With a Limited Budget, What Part of Branding Should I Invest in First?


If you've got a limited budget, what's the first thing to invest in from a branding perspective?

This is Episode 3 of my Facebook Live series, #AskAnnie. You can watch the video episode above or read on for the transcript version. Like our Facebook page to catch these broadcasts live!

Where do you start with professional branding?

You know, not everybody has the budget, and especially if they're beginning their business, to do what I called the "whole enchilada". Right? If you don't have the ability to do every single thing you might want to do with a professional like me, a graphic designer, writer, or website designer - where do you start?

And I would have to say there is no magic pill for this. There is no one solution in terms of what you need to focus on. I couldn't say you have to have a logo. You have to have this. You have to have that. What I really think you need to do is identify what is your hottest branding problem.

Focus on your hottest problem: "What is it that biggest challenge you're facing in your brand that is really holding you back from growing your business and selling what you do?

  • Is it that you don't have a way to visually represent your business with a logo? So there's nothing that people can start to recognize for you. That might be your focus.
  • Maybe you don't have business cards and you can't go out and share your business with other people at networking events. That might be something to focus on. I
  • If you have a product that is sort of hard to explain, there could be a focus, instead of doing all these other things with a logo, is maybe you do a video to explain your product and make it easier for you to sell without having to do all that work of having to write it all out. If you can only do one thing, sometimes video is going to make sense for you.
  • Similar with photography, if it's hard to visualize what you're talking about, then maybe photography is the first step you take.

There are a lot of different options here. If you pressed me to come up with one single thing that you have to have, that universally people need to do, I would say it's not a logo, it's not a website, it's not even a business card that's perfect for the business.

No matter what: you need to make sure you clearly know how to talk about what you do or you sell. 

While there's no magic bullet for branding, you do need to make sure that you are confidently presenting what you do. If you don't understand it and if you don't know how to talk about it with other people, that's going to hold you back more than having the right website, the right photographs of your business, the right business card. All these things are great and wonderful and they do a lot to grow your business. But if you don't know what the story behind your business really is, you're really cutting yourself off at the pass and you're making yourself not so confident when you're presenting it.

So whatever you're building brand-wise first (a logo, a website, business cards), if you're not clear on the story going into it, guess what? Other people aren't going to be either - no matter how much you invest.

They're gonna be just as confused as you are and it's going to get you all in tangles. We wanna get that entanglement not happening.

So whether you say you embark on video to explain your product, or photography, or you start with a logo, or you start with getting the message down, you, yourself, really need to make sure that you understand the story, and understand what makes you special, who your audience is, and those other elements that we talked about with branding foundations. So what is it that you are really selling or doing? And making sure that you feel really confident about how to present that so it doesn't really matter the format, what kind of partner you're going to work with. If you don't have that solid footing, nothing you're going to execute or that you're going to invest with that limited amount of investment money is going to go as far for you or work as hard for you.

You may be wondering given that, well, how do I know what my hottest problem with my brand is?

And how do I know what is my hottest problem? And what I would say is this is why most professionals worth their salt, most brand agencies, and design agencies, they're going to offer you some sort of discovery call or consultation.

So I'm going to encourage you to do that with people so if you're curious for example, if you want to talk to me and understand based on where you're at sort of what is your hottest button, you can come to me and say, "Hey Annie, here's a little bit more about my business. If you were me or you could advise me, what should I do if I can only do one thing or if I only have this budget? What is the best way to use that?

Most professionals who are on the level and great integrity will offer you a discovery call / consultation and will focus on how to help you figure out the next step forward. 

They're not trying to sell you, in the sense that they're not just trying to give you something you don't need, but they're going to really help you. It's like going to the doctor. So you're coming, you've gone on WebMD and you think that you have this brand problem. But they're going to take you into their office and say you know, actually, you shouldn't be Googling that, let's look at it as a professional, and this is really what you're experiencing and here's how we can solve it.

So that is, I want to encourage you to grab a consultation with somebody like me or anybody you're thinking about working with and use them as a partner and a resource. Because most people like me are going to be willing to put together estimates and give you solutions or even referrals to people if they're not the right partner to help you get going, even if you can't do maybe their signature service. Right?

I would invite you, if you are curious about this, come talk to me for 20 minutes.

I offer phone and video chat consultations, complimentary, and you can grab one at greateststorycreative.com. So you go to greateststorycreative.com and there's a big red button in the top right corner, click it, and you can actually get some time on my calendar and we can take a little in depth look at your business, and say, okay what is the hottest problem and what are you working with?

And if you can invest even something small. Let's figure out what is the best solution for that. So that we can get you going, get you unstuck, and growing your business by using your story. So I encourage you to take me up on that, any time you're watching this video it should be true. So grab that red button and we'll be happy to talk. If you are curious to learn more about branding in general and you want to learn more about topics like this: what should I invest in first? How do I create a tagline? Why is having a tagline important in my business?

I invite you also to check out Branding with Annie for free branding education.

So, Branding with Annie is a monthly program that I put on. There is an in-person version here in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. There is a webinar as well and this is happening in just two weeks. So on March 13th and 15th of this month, we're talking about taglines. So you can check out Branding with Annie at BrandingwithAnnie.com (very fancy) online, or as I said here in Durham at The Frontier.

But we're going to be talking about taglines. How do you write them? What can they do to power your business? Are there some things that you can do to use a tagline to grow your business and market it better? So I'll be happy to sort of cover that, and if you're watching this after March, no problem. Branding with Annie is probably still going on so check it out at BrandingwithAnnie.com and join us at the next one. But thank you so much for watching this at whatever point you had time today to do that or into the future.

But that concludes another episode of Ask Annie. Again if you want to chat with me and grab a consult - greateststorycreative.com. But I hope that you have an excellent day and please continue to submit your questions. I love reading them. You can shoot me an email at Greatest Story as well.

Have a great one and thanks for tuning in, guys!