From nothing to something: effective branding for small businesses

Be honest.

When you hear the term "branding," do you picture long, jargon-filled projects with expensive consultants?

While a complete branding exercise can be expansive (and expensive), there are a number of affordable ways you can improve your branding efforts without breaking the bank. Here are five quick and straightforward ways you can help your brand stand out:

5. Give something free to your target audience

Think about your potential customers and list a number of your products or service options that they would appreciate or put to good use. 

The reason for this is what psychologists and marketers call the reciprocity principle. In a much-cited 2005 study, Randy Garner, a professor of behavioural science at Sam Houston State University, wrote that feeling obligated to reciprocate a favour “can occur despite the fact that we may never have requested the favour in the first place.”

4. Say thank you

thank-you-sign.jpg

It's much easier to get a current customer to turn into a repeat customer than it is to bring new people through your doors. Consider a creative way of expressing your thanks to each customer while promoting your overall image and brand. 

You could say thank you:

  • After a successful subscription
  • After a purchase
  • Several days after a delivery
  • To mark important events
  • Nearing the end of a product’s useful life
  • Celebrating milestones

3. Strike a partnership with larger organisations and businesses

A time-tested way to increase your exposure is to buddy-up with other larger or similar businesses or groups that engage with the same target market.

Take this concept to a new level by coming up with a creative event that will draw people and exposure to your company. Think about what your brand represents and what your target audience is interested in.

A company that sells gourmet pet treats might host a dog play date in a local dog park with contests for best dressed or most creative trick. Similarly, a spa could partner with a yoga studio to offer a morning of relaxation for free with prize drawings for current customers who bring a friend.

2. Get creative

When you hand someone your business card, they usually put it away somewhere and are unlikely to look at it again. Take this opportunity to turn something boring into something memorable.

Look at companies like Moo who can create for you abstract and often memorable card designs with money off first purchases using online voucher codes.

Creativity should extend to your email signature, social media posts and any other opportunity you can think of that allows you connect one-on-one with your target audience. This is where you need to be creative in order to stand out. 

1. Make a video

If you own a smartphone, or laptop with a webcam, you can make a simple video at a very low cost and then share the video with your social media networks for free.

The trick is to create content that is both useful, interesting and innovative.

And to you perfectionists out there: don't worry about going low budget, instead strive to project an image of your brand that is professional and consistent with your brand promise


Hungry for more free tips? Download our free ebook '100 ways to get your brand noticed online'. 4,000 downloads and counting...

Posted by Richard Etienne.