“Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business” Steve Forbes, editor of Forbes business magazine
“Branding is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” – Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO Amazon
You might think that brand identity is a concern only for big companies, or that, as a small business, you can’t afford to spend a lot of money on flashy marketing. But building a brand identity is all about communicating a consistent message about who you are and what you do, and it needn’t cost any money at all. This blog explores the basics of brand identity for contractors and freelancers and offers some simple principles for building a unified brand around your core asset: you!
As the quotes above tell us, branding isn’t a one-time marketing exercise. Rather, every encounter that a client or potential client has with your business should be considered part of your branding. Every interaction is an opportunity to build a positive relationship, and to communicate your story, values and benefits.
Who are your customers? Find out as much about them as possible, and try to harness their interests and the things that they respond to positively in your branding. It can help you to create a profile of your target audience as a core business document that you can refer back to when making strategic decisions about the direction of your business. Consider what other brands successfully target this audience – what are they doing in terms of branding? How can you emulate their success? How can you make yourself stand out?
Personality and Values
How do you want your brand to come across to your audience? Elite? Playful? Reliable? If your brand was a person, what three words would their friends use to describe them? Again, it can be helpful to document these and display them somewhere prominent in your workspace so you can refer back to them as you go about the day-to-day operations of your business.
Stories are among the most powerful tools we have as human beings. As a contractor, you are uniquely placed to harness the power of stories, a strong individual protagonist as the main character in your own business journey. Practice telling the story of who you are and how you came to be doing what you’re doing – it can be a very convincing marketing tool.
While it can be tempting to start your branding by creating a flashy logo, picking a company font and experimenting with a trendy colour palette, really this should be tackled once you have determined all of the above elements of your brand. The best visual brand identities are designed to communicate your brand elements as holistically as possible – it’s no good pairing a “playful” brand identity with an austere and dark-coloured logo. Using Comic Sans MS on all your business documents doesn’t give off an aura of an elite service. So focus first on story, personality and audience, and then work on curating a visual identity that reflects the brand values that you’ve set out.
Voice and tone
Every communication with a client or potential client says something about your brand: emails, your website, social media and even how you answer the phone. Draw up a set of guidelines for yourself (and any employees) to follow, again based around how you communicate the core values and ethos of your brand.
Actions speak louder than words
You can spout narratives about your business until the proverbial cows come home, but unless your actions back them up, you’re not building your brand in a positive way. What counts is what you do, and how you do it. Again, apply these principles to all aspects of your business. For example, one positive action your can take is to reassure clients about your professionalism and their protection – with simple, compliant, comprehensive business insurance from Kingsbridge. Visit our website for a quick quote.