[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]I[/su_dropcap]’m sure most of you already know this, but just to make sure we’re all on the same page, branding is the art (and it really is an artform) of distinguishing one thing from the rest.
Branding: It’s how you stand out from the crowd. For freelancers and new business owners, it is the art of carving out your own personal identity. It is what represents who you are and sets you apart from your competitors. Your brand will be the first impression that potential clients will see. It will help you get projects, increase sales, and build your business.
To start, remember that branding is not a million dollar logo. It’s not a catchy name or even a customized font. Branding is you. It’s what you do, what you say, and how you do and say it. Branding starts with building strong relationships with your customers. It is all about creating a business identity for yourself.
Make no mistake though – at it’s core, branding can be the deciding factor in a potential client choosing your over another company. At it’s very basic, you will need a logo, a name, a website, and a set of visual identifiers that distinguish you from the rest. When done correctly, branding can lead to more work, satisfied customers, and premium pricing. This is why it should be one of the top priorities for any business.
So where do you start? The best place is to decide what you stand for. What do you want people to know you for? The easiest way to make this decision is to sit down and create a list of all the attributes you’d like to have. (ie, Reliable, Trustworthy, Dedicated, Punctual, Honest, Hardworking… etc) Once you’ve completed this list, choose one or two that you’d really like to focus on. You can still encompass all of the adjective that you listed, but your objective is to own one or two, so when people think “Reliable” your name instantly comes to mind. Now, take that word and try to incorporate it into everything you do. This word will become your core value. It’s how people will identify you.
Remember: building a brand takes time. It’s not something that happens overnight. However, it’s important to remain constant so that as you grow and create more business there is a unified theme and an underlying message for your customers to identify with.
Now that you know your focus and you got your “word“, it’s time to find a name. For those of you just starting out, there are a few things you should consider:
- Make sure it’s easy to spell and pronounce: you don’t want people going to the wrong website just because you decided to use a “z” instead of an “s” and a “3” instead of an “E”.
- Keep it clean and memorable: even if your demographic is hard-core rockstars, make sure they can talk about you in front of their grandma. Word of mouth is one of the greatest advertising methods out there, you don’t want to cripple yourself from the start.
- Don’t forget to be unique: remember, the whole point of branding is to stand out from the crowd.
- Discuss it: once you think you’ve decided on the perfect name, try it out. Tell people about it; ask opinions. Sometimes when we’re right in the middle of brainstorming we can’t hear/see from an outside perspectives. (ie: “Farr Truccess Designs” when said outloud also sounds like “Fart Ruckus Designs”, not exactly what you want to be known for. (True story. Sorry Aaron.))
Once you got the name down, it’s time to move on to the graphic elements. The most important thing to remember here is that every piece should be part of the whole. Your colors, fonts, slogans, pictures, styles, etc… should all be consistent across the board. Your business card should match your letterhead, should match your website, should match your email signature, and so on and so forth. This consistency will create a very professional image and make it easier for your clients to recognize you.
The next thing you need to do is build your reputation. This takes time and requires some serious determination and hard-work, but in the end it is totally worth it. Always remember to focus on your “word” when creating anything or interacting with your clients. Although at times it can be difficult, building a good reputation will benefit you in the end. If people like to work with you, you will get more business, you will get more jobs, and your pricing will begin to reflect that.
As one freelancer/small business owner to another, I wish you all the very best of luck with your goals. I hope this little article helps in some way and that you continue to grow your businesses and enjoy your passions. For me, freelancing is the best decision I ever made. It has allowed me to express my creativity, make amazing connections, and improved my outlook on life itself. However, with that said, it does has it’s ups and downs. Remember to stay confident in yourself and your skills/abilities and stay sharp; always try to improve yourself. The most important thing though: have fun and enjoy the process!!