Wouldn’t you love to be known as the go-to person or business in your area of expertise? In this article, I’m going to explain how to build your brand. Better yet, I’m going to show you how to actually get paid to do so.
You hear a lot about branding in business, establishing yourself as the must-have solution, idea, product or service in a particular field.
Branding  is about associating your company or product with a specific problem, emotion, sensation or solution.
Large companies spend millions every year in advertising and PR to build a brand.
Viewing it as a gargantuan, costly effort, though, most small businesses largely give up on the notion of branding.
Well, here’s some good news. If you’re willing to strap on your innovation hat, there may be ways to brand your business without paying a dime.
In fact, you may be able to get people to pay you to brand your business.
How to Build Your Brand — And Get Paid For It
Here are a few ideas and examples to get you started with how to build your brand — and get paid to do so:
1. Label Your Takeaway Products
One of the fastest easiest ways to get people to literally pay to help brand you is to add labels, logos and brand ID to items they already buy.
So, for example, let’s say you have a restaurant and people take out food. You could add large brand IDs, logos and contact information on the packaging for their food.
If you sell drinks or water bottles, add a logo to the cups. Or consider having private label water. (FYI — private label water can end up being less expensive than buying bottled water from vendors.)
How much branding do you think the world’s water companies get from the labels on water bottles that people carry around all day? It’s free advertising on the product the consumers paid for.
2. Develop a Visual Brand that People Want to Display
There’s a shop in New York City called The Chocolate Bar and their labels and packaging are very hip. In fact, they are cool enough that people will actually buy the circular labels they use to seal packages, and display them as stickers.
Surf, skate and snowboard companies have used this same strategy effectively for years to help grow and brand their businesses. The challenge here is to create a visual brand that appeals enough to your market that they’d actually not only buy it, but want to display it for others to see.
Make your brand look like art. Add some kind of “movement” energy. This can be a strong motivator to buy.
So, for example, I might buy a sticker for Element surf wear, because (a) it looks cool, and (b) I want others to know I am a surfer. As I write this, the back of my notebook computer screen has a variety of stickers. Some I got for free. Others I liked enough to pay a nominal fee for.
3. Build a Visual Brand that People Want to Wear
A local kids band, Hot Peas & Butter, sets up tables after every concert with kids t-shirts boasting a vibrant, highly visual logo that every kid wants.
Parents buying t-shirts for their kids mob the table after every show. These t-shirts will brand the band for months to every other kid and parent who sees the t-shirt.
For my yoga studio in New York City, we roll out seasonal t-shirt and pant screen designs that integrate the name of the business, along with some specific energy or emotion.
Rather than looking to make a big profit from them, we sell them for just a bit above cost. Why? Because we know the advertising and branding effect will be more than worth it.
4. Attach your Brand to an Item People Use
The killer example of this is the expanding wave of shopping bags made from recycled materials. You see places like Whole Foods Markets now selling them for a nominal fee.
People pay something like $1 to buy a bag they will use every time they go shopping. And, the bag displays the company’s brand information all over it.
Plus, there’s the added benefit of the emotion associated with a company that’s trying to “do the right thing” by being environmentally conscious. Tote bags, in general, tend to be great examples of this.
5. Sell Snippets in Public, High-Volume Places
Sell small bits of your service or product in public venues as a way to build brand.
Perfect examples of this are face-painters, balloon makers and party entertainers of all sorts. Go to a local street fair and you’ll always find a face painter.
Usually, they charge just a few dollars to paint a child’s face. Why? It’s not about the money, it’s about getting paid to brand and advertise.
Paint a kid’s face and they walk around the fair all day long advertising your business. And, while the parents wait for their kids’ faces to be painted, inevitably a handful ask if the face painter does parties. A card is exchanged and a small handful of those parents turn into party clients, which is where the real money is.
Massage therapists offer a similar experience, with 5-minute chair massages that lead to paid sessions. And chiropractors offer mini-spinal assessments, then literally books appointments on the street.
In the end, what we start to see is that, if you really get creative, branding is not just a mega-company’s game. They make have to spend millions to become known on a global level. But in a small business your goal is to become known on a discrete, local level.
Even if you’re online, you can still focus largely just on a niche. Build your brand in that niche.
- Is there some way turn my visual brand or logo into something that people would actually pay me to buy and wear or display?
- Is there some way to package a sample of my service or product and offer it at a nominal fee? A fee that would cover my costs or make a small profit in a highly public, high volume, highly-targeted place?
As always, let’s continue the discussion in the comments.
And, if you have any other examples you can bring to our community for how to build your brand, please feel free to share those in the comments, too.