Sometimes your brand needs a complete overhaul and that might take a significant investment. But often, you can make numerous brand tweaks for free or for a very small investment. I was recently at a “Why Discovery” workshop (based on Simon Sinek’s ‘Start With Why’) where Fran Biderman-Gross gave some amazing and mostly free tips for improving your brand. Fran runs Advantages, a full service marketing company and she is an amazing entrepreneur and branding guru and strategista as she is called.
Here are some quick ideas to improve your brand on a budget.
1. Revisit your tagline
A tagline sums up your company’s cause, purpose and belief in a couple of words. A strong tagline will help your company get noticed, and stay remembered, compelling clients to contact you, and not your competitors. That’s why you need to to ensure that your tagline is meaningful and memorable. Start by asking yourself: “Why do I do what I do?” Your tagline should answer that question with a direct and concise actionable statement that speaks to your audience about their needs, not yours. For example, Advantage’s tagline reads: “get noticed” not, “we get you noticed.” Here are some pointers: Make sure your tagline is short and sweet–If you find yourself using more than 4 or 5 words, you risk people forgetting– and make sure your tagline is easy to read and say, no one likes a tongue twister.
2. Rethink your business card
Yes, it’s time to rethink the trusty business cards, still the most important tool you have in your tool box. It is the first and often most lasting impression you have. The business card is more than just a great way to keep in contact with prospects, it’s practically business etiquette. Redefining a business card is necessary because it is the essential bridge of communication between you and your clients when you meet them in the field. Think about what your business card says about your company, if you’re in a creative field, is it creative, if you’re an investment advisor, does it instill trust? Make sure that your business card aligns with your company’s Why and takes advantage of things such as shape, paper weight, font, and special printing effects. Check out some ideas and examples here.
3. Don’t overlook your email signature
The amount of email used on a daily basis is staggering. Imagine if you could brand each and every single communication with every client. Imagine if it cost next to nothing to do! The humble email signature shouldn’t be overlooked, it’s the perfect opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism and ability to cement your brand. An email signature should be small, lightweight, easy to read, stay on brand, and most importantly, link back to your website and blog. This is important for increasing the communication lines and awareness between you and your client. At the end of the day, there are few other options when it comes to repetitive brand exposure that are as effective and inexpensive as an email signature.
4. Greet with your brand
Even though businesses love email, people still need to use the phone for complex discussions or conference calls. For this reason, it might not be a bad idea to have your employees use your tagline as a greeting when answering the phone. This is another opportunity to be memorable to your clients, and reinforce your values, for little or no cost.
5. Always communicate from your Why
Arguably the most important part of branding doesn’t involve creating a physical piece at all. Learn to understand your company’s core philosophy, “why” you are in business (and not just to make money). Get used to communicating by putting your natural “why” first, before the ego of the company. Not only will this make your company more genuine and trustworthy, it will also help direct the messaging of future materials, and clarify the target demographic. Everything to follow in terms of branding should be communicated using this principle first. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “why should I use this philosophy if I already have a brand that works?” Well, just imagine how much more business you could have. People appreciate genuine and trustworthy companies, and in a market flooded with competition, standing by natural and realistic core values will help your business stand out from the pack, and move onto the next level. After all, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
You might not have the time or budget for a full brand overhaul but you owe it to yourself and your company to do a self-check of whether you are taking advantage of these inexpensive and often free brand hacks. Doing so will ensure that you’re consistently putting your brand’s best foot forward.