Given the nature of competition and media prices, branding has traditionally been expensive. It has been expensive not only in monetary terms, but also in terms of consistency in efforts required over a long period of time. While this second type of cost (time plus effort) is still relevant today, not all successful brands now have to spend a fortune in order to brand their products. The advent of social media and other creative communication strategies have already put their landmark in creating big effects with shoestring budgets.
Is social media the answer? Well, it can act in both ways. A dull and non-interactive non-sharing message can quickly get lost under the pile of ads and statuses. On the other hand, a creative and exciting message can trigger shares, likes and comments to make it viral globally. Blendtech has been a classic case of branding on a shoestring budget. The brand blended weird things like i-phones and golf balls to show its powerful motor (video). More recent viral promotion could be the Volvo’s live test videos of its trucks. In one of those videos, Van Damme performed his epic split by standing on side-mirrors of two reversely driven trucks! No wonder the video got over 80 million views (video).
Here is the trick in using social media on a shoestring budget. It has to be uniquely executed with unforeseen creativity and story. The “wow” factor is the key in triggering the viral spread of the message. Of course, social media could be inexpensive compared to traditional media. But the main part of the “cost” that brands need to carry is the investment in creativity and execution. Social media might not charge you for uploading a video, but hiring Van Damme is not cheap. Creating a story and hiring stunt directors aren’t cheap either. Overall, that is still cheaper because brands do not have to go for placing in traditional media at high rates. Shoestring budget can still work wonders if it contains superb wow factors.