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Branding: How to Get Clear on What You’re All About

Sure, you’ve made some moves networking. But when your connections start reaching out, can you convey your brand and business to them in a snappy one-liner? How does one build a brand when you’re just getting started?

There’s a myth out there that if you’re a small business owner, or a freelancer, you don’t need branding. Or you can’t afford it.

I don’t agree at all. As a freelancer it’s even more important to brand yourself so that you–and your business–can have a visible, recognizable face.

How to get clear on what you're all about for your freelance business.

Working on your brand and designing it is a lot of work. It can be a long process. But ultimately it’s a wise investment, because you will develop the clarity, the voice and the visuals that represent you.

So what is branding? Well, it isn’t your logo. And it isn’t your company colours or even the elements that will be going on your website. Branding is really about stepping back and thinking about “the big picture.”  You’ll be doing some hard thinking, and some soul-searching, and mostly, you will be gaining clarity about your business and how you want to share it with your audience.

Branding is really about defining your business, what you want to accomplish, what you see in the future for it, and developing that vision. So it may take a little while to get to that clarity exactly right.

To develop your brand it will help you to answer the questions below.

The key is to specific, brief and clear. This exercise is for you–no one else will see this. It’s to help YOU gain clarity.

  • What is your business about? (a few words, 1 sentence maximum)
  • What have buyers come to expect from your product or service?
  • What is the problem you solve for your clients/customers?
  • What is your promise to your customers/clients?
  • What is the one SINGLE WORD or CONCEPT that you want to be known for?
  • Why should people to come to you and ONLY you?
  • What do you stand for?

Most people don’t take the time to do this simple exercise. And that’s what keeps them from getting clear.

Think of Victoria’s Secret: their brand is sex appeal. Period. Simple.

Now think about this company’s branding statement:

“Profitable growth through superior customer service, innovation, quality, and commitment.”

If you think about it, the statement above says nothing. It is so generic that it is unlikely to get any emotional response from an audience. And if you read carefully, they provide exactly what you would expect from any business. That’s hardly a rock to build your house on.

When you work on the answers to the question above, ideally you should arrive at a statement that describes your brand in one or two words, or one sentence. If someone ask you what your brand is, and it takes you 30, 45, 60 seconds to explain–then you are not clear on what your brand is.   

Getting to that kind of brevity and clarity will make your marketing life much easier. Because once you know exactly what you stand for, it will be much easier for you to tell the whole world.

You don’t need fancy words; you don’t need a philosophical, drawn out vision statement that uses fancy, esoteric (and often vague) language.

What you need is a clear, strong, guiding message that lets everyone (including you) know exactly what you deliver.

Loreto Cheyne Loreto Cheyne is the principal and owner of Lola Design, an Ottawa-based (Canada) graphic design studio. Loreto is a graduate of Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning Graphic Design program. Her area of expertise is brand image design. For the past ten years she has focused on creating the visual identities of service professionals in Ottawa. Her previous experience in print technology, print production, project management, as well as customer service, makes her an invaluable resource to her clients.

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