A Budget-friendly Branding Strategy for Small Businesses

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Developing your brand is an integral part of growing your business. It provides your company a voice, an identity, and creates a value perception for your customers. For small businesses, branding may seem like an expensive process. Obviously, this isn’t true. In this post, I will cover several ways to build a business brand for free or at a low cost.

To create marketing messages that appeal to your customer, you have to know them. You can get to know your customers by creating a semi-fictionalized depiction of your ideal customer’s traits and values. An effective marketing strategy takes into account the individual needs and interests of every customer.

A Customer Persona should include details such as age, gender, location, interests, challenges, and preferred mode of communication. Using social media analytics, Google Analytics, and your customer database, you can collect this information.

Suppose Amanda is your pet-food customer’s persona. Using your research, you can describe Amanda’s traits that make her who she is.

Amanda is a 38-year-old woman from Florida. A wife and mother of two, Amanda lives with her husband and children, aged 11 and 6. Two fur-babies live at home with them. Amanda works for a multinational technology company. The amount of free time she has is limited. As she commutes from work to her home, she typically orders pet food on her mobile phone. Her pets’ health is important to her, so she prefers specific brands of pet food. At weekends, she watches dog grooming videos on YouTube from her desktop. She reads blogs and websites about pet treats reviews.

After creating a customer persona, it will be a lot easier for you to craft communication messages to ‘Amanda’ than you would for a 38 year old pet parent. Your brand starts to take shape once you develop customer personas.

The process of developing your brand voice and identity is similar to creating your customer persona. In the process, however, you answer questions that are introspective to your brand. For instance, how would you like your business to be referred to and what are its values?

For example, if one of your values is to be known as the trusted vet advisor for your customers, then make sure you communicate regularly with them. You can create blogs, emails, and YouTube reviews for pet food & supplies. Provide easy ways for customers to reach out to you, and answer their questions honestly.

The content that you share reflects the voice of your brand. Ideally, you should use a tone of voice that embodies the values of your brand and the way customers interact with you. Language can be conversational, friendly or written from the perspective of an expert. The use of active voice is one of the key elements of developing a distinctive brand voice. Passive voice should be avoided. Keep your writing simple by avoiding jargon and slang. Whenever possible, use positive words.

Creating a visual brand for your business helps connect several fragments of your marketing efforts at once. The visual branding elements you use in your emails, Instagram posts or brochures will help your target audience recognize your business.

Creating a logo and a style guide will be the two most important elements of creating a consistent visual identity for your brand. Your brand style guide should outline the brand color palette, fonts, and design dos and don’ts. Having a brand style guide is a fantastic way to make sure you and your designer are all on the same page with the brand’s direction. A brand style guide provides direction, but adding a logo to your business gives it a face. It’s the first thing many people notice when they come across your brand. Designing your logo should be your first priority.

Visual branding is an important aspect of your business, and if it is not consistent, you risk confusing your customers. You may lose customers to your competitors if your customers are confused.

Social media can help you find your customers, which is an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up. People tend to be more responsive when you reach them where they are already present, social media is one of them.

Maintaining your presence on social media is just as important as building it. Imagine how your customers would feel if they visited your Facebook brand page and found that there had not been anything posted for the past two months? There is a good chance they won’t have a positive impression of your brand. Social media posts can, however, be planned and scheduled in advance to avoid such problems. For scheduling social media posts, you can use freemium tools like Buffer or Hootsuite.

You can broaden your organic reach by tagging loyal customers, brand evangelists, and vendors on social media. Tags on social media can help you gain followers and potentially even attract new customers.

A Google My Business profile has become one of the most effective free marketing strategies for businesses to promote in local areas. This listing lets your business appear on Google Maps, in the local search section of Google Search, and on the right-hand side of the Knowledge Panel for brand searches.

Google’s organic search algorithm is designed to deliver relevant, accurate, and high-quality content based on every search query. Now that Google has implemented its highly sophisticated algorithm, both small and large businesses benefit equally from organic listings. Over time, small businesses can reap significant benefits from local SEO. Local SEO is a free branding strategy that can easily be implemented. Add location-based keywords (for example, Pet Supplies in Jacksonville) to the title, heading, and body of any main website page. Make sure your information is consistent across platforms. Whenever you write blog posts, make sure you reflect on the neighborhoods you serve.

A small business may run into a few roadblocks when building their brand, but never give up. Depending on your business, you may need innovative branding strategies that are cost-effective. It is still possible for small businesses to brand themselves efficiently on a budget.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

Data-driven digital media marketer and brand communication strategist. Experienced in lead generation, paid media promotion and SaaS product management.