Small business owners and entrepreneurs need to wear a lot of hats. They may be called on to handle bookkeeping, sales, marketing, strategic planning, and custodial work over the course of a day, and we all know it’s not easy to cultivate expertise in all these areas.
SmallBizViewpoints.com is here to teach you powerful small business tips that can help fill gaps in your experience without costing hours out of a busy day.
In this article, we’ll cover a few highly effective but inexpensive branding options small businesses can use to improve their brand recognition, awareness, and customer loyalty on a limited budget.
Digital branding opportunities
There’s no shortage of available advice on this site and many others regarding how to take advantage of digital marketing tools to engage with customers and boost sales. But, from a branding perspective, one aspect of this vital piece of the marketing puzzle is often overlooked.
That has to do with consistency of your visual brand.
If your company has a website (perhaps a blog) and is active on several popular social media channels, you’re making an effort to produce content that’s going to attract customers to you. There are a number of ways you can either build or destroy your visual brand as you go about your online activities.
Your company’s visual brand
The first step is to choose a visual theme that effectively communicates your brand’s personality, mission, and target audience. This usually involves a logo of some sort along with a color scheme, and font selections.
You may already have that established with offline materials like your business card or signage, but it’s smart to take the time to create variations on that theme that are specifically designed to work well in various digital formats.
Applying the brand to your website and social channels
For example, with some simple image editing using free software, you can apply the same visual brand to a Twitter profile’s background image as you use on your website header and your YouTube channel art. You can also ensure that your company’s profile image or avatar on every channel is consistent.
The key is maintaining a visually recognizable look and feel across all digital channels so that fans, customers, and prospects alike will have no problem switching back and forth between any and all sections of your online footprint without losing track of who you are and why they’re there.
Canva’s Design School blog includes a lot of great insight on this kind of visual branding in the digital world.
Physical branding opportunities
While some may downplay their importance in the digital world, branding standbys like business cards, stationery, and signage can still do great things for a small business that relies on networking or local foot traffic.
Maintaining the visual brand
The same consistency described above for digital branding should extend to your physical branding efforts as well. This helps to tie the brand together and reduces confusion on the part of your customers and prospects who may run across either or both versions of your brand.
You should make a concerted effort to intertwine the two also. For instance, by printing your web address and select social media channels on your business card and signage, you can quickly convert real-world prospects into digital connections.
Start small and move up
While it’s possible to spend a fortune on exceptionally high-quality business cards and other similar tools, it’s not necessary to do so. A service like VistaPrint can offer professional materials for very little cost.
Rather than starting out purchasing 10,000 business cards, why not start with 250 and see where it goes. If you find them to be useful and beneficial, order some more.
Engage with customers by giving something away
Just like visual branding, modern customer engagement doesn’t have to rely on a screen to be effective either.
Everyone loves to receive a gift. When that gift is fun and helpful, it’s even more appreciated. That’s why branded gifts – physical items like clothing, office supplies, or novelties that have been custom printed with your brand, logo, or message on them – are such a powerful and effective way to spread your brand.
And the power of digital branding can be incorporated here too:
What’s one of the first things people do today when something special happens in their life? They post it on Facebook or Instagram so they can share the joy with friends. You can capitalize on that tendency by encouraging recipients of your branded gifts to do just that. You can even make a contest out of it, or at least make a point of replying to every mention or image with thanks.
Opportunities to give something away
If you have any of the following opportunities available to you in the foreseeable future, your small business can get a huge branding boost from giving away fun, useful items with your logo or branded message printed on them:
- Customers that routinely visit one or more of your physical locations
- Professional events where you will be attending and/or participating (such as trade shows, seminars, or conferences)
- Community events where you will be sponsoring or volunteering (5K runs, pet adoption clinics, neighborhood cleanups)
- Contests or raffles you will be running
- Upcoming direct marketing campaigns you will be running, especially involving direct mail
- Holidays or other special events during which you could reconnect with past customers
Some options that may work for your business could include apparel like t-shirts or hats, custom office supplies like notebooks or calculators, writing implements, drinkware, toys, novelties, coasters… really, anything that effectively combines your brand’s personality with a useful and functional item your audience will love.
The options are seemingly endless
These days, it’s possible to spread the word about your brand far and wide for little or no cost. It’s far easier and less expensive than it was just 30 years to imprint your brand on the minds of your target audience, with no real limits caused by geography or any other artificial barriers.
Here are some more possibilities you’ll want to consider:
- Optimizing your digital properties for search terms related to your brand
- Building relationships via social media
- Authoring and releasing press releases, both online and offline
- Build a content marketing strategy around your brand
- Supporting community events
- Branded staff uniforms
What other inexpensive but effective small business branding ideas have you used? How did they work out for you? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
**New Author bio info:
Article provided by Roxana Clares. Roxana is a product specialist and content marketing analyst for DiscountMugs. She is passionate about content creation that adds value and creative insight to an online audience and believes in the importance of data to improve content marketing strategies. Roxana is the author of the DiscountMugs blog series.