Branding needs to be taken very seriously, even — and especially — by solopreneurs. When branding is successful, clients will pay for the perceived value rather than the actual value of your service.
Brand yourself attractively, and clients will be prepared to pay a higher price for your service because they perceive it as an added value to their own business.
Branding has two components:
These can be images you use, logos, fonts, icons, and colors.
The psychological component refers to what customers perceive when they are in touch with your brand, and the brand experience you offer them.
It is important that your branding is consistent. There’s nothing worse than getting a business card with purple flowers on a yellow background to only then visit the person’s website and find it is red with blue writing and a completely different design.
This is sure to make potential clients wonder if you will tackle their project with the same inconsistent, haphazard approach. So brand consistency across all your collateral is an absolute must.
The aim of branding is to create familiarity, which will in turn create trust, and once clients trust you, this will convert to sales. Ultimately, business transactions are still done by humans, and of course people only buy from people they trust.
Four steps to branding success:
Bear in mind the following four principles of successful branding:
1) Brand identity
This is your brand personality. How do you want to be perceived by (potential) clients and peers? It’s important to realize that you can create your brand around your personality. As freelancers, there’s no need to try and become someone else. Stay true to yourself and be who you are. This will also make your brand more credible.
2) Brand consistency
As already mentioned, brand consistency is essential. Take care that your website, brochures, business cards, Facebook page, personal appearance, the way you present yourself, etc. are all homogenous and consistent to avoid confusing and driving away potential clients.
3) Brand recognition
Simply put: get your brand seen, and be everywhere where your target audience is. Once you’ve identified your ideal client and have researched them, start getting your name out there using a targeted approach. Your market will think you are everywhere, which will again boost your credibility.
4) Brand engagement
Unlike just a few years ago, today is all about brand engagement. Any small business owner should be active on social media, participate in forum discussions, write a blog or at least comment on other blogs, have a video blog, and so forth.
This type of online presence is good for SEO purposes and will drive traffic to your website. It is also crucial to engage with your followers or ‘fans’ to make them feel part of your business and enhance their brand experience.
The freelance market is undoubtedly very crowded. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of freelancers in any field imaginable, so it is very important that you stand out from the crowd. You need to offer something that sets you apart from your direct competitors and gets you noticed. This is referred to as your unique selling proposition (USP).
Don’t try to compete on factors you cannot influence such as location or, to some extent, price. You can’t change where competing freelancers are based and what they choose to charge. Instead, define your very own point of difference. What makes your business unique?
Here’s a little exercise you can do to help you narrow down your USP. Ask ten people (clients, prospects, or even peers):
“What would make working with me even more attractive?”
This simple question will tell you exactly what your (prospective) clients want, so you can go out and give them exactly that. A sure-fire way to become their preferred supplier!
Originally published in The Innovation