If you're a start-up writing your first business plan, then you will need to watch your finances carefully as you take the first steps to launch your brand. The following advice for building a brand on a budget could be the best investment that you ever make!

10 tips:

  1. Be consistent -

A lack of continuity reveals a lack of standards. By exercising consistency you are communicating a subliminal message that you care about your brand and you care about your customers. Brands have personalities and by behaving consistently they earn trust - just like people.

  1. 100% Authentic -

Do you have a great story to tell about why you started your business or how you became involved in your industry? For example: When Bernard Hart established the boxing brand, Lonsdale Sports, in 1960 he had been an amateur and professional boxer for 12 years. Hugh Lowther the 5th Earl of Lonsdale was the president of the first National Sporting Club and the benefactor of organised boxing with gloves. The 7th Earl of Lonsdale granted Bernard Hart permission to use the Lonsdale name.

  1. A great experience -

Provide your clientele with a great experience that they can't go anywhere else for. For example: The Mini. When Sir Alec Issigonis designed the mini in 1959, it was greeted with amazement by the public and became one of the best-selling cars of all time. The design captured the sixties zeitgeist and was the perfect economical solution, following fuel rationing and the Suez crises. The Mini stood for excitement and that still resonates today with BMW's ownership of the Mini brand.

  1. Look after your reputation -

Reputation is everything and in the internet era it's easy to lose or damage a reputation through negative commentary on social networking sites. Look after your customers and take care to ensure they are happy with your service. As the investor Warren Buffet said "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently".

  1. Spread the good word -

How will the brand achieve its vision and stay true to its values? A mission statement combines the purpose, vision and values in a brief declaration directed at management, staff and shareholders. It is a strategic communication that is clearly worded and must be accessible to all. When Baden Powell wrote ‘Scouting for Boys' in 1908 he put into print the ethos and spirit of scouting that has grown to attract 28 million young people in 216 countries today.

  1. A compelling reason -
    Why do I need the brand? The brand proposition is the unique selling point (USP) that differentiates it from its competitors. It is the compelling reason why you need it and should be no more than a single sentence. For example: BMW is the ultimate driving machine.
  1. Position the brand against its competitors -

How does the brand compare with its competitors in its marketplace? In a crowded marketplace, it is difficult to stand out if you are the seventh best-selling brand. The opportunity is to identify the attributes that differentiate your brand and promote your brand as the leader in that category. For example: When James Dyson invented the first cyclonic bagless vacuum cleaner, he created a whole new category.

  1. Don't be anonymous-

What is the brand's character? The brand personality is the brand's distinctive character including communication, behaviour and visual style.  A brand with a strong personality has a greater chance of encouraging a deeper relationship with the consumer. For example: Jamie Oliver is the embodiment of his brand. His passion for food and nutrition and his cheeky attitude run through his work with the restaurants ‘Fifteen' and his Food Ministry.

  1. Empathise with your community -

Who is interested in the brand? Create profiles of who your customers are and the type of people who are interested in working for you or investing in your organisation. Take note of your suppliers and other organisations that you interact with. These are the groups of people that form the brands community. This audience is never passive; it is an interactive community of people with an interest in the brand. You can engage with them through social media; twitter, facebook, linked-in, blogging and a website. For example: Fan clubs are passionate advocates of brands that celebrate the brands past triumphs as well us its latest achievements. Football, Rugby and most sports will have online forums where the fan community can exchange views and news about a brand providing a valuable resource for brand owners.

  1. Don't stand still -

I mentioned continuity at the beginning of this list. Continuity applies to standards and spirit but you will need to keep evolving your products and services to keep the brand alive and relevant. You can't afford to keep selling the same old product and expect your clients to stick by you. For example: Apple continues to innovate and offer new and exciting products. When Steve Jobs launched the Apple iPad he invited us all to decide how best to use it. Sometimes the best products are the ones you didn't even know you needed.

Paul Hitchens

Author of 'Create the Perfect Brand - Teach Tourself'