How to brand your business on a budget

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How to brand your business on a budget

Apr 8, 2021

Getting a new business up and running takes a lot of time, and energy. Not only that but the expenses start piling up too. It’s not just the initial expenses, it’s the ongoing funding of the business until you reach that tipping point where the services you are providing, or the products you are selling, are funding your business efforts. And then it may take even more time until you are paying yourself a decent wage.

We know this all too well having started multiple businesses ourselves.

“Design is the silent ambassador for your brand.” ― Paul Rand

So often we get asked whether business owners ‘really need to spend money on branding’, and ‘if so, how much’. And there is no short answer, but we are going to unpack this a little in the hope it helps you on your business journey.

What exactly do I need to get started?

When it comes to branding people instantly think ‘I need a logo, colours and fonts’. This is true, but what is far more important is that you need to understand the message that the logo, colours and fonts need to convey. The less money you have to spend on branding the better you need to understand your business, and how you want to position yourself. In fact, for most small business owners starting out, you aren’t really paying for branding, you are paying for a graphic designer to design you a basic identity. If you had big budgets you would work with a company that specialises in branding, and they would create a brand strategy that details exactly how you should be positioned in the market before even touching the identity.

So assuming you don’t have oodles of cash let’s do a crash course on what you need to know before you get that identity designed.

  1. Create a persona. A persona is a description of a made up person that represents your most desired audience. You need to get really focused on who your ideal client is, and then paint a picture of them. What are they like? Are they married, single? What do they like to do? What brands are they into? Are they eco-conscious? Cashed up and time poor? Or on a budget? What are their hopes and dreams? So, imagine you paint this picture of ‘Holly’, now in every decision you make you can think of it through her eyes rather than your own. This will shift the way you do things without question. It’s powerful.
  2. Document what you stand for. You need to consider your purpose. Why are you starting this business? What are you trying to achieve? How are you making the world better? The more detailed you can be with describing what you are doing and why, the easier it will be for a designer to create you an identity that reflects who you are.
  3. Understand what makes you different. Although we all like to think we are precious and unique snowflakes, the reality is there are other people close to exactly doing what you do. Your job is to make clear to your audience that little something something that makes you different. Maybe it’s a unique combination of experience, maybe it’s a particular process that you have, maybe it’s something about the experience. You can read more about defining your unique points of difference to get you started. Remember in thinking about your points of difference – they need to matter to Holly, it can’t just be different for different’s sake.

The 3 points above are non-negotiables, if you can’t articulate those 3 points then you are not really ready to launch your business. No, it’s not all black and white, and it will evolve over time, hell you might be flat out wrong but you need to at least have given it the time, and have a starting point.

Then what?

Now that you have the substance you are ready to get your identity designed. At a minimum we find most people need:

  • Brand palette. Logo, colours, fonts, imagery (imagery can be optional but does help)
  • Business card. Although in some cases you can get by without one, especially in this zoom era we now live in. You might want to invest in a snazzy email signature instead.
  • Social branding assets. What assets you need will be channel dependent. eg Facebook Banner, Instagram avatar etc
  • Website. This can be a biggie. But don’t worry, to start off with you could have a very simple one page site set up on something like Squarespace. If you have your colours and fonts this can even be something you try and do yourself.

The 3 points above form a really solid foundation for finding and briefing a designer. You also need to let them know what items you need them to create / consider and what budget you have. Reach out to us if you need a recommendation for a quality designer, but there are also platforms where you can access very cheap freelancers if you need to (places like Upwork and Freelancer). Just make sure you check out their ratings and past work – you need someone that can convey your brand effectively rather than just throwing together a range of looks to see what sticks.

Assessing your brand identity

It’s really important when you review the design concepts you do it from Holly’s lens, and you really deeply think about it based on the mini brand strategy you created above. It’s not about superficial likes and dislikes, it’s whether the identity accurately reflects who you are and what you do. And be careful asking for other people’s opinions if they don’t have that context. Just because your Mum doesn’t like yellow isn’t a valid reason not to use it (sorry Mum!).

If you are keen to understand positioning your business in much greater depth, join the waitlist for our Rockstar Brand Course.

Happy launching Brigaders!

Jodie + Em xx


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