“Do I need a massive budget for branding?”
Perhaps, Siri will tell you what is there on the internet. But I’ll tell you about my experience and will share some real-life examples. Therefore, hang tight…information is on the way.
Let me share a story with you…
A friend started his SaaS Company. When I asked about how he is going to brand it, he was sheer clueless and told me that he doesn’t have a massive budget for it.
His answer didn’t surprise me at all. Well, every other business owner lists branding as another “luxury.” I mean to say that they consider it something they want to buy, but don’t need it. Moreover, in the core of their minds, some john-doe etched that it is too pricey.
Oh P.L.E.A.S.E! If I had a myth-busting capsule, I would have given a double dose to every other person who treats branding as secondary or considers it way too pricey.
Hear me out! You don’t have to have unreserved access to World Bank’s treasure. Stop assuming that only big fishes in the pond can bear the cost.
Trust me; it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Recently, I came across an eye-opening stat:
According to smallbizgenius,
Brands with poor company branding pay 10% higher salaries.
I think this stat is self-explanatory, and I don’t need to define it more.
Talk about emphasizing the point “Your startup needs the shield of branding,” I am just done. Since they are not ready to listen, I’ll talk on the practical ground with examples.
Branding defines the missing “YOU.”
I usually ask one question to startup founders.
Sadly, the only answer I get is, “My product is the best.” (Slow Claps)
Like are you going to bang on your potential customer’s doors advocating your brand? This isn’t going to work in this era.
It’s sad to see startups not clear about the U.S.P of their product and the way to communicate it.
This is why I say, “branding helps you define the real YOU.”
A great idea, a perfect website isn’t enough. You need to do sound branding to let customers know about your business and about your brand. Else this “YOU” part will stay missing.
According to MarketingNutz, it takes around 5 to 7 impressions for potential buyers to recognize a specific logo.
I started it with this stat on purpose. Of course, a thousand people make you realize the importance of branding, but you mostly turn deaf ears to every one of them. Perhaps, stats will serve as an eye-opener for you.
Let me share an example with you: Who doesn’t know “Zara” brand?
From their website, marketing collateral, social media posts to print, everything shares the same synergy. Their branding says it all.
Those who buy from them know that the brand is sheer famous for converting high-end trends into styles affordable for the mid-priced market. Their branding speaks for 4 main points: clarity, sustainability, beauty, and functionality.
I further studied their branding and found a great post on Zara’s Fb page that dictates their love for “Sustainability.”
Now, what’s the point of sharing this example?
You must be thinking that it’s a renowned brand. Little do you realize, it had its struggle. It wasn’t renowned before, and the branding has played a significant role in giving them the edge over competitors.
If big brands like “Zara” care for their branding, why don’t you?
We all start from somewhere. So, it’s not just about starting it, but more about how you start it. Putting it simpler, every other person has an idea. How you plan to give it shape is the game-changer.
There is a pool of competition. It’s next to impossible for you to survive without well-thought-out branding.
Claiming your piece of profit is secondary. How come you are going to make people familiar with your brand in this rat race when you have no interest in investing in branding?
I am sorry, but you are dreaming if you think that in the cutthroat competition, you will make your place without careful branding.
So, what’s included in the branding? Let me give you a rough idea. A typical branding package includes the following things:
Note that not all branding packages are the same. Different companies offer different things.
All these things come under a package or sometimes separately. The real task is to find a firm that offers you promising value for me.
Before deciding on your branding budget, there are two questions you need to ask:
Talk about the first question; if it is funded, then this means, you can invest a good amount in branding.
Having a funded startup means, you can easily invest somewhere around $15000 into branding. No matter how much you spend, it always multiples in the form of revenue and more leads.
Talk about the second question, if your startup is generating a good amount of revenue, but it isn’t funded, I would suggest you spend 10-15% of your total earning on your branding project.
For instance: If you are starting your business with a $20,000 budget, save somewhere around $2,000 – $3,000 on branding.
You may start less, but once you generate a promising chunk of money, you can always uplift your branding game.
Now, let’s move ahead and talk about what branding can do for your startup.
I do understand the reluctance to invest in branding. Startup owners try to cut the cost on almost everything.
They are more towards following those strategies that cost them nothing but given them a lot.
Sigh! I wish there were some magic spell or trick to do it. Alas! No. It’s essential to take some money out of your pocket if you desire a good, sustainable return.
Let me make it clear why you need it.
If three people are selling the same thing, the buyer will go to the one that has an upbeat branding. Of course, there is a difference between those who sell brands and those who sell products.
We purchase things from brands we rely on. Even if any other business offers us the same thing for less price, we don’t buy that.
Ever thought… why?
It’s because of consistent branding.
To stand tall amid the competition, you need to define the real YOU. Via your branding, tell your customers that you are different
Here I can quote the example of DropBox.
How carefully they have done its branding. For a layman, it represents putting everything in a safe box. They have made a visual identity so strong that every other person can relate to it.
The question is when there are so many companies offering you the data storage, why do you choose Dropbox?
Because you trust it, and branding has helped build trust.
When you are new to the market, it becomes highly challenging to gain the customers trust. To win their loyalty, you need to offer them a promise…
By the word promise, I mean, you need to do the branding right.
Here, I can quote the example of “Ello.”
Talk about clear branding, precise message, and U.S.P, Ello wins here.
It’s a platform akin to Facebook, Instagram. Talk about Ello’s branding, it runs around minimalism, and there are no hiccups in their message.
Ello’s USP is that they have promised, unlike Facebook and Instagram, Ello will never bombard users with ads. Moreover, they have promised that the user’s information will never be shared.
Isn’t it amazing?
Due to their sheer clear branding strategy, they have gained the trust of many. Users have appreciated them for this move…
Anything that gets accepted by users makes its place in the market. This means, due to branding, Ello is likely to rule in the coming days.
Talk about your brand, you aim to build a friendly society, but how would you do it without upbeat branding?
It’s highly unlikely people will approve of you unless they feel emotionally connected with your brand. To build that connection, you need to rely on branding.
Tell me why people always say, “iPhone is iPhone?”
It’s not because of the price. It’s not because of the status symbol. It’s because of how they have branded themselves. Apple has made a friendly society of customers
While buying Apple’s products, customers don’t even think of a second as the branding always tells them that Apple has got their back. They don’t need to worry about the exchange, customer support, or any other issue as Apple is always there to help.
Still, will you say you are reluctant to invest in branding?
Still, do you think branding is another luxury, not the need of today?
You don’t have to be Jeff Bezos to do the right branding. Keep your if’s, but’s, and why’s aside and concentrate on what I am going to tell you next.
There is a lot you can do even if your startup isn’t seed funded. You don’t need an Amazon’s or Google’s size bank account to do branding. So many things can be done even if you are budget constrained.
Let me tell you how you can do it.
Before getting a visual identity for your business, understand in-depth about your brand. Figure out:
After answering these questions, take out some time to understand your customers. Get to know their likes and dislikes. The more time you will spend in understanding your target market, the easier it would be to connect with them through visuals.
Once you have a clear picture of your business goals, and have a know-how of your target market, hire a design firm to do branding for you.
Brand identity: Tell them how you want your brand identity to be. The message you want to convey. Remember that your logo is the ice-breaker. If it doesn’t break the ice, trust me, your dream will turn into slush, and soon you’ll disappear from the race.
Brand style guide: Get a brand style guide for your business so that the consistency doesn’t break. The brand style guide helps you in the long run; it has all that a designer needs to know.
The style guide contains information related to your brand colors, fonts, information related to designs, and a complete manual of do’s and don’ts.
Marketing collateral: Don’t ever miss this part. Your marketing collateral carries real weight. The collateral includes your business card, flyers, brochures, letterhead, and envelopes.
Website or app: You need to have a website or app for your business. Sometimes, people make a mistake of being careless when it comes to consistency. Because of this, their marketing collateral, visual identity, and the website share 3 different messages.
Due to this mistake, the message loses the charm, and the audience gets distracted. Therefore, you need to be clear about how you want people to perceive you. Get a website or app that runs parallel to your branding. Make sure your branding efforts share the same synergy, and there are no loopholes.
You don’t gain customers’ trust within a day; it takes time. Once you are done with the above parts, now is the time to connect to the customers.
Make all the processes easier for a customer. Via your branding, tell them that you are there, and are not going to leave them in the middle.
Hunt for all the pain points of a customer. Get to know what is bothering them…perhaps, it’s your website’s navigation or man be your checkout process.
Whatever it is, just get it fixed and be there for them.
Concentrate on offering upbeat customer service. This is the key to a positive customer experience.
In the end, positive customer experience lead to promising word of mouth marketing.
I have shared the big picture with you. Now, you can’t say that branding is expensive.
If you are again going to claim that branding costs you a lot, I will count it as another excuse for not doing it.
There is a difference between short-sighted and long-sighted people. Short-sighted ones cut the cost of everything and run after quick money. At the same time, long-sighted comes in the business game to create an impact. They run after sustainable growth. (You know what I mean)
I hope by now, all the points are clear enough. If you want to add more to this, feel free to own the comments section.
Waqas D. is the co-founder of the branding and website agency, FullStop™. He supercharges brands by crafting memorable logos, brand identities and engaging websites. Besides thousands of startups and medium-size businesses, FullStop has worked with likes of Microsoft & L’Oréal. View our portfolio or get in touch.
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