I get it. We all have bills and priorities. When it comes to having extra cash to invest into your brand, there typically just isn’t any.
It’s a horrible feeling to feel stuck between having this great idea or passion and being able to actual make it real. Simply put, as entrepreneurs we know, it takes money to make money.
And don’t get me started on how life somehow keeps adding extra things to your plate when you finally decided that this month, you’d buy that domain or pay for that company logo. I get it. I’ve been there.
Building a brand is an investment. We’ve all been there, most brands don’t start with investors and I personally, am not rich. But I did have a plan.
I understood that in order to make this happen, I’d have to make some sacrifices and be diligent and conscientious in my approach. I couldn’t fold.
No Funds, No Problem
So, what should you do until you have the funds? Create a voice for your brand that people love, without spending a dime. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to establish your brand while you’re getting your business finances together.
For example, social media is amazing for just that purpose! Lots of entrepreneurs start a blog or create a social media profile that reinforces their brand. Its free, and you have total control. People can access your brand story from anywhere across the globe. You can establish yourself as an authority in your industry even before you are ready to promote and sell your product or service.
Here’s what I did to build the foundation of my brand identity:
I conducted my own research to see if my business name was available. I search the USPTO’s trademark database to see if any mark had been federally registered and used for related products and services.
I made my own logo, at first. It wasn’t amazing, but it served its purpose until I was able to rebrand and invest in a new one created by a professional graphic designer.
Domain and Web Host
I secured a domain on GoDaddy (Note: There are numerous online promotional offers for a “free domain name for a year” along with coupon codes from trusted web hosts; research the best host for your business needs.)
I designed my own website. These days, website builders (e.g., Wix.com, Square Space, etc.) offer amazing and user-friendly resources to create your own website.
Later, I used the barter system to get an even better website. My web designer offered to create my website if I referred all of my clients to her. In exchange, she created a custom site for me.
I purchased a camera and created visuals to go along with my content. (Note: You can create great, free visuals with most smartphone cameras on the market today, and the right lighting.)
I recorded and edited my own videos on iMovie. Then, I needed to create social media content, so I learned how to use Photoshop by Googling what I wanted to do. There are also free photo editing tools online with short learning curves (e.g. Pixlr, Fotor, PicMonkey, Canva, etc.)
Before you invest in building your brand, figure out what your brand stands for and get familiar with the art of guerrilla marketing. Stand for something that your target audience can relate to so they can join in on your mission.
You’re attracting a tribe of people that believe in your brand values. You are the voice, and your goal is to create brand loyalty. Once you are considered an industry authority, launching products and services will come easy.
What if your marketing budget is non-existent?
First, master how to keep your brand presence afloat despite having a marketing budget. The goal is to get your brand to a point where you are able to effectively reach people without a budget.
If you don’t spend a dime on marketing, will people be aware of your brand and understand your story?
The reality is this: If you don’t have a big marketing budget, you have to depend on brand advocates organically “creating” your brand for you.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Brand Guru. Creative Director. Victoria Reese is the founder of The Victor Group, a LA-based creative consulting agency. She is a self-proclaimed down-to-earth Detroit girl to the core, carries the Howard University (Washington, DC) heir like no other and has picked up the New York hustle and bustle along her journey. Connect @picturethisvic on Twitter.