I like to talk about the importance of brand when it comes to presenting our products and services to our target market and the world.

It is vital that, case in the current climate, sickness where people are clambering over each other to be seen, independent creatives take deliberate action in modelling a clearly defined brand for themselves.

People tell me that simply ‘being yourself’ is enough, for how you present your business to be called a brand. And this is certainly an important element of a brand, but there are more elements that make up a strong, recognisable brand.

The following are some ideas for clarifying the brand you are already building…

1. Identify your personal ‘quirks’ and make use of them

Your interesting traits, preferences and quirks are like fuel for a good brand. Have a think about what is particularly unique to you, and build it into how you present your brand’s message.

Author Seth Godin is particularly good at making his shiny bald head (one full of awesome insight) a part of his brand and a huge part of what makes him memorable.

2. Show you give a damn about presentation

Make sure that every aspect of how you present yourself, from your business cards, to your website, to your social media profile, shows care and effort.

Show that you care about your brand, your service and the people you deal with. This manifests itself in the smallest details, more than anything else.

3. Tidy Up

Tidy up anywhere you showcase the stuff you create, like your website and portfolio and your studio. This isn’t restricted to these areas. Your desk, your clothes and your own mind are other areas worth giving an occasional spring clean.

Tidying up creates clarity, not only in terms of your brand, but it will have a positive effect on your own vision of your own brand.

4. Start with your mission

Having a clear mission statement (or a main goal) to accompany your business and your brand is important. Everything else under ‘brand you’ can be defined by this, so it’s worth having one, and a good one at that.

5. Find out what your clients don’t know they want

This might require some research into some good old fashioned books on persuasion (of the good, positive kind) and marketing. Often people hire you or buy your products for reasons that aren’t explainable, but are actually more rooted to how human nature works.

If you can build this kind of awareness into how you present your stuff, you could really spice things up. And people wouldn’t even know how you did it.

6. Research the rest and do it differently

Know how your competition brands and sells themselves, then make your own brand entirely different and unique to you. Now you stand out.

7. Hire talent

Make use of the expertise of other talented people, paid or unpaid (asking for advice), to help build your brand based on your work and on what makes you tick. People with sound knowledge on branding in general could be a great help to you.

8. Add extra value

Strive for excellence and beyond. How can you add further value to your products and particularly your service? Adding consistent and unexpected extra value to your services will become part of your brand.

9. Incorporate ritual

Doing things ritualistically need not involve drinking snake’s blood every time you sit down to write your next short story, but taking consistent and repetitive action in the way you work, will build character and an image of you, which you can use to your advantage.

Believe it or not, but the way Raphael Nadal eats his bananas in the same way every time he sits down for a break between tennis games is now part of his image, and his brand.

What can you do as a creative that brings ritual into your day to day? This could be from the methods you use to regularly promote yourself, to how you work, to how you deal with prospects.

10. Dress like a pro

This can be elaborated on in two ways. Firstly, dressing like someone who is a professional in your industry in a way that you are comfortable, will make you begin to actually feel the part, and improve and strengthen your own brand in the process.

Secondly, perhaps you want to present your brand in the way you dress and present yourself. Got a favourite colour that you might want to wear consistently? Some of us would!

11. Make your own life more interesting

Going out and doing interesting things, including regularly pushing through your comfort zone, will not only enrichen your life and increase your confidence, but it build up a picture of you, that you can use in the way you present yourself, your life’s mission and your brand’s message.

Get out there!

12. Streamline what you are selling

It’s much better to focus on becoming an expert at one thing, than being mediocre at several. It’s also much harder to promote yourself if you are ‘master’ of everything.

13. Tell your story

Yes, we’ve heard it before, but people really do buy into the person just about as much as they buy into your skills and products.

Make your own story more prominent, and make it an integral part of your brand. People like stories, especially ones that reveal the reasons why you do what you do, and a passion towards something that can be shared and felt by others.

14. Think like Coca Cola, behave like you

Being an independent creative professional means you still need to be professional about your brand name and execute a level of ingenuity, adaptation and plain old business understanding.

At the same time, it is about being personal with how you deal with the people and prospects that come through your doors.

The being personal part is where you have a huge advantage over Coca-Cola.

15. Travel and learn

See the world and take note of what you see. It will build you as a person exponentially, and it will change your perspective. Widening your horizons in this way can only have a positive impact on the way your own message comes across.

16. Define your core strength, and milk it

Ask yourself, what do I do that I am most proud of, and revolve what you do and the way you sell yourself around that.

17. Copy others

Look to other creatives who are doing it well and running successful businesses. Research them, question them and make friends with them. ‘Borrow’ what works for them and make your own brand based on what you learn.

18. Fine-tune the types of clients you work with

Think of how much your brand name can be shaped by the clients you say no to or the kinds of clients you only say yes to. Maybe you only work with companies who have strictly environmentally-friendly policies.

Saying no to certain types of clients shows you have boundaries, and brand is all about boundaries.

19. Lead

Good brands are leaders. Accumulate a following through selfless and passionate leadership on something of interest related to the work you do.

20. Have one core communication channel

Is there a particular communication channel, be it social media, newsletters, and so on, that you use, or could use, more than any other?

A big chunk of your brand could base itself on the core method you use to communicate with friends and prospects. Whatever form of communication this is, this will become synonymous with you and people will know where to find you.

21. Bring awareness to a cause

Dedicating some of your time and energy to a good cause, can not only be hugely personally rewarding, as well as contributing to the well-being of the world, but it can also add depth to your brand.

When you engage with clients and followers, people will not only become aware of and support your business, but the cause in question as well.

I love to read your comments, so do share your ideas below!

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to join my newsletter, with regular tips for creatives going out a few times a month that you won’t find here on the site. You also get a free ‘must read’ ebook when you join.

Sign up here.

.

Posted by Alex Mathers

Alex is a project starter, sometimes finisher, writer and illustrator. He started Red Lemon Club in 2009 with the aim of helping talented creative people leave their mark.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

33 Comments

  1. You said a lot of very wise sentences.

    Reply

  2. Doing things, like getting out, travelling and saying goodbye to the computer monitor is always creative, cause it brings us closer to people and face to face commuication.

    Reply

  3. I wonder how can “copying” be creative? That one should not be on this list, not written like that

    Reply

  4. Perhaps you could spend some time reading a little deeper into it Pit. I’m not talking about plagiarising, I’m talking about finding out more about elements of something that are working, and applying them to your own work.

    Even the most successful people and businesses have ‘borrowed’ to certain extents. I’m just writing down something people tend not to talk about.

    Reply

  5. Thank you for this. Another thing to remember on the personal front is that it is people who make businesses work, not products. Got this from the brilliant ‘Do it or Ditch it’ by Bev James, available on amazon

    Reply

    1. I think that is so true Evelyn, thank you for that. Products are important too though!

      Reply

  6. Your are right about hidden or unspoken values that people like when do business with us. For example after while I realized my clients like that I am a fine art artist and to them was so appealing in graphic business I have. I always took it for granted and thought unrelated to my clients to talk about

    Reply

  7. Fantasit post! “A brand is all about boundaries”. So true!

    Reply

  8. Interesting article. It is becoming increasing difficult to stand out from the crowd in this day-and-age.

    Reply

  9. Thank you for the Nice article … My favourite color in clothes I like….THE Same favourite coulours in Some paintings. I can do That still more.

    Rita Koolstra

    Reply

  10. I’m so glad I read this post. Right now, I’m at the learning stage of my life.. I mean in the education phase.. which is why all this information is especially good to me.. shall be helpful once I start my own brand 🙂 Thanks for a great article!

    Reply

  11. It’s good to know what we are doing right and what we could do better

    Reply

  12. Very interesting article. I like the part about brands needing boundaries. It’s so easy to say yes to everything and be something different for every client that your brand can just become completely lost. By knowing what your company stands for and ‘who’ you are as a company you can stick to boundaries much more easily.

    Reply

  13. Streamlining is somewhat of a struggle for me. My talents lie in sewing & needlework. I find it almost impossible to focus on one technique as I am passionate about quite a few. My approach is to create what comes from my heart, soul & hands at that moment in time.
    Lots of food for thought… Thanks Alex =)

    Reply

  14. Awesome site! Excellent tips! Thanks, Alex.

    Reply

  15. […] 21 Ways to Add Magic to Your Brand and Stand Out as a Creative Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInMoreDiggStumbleUponRedditTumblrPinterestEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

    Reply

  16. Very good material, it’s always nice to read these kind of tips. Also good to include the copy thing. Although it must be said that you should keep the copied work just for your own reference i think.

    Reply

    1. Absolutely Jord. You the artist, act as a very important filter in processing work ideas coming in, versus those ideas going out.

      Reply

  17. Excellent article!! I love the idea of OWNING your strengths and quirks!! 🙂

    Reply

    1. thanks Sarah, I like how you just owned that comment ;).

      Reply

  18. This is a brilliant article. I want to write this on my arm so I remember the key points.
    This applies not only in business but in everyday life as well.
    Thanks for the read.
    I loved it so much I tweeted about it!

    Reply

    1. Haha, brilliant Amber! thank you :).

      Reply

  19. Do you do any speaking events? I’d love to see you speak.

    Reply

  20. Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any tips on how to get listed
    in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thanks

    Reply

    1. thanks! Where on Yahoo News did you find a link?

      Reply

  21. […] you really make money blogging!? (answer – yes, but it ain’t gonna be easy!) ♥ 21 ways to add magic to your brand and stand out as a creative ♥ Seven things to do if your blog is a […]

    Reply

  22. Thanks for this article, Alex. Really useful now that I’m building my website and portfolio for some upcoming meetings with potential clients. I just realized that I completely missed point 5 re. giving clients what they want but don’t know, or even understanding what they like about my work. I usually tend to innovate myself constantly sometimes leaving behind my core strengths, and this might confuse a client with expectations. there’s a lot of work to do… 🙂

    Reply

  23. […] Some good advice about adding magic to your brand. […]

    Reply

  24. Great article, very very interesting!

    Reply

  25. I’ve been thinking a lot about the points raised in no. 3 and 10 lately and think it’s important to dress and behave professionally around clients. I also think no. 21 is one of the most important aspects of running a business. It’s better to think of the wider picture and how you can help others through your business rather than just focus on increasing profit. Through being generous and not focussing on money I’ve ended up generating leads and money anyway. I also think surrounding yourself with like minded, positive people (not ‘yes’ people) is also really important as negative folk can put a downer on a creative’s/entrepreneur’s ambition whether it’s out of small mindedness or envy.

    Reply

  26. Hello Alex.
    Thanks for this excellent post. Am interested in finding out about point 5.

    “some research into some good old fashioned books on persuasion (of the good, positive kind) and marketing. Often people hire you or buy your products for reasons that aren’t explainable, but are actually more rooted to how human nature works.”

    I absolutely agree. Where do you suggest one starts; there are SO many marketing/human nature/persuasion books out there.
    Do you have a favourite yourself?
    Many thanks,
    Helen

    Reply

    1. Thanks Helen! I’m a fan of anything by Seth Godin, such as ‘Purple Cow’, but an amazing list is here: http://www.sparringmind.com/psychology-books/ – happy reading!

      Reply

      1. Thanks, Alex, appreciate the tip!

        Best wishes

        Helen

        Reply