If you’re a solopreneur or running a small (or very small!) business, you know having a branding/marketing budget is sometimes out of financial reach. That doesn’t mean you can't build a memorable brand identity and broadcast it to all your target customers. We turned to branding strategist Taughnee Golubović at Endeavor Creative* for tips on how to know thyself, get your business seen and attract your dream clients. Thanks, @taughnee!
1. Think of your brand as an emotion, not a generic job description.
When first considering your brand, it’s easy to rely on generic descriptions. Don’t do it! Your logo/brand “proposition” should tap into your customers’ emotions and challenges. If you create content, you don’t just write articles, youhelp readers solve problems through informative writing. Accountant? You don’t just do taxes, you work to understand and better the financial aspect of real lives. Florist? You don’t just sell flowers, you deliver living messages of joy and comfort into personal spaces. Admittedly, the last one may be a bit, um, flowery, but you get the idea. Ask yourself: how do I want my work to make my clients feel?
2. Determine your “brand anchors.”
Brand anchors are 2-3 VIP words that describe what it’s like doing business with you. These are words you’d want your dream client to use when talking about you to friends. Start by reviewing any client testimonials or social media comments you’ve received. Are people saying your wedding event planning business is “personal, exciting and unique?” Use recurring adjectives in your brand headline: Creating exciting and personal weddings for unique couples!
3. Create visuals that match your anchors.
What does your brand look like? What do you want your clients to picture when they think of your business? Soft floral pastel weddings or bold quirky parties? Again, avoid generic images -- like pen for writer, flower for florist, dollar sign for accountant. Search for and save images that represent your brand anchors: personal, exciting, unique. Compile multiple images that resonate with you and then whittle down to your favorites -- exclamation points, people jumping in the air, contrasting colors, standing out amongst the crowd. Congrats! You now have a”brand board” which you can add to and revise as needed as you bring a laser-focus to defining your brand.
4. Work with a designer or DIY your logo/branding materials.
Showing your brand board to a designer is a great way to kick-off the design of your branding materials and online presence. If you’d rather DIY all of this, check out Taughnee’s article: 10 Ways to Brand Your Solo Business on a Budget.
5. A headshot speaks a thousand words.
Your headshot is often the first impression people have of the “real” you, so you want to look competent, approachable, personable -- and on-brand. If you run a landscaping business, don’t wear a suit and tie for your photo. Do wear clean work-wear and convey strength and trustworthiness. If you consult with Fortune 500 companies, wear your best go-to-meeting attire and convey a competent and understanding look. Whether you pay a pro for your pic or snap a really good selfie, the goal is to make people want to work with you.
Taughnee captured this lovely selfie after 100-ish shots. She’s standing in front of a natural light source wearing an outfit she’d wear to meet a new client (and she cleaned up the background in Photoshop). Hello, smart, friendly, creative branding expert!
6. Be clear on the who, what and why in your copywriting.
You have five seconds to catch someone’s attention in both your social media posts and on your website’s homepage. You can communicate your brand succinctly and memorably using tried-and-true copywriting formulas widely available online to tell the world: a) Who you are and what you do, b) Who your business helps, c) Why your business is needed, d) What action prospective clients should take next. Don’t forget to use your brand anchors!
Example: Frankie Garcia is an interior designer. “I design chic, functional and comfortable living spaces for creative families through understanding your lifestyle and needs. Click to contact me now!”
7. Let your freak flag fly!
You opened your business because, thanks to your unique perspective on the world, you saw a niche market that wasn’t being served. Don’t hide what makes you stand out in your industry -- celebrate it! Branding yourself as a one-of-a-kind florist/dog walker/event planner/accountant will help you attract clients who appreciate your authenticity. Sure, your services, brand personality or even your look won’t be for everybody -- but that’s exactly the point. For the right somebody, you and your special brand will be exactly right.