Low-Cost Branding Projects That Work

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“We don’t ‘do’ branding,” says the executive sitting across from me at his desk covered in branded tchotchkes from pens with his email service provider’s name on them to a water bottle with his software company’s logo on it to the half stack of sticky notes, which were emblazoned with his office supply company’s logo on the side, but since he has been chipping away at the notes, now only shows the bottom half of the logo.

This is when it hits me, this guy thinks I’m here to sell him stuff to slap a logo on and give away at trade shows. So when he says that he doesn’t do branding it’s another way of saying I’m not spending my marketing budget on a bunch of branded stress balls for people who will never become my customers to keep on their desks.

If you’re skeptical about branding, you may share some of the same thoughts and concerns expressed by this gentleman. Just as I had to first redefine branding for before we could talk about low-cost, high-impact ways he could build his brand, I’ll offer the following quote from the article entitled, Unique Branding: Creating Emotional Connections by TDA’s DPDK:

“Branding goes further than your logo or tagline…Branding is the process of clarifying and refining the emotional meaning behind your business strategy and its relationship to your customer.”

Sounds simple, right? Some of you may be saying Yeah, it also sounds expensive. And you’re right, branding efforts can include some big-ticket items. As Top Digital Agency, Badie Designs noted in the article Mapping Your Identity: The Branding Process Explained:

“Good branding isn’t cheap. There’s a big difference between creating a $25 logo and producing a well-thought-out brand strategy and identity. But the effort is there for a reason. You must execute the right strategy now in order to attract and retain clients and customers over the long term.”

But, there are some ways you can build your brand without breaking the bank. Below are three tried and tested strategies to build a brand without spending too much.

Use social media to build your brand

Gaining brand awareness and reaching a large audience of potential customers used to mean expensive and often inefficient means like prime-time TV advertising. 

Today the democratizing effects of digital media have made getting brand awareness much more affordable. Because you can target specific, relevant, and small audiences via social media, you don’t have to spend like you would if you wanted to reach general, not-so-relevant, large audiences like you would with a TV ad.  

Of course, you should still have a strategy for using social media to get the most out of it for your brand. In their How to Create Social Media Strategy for Branding That Works article, TDA’s Digital Dot breaks down just how to do it, noting:

“Whether you are running an online shop, or you simply want to promote your product and/or services, having a decent social media presence is a must. While doing so is far from easy, there are a couple of tactics that you can use, and practices that you can implement in order to take care of your branding and marketing properly.”

Spread the costs out with co-branding 

Co-branding simply means partnering with other businesses to reach new customers in untapped markets. The practice is common in the luxury goods industry. As TDA’s Relevance points out in their article, Co-Branding in the Luxury Industry:

“Nowhere has brand partnerships been so prominent – and arguably, as successful – as in the luxury domain.”

As noted in the article, brands like Bugatti, Hermes, Jaco & Co. Maison Margiela, and Prada have all created co-branded products. But luxury brands aren’t the only ones who benefit from co-branding. Nor are product-makers the only ones who have co-branded. Non-luxury companies and businesses that provide services also co-brand. As author and content marketing expert, Andrew Davis explores in his book Brandscaping, unconventional content partnerships can lead to unparalleled marketing success. 

Because co-branding allows you to essentially “borrow” another brand’s equity and reach their audience it’s often effective as a branding strategy. It’s also an effective way to cut costs as you share the costs of promotion. This can split the price in half of everything from building a website, to hosting a launch event to buying ads. And who says you have to stop at one partner. Three or four brands that, individually, may not have the cash to pay for a lot of promotion can pool their money into a substantial marketing budget that pays off for all involved.

Give your website a brand refresh 

To be clear, a website refresh is not the same as a redesign. We’re not referring to a start-from-scratch, take your site down and start over with wireframes kind of thing. We’re talking about reviewing your website with an eye toward brand continuity. As noted in Unique Branding: Creating Emotional Connections:

“A website is the most comprehensive expression of your brand. It’s the center of your customer experience and plays a crucial role in any customer journey. It’s the place where all brand elements come together. A site completes your brand experience in an impactful way.”

So a brand refresh can be extremely impactful. This sweep of your site can be focused on addressing details that, taken on the whole, add up to your brand (e.g. when there are alternative spellings of a word, like American color or British colour, are you consistently spelling it one way?). Or this sweep could lead to more visually drastic changes (e.g. your company name and logo have changed and you’ve got to go back and make sure everything is updated).

We have only scratched the surface of the kinds of ways businesses can build their brands effectively and efficiently. For more detailed pitches from branding agencies, post a branding project on TDA, set your budget, and let our network of agencies pitch you their ideas.