In order to define how to establish, develop, and maintain your freelance brand, the first task must be to define what a brand actually is. In this fifth article in the series ‘Becoming a Better Freelancer’ I suggest a definition relevant to freelancers and look at how you can create and grow your brand; whilst letting everyone know just how great you are (you rock by the way).
WhatIs.com defines a brand as ‘a product, service, or concept that is publicly distinguished from other products, services, or concepts so that it can be easily communicated and usually marketed. A brand name is the name of the distinctive product, service, or concept. Branding is the process of creating and disseminating the brand name.’
Wikipedia’s take is that a brand is ‘the personality that identifies a product, service or company (name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or combination of them) and how it relates to key constituencies: customers, staff, partners, investors etc.’
For me the key phrases to highlight from both of these definitions are ‘publicly distinguished from other products’ and ‘the personality that defines a product’. In essence, the key to your freelance brand is YOU and your reputation.
“The key to your freelance brand is YOU and your reputation”
Assuming that you will be doing everything in your power to maintain and enhance your reputation, the key steps to consider are how you develop your brand and ‘get it out there’.
Establishing your brand – creating
A US company – The Creative Group offer some fantastic tips on the visual aspects of your brand (see their article here) and the key points to take away (and add to) are the need for your brand to represent everything that you stand for; and the need for consistency of use.
The Furious Engineer logo was created almost 4 years ago now – and although I have resisted the urge to change it thus far I accept that it will morph with time (albeit instantly attributable and linked to the original logo).
The logo was designed by an artist who was ‘moonlighting’ with freelance work (and hence very good value for money – ask around for referrals) – and the wrench can be seen as ‘all encompassing arms’ (total safety); with the colours chosen to represent trustworthiness and reliability. Whatever graphical illustration you use to represent your brand, you must ensure a consistent approach on all of your products (social media, stationery etc.).
But a brand is more than just a logo – it must honestly and uncompromisingly represent ‘who you are’. Be clear from the outset what your principles are – and what you are prepared to tolerate and compromise on. Determine what your outlook is, how you wish to be perceived by potential clients, the type of work you wish to attract, and establish your USP (Unique Selling Point).
Outline your brand
That you often only get one chance to make a first impression is an oft-cited cliché; and in this digital world you may only get one chance to pitch your brand to a potential client – before they move on to look at another (your competitors).
As suggested by learn.onemonth.com you should make it clear whether you ‘design websites’ or ‘bring brands into the digital age’. If you were a client, which offering would more readily catch your eye? Outlining your brand is more than just ‘I’m a freelance engineer’ – you need to identify your client base and be smart about how you pitch your services. And once you’ve established ‘what you’re about’, rehearse it until it is imprinted on your mind – write it down and re-read it until the words are scorched onto your retinas!
The best quote I have ever heard on brands comes from Jeff Bezos:
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room”
Social Media is a great tool for getting your brand out there – as is effective networking (see the linked articles for some great tips). But what about those unplanned or spontaneous introductions to a potential client? Do you have a great elevator pitch? You may think that you do, but unless you have read ‘The Ultimate Elevator Pitch’ by David Holland, you can’t yet say that you’ve nailed it.
So, to recap:
- Establish what your brand stands for
- Create a pictorial representation of this for your logo
- Clearly (and smartly) articulate what you do and how
- Get your brand widely known through networking and social media
- Know your USP and have a great elevator pitch ready…
If you’re an experienced freelancer, how have you created and disseminated your freelance brand? Have I missed anything? Why not let everyone have the benefits of your experience by giving your top tips in the comments section below.
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