With today's technology, software and the web you can easily appear well established and highly professional (not cheap), and you need to. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money to appear bigger than you are. Your competition is doing it, so why aren’t you? You just want to be smart about where to start.
If you are a new business or an older business needing to refresh your image, I recommend starting with your website. The quickest and most cost effective way to establish or tune-up your brand identity is to design a great looking website that reflects the image/vision of your company. I know what you’re thinking, that can be expensive and branding people tell you to establish the brand before you build anything. Yes, but to look at it another way, when you are done with the formal branding process and you have spent all your money, you still haven’t built anything. By aggressively combining your brand development or re-branding while working through the website design and development process, you can end up with a great new website that helps define your brand. Your brand identity and website will fit like hand and glove, like they were made for each other, because they were designed and developed with the same goals and objectives -- such as improving your image, increasing your visibility in the market, and generating new leads for your business. We’ve successfully done this for many of our clients who either didn’t have the budget or the time needed to work through the full branding process.
OK, so you’re thinking, a big new website, what’s that going to cost? You were simply planning on purchasing a template and asking your brother-in-law’s cousin to build something or sign up for one of those do it yourself services. Well, that’s where you’re going to look cheap and probably tear out most of your hair in the process. You’ll be just one of those businesses, run out of somebody’s garage, with a cookie cutter site. If you’re sure you want to buy a template to save $$$ then consider having a professional web design or interactive agency customize it with your brand identity. Or work through developing your company’s brand identity within the constraints of the template design you purchased. This is where the knowledge from a good web design firm is essential. You need a firm that knows how to design for the web and has the programming experience to make that design fit the template. By working with an experienced web developer you can still come out the other end of the process with a defined brand identity and great looking website that doesn’t make you look small, unorganized and sub par in your industry.
Once the task of developing your website and establishing a working brand identity is complete, it’s fairly easy to apply your brand to other marketing materials. Updating your business cards, stationary, brochures, advertisements, marketing and press packages, signage, etc. to match the new identity will make your company or organization look much more professional to your prospects. By starting with a tightly fit brand identity and website, you’ll save money to do this and look well established, serious about your business, and most importantly not cheap. So, if you don’t have the budget or time to work through both the full branding process in addition to the development of a new website, then consider combining the projects into one unified strategy. I think you’ll be pleased with the final results and surprised how much you can stretch your budget.