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, in the current climate, 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.
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!
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