As a sole trader – whether you’re a tradie, designer, writer or life coach – a strong brand can help you stand out from the competition and attract new customers or clients. Most people assume branding is simply about your name and logo, but there’s so much more to it than that. Your branding tells customers who you are and what you stand for, and should come across in everything you say or do. Here are 5 branding tips for sole traders.
1 Know your business
The first step to having a successful brand is knowing your business. Who are your customers? Determine your target market. Discuss what you believe in, your mission and values. What makes your products or services unique in your industry? To answer these questions accurately, you may need to do some market research and think carefully about where you want to position yourself and why. Taking the time to figure out who you are as a business will make subsequent branding decisions much easier.
2 Pick a clear, catchy name
Choosing the perfect business name isn’t easy. Not only does it need to be catchy and appealing; it needs to communicate who you are and what you do. Make sure it’s descriptive, but not generic. Get creative and try playing with words, but keep it simple – don’t choose anything too obscure or hard to pronounce. A lot of sole traders go by their name, but this doesn’t say anything about your brand so think bigger. Once you have a few ideas, test them out on friends and family. Found one you like? Check to see no one else is using it and if the domain name is available.
3 Create a visual identity
Your visual brand is all about what people see. It includes everything from your logo – which should be simple, eye-catching, and industry appropriate – to the colours, typefaces, and templates you use for your business and marketing material. Unless you’re the creative type with strong design knowledge, your visual branding is something best left to the experts. A professional designer can work with you to create a visual identity that speaks your brand and appeals to your customers. Importantly, make sure you apply it consistently across your website, brochures, emails, business cards, social media accounts, and even your invoices.
4 Find the right voice
As well as paying attention to your visual branding, you also need to think about the words you use. What you say and how you say it – on your website or your Facebook page – has a big impact on how people perceive you. To find the right tone of voice, consider your customers and the language they use and the personality of your business. Are they formal or friendly? Informative or conversational? Whatever you decide, make sure you always sound the same.
5 Live your brand
While getting your name, visual branding, and tone of voice right are critical to having a successful brand, there’s one thing that affects your branding more than anything else … you. As a sole trader, you are your business, so everything you do or say, and even how you look can affect how you come across to customers. If your brand portrays professionalism and you turn up late and look a mess, then all your backstage efforts to build a successful brand will go to waste. Now it’s time to put these tips into action. While it might seem like a lot of effort at first, creating a clear, consistent brand that customers recognise and resonate with will set your business up for long-term success.
For more tips on how to market yourself, check out these resources.