Why your branding should start (and end) with you

Think branding is all about logo design and catchy names? Think again. Here’s how to build an effective brand that’s based on your unique values and work ethic.
Why your branding should start (and end) with you
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What’s your “brand”?

Many people think a brand is a catchy business name or logo. Certainly, there are plenty of well-known brand names out there — Gucci, Amazon, Marvel — and each one is synonymous with its company’s reputation for quality fashion, e-commerce, or superhero entertainment.

But if you ask Scott Shrek, creative media freelancer and founder of The Prescott Creative Company, your brand should really be about only one thing.

You.

Think about it. No matter how eye-catching your logo is, no matter what you name your business, at the end of the day, your clients will all have to deal with you.

So, what makes you, you?

In Scott’s Hectic Academy video, “Define your brand,” he gives several tips for how you should approach this question. Let’s take a closer look.

Be willing to engage in a lot of self-reflection

Before you design your logo or build your website, you should self-reflect on the type of freelancer you are now, and what you hope to become in the future. Ask yourself the following questions: 

What is your purpose as a freelancer?

Granted, most freelancers (including me) got into this business to make money. But it goes beyond that, doesn’t it?

After all, if you just wanted to make money, you could have stayed at your old company, let them dictate your purpose, and collect their paychecks.

But you wanted to offer more, didn’t you? Maybe you wanted to make the world a better place by working for nonprofits and charities you believe in. Maybe you wanted to build a virtual office that gives your clients the ability to reach you from anywhere. Or maybe you wanted to use a skillset like writing or graphic design that your previous jobs weren’t letting you develop. 

Whatever way you choose to answer this question, your responses will influence how you present yourself to your clients and develop your brand identity. Be honest about what role you want to fill as a freelancer — and communicate this to your clients. 

What is your vision for the future?

No business, freelance or otherwise, remains the same after 5, 10, or 20 years. That’s why it’s important to ask yourself what direction you’d like to take your business in as you move forward.

Do you see yourself expanding your workforce and partnering with other freelancers — effectively becoming a business that can provide multiple services to bigger companies? Or do you see yourself staying small and functioning as a troubleshooter for many large companies that will pay you very well for your services?

How do you anticipate the world developing in the next decade? Will advances in technology make it easier for you to work with clients? Will certain services be more in demand, requiring you to expand your skillset? Will automation make parts of your business obsolete, forcing you to adapt?

Of course, you don’t have to communicate all the details of your predictions to your current clients. However, it’s important that you know how your personal brand will evolve so you can start making choices that help you become the freelancer you want to be.   

What is your mission?

Here’s something you can share in your website’s mission statement and express during meetings with clients. Your mission expresses how your product or service delivers value to clients and what steps you’re taking to work toward your vision of your future.

For some, this can be as simple as showing how your services benefit your clients. On my freelance writer website, for example, I let prospective clients know I create fresh, original content for blogs, websites, and e-newsletters to help them get more online traffic, advertise their business, and promote their brand. As I expand my skillset, I’ll include more services and show how they help businesses in other ways. 

Other freelance companies have broader missions. Hectic, for instance, is on a mission to make freelancing an attainable goal for every entrepreneurial mind by demystifying self-employment and providing the tools you need to make your freelance business a reality. Ambitious — but that’s the service we provide to everyone who downloads our app or uses our resources.

Bear in mind that your mission statement should keep the focus on your clients, not you. Sure, you might be in business to generate big paychecks for yourself, but your brand statements need to show how your customers benefit. 

What are your values?

What makes you unique from other freelancers? Often, it’s not the services you provide but the values that determine the quality of your services.

If you believe in delivering high-quality work within a short span of time, that should be a big part of your brand. If you feel obligated to touch base regularly with your clients and edit your work until it meets all their needs, that should also be something communicated to clients in your marketing.

Sharing your values also helps you establish your Unique Selling Point (USP), the essence of what makes your brand better than your competitors. What’s cool about this is that sometimes your competitors may have the same values you do — but not all of them will communicate this through their brand. By being upfront about your values in your marketing, it’ll be your freelance business clients talk about. 

Moving forward

<tweet-link>Branding might often be associated with flashy symbols and catchy slogans, but if you want to develop an effective brand, being honest with yourself about who you are and what you have to offer is what really matters.<tweet-link>

If you need more help communicating your purpose, vision, mission, and values, Hectic can help. Hectic Academy offers several micro courses designed to get you into the freelancer mindset and demystify the technical aspects of this business. And Hectic helps keep your business functions organized, allowing you to live up to the promises you communicate in your brand. Learn more about how these online tools can help you discover and build your brand today!  

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Michael Jung
Michael Jung has been a freelance writer, entertainer, and educator for over 20 years and loves sharing his knowledge in online articles. He also enjoys writing movie, TV, and comic book content and is developing a series of fantasy novels. Feel free to connect with him through the links below!
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