Entries in Marketing (1)

Sunday
Jun062010

Branding on a Budget

In todays marketing world if you own a business large or small you are basically in a war. Competition for market share and shrinking customer budgets has increased dramatically over the past several years. One of the most cost reliable and cost effective methods of increasing your client base is by building and maintaining a strong company brand.

The American Marketing Association defines branding this way: “a name, symbol or design or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers”

What does that mean? Basically, what it comes down to is this, your brand is your identity in the market. It is that simple. For better or worse,  your companies image is largely determined by the appearance of your packaging. 

But, you may say, "I am in a service business,  I don’t have packaging."  When it comes to branding every business has packaging.  It is not simply the wrapper on your burger or the print on a can of soda. Packaging also includes:

 

  • Company logo
  • Business cards, stationary & invoice
  • Company vehicles
  • Website
  • Email address
  • Signage

 

No matter what business you are in, your brand {and therefore the value and quality of the work you do) is determined in part by these factors.  This is something that large companies like Coca Cola and McDonalds have known for years. They spend millions of dollars a year on branding to maintain and grow their respective markets. However effective branding does not require a huge budget. Small businesses that are market savvy realize that even though they can’t afford to spend millions of dollars on branding like large companies, they can no longer rely solely on word of mouth marketing either. Don't misunderstand, word of mouth marketing is fantastic. Here at Image Graphics we track how new clients find us and word of mouth continues to supply us with well over 90% of our clients. However, even word of mouth is helped with effective branding. All of this is intertwined in your customers mind.  

Another thing to keep in mind for the Fayetteville & Ft. Bragg area is that we have thousands of new customers moving in due to BRAC (Base Closure and Realignment Commission) and no matter how good your reputation has been over the years, they simply are not aware of it.

Like it or not they WILL make buying decisions based on how your company appears to them, whether it is on your company vehicles, your advertising, your location or your website. Basically however a customer first comes into contact with your company they will form an impression that can be hard to change, so it is vital that the first impression they receive is positive.

What do you do if you have a limited budget but would still like to build your brand? Step one is to lay a good foundation that you can build your brand on. What is the most cornerstone of a good brand? The most important factor in building your brand is your logo. A well designed logo is crucial.  Your company logo speaks volumes - what type of work do you do, are you trustworthy, how professional are you, etc.  Your logo is in most cases the first impression a customer has of your company and can either win over a customer or lose them completely.

  So when it comes to branding on a budget, before anything else make sure your company logo is representative of you, of your work and your products (if applicable).  See the logo design section of this website for more info on the elements of an effective logo design.