Branding isn’t just for big corporations. Unfortunately, many freelancers and solopreneurs seem to look at it this way. They think that branding is little more than getting a memorable logo, like McDonald’s or Pepsi.
In reality, these brands are much more than their logos. And you’d better believe that your personal brand as a solopreneur needs to go deeper than a bit of graphic design work. While branding is essential, it’s also hard. So hard, in fact, that you’ll probably make some big-time mistakes — unless you keep reading…
Strong Branding Isn’t As Easy As You’d Think It’d Be…
Look, anybody can buy a logo on Fiverr. But real branding is much more complex…
How complex? Let’s count some of the ways. First, branding is comprised of a lot of different moving parts, which can make it a hard-to-define discipline. Ever heard of brand equity? It’s the level of “sway” or power your brand has in the mind of its consumers. Trying to quantify your personal brand equity isn’t easy, either!
Finally, actual branding strategies are complex — and so are the relationships necessary to make them work. You need to account for changing audience preferences as well so you can stay top of mind with your audience and continue making a favorable impression.
What I’m trying to say is that branding is never a “set it and forget it” exercise. It needs to be a constant part of your overall business strategy.
1. Failing To Define An Actual Brand Strategy (Yes, You Need One)
Mistake number one is when solopreneurs don’t take the time to create a meaningful brand strategy. Defining your brand means you have to get into the nitty gritty of who you are and what your business is all about (as well as what it’s not).
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You do this by looking at your industry’s landscape, particularly the competition your business will face. This tells you how you can strategically position yourself in respect to your competitors.
I recently got some great insights on this during a conversation with fellow lady-boss Maria L. Cordeiro, founder of Studio Goesto. She explained, “That initial definition of your brand strategy is so important because it defines everything else you will do to grow your business. Public relations, social media and content marketing, influencer outreach — all of that must tie back to your brand strategy. A well-defined brand helps you make the right decisions regarding which partnerships or strategies work best for growth.”
Know this now: a brand strategy that’s only based on “aesthetic appeal” is destined to fail.
2. Not Identifying (And Connecting With) The Right Audience From The Get-Go
Like it or not, the kind of branding that appeals to you might not necessarily appeal to your target audience. Yeah, you might think their tastes are lame — but they might think the same thing about your preferred branding.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, you need to dig deep to figure out just who your audience is. Start with the basics. You need to know how old they are, what their general interests are, what they do for a living and what kind of financial standing they’re in.
More important, however, is understanding their most pressing needs and how you can meet them. When you understand how your services fit in with your target audience’s life, you can speak to them in a way that connects. On the other hand, if you’re not sure who your brand should speak to, your message isn’t going to reach the right people.
3. Consistency Is Key (But Most Brands Completely Forget About This)
Consistency is essential for building strong relationships with your clients. It means you follow through on the things you say you’ll do, and that you’re reliable in responding to their questions and concerns.
In a similar manner, consistency can make all the difference for your branding. Yes, this applies to aesthetic things like your logo and brand colors. But it also applies to your messaging and content — everything from blog posts to emails.
If you’re not consistent, your customers will lose trust in your brand. How can they expect consistency from your services if your messaging and focus seem to change week after week? Worse yet, they may lose interest in you or forget about you because an inconsistent identity has made you difficult to remember.
I’ve seen this happen all too often. While a total rebrand is sometimes necessary, if you never settle on an identity, you’ll never form those meaningful connections that are the building blocks for success.
Don’t become the wrong kind of case study for other brand-builders. Be consistent.
Time For Mistake-Free Branding!
Time for a dirty little secret: even when you keep these important principles in mind, you’ll probably still make your fair share of branding mistakes.
That’s okay. As long as you don’t make some completely boneheaded moves, you should at least be starting with a decent foundation for creating a good personal brand. Next, you can refine and improve your branding to better match your own personality, your business offerings and the expectations and needs of your target audience.
With the right parts in place, you’ll be able to create a memorable and authentic brand that instantly appeals to your target audience.