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As a creative entrepreneur, sometimes it feels like you’re supposed to be automatically awesome at creating a stellar brand for your solo business.
The truth is, perfecting your own brand is the hardest job – with the toughest client – you’ll ever face.
So while you may feel like the only designer, illustrator, or artisan out there who’s struggling when it comes to branding your solo business: you’re not alone. All of us have spent long nights brainstorming the perfect brand, and all of us should remember the following dos and don’ts when creating – or refreshing – our business’s brand.
Today’s post will get you started on the right foot. When branding your solo business…
Make a plan
Big businesses have whole departments responsible for how the company is branded. Small businesses like yours can’t afford not to plan either.
Define what your company stands for, who you are, and how this makes your business special.
Want more on this subject? Dig deeper with these posts:
- The 3 most important factors in naming your business
- Freelancing: Using your own name vs. creating a business name
Build up online and offline assets
While we all know having a social media presence is a must, you shouldn’t solely rely on doing business online.
Doing business face-to-face is still a valuable method, and using business cards are a great way to connect with others. A provides a visual reference point for the other person, making you more memorable from the word ‘go.’ Remember that your card is part of your first impression and the design needs to be perfect.
Don’t forget! Always carry your business cards on your person as you never know when you may run into someone that could be a potential client.
Check out these additional posts on making both personal and digital connections:
- Get more clients through social with this small but vital change
- Using a media kit to get more freelance business, better referrals, and more publicity
- How to find clients in a new city
- A “done-for-you” direct mail letter to get new, local clients!
Pay attention to your competition
By looking at your competition’s branding efforts, you can see how they promote themselves and how you can take inspiration when branding your solo business. (Yes, you CAN compete with big agencies!)
Trying to specialize? Read more here about becoming the expert in your niche:
Push yourself to secure more high-profile work
Working on high visibility projects significantly improves your chances of getting noticed. When people regularly see your branding, your business will be more recognisable…which goes hand-in-hand with brand trust.
Learn more about landing that high-profile work here:
Network, network, network!
Never underestimate the power of business networking. Many businesses are willing to co-promote their peers, not to mention you may find a lucrative collaboration with another business.
Not sure how to go about it? Dig deeper here:
- As a designer, your network affects your net worth
- What to do when new competitors threaten your design business
- Can you pitch your business (well) in 15 seconds?
Misrepresenting yourself or your business will almost always doom you to fail. Be truthful about services, standards, and turnaround times and no one will ever have cause to make a complaint.
Good reputations take a long time to build and are easily lost. Read here for more:
Misuse social media
Don’t ‘name and shame’ other businesses, don’t complain about clients, and don’t post drunken pictures of yourself at the Christmas party.
Once something is on the internet, it’s there forever.
Bonus: Click here to get insider tips on how to get clients to “like” your Facebook page!
You can’t please everybody, no matter how you might try. You’ll appeal to more people by sticking to your values and believing in your business.
Not sure how to promote yourself (or what you’re promoting)? Start here:
- How to find your design niche: 70 ideas to get you started
- How to promote a freelance design business: 4 strategies for beginners
- Rocking your first year as a freelance designer (months 1 & 2)
Purely exist online
Social media is a big part of branding your solo business, but actually meeting with potential and existing clients, as well as potential business associates is still essential.
People need to put a face to the name – plus it can get you out of the office.
Check out these fun and unique offline marketing tips:
- 5 Super fun (and easy) marketing tips for your design business
- 6 Non-traditional ways designers can find new clients and stand out
Forget to say what you have to offer
If you over-promote your brand and culture, the actual services or goods you provide could get lost in the mire.
Branding your solo business in the right way will open doors; ignore it at your peril!
Check out these posts on selling your goods and services:
- 5 Easy tech solutions to sell freelance services from your website
- How to sell the heck out of your design services…in the coolest, non-sleaziest way
- You’re losing clients by committing this one critical website mistake
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I’m still a design student and have just started my first website. It’s exciting but very challenging. Articles like this are incredibly helpful. It may not be a business but it runs on the same principles. Gaining a following and an online presence are difficult. Face to face networking has been the most useful for me so far. Using social media to expand my reach beyond my own university is going to be a difficult hurdle. It’s still early, though! Keep posting and I’ll keep reading, thanks!
Carrying business cards at all times has connected me with new clients in some unlikely places. One of the more recent being on the ski lift with a fellow snowboarder who has since become a steady client!
Our business did not really grow until we spent considerable time connecting with others in our area. I second the encouragement in this post to get out there. Once I did, it got to a point where everyone “knew Mindy ” and I would run into someone I knew business -wise almost every time I went out. So get out of those basements and network
What kinds of places did you go or events did you attend to grow your network? I’m a little nervous about getting out there but I really want my business to work so I’m just curious where to start.
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