Leaving my job at Argent last year was a really difficult decision. I loved it there. The projects, the people, the energy, the quality. However, I knew the time had come to do something completely different. Somehow I felt frisky and the idea of working for myself had been playing in my mind for a while. So I took the plunge and went solo.
I haven’t looked back since. Being a freelance consultant has really enriched me, professionally and personally, as well as given me the opportunity to work with a diverse range of businesses. From startups to more well-established, medium-sized companies, that have been running for a while and have already experienced their highs and lows.
They contact me because they haven’t seen any significant growth for a couple of years, they are really struggling to have a social presence or they simply want to take their business to the next level. In essence, they all want to improve their content and share it more effectively. When I suggest to look at their brand, most of them raise their brows, look at me inquisitively and confirm they have a logo, a colour palette and a strapline.
If you are reading this and feel related to what I am saying, I encourage you to keep reading.
Your logo and all the creative elements that accompany it, such as colours, typefaces, symbols, and so forth, are the visual representation of your business image, however, they don’t make your brand.
Your brand is the essence of your business and everything you stand for. It encompasses your ethos, your values, your distinctiveness and talent, your reputation. When you clearly and consistently transmit these uniqueness in everything you do, it is when your presence becomes acknowledged by your audience.
Here are few tips you can use to make your brand stand out and engage with more customers:
Ensure all your communications, print and digital, are presented in a uniform and consistent way. Canva is a free and easy-to-use design programme, which allows you to create beautiful branded templates for all your admin documents and stationery, as well as your marketing materials: brochures, newsletters, social media posts and digital banners, to name but a few. For a very small cost, their business version allows you to create a branding kit and upload your own fonts and colours. It also enables you to resize your designs, which is extremely handy when creating new graphics for your social media posts. They even offer a professional print service.
Define your voice. Your brand’s voice is as important as its look. This is what really conveys your personality. When composing your voice, you should consider four key components:
your actual character: what the person inside your brand sounds like
the tone: is it personal, formal, scientific perhaps?
the type of language you will be using: serious, complex, jargon-filled, etc.
the purpose of your messages: are they informing on a subject, educating, selling, etc?
Invest in great photography that really tells your story. Remember “an image is worth a thousand words.” There are some amazing and inexpensive photographers out there. New talent waiting to be discovered. You can look at sites such as People Per Hour, or Student Gems, where you can get students who are about to finish their photography course to work with you on a freelance basis.
Add value in everything you do. Look at ways you can improve your customer experience by providing an exceptional service that equals high quality and builds a trustful relationship with your customers.
Create and deliver your brand promise. What are you prepared to do for your customers? John Lewis, for example, promises to match their prices to the lowest, high street competitor for the same individual product, sold with the same service conditions. You can have a 30-day money back guarantee, offer to always answer queries within a certain amount of time, etc. Make your customers feel valued and special by going that extra mile for them.
It has finally come a time when you don’t need to be a big name to create a recognised and loved brand. Use your imagination to visualise what you really want and find the best ways to express it in everything you do: your stationery, your services, your product and the way you interact with your customers.