While these tasks may seem daunting or even impossible, by properly branding your freelance business you can accomplish all of the objectives listed above and more. Good branding effectively communicates what your business is about, motivates buyers, and builds customer loyalty.
In this post, we will introduce you to the concept of branding. We will also identify five quick methods that you can apply right away to improve your brand. Finally, we’ll share some thoughts about branding that you might not have realized before.
What is Branding?
Many freelancers associate branding with having an attractive logo, a catchy slogan, or a popular website. There’s much more to branding, though.
Strictly speaking, branding refers to how others perceive your freelancing business. Branding helps your customers and prospective customers realize how your freelancing business is different from every other business that offers similar products or services.
To find your brand message, ask yourself this question — “what is my business really all about?” Chances are, when you answer this question you will also have a good idea of how to brand your freelancing business.
Now that we understand what branding is, let’s take a look at how a freelancer can build his or her brand.
Five Branding Tips for Freelancers
There is so much information available on how to brand a business that branding their freelancing business can seem like an overwhelming task for many freelancers (so much so, that some freelancers who I know don’t bother with branding at all).
It doesn’t have to be that way, though.
Here are five basic steps to help you start branding your freelancing business today:
- Homework — Do your homework. Ask the question above so that you can focus your efforts on what your business is really about. Developing a mission or vision statement is also helpful.
- Target — Determine who your target market really is and focus your branding efforts primarily towards that group.
- Simple — Keep your branding message simple. The simpler the message that you are trying to convey, the better… Long, complex messages tend to confuse customers or get mistranslated.
- Consistency — Above all, be consistent with the message that you are sending to the public. Sending an inconsistent message will confuse your audience and dilute your brand.
- Presence — In order to brand your freelancing business you first need to have a presence in the marketplace. If you haven’t already done so, establish a website and social media presence.
If this list seems like an awful lot of work, remember that you can tackle these tasks in small pieces over time. Try writing a mission statement one month, determining your target market the next month, building a website the third month, and so on, until all of the branding tasks are complete.
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of branding, let look at how your behavior impacts your branding. One of the key ways that behavior and branding combine is through social media.
Social Media, Branding, and You
Social media provides an unparalleled opportunity for you to reach your target market with your brand at little or no cost. However, it’s also easy to get carried away with social media and forget that what you do or say there could potentially impact your freelancing brand. It’s important to remember to be careful what you share.
Consider the following scenarios and the possible damaging impact that the freelancer’s behavior could have on that freelancer’s brand:
- Freelancer A tweets that they will be late turning in their project because they put it off until the last minute. Unfortunately, they forgot a) to tell their client that the project would be late and b) that this client follows their tweets.
- Freelancer B posts funny (to them) pictures from their wild high school days on their Facebook account. However, Freelancer B has allowed several clients, including one very conservative one, to friend them on Facebook.
- Freelancer C vents about a difficult client on a publicly accessible message board, giving details about their project as well as sharing proprietary client information in the thread.
Can these social media faux pas affect how a freelancer is perceived (and ultimately damage their brand)?
You bet they can. While in some instances a client is willing to overlook a social media misstep, there are other times when social media carelessness could cost you a client.
The bottom line is that it’s a good idea to be careful about what you tweet and post on social media. If you are unsure about whether you should post something, just don’t do it.
What Do You Think?
We’ve explained what branding is. We’ve also looked at some ways that you can start branding your freelancing business today. Finally, we’ve examined how social media can impact your brand.
Now it’s your turn. Share how branding has affected your freelancing business. Leave your answers in the comments.
Image by nickwheeleroz