How to get more out of your branding budget
Image: Wayne Flynn. Llandudno, Wales. April 2017.
Two of the most common questions I’m asked are:
“We want to strengthen our brand/increase brand awareness, but can’t spare much extra money – What can we do?” and “We need to cut our budgets – How can we do that without affecting our brand?
To this, the first question I’ll ask you is:
“How much do you currently spend on your branding each year?”
No matter what amount you tell me, I have one reply for you – NOT SO.
How can I say that? After all, I don’t even know your business.
The money you invest into building and maintaining your brand is ‘in every facet of your business’. There are the obvious items like printing, websites and brand/marketing department staff, but there are many other areas to consider.
• A percentage of every staff members salary – after all, they are the face of the company and are the ones delivering the brand promise to customers
• A portion of your transport maintenance budget – it hurts your brand if you can’t deliver on time, or turn up to a client in a run down car
• A piece of your office maintenance expenses – the carpet needs replacing as it’s in poor condition? That’s part of your brand image too
“So, if that’s true, how can you possibly budget for your branding?” you ask.
The simple answer is – You can’t.
True, budgeting for the creation or rebirth of a brand is vital. You need to create a new vision, new designs and implement it all so the world views you as they should – that takes money. But a lot of the implementation and maintenance investment, is in reality, linked to your entire company budget.
Now, I’m not going to pretend to be a big company budgeting expert – because, frankly I’m not. So I will leave the review of your entire company budget and the allocation of resources to the number crunchers who know what they’re doing. What I will do for you, is give you a number of areas that can be reviewed, based on the amount of money you have allocated in your budget.
Your three main options are:
• Slimming down – fit into a tighter budget, without affecting your brand strength
• Solidifying your brand presence – make better use of your current funds, so you can reinvest the savings into building a stronger brand
• Investing in a stronger brand – reinvest the savings (as above) plus increase the return you receive from any additional allocated spending, making a major difference in your brand strength
Whatever your goal, reviewing and making changes to these areas will be of benefit for your business. Reviewing can be an internal matter if you have the knowledge already in-house. But for those that don’t, the investment in an expert to review and implement changes for you, can mean a much larger return in the future.
If you order something on a regular basis – maybe it’s time to start ordering twice as much, half as often. There are potentially large savings to be made with this practice.
Review your marketing schedule and pinpoint what collateral you may be able to print at the same time – saving you money and preventing short deadlines in the future.
With the constant fluctuations in paper costs (mostly upwards), it is always recommended to regularly check for alternative stocks. There is the possibility of getting the same quality for less, or better quality for the same price.
Consider printing your marketing collateral in house, I’m not referring to just admin here of course, but actually your marketing collateral. Digital print machines have come a long way and it’s possible to have a machine that prints your general admin but is good enough to print your marketing collateral in full colour and with special finishes like lamination and spot varnish.
Branded Printwear and Products
Review the quality vs cost of your printwear. If you pay slightly more, will they last longer? If so, that can save you a lot in the long run (imagine paying only £5 per shirt more – but only buying half as many shirts each year!)
Do you have a large number of branded promotional products that you give away? Work out the most effective combination and scrap the rest. You can invest some of the savings into buying more of the limited range, or use it somewhere else.
Marketing and Design
Do you have sales staff working on your design and marketing? Sales staff should be getting you sales, not spending their time elsewhere. Having your marketing professionally produced may seem like a cost but a good designer can help you understand the cost vs returns - more business and a better brand image.
Conversely, do you have marketing and design staff who don’t have enough to do? Find other projects (or create new ones) for them to work on. You’re paying them whether they’re marketing or not, so you might as well get the benefit.
It can be extremely cost effective to externalise this area of your business, especially factoring in salary packages, computers and software. You can have a brand/marketing manager in-house and outsource your design needs, or if you don’t currently have a brand manager, you can have an outside team to handle it all for you.
Make sure your website is current, device responsive (stacks on mobile devices), and secure by using SSL certification - the ‘https’ within the address of your website.
There’s little point in trying to make your website popular in search rankings (when someone searches for services like yours), if you don’t have an enquiry generating website. Also, if your website isn’t responsive and doesn’t have a SSL certificate then Google will favour sites that do above yours, so it’s worth making sure this is correct.
It can be much more cost effective if your website is popular to make sure it’s a enquiry generating website. Making some changes to your home page and sales pages can mean the difference - generating more enquires and doing more business.
Make sure all your services are clear. Countless times I’ve reviewed a businesses activity only to find that there’s obvious services they offer that are not publicised or service descriptions that are out of date.
You should also make sure you have a website maintenance contract in place to make sure that your website is running the latest version of the Content Management System it’s built in but also so that all the additional plugins and components are the latest versions. I’ve had to rescue websites that have been hacked and it’s costly in terms of time but also brand - you don’t suddenly want to go into the business of selling Viagra. Hacking and malware is all to common and the benefit of maintaining your website means it will be more secure and less likely to become a victim of attacks.
It’s ‘free’ to use and ‘everyone’ is on social media. But in their rush to not be left behind, many people have forgotten to keep their brand image going.
Review your usage of social media and make sure you’re doing it effectively. Are your brand values showing through? Is it costing you too many paid man-hours?
Find out any weak spots you can sure up, or other sites you need to be on. This can increase your social media gains rapidly.
You have quality assurance systems set up for all the other areas of your business, so why would your brand be any different? Because your brand extends into everything you do as a business, a brand QA system can make a big difference in your branding returns.
• Are the phones answered correctly?
• Does everyone use branded emails?
• Is every piece of marketing and advertising brand approved?
• Do you have a brand or “Corporate Identity” guidelines manual? And is it current?
There are many more areas you can review. These are a few of the main areas where you can potentially get a lot more for your branding investment.
Need help or more advice to get more out of your branding budget? Do contact us we'd love to help you gain more business.