5 Rarely Remembered Rules for Building Your Freelance Brand
Having a strong brand can be a game-changer for your freelance business.
Good brands command respect and establish a reputation. They establish your presence in the marketplace. When questions arise like “where can I find a good freelance writer” or “where do I go to get my website redesigned” … strong brands immediately come to mind.
So how do you build your brand? What rules of branding should you follow?
It takes time and effort, of course, but here are 5 often overlooked rules to remember when branding your freelance business…
1. Brands need boundaries.
It’s tempting to claim that you can handle any client.
“We have a solution for everyone.”
“Whatever you need, we can make it work.”
But in reality, it’s better to set boundaries for your brand. Saying what you won’t do is just as important as saying what you will do because it gives people a reason to remember you.
For example, a new freelancer came to me the other day with a few questions because he wanted to start a photography business. He wanted to do wedding and engagement photos, but not in the traditional way. His idea was to do fun geeky/tech sort of photos. Like where the bride and groom want their engagement photos to have a Star Wars theme or a zombie theme or something of that sort.
Now, that’s not my style, but it is a killer brand. That’s a photographer that you’re going to remember. And if you have friends that are getting engaged and love Harry Potter or LOST or Twilight, you might mention that guy to them.
His brand isn’t for everyone and that’s why you remember it.
2. Actions reinforce branding.
You can claim that your brand is x, y, or z … but if you don’t back it up with actions, then your image is just words and pictures.
Brands come to life when they are supported by the actions of the business.
Brands come to life when they are supported by the actions of the business. If you want a brand that clients believe in, then you need to back it up with the way you go about your business.
You can’t claim to have incredible customer service if you don’t give clients the time of day. You can’t claim to strive for perfection if you just ship over your first draft. You can’t claim to always deliver if you send the final version over two days late.
Brand are either reinforced by actions or destroyed by them. Make sure your actions are sending the right signal.
3. Brands evolve.
You might think that your brand is set in stone, but it’s actually quite flexible.
It’s easy to think, “This is what I’ve always been. I can’t change now.” But that’s not true. Even large businesses — Apple, for example — reinvent themselves over and over again as time goes on.
As a freelancer, you need to do the same to make sure that you stay relevant. Improve your skills by staying up to date on the necessary technology. Revise your portfolio to ensure that you’re always highlighting your best work.
Brands stay relevant by evolving over time. Make sure that you’re doing the same.
4. Your brand exists for the customer, not for you.
It can be a lot of fun to build your brand and carve out your own space in the freelance world. In the beginning, it feels like you’re creating your own mini-empire.
But don’t stay wrapped up in your own world for too long.
The purpose of a brand is to support your customers, not your ego.
The purpose of a brand is to support your customers, not your ego. You job is to make your clients look good. If your brand doesn’t support that cause, then you’re business is going to struggle to support you.
Don’t be afraid to jump in and do what needs to be done. That won’t always make you look glamorous (and maybe it isn’t the glorified role that you had in mind), but it will make you useful.
Check your ego at the door and become a problem solver for your clients. That strategy will help any brand.
5. You are your brand.
It can be hard to “live your business” all the time, but it comes with the freelancing territory.
If you’re in a bad mood and meet someone for the first time (out to eat or at a party, for example), then you’re not putting on a good show for your business.
Everyone is a potential client, and while none of us are perfect, it’s your responsibility to put your best foot forward as often as possible.
If your attitude is inconsistent, then your brand image will be inconsistent as well. That’s the life of freelancers and solopreneurs. You are your brand, whether you like it or not.
What steps have you taken to build your brand? Leave a comment and tell us.