How To Brand Your Business On A Budget

5 min read · 9 years ago


If you’re the owner of a multi-billion dollar company, this article is not for you. However, if you’re a mom and pop organization and would like to learn how to brand your business on a low budget, read on…

Large corporations spend millions on creating a brand message, but the ones that stick in our minds are based on simple concepts which have a creative spark.

The secret is branding that can be used creatively without explanation. One example that stands out for me was when Target promoted on the reality TV show Survivor, before it was a craze. They plastered their well-crafted, bulls-eye logo all over. Although the host, Jeff Probst, mentioned the company name a few times, the large red concentric circles reminded me throughout the show of the store. It worked and they got a ton of mileage from that idea.

You and I don’t have the budget Target does, but if you’re clever enough, you can come up with a multi-million dollar campaign without spending much at all.

Create a standout logo

A good logo will go a long way. Unless you are able to create one on your own, which looks professional, you’ll need to hire an expert. You can find designers to help you create an image that lets people know what you and your company stands for instantly.

According to Entreprenueur, “While brainstorming logo ideas by yourself is a crucial step in creating your business image, trying to create a logo completely on your own is a mistake.”

Fortunately you don’t have to spend a fortune to find help. To save money, it’s best to have a rough idea of what you’d like. Brainstorm with friends and do some basic research. Don’t worry, it’s fun! Check out other company logos. Determine which ones you like and which you don’t.

What makes a good logo? There are a few key elements that make for a successful logo. Ask yourself, if that logo is:

  • Functional: Will it work on a letterhead, a business card as well as a large poster?
  • Aesthetic: No one likes an ugly image.
  • Original: If you use clip art, it will be obvious. Create original art.
  • Appropriate: A plumber might have pipes in their logo or a large wrench. A humongous diamond ring would not be a good choice.
  • Timeless: Pick a logo that will work into the next decade. For instance a picture of a stocky man doing the Gangnam Style dance probably won’t mean much in five years (at least I hope it doesn’t).
  • Simple: A complex drawing with obscure references might confuse potential clients. Keep the drawing clean and simple.

Take all those ideas and any sketches to talk to whoever you get to help you create the final logo. Talk it ALL through with them. The more you tell them the better job they’ll do.

Come up with a slogan

The word “slogan” comes from the Scottish Gaelic Sluagh-ghairm, which means army cry or battle cry. Don’t confuse this with your elevator pitch or your mission statement. It needs to be short and sweet, something you can say in a single breath, or battle cry.

If you can capture the right catchphrase, people will spread your message far and wide. According to Charlie Cook from Marketing for Success, “A good slogan sticks like glue in people’s minds, reminding them consciously and unconsciously of your product, over and over.”

With the right slogan, you can get free word-of-mouth advertising around the proverbial water cooler. People adore a good slogan. Just consider several from the last few decades. None of these mention the company name, but I’ll bet you can shout them out by their slogan alone:

  • Where’s the beef?
  • When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight!
  • Breakfast of champions.
  • The ultimate driving machine.

Of course your slogan can also include your name, which can only help you brand your company. Here are a few that work well for the product:

  • Got Milk?
  • Easy as Dell.
  • Subway. Eat Fresh.
  • M&Ms melt in your mouth, not in your hand.

So, what is your war cry?

You can create your slogan on your own or with a group of friends. People love to chip in ideas. Some entrepreneurs like to make a huge word list to identify phrases for their battle cry, but often a great slogan comes to one in a burst of inspiration.

For me, I was visiting friends in North Carolina when an old buddy spit out, “Hey, you’re Laura the Friendly Ghostwriter!” I loved it immediately. I did try it out a few times on total strangers, because I like to test slogans out, but I’ll tell you, I immediately knew it was a winner.

What is your elevator pitch?

We touched upon the concept of an elevator pitch in the article “Is It Time To Start Up That Start-up Business?” Now it’s time to really create this important piece.

You need to be able to sell yourself within a short pitch that can be easily delivered in the time it takes to climb a few floors in an elevator. You need to be able to answer the innocent question, “What do you do?” in such a way that the person wants to know more.

According to Jody Coughlin, the co-owner of Chic CEO, “It’s OK for it to sound a bit sales-y as long as the concept is clearly communicated.” If you’re shy about selling, you have to get over that. It’s okay, the other person will forgive you.

The first step will be to try out your pitch to yourself. Say it out loud, preferably in front of a mirror, or better yet, on video. You can record yourself on your phone and play it back. How does it sound? How would you respond to your own pitch?

After you create one that you like, you need to practice it over and over and over and over (and over). Practice it in the car, in the shower, as you’re cooking, etc. Drill it until it is second nature, so that you don’t need to think about it at all. It should just come out naturally (which means if you keep getting tripped up on a certain phrase, change the phrase).

Next is the hard part for most people. You need to practice it on others (people who are not you). Prepare to get a little tongue-tied the first few times. Start with friends, people who are supportive of your goals. If you stumble, try again. Friends will understand. Do this until you can actually take it to the next level, delivering it to someone you don’t know.

When you give your first elevator pitch to a complete stranger, take your time. Don’t rush it. Speak clearly and look the person in the eye. If you mess up, chances are they won’t notice. They’ve never heard the original and don’t know that you skipped a line or added a word. If you’re sincere, it will communicate.

Then it is a matter of practicing it with others until you aren’t worried about your pitch at all and it just flows out easily. Trust me, it won’t take long.

Part five of a series – The Yahoo Smart and Simple Guide to Starting a Business.