Branding on a Budget Checklist: How To Do Branding On The Cheap

Image of Heart BrandingUse this Branding on a Budget Checklist to make your company’s branding consistent.

And branding is shorthand that extends beyond your visual logo and advertising.

Because branding is your organization’s connective tissue. It touches every aspect of your business, not just your marketing. So incorporate it into your overall business strategy.

Regardless of your business size, you do branding whether you realize it or not. I’ve worked with not-for-profits who say we can’t afford branding. To me this is an excuse for not maximizing your investment because your brand is everywhere from the way your building or storefront looks to how you treat your customers.

So use this Branding on a Budget Checklist to ensure that your brand is consistent even if you do it on the cheap.

Remember—Your brand contributes to your business assets on your Balance Sheet!

Branding on a Budget Checklist: 20+ Points To Consider

Even without any marketing budget dedicated to branding, your business gets branded.

Every element associated with your business conveys an image and supports your organization’s positioning. So why not make sure that your audience has a consistent and branded experience?

Further, without branding guidelines, you lose time and resources since your employees, advertising agencies and freelancers try to figure out what you need in each case.

To ensure everyone knows what to do, use this 20+ point branding budget checklist to keep your brand consistent, even if you do it on the cheap!

What Are Your People-Focused Branding Considerations?


  • How do you treat other employees?
  • What type of behavior and language are acceptable?
  • Do you have rules in your employee manual that are in line with your brand?

Dress code:

  • Since employees are your firm’s representatives, how do you expect them to dress?
  • Do you give them a uniform or can they wear t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops?

Human contact:

  • How are your business’s telephones answered? What do individuals say who use their own smartphones?
  • How are visitors greeted and treated?
  • Is there a guard at the entrance?
  • Are there guidelines for how customers and the public are to be treated? Remember inclusivity matters a lot!


  • Does your organization present or participate in programs? If so, do they reflect your brand?
  • How does your firm’s affiliation get presented? What about hashtags and other elements?

Third party representation.

  • Which services do you use? Include customer service, order taking, online chat and/or other options.
  • How is your firm introduced?
  • What conversational guidelines are used?
  • Who is responsible for monitoring these services and ensuring that they’re in line with your mandates?

On the road:

  • Do your firm’s vehicles have a consistent look and feel?
  • Do they promote your company?

How Do You Brand Your Physical Locations?


  • Is the look of your retail operation consistent with your brand?
  • What’s in your store window?
  • How is your brand represented in your external and internal signage?
  • How are products arranged?
  • What staff are in the retail outlet? Is there a guard present? If so, why and how does his presence align with your brand and offering?

Physical non-retail location:

  • How is the building maintained?
  • What do offices look like?
  • What type of furniture and lighting is in public areas and executive offices?
  • Is there signage?
  • Is there a receptionist or other person to greet visitors? Do visitors need to have appointments in advance and be signed in by building security? (Note: This is the case in most New York City buildings.)

Shopping bags:

  • What do your shopping bags and other packaging look like? Do customers have to purchase them?
  • Is the company information on the shopping bags consistent with your brand?

What Are Your Branding Guidelines For Other Marketing Formats?


  • How is your brand presented in photographs?
  • Who is featured and how are they dressed?
  • Do you use celebrities? If so, are they aligned with your brand? Also, do you need contracts?


  • Who represents your brand and why?
  • Are all elements of the video aligned with your brand? Include both visual and audio logos as well as other sounds and music.

Advertising or paid promotion

  • Does your organization’s logo appear? If the ad runs on a platform where sound is available do you have an audio logo and other related audio branding?
  • Is the wording consistent with your brand?
  • Is other corporate information included?

Premiums, such as bags and t-shirts.

  • Do these items use your brand’s colors?
  • Do they have a consistent level of quality?
  • Do they represent your brand?


What Are Your Branding Guidelines For Offline Materials?

Brochures and related collateral:

  • Are these print items in line with your brand? Think in terms of the color, size, paper and presentation.
  • Do they look consistent? Do you include your logo and related information?

Business cards:

  • Do you use your firm’s colors, logo, typeface and information. I’ve seen organizations where everyone does their own thing when it comes to business cards.

On-going printed materials include stationary, newsletters, invoices, and other items.

  • How does your company information and logo appear?

One-time printed materials include items that are used once such as invitations and flyers.

  • Is your paper color, stock and ink consistent?
  • Is the company information and typeface in line with your branding guidelines.

Are Your Digital Platforms Aligned With Your Branding Checklist?


  • Is your online presence consistent with your offline brand?
  • Does your URL represent your brand?
  • Do you continue the same brand elements such as typeface and color scheme? Think in terms of who you’re targeting and the key search terms used?
  • How is the content presented?
  • Is the writing’s voice in line with your brand?

Online communications such as email, newsletters, messaging and other forms of contact like bills and receipts.

  • What is your email etiquette?
  • How do employees use their signature files?
  • Are there any guidelines and/or formats?

Social media:

  • How is your company presented on these platforms?
  • Are your company’s social media accounts branded?
  • Who represents your company? Do they get special training? Do you have regular office hours?
  • Does your organization have social media guidelines?

Branding on a Budget Checklist Conclusion

While major companies may have big budgets to accompany their branding efforts, every organization has the ability to enhance their branding with little if any additional cost.

If you’re not thinking about your brand, this makes a negative, non-memorable statement about your organization.

Further, you’re missing out on an opportunity to stand out at little or no cost. So why not maximize what you’re doing?

What can you add to this list of areas to brand your organization and why?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on February 25, 2011 under the title, “How to Do Branding Without a Budget”. It has been significantly updated and expanded.

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