If you want to grow your client base, you need to develop your brand. With a great brand, clients come to you because they can easily understand what value you offer and are more likely to remember who you are and what you do.
What’s more, a successful brand shows that you’re relevant, authentic, and credible in the minds of your target consumers. The key is ensuring that people who interact with your website, social networks, and promotional materials can easily associate them with your business and the services you offer. This is why your brand needs to do more than say your name. It needs to be cohesive and consistent, from visuals to font choice, to be successful.
For example, you probably always recognize Starbucks, whether you see their logo or their green awnings outside the coffee shop. They’re consistent in everything they do, so whether you see them on social media or in the local mall, you know it’s them.
Your job is to replicate that so you can build a recognizable and professional brand that drives clients to you. If you’re new to branding, use these tips to create your own Starbucks-level brand.
Get the basics figured out
Building a brand starts with your name, logo and bio. If you’re constantly changing your name, or use a different name from one social platform to the next, for example, it will be hard for people to recognize you as they come across you at different times.
If you haven’t chosen a business name yet, this is your first chance to brand yourself as someone who offers something unique and specific. When brainstorming what your name should be, keep a few tips in mind from UpWork:
- Figure out what impression you want to give when first meeting someone and use that to “set the tone.” I.E. playful and fun or serious and academic.
- Remember that descriptive names often lend themselves well to a strong brand. It also allows you to specify your unique value and niche.
- Simple is always better — easy to spell, pronounce, and remember.
- Avoid using questionable language. UpWork uses the example of the name “Get Nailed” for a carpenter. This likely sets the wrong tone.
- Make sure your name is available by searching with CorpNet.
After your name comes the logo, which doesn’t need to be complicated or extensively designed. You can even use a simple wordmark, which is simply the name of your business written in a specific font. This can be saved as a PNG and used as a logo. If imagery or colors lend themselves to your brand, incorporate them tastefully and in a way that speaks to you as a freelancer. A professional designer may be a good resource for getting your logo right.
Finally, you need to write a bio, which will be on your website and all social media channels. Start with a long bio, a few paragraphs long, and then create different versions that are shorter and more specific to various industries, if applicable. Tailor your bio on each platform to the specific audience you’re targeting. For example, you can see that my Twitter and Instagram bios are a bit different because I’m targeting two different areas of my business and audience, however my name and profile image remain the same, ensuring that I’m still recognizable.
Curate a consistent visual experience
Beyond consistency with your basic business information, you need to curate a cohesive visual experience on platforms like Pinterst, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. When someone sees your post, you want to make sure that they recognize it as yours and therefore interact with it. The best way to do this is to create visual brand guidelines.
In How to Master Your Visual Social Media Branding, Dustin Hodgson, Lead Designer and Co-Founder of MyCreateiveShop, suggests including the following information in your brand guidelines:
- Colors: Choose one neutral primary color and 2 to 3 contrasting colors that will make your visuals stand out.
- Fonts: Choose one primary font that can be formatted as regular, italic, or bold to create different looks. You can also choose one decorative font, like a script, that compliments your primary font.
- Formatting/Layout: Choose a standard format and layout for the posts you’ll share regularly. Think: quote images, testimonial graphics, or tips and tricks posts.
- Logo: You may need more than one version of your logo, so include all of these in your brand guidelines along with how they should each be used.
Put all of this information into a Google Doc that can be updated as your brand grows and evolves. Share it with anyone who is designing or marketing for you to ensure a consistent brand experience, no matter who’s doing the work.
Design business cards that match your online presence
Potential clients need to be able to recognize you online and offline, and your greatest offline asset is your business card. As OCreative explains, “A business card is an instant way to communicate brand and style, creating the opportunity to share your brand’s message immediately. Using unique design elements and cutting-edge print techniques draw attention and drive recipients to take note of the message – it creates a card worth keeping.”
When designing an on-brand business card, keep a few important details in mind:
- Simple is best. There isn’t a lot of space to use, so make white space your friend and include only what’s necessary and adds value to your brand.
- Don’t be afraid to play with color. If bright colors are part of your brand, let that element shine. Check out these colorful business card examples for inspiration.
- Play with the shape. A circular or vertical business card will stand out in a pile or horizontal or rectangular business cards.
- Include your tagline or unique value proposition if you have one.
- Include all of the important information: name, email, phone, website, and social media handles.
- Use the same font for your business card as you do for your website.
Don’t forget to update them regularly. Show that your brand is relevant and up to date by always handing out fresh business cards that have all the right information — no handwritten substitutions when something like your phone number changes. That speaks poorly of your brand.
Create a cohesive freelancer brand
A great brand makes you memorable and allows you to show your value. Leverage this opportunity by having clear brand guidelines and adhering to them as you share and interact from one platform to the next. With a few key elements in place, you’ll be ready to impress, online and offline, driving more clients and growing your business.