[social_warfare]

Startups and dead companies find themselves in the same position: they want to find customers quickly so they can begin to show the world what they can accomplish. The mistake countless businesses make, however, is focusing too much on branding.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to spend a fortune on branding. Instead, you should be focusing on building your brand. The difference is subtle, but significant. Your brand is the emotions that your products trigger in customers. They see your company and know what they can expect from you. Branding, however, is an attempt by companies to manipulate those feelings to solidify the positive associations. 

Focusing on branding too much, particularly for companies building from the ground up, can leave you broke. Instead, focus on your brand and let the branding follow. Here is what you need to know about building your company without spending a fortune.


 

You do not need the prettiest logo and website

It seems like a logical starting point: you want to attract more attention, so you go out to hire a fantastic digital designer and spend a disproportionate amount of your marketing budget on a single image and a few pages of your website. What countless companies are missing, however, is that whether you spend $50K on a new logo, or just a few hundred, your logo, website, and other digital media signify absolutely nothing until you and your company build meaning behind them. When you help people associate your logo with high quality products and excellent service, that is when you logo becomes valuable– not because you spent last quarter’s marketing budget on the designer.

Seth Godin once wrote:

What I hope you’ll see is that all a logo needs is to be GOOD ENOUGH […]. Why is it okay to have a non-wonderful logo? Because the logo is just a placeholder. It gains value AFTER it hits the world, because people associate things with it.”

Do not walk away with the wrong message: your website and logo are important. What you need to remember, however, is that the function of these parts matter far more than just the appearance. You want your website to attract visitors and inspire them to engage with your company. Your content and marketing efforts should be geared towards moving customers through the buyer’s journey to a new purchase. Focusing on the effectiveness of the website, specifically its content, will have a far greater impact on your success than investing in graphics.

You do not have to spend a small fortune on a good designer

There are some designers who have established themselves as industry leaders– and for good reason. There are also countless designers, however, who are extremely talented and can produce outstanding work for a fraction of the cost. Most of these designers are freelancers, who can be found at a host of freelancing sites around the web.

Not all freelancers and freelancing sites are created equally, however. For example, Fiverr has a reputation for producing cheap work– both in price and appearance. It is important to weed out poor candidates by finding someone who understands good design. Review examples of past work and speak with candidates to get an idea of their experience. 

( I recommend browsing Upwork.com. Also it might be worth posting a freelance opportunity on Behance.com).

Building an effective brand is about going deep

Before the digital age, branding focused around building awareness among the consumer base and convincing them to make a purchase once they reached the check-out line. It was assumed that once the purchase was made, the customer would disengage with the company.

Today the company must focus on the entire customer experience. Customers do not stop interacting with the brand once they have made a purchase. In fact, some brands experience extremely high engagement after a sale. One study found that more than 60 percent of facial skin care customers went online to learn more about their products after they had already purchased it. A strong brand recognizes the need for engagement after purchases and develops content that caters to this particular audience. Brands must recognize that when they create a superior product experience for their customers they will experience return in the form of word-of-mouth advertising, reviews, and a strong brand reputation.

Creating this ideal customer experience does not require companies to work harder, but it does mean having to work smarter. Use different social media platforms to engage with customers throughout their buyer’s journey. Be available to answer their questions or concerns and actively encourage conversation on your social pages. Put platforms like Squarespace to work for you as well, creating a website and a blog that helps you get your expertise and experience in front of potential customers so you can begin to build that crucial relationship. Establish yourself as an industry expert using platforms like LinkedIn to establish trust. These are the elements that will help you create a unique brand and a lasting impression. 

Before you get started with your branding efforts, put a budget together and analyze your plan. Are you focusing primarily on the outward look of your company or are you going deeper to ensure the highest quality products and services for your customers? Do you examine the customer experience? Remember that content is king and build a company around making your customers happy. There is always time to worry about the logo later, but it is not so easy to reinvent a business or save a reputation.

Please comment below and let me kow your thoughts and ideas.