What do you think about when you think about branding?

We often discuss branding with our clients during an initial meeting and you’ll be surprised what they I think branding is or maybe we should say what it’s not.

Almost immediately during a branding discussion, the client makes a reference to well-known brands like Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola or Target. They don’t really think about branding because they think branding is what these major brands do and in their wildest dreams the client can’t see themselves emulating that level of branding and marketing.

The reality is that branding can be anything you do and any actions you take to promote your brand.

In our experience, the more creative you get in promoting your brand the lower the cost. One example that comes to mind is a coffee brand that started with almost zero marketing budget. What makes them different or sets them apart from other coffee brands was that they promoted responsible farming and fair treatment of the farmers picking and processing the coffee beans.

At a festival that they attended it in South America, they handed out t-shirts  that cost them no more than $10 a piece   to Coffee Bean farmers attending the event.

The t-shirts became so popular because of the design printed on them that everybody wanted one and proudly wore it as soon as it was handed to them. Media coverage of the event showed dozens of people wearing the brand and the company paid zero dollars for air time or TV commercials.

One of my favorite low cost ways to promote your brand is to simply stick it everywhere you can. That sounds funny but I’ll explain. A while back we purchased laptop stickers from one of our favorite vendors, Sticker Mule.

They were very inexpensive and high-quality even though the graphic was simply our logo. I started carrying around the stickers and just handing them out to people but many times I’d simply stick one on someone’s filing cabinet, laptop, bulletin board excetera, while visiting their office.

You’ll be surprised how many times I’ll visit that client or business partner and our sticker is still where I placed it.

I soon realized that everybody loves stickers!

This is just one example low-cost branding that your startup can invest in without breaking the bank.

Another way that we promote our brand is by delivering homemade cookies to prospective clients that we want to target as a key account. We had laptop stickers made with our logo and the words “courtesy of” placed above the logo.

Instead of delivering the cookies in a blank white box, we now place a sticker to the top of the box and there is no doubt to the employees in the break room who provided the cookies that day.

Put your creativity to work and you’ll be surprised how much branding you can do without having to worry about a Nike or Coca-Cola level budget.