Branding. No longer confined to the realms of logo and packaging (and cattle) but also now to concepts, ideas, and even individuals. Back in the day branding was used to mark ownership of something or to show allegiance with a certain gang or tribe. Nowadays the term ‘brand’ is much more rooted in presenting the overall ‘vibe’ of a person or business, a way of distinguishing one vendor from another.
It’s also not just about a logo and colour scheme, although those are important (and fun) factors in branding. It’s about defining and sharing a unique set of values that represent your character as a brand, what the consumer can expect from you, the quality of your product, your ethics and what you stand for. Put simply, good branding builds trust. The more we know about your brand upfront, the more likely we are to trust, engage and finally… part with our cash and purchase your awesome product / services.
‘But I’m just a one-man band’ I can hear you thinking ‘Do I really need to think about branding myself?’… The short answer is – hell yes. The marketplace is huge, made even bigger by social media, taking that into consideration I believe that one of the only ways we can stand out is by having a super strong brand identity – something, I myself am still working on. I hope it goes without saying that it’s really important that this brand identity comes from you, don’t rush out and try to emulate another brand that you love, people will see through it and ultimately you’ll just be selling yourself short. I mean, what’s to say that your brand can’t be even better than that one that you look up to and admire?
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” Jeff Bezos Founder of Amazon
The point of this post is to simply put branding at the forefront of your mind for the next few days. Think about your mission statement, if you haven’t got one then spend a little time creating one, figure out what it is that you want to be known for. If you already know that, then work on making it as powerfully concise as possible. Brevity is definitely required here, think of it as your 15-second elevator pitch. Once you know what your mission statement is, it will help to guide you through difficult business decisions such as which clients to pursue and which to pass on. Keeping you focused when you begin to feel yourself pulled in a million different directions. Having a strong mission statement means the difference between creating relevant and ‘on brand’ content and just spewing words out into the worldwide web, willy-nilly.
When creating your mission statement, think about the following;
Once the ink has dried on your mission statement and you feel focused and sure of the direction you want to be heading in, time to see how it measures up to your current identity. Take a look at your website, your social media channels, your online voice (what you say and who you say it to), your ‘work’ wardrobe… Do all of those separate elements support your mission statement? Are they telling people clearly what it is you’re about, or could they do with some editing to make sure the overall picture is a cohesive one? What small steps can you take to tighten things up?
This is getting wordy so I’ll stop here but as you can probably see – branding is a massive, complex and extremely important area of business development that is deserved of your time and attention, even whilst flat out building your successful freelance career / small biz. If you get the chance, have a think about the points mentioned above and see what small steps you can take right now to improve your brand identity.
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