Branding 101 for Freelancers: Making sure you stand out from the crowd

Posted on 06. Jul, 2011 by in Marketing

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Branding 101 for Freelancers: Making sure you stand out from the crowd

If someone asked you what your brand said about you and your freelance business, could you tell them? Do you understand what branding means? Do you realize that you have a brand, even if you don’t have a logo or a tagline for your business?

Your brand is the perception people have about you and your business based on the information they receive about you. It is a promise of the benefits a business will receive by engaging your services. It is communicated through visual aids such as a logo, brochure, website or stationary items, and also the way you present yourself, write proposals and emails.

In what can be a very competitive field, having a clearly defined brand is an ideal way for freelancers to set themselves apart from the competition, stand out from the crowd and justify higher rates of pay. The best thing is that it doesn’t have to cost your life savings to do!

Find your unique selling point

What is it that makes you the only person for a client’s job? Why are you better, faster, more professional and the best value for money? Having a unique selling point is an ideal way to distinguish yourself from other freelancers and justify your higher rates of pay.

Your unique selling point needs to:

  • be specific and to the point
  • be unique
  • sell your services

Saying something like: ‘John’s Writing Services can help you with all your copywriting needs’ doesn’t actually set John apart from everyone else offering copywriting services – it’s certainly not unique and doesn’t really sell John’s services.

However, something like ‘Delivering your writing jobs on time, every time – guaranteed!’ differentiates John by guaranteeing that his work will be delivered on time in an efficient and professional manner.

If you operate within a specific niche, you may want to go even further and sell yourself as an expert in this area, such as: ‘Sue’s Tech  Translations – English to Japanese Technical Writing Translation from a Qualified Engineer and Writer.”

Your unique selling point becomes your business tagline that can be used in conjunction with a logo to provide a positive first impression of your business.

Designing a logo

Getting a logo is the first step to take in terms of your visual branding. Your logo should be a unique visual representation of what you do and reflect the values, benefits and promises you want to communicate to your potential clients.

Your logo should be something that clients and the general public can easily identify with your business. It should make sense. If your freelance business is called ‘Sue’s Web Services’ and you target market is small professional businesses, having a logo that features a chicken on a bicycle is not going to convey the right messages.

It is important to research and brainstorm before designing your logo. Some things to consider are:

  • What values, messages, promises and image do you want to convey to your potential clients through your logo?
  • What colours might you like to use as part of your visual branding?
  • Where will you use the logo – on your stationary, a website, in a brochure?
  • Do you want your unique selling point incorporated into your logo design?

You can get a logo designed from as little as $50 from a freelance designer.  Before you engage any designer, make sure you check out their portfolio of past work and get a clearly defined quote of what you will receive for your money.  It is also good to get a cost for additional changes and alterations that may be required.

Before deciding on your unique selling point or designing your logo, make sure you check to see whether your ideas have already been trademarked by another business.

Customise your business stationary

Once you have your logo and tagline organised, you can begin customising your business stationary.  Add your logo and tagline to your:

  • email signature
  • quotes
  • invoices
  • online profiles and forum signatures
  • letters
  • envelopes
  • blog
  • universal avatar

This will begin to give your business communications a consistent look and feel, making them easily identifiable as yours.

Present yourself

You can have the most professional, modern and engaging logo and tagline but still fail in the branding stakes if you don’t align yourself with your brand.

If you are selling your freelance business as an efficient, professional service, make sure that you don’t miss deadlines or Skype with clients in your PJs. This sends mixed messages and more often than not, your actions will speak louder than words!

On the same note, it is important to ensure your voicemail and answering machine recordings are professional as this can be the first contact a client has with you – you want to make a good first impression.  State your name and/or business name on the recording and let people know that you are currently unavailable but will return their call as soon as possible.  A simple ‘Leave a message’ is not enough when dealing with business clients.  Also ensure your email address is appropriate. A client may not feel comfortable trusting their important project with sexymama@xyz.com!

Building your brand takes time.  You need to continually reinforce your values, benefits and promises through the effective use of visual aids and your own values and presentation.  It is important to operate your business with integrity to build trust and loyalty with clients and sources that send you work. Always be honest about your experience and ability to complete a client’s job to the standard required. Be loyal to your sources of work while completing projects they give you. If your employer asks you to work on one of their client’s projects, don’t poach the client from them by offering cheaper services (at least not within a reasonable timeframe after the jobs completion) and never put your client at risk by plagiarising work. This will help to brand your business as a professional, trustworthy and loyal service that is set apart from the competition.

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