. There are basic questions you need to ask to get started, such as:
- What is Your Mission?
- What Makes You Different?
- Who Are Your Customers?
From here you will need to decide on a name or change your name if you’ve already begun a business and it’s not living up to its full potential. Your brand, including the name, needs to be professional but also reflect your mission, personality, goals, etc. This first step is critical and if you want help the Small Business Administration has a created a network of Small Business Development Centers throughout the country that provide free or low-cost advisory and training services on a variety of issues, including branding.
Create a Logo
Once you have defined your brand and determined your name, the next step is to create a logo that distills this information into a memorable image. There are several free logo design sites and cheap freelancers available to do the work, but there is truth to you get what you pay for. There is a better, inexpensive DIY alternative, Designhill’s artificially intelligent logo maker. This service allows you to play with fonts, colors, and layouts until you find what you need and delivers a high resolution of your image that can be scaled, made black and white, given a transparent background, and more, so you can use it virtually anywhere.
Develop a Website
Today, a small business without a website has a very limited reach and will likely disappear before it’s had a real shot at success. Websites offer so many benefits, including generating more sales, increasing the trust factor and providing a 24/7 online marketing presence. Still, most small businesses don’t have $3,000 or more to pay for this critical piece of their brand. Fortunately, there are inexpensive DIY website development options that deliver the internet presence you need. Sites such as Squarespace and WiseIntro can get you on the digital map, and you can upgrade or redesign your site later as funds allow.
Your brand is only effective if you keep everything consistent. Creating a branding style guide will help keep everyone on the same page so that your visual message and voice are consistent across every platform, project, marketing effort and promotion. The goal is to create clarity with your band by using the same colors, fonts, slogan, and logo on everything. But this guide should go beyond the visual to include copy and image rules, tones and structures so that everything you write or display is consistent with your brand. Lack of consistency can lead to confusion, or worse, discrediting of your brand. Fortunately, developing your branding style guide doesn’t have to cost you more than your time. There is a simple and easy-to-follow infographic that guides the way.
Share Your Business
There are many ways to build your brand, and two popular resources are blogging and social media. There are several free or inexpensive blogging platforms that allow you to share insights, establish yourself as an expert, discuss issues relevant to your target audience, and create a personal connection with them. The key to branding is to deliver fresh content on a consistent basis and establishing an editorial calendar will help keep you on track.
Actively engaging on social media will also build your brand. It is free to join all of the platforms, but you don’t need to be everywhere. Conduct research to find out which platforms are best to reach your target audience then jump in with posts, photos, tweets, or anything else that reinforces your brand. As with blogging, it is important to stay active on social media, and there are several free and inexpensive social media managing tools to help keep you on track. Effective resources include Buffer and Hootsuite, both of which offer a variety of plans, including free and inexpensive ones, and both allow you to try them for free.
Your brand is the platform upon which everything else is built and is critical to your small business success. You could spend thousands of dollars to establish your brand or access free and inexpensive resources to do it yourself. You will need to invest your time, but then that is the foundation of any small business.
Photo via Shutterstock
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