Solopreneur branding is a very delicate task. First, you have to decide whether it’s more powerful to use your name as a brand name. Alternatively, you have to decide on an external brand name. Either way, your branding, with all its elements of image, tone, values, and promises has to become a bundle resonant with the thoughts and emotions of your target customers. You also can’t afford to chop and change your branding, so it has to be a well-thought-through exercise. But if you get it right and it begins building a dominant and differentiated position in your market, you’ve done a remarkable job that none out of ten solopreneurs don’t get right. Here are some opinions below to further tune your branding.
- Letâs forget about âbrandingâ and start thinking about âexperience buildingâ
- Before branding, listen to your audience closely enough, and get very specific
- A business will stay successful as long as its brand keeps its consistency
- Offer something that sets you apart from direct competitors and gets noticed
- Just get a decent logo – if business succeeds, people will applaud any logo
- Brand badmouthing travels 7X faster than brand praise across the social media
- Your marketing must be brand-led, or youâll leave opportunity on the table
- Flexibility is the key to good brand planning – people’s tastes may evolve
- Your personal branding exists whether or not you consciously build one or not
- Keep in mind that your brand can take on a life of its own … be prepared
- Poor branding is like communicating with people who aren’t 100% listening
- Your brand can’t please all customers, or outdo all competitors … be you
- Balancing your workload and setting limits is crucial part of staying motivated
- Share your unique brand story … even if you had a bumpy road to success
- Boost the areas where overlap of your personal and business brands are beneficial
- On social media, align your brand with your messages and audiences precisely
- People are more likely to buy from a brand that appears polished and legit
- At any cost, don’t try experiments with your brand and send out mixed messages
VIDEO: Suzanne Tulien explains the “3 reasons I wrote “Personal Brand Clarity” for you, the Solopreneur Brand!” (Must watch: 2:53 minutes)
Suzanne believes that as a solopreneur, you are the brand of your business. Branding is not just about logos, colors and fonts. The personal brand-defining process is about assigning powerful meaning to who you are to become what you want to be known for. It’s time solo-professionals have a proven process to get the clarity they need to increase their value position – before they spend time and money marketing it.
1. Letâs forget about âbrandingâ and start thinking about âexperience buildingâ
Emily Banks in the article “Personal Branding for Solopreneurs: What it is, and what it can do for your business.”:
“When youâre running a solo business or a small business online, youâre probably not building some kind of monolith to appeal to a billion people. When youâre running a personal business, it should be your ultimate goal to make genuine connections with people on an individual level.
So if it feels more comfortable and more approachable for you to think about it this way, letâs forget about âbrandingâ and start thinking about âexperience buildingâ. If this is the first time you’ve thought about it like this, I hope it’s blowin ya mind like it did when I figured it out.
So how do you create an experience that makes people choose your product / service over another? Itâs fairly simple – you are the experience.
I saw someone mention a quote in a facebook group recently that really struck a chord with me about the way we sell our skills and knowledge to others. Check out this nugget of wisdom from Chris Ducker: It’s about the P-to-P … the person to person relationships.
I love this statement because it humanizes the experience of doing business. Weâre not robots making calculations in our computer brains to sell things either B2B or B2C. Weâre people helping to solve the problems of other people and when youâre doing business online, you need to be able to break through that internet barrier and connect on a personal level.â
2. Before branding, listen to your audience closely enough, and get very specific
Tonia Kendrick in the article “10 Common Branding Mistakes That Solopreneurs Make”:
“Donât rush to spread the word about your company without first understanding how to speak to your audience.
Consider who your target audience is, the interests and hobbies of that demographic, and the words and phrases they use. Millennials, for example, use lots of modern slang thatâs unfamiliar to older audiences; baby boomers prefer language that is grammatically sound.
However, it doesnât just stop at generational gaps; youâll want to be a little more specific when determining what your audience likes and doesnât like. For instance, millennials interested in humanitarian activism probably wonât appreciate the same sarcastic jibes that resonate with those who watch Broad City on the daily.
As branding is all about forging connections with your audience, make sure to embrace the tone and language that you think will speak most directly to them.â
3. A business will stay successful as long as its brand keeps its consistency
Kristin Wendys in the article “10 Branding Hacks For Solopreneurs”:
“A business will stay successful as long as it is also consistent. When you get your customers used to a certain quality, you need to keep it at the same level and even improve it. Your clients are extremely vigilant and will immediately discover when you drop your products and servicesâ quality. Therefore, considering that your competition is hunting even the smallest mistakes, you cannot afford to be inconsistent and fail your customersâ expectations.
Clients want to know that they are talking to a real person. If you want to be a professional solopreneur, you should use your original name and optimize your profiles on social media. Emphasize your strongest points and show your clients that you offer unique services.
Influence your clients with your marketing strategy by constantly adding the latest information on your social media profile. Donât be afraid to use as many social media platforms are you want. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. all of these will target your audience and help you increase your engagement rates.
You need to keep your audience engaged with new and useful information. Even though your products and services are the best on the market, your customers wonât buy them unless they know about them. Webinars are extremely popular nowadays with 60% of marketers using them as part of their marketing strategy. They help you generate more sales and improve your brand awareness by keeping your clients updated with your niche evolution.”
4. Offer something that sets you apart from direct competitors and gets noticed
Nixie Adams in the article “Branding for Solopreneurs â How To Stand Out!”:
“The freelance market is undoubtedly very crowded. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of freelancers in any field imaginable, so it is very important that you stand out from the crowd. You need to offer something that sets you apart from your direct competitors and gets you noticed. This is referred to as your unique selling proposition (USP).
Donât try to compete on factors you cannot influence such as location or, to some extent, price. You canât change where competing freelancers are based and what they choose to charge. Instead, define your very own point of difference. What makes your business unique?
Brand identity is your brand personality. How do you want to be perceived by (potential) clients and peers? Itâs important to realize that you can create your brand around your personality. As freelancers, thereâs no need to try and become someone else. Stay true to yourself and be who you are. This will also make your brand more credible.
Brand recognition is about getting your brand seen, and be everywhere where your target audience is. Once youâve identified your ideal client and have researched them, start getting your name out there using a targeted approach. Your market will think you are everywhere, which will again boost your credibility.”
5. Just get a decent logo – if business succeeds, people will applaud any logo
Nixie Adams in the article “Six Solopreneur Branding Boo-boos”:
“A recognizable logo is more an outcome of success rather than the cause of the success. For example, the Apple logo is, without a doubt, an extremely powerful icon but only because of Appleâs overall success.
Many top companies, such as Microsoft and Google, use logos that are not much more than stylized text, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Amazon.com has a well-recognized logo, but most people don’t realize that the swish, pointing from the A to the Z, is meant to convey that Amazon sells everything from A to Z.
Just get a decent logo and focus on your business. If your business is successful, people will think your logo is swellâor you can fix it when you have the time and money.
Details such as look and feel, font type, and color should be consistent on your website and marketing materials. Pick a scheme (font, color, overall style) and stick with it. Itâs one less thing to think about, and it will make your business look more stable and solid.”
6. Brand badmouthing travels 7X faster than brand praise across the social media
Karen Repoli in the article “Business Branding for Solopreneurs: Part 2 â Why is Branding Important?”:
“People chat about brands all the time. They share experiences, make recommendations, and complain about bad experiences. In fact, statistics show that 1 happy customer will tell 1 other person about their great experience, but 1 unhappy customer will tell 7.
This being the case, every business owner should make building a strong, credible brand their #1 priority from the moment they launch. In this way even if someone does start to complain and badmouth their brand, the negative feedback will look like an isolated incident compared to a positive pattern of praise for your products and services.
Top brands will get lots of free traffic because happy customers will be more likely to link to them than to less prominent websites, and will share content on social networks more often too. More links and shares mean more brand awareness, and willingness to try the brand to see if they like it.
Branding is something you will need to work on a little every day from the moment you launch your business. There are several challenges that you, as a sole entrepreneur, should keep in mind before you start.”
7. Your marketing must be brand-led, or youâll leave opportunity on the table
Courtney Rhodes in the article “Personal Branding Advice For Solopreneurs”:
“Donât think about the best marketing strategies, tools, methods, or tactics to use until you know what you want to say. Until you have brand clarity, you wonât know the best things to package and sell or what you want to be known for. Your marketing wonât work as effectively until youâre crystal clear on your brand.
The foundation of your marketing strategy must be your brand, or youâre leaving a lot of opportunity on the table. And nobody has time for that! Think of your most loved brands. What is it about those brands that drive your trust and lovability? From your fave Parisian designer brand to your local health food store, what values, promises, or experiences have earned your brand loyalty?
Whatever those specific principles, values, culture adds, and adventures are, they DIDNâT happen coincidently. Those brands intentionally drive particular impressions and experiences to shape the reputation and perceptions they aim to form in the minds of their consumers. You can do the same thing, and it starts with being clear about what has shaped and drives you.
Sounds simple, but if you get that right, youâll be ahead of the class. From there, decide how you can best use social media and online marketing to inspire and influence your audience, clients, students, patients, or customers.”
8. Flexibility is the key to good brand planning – people’s tastes may evolve
Kelly Richardson in the article “How To Build Your Brand As A Solopreneur In 2018”:
“Failing to plan is planning to fail. In brand building, creating a plan will help you avoid certain pitfalls along the way. It will also determine how youâll eventually measure the success of your brand.
To create a good plan, determine what you are currently known for, what you want to be known for, how you will create brand awareness (the platforms youâll use) and ultimately how youâll measure the success of your brand. Decide who your target customers are and where they frequent when looking for information online. This will help you determine what platforms youâll use to create awareness. Also, for inspiration, you can check what other entrepreneurs in your niche are doing to build their brand.
While planning, decide your brandâs tone of voice. Will it be funny, quirky, or formal?
You must note that flexibility is key here. Because, over time, you may discover that people want a product or service that’s different from the one youâre offering. Or you may decide you no longer like the service youâre offering and want to revise or change it completely. You may also find that you enjoy a different way of building brand awareness.”
9. Your personal branding exists whether or not you consciously build one or not
Ahana Daniel in the article “Solopreneur Branding: 3 Reasons Why You Should Unlock The Power Of Personal Brand”:
“Solopreneurs and small business owners often struggle to get online visibility and consistently drawing traffic and leads to their work. Personal branding is key to shift audience attention and interest towards your solopreneur business.
Personal branding refers to the process of establishing your public persona in order to connect and draw your target audience. In fact, with so many qualified professionals working as freelance consultants, coaches and so many entrepreneurs vying for attention in the market, it is really important to stand out to your audience.
But that is not the only reason why personal branding is important. This is something that most entrepreneurs donât realize and it can make or break a solopreneur business. The truth is this. Your personal branding exists whether or not you consciously build one, or not.
Even if you have written one blog post, or put up a series of posts on social media, if you have done one video, the market will have an opinion of your work and your brand. The reason why you should go through a branding, or a re-branding process is to take back control of your personal brand and make it a driver for your growth.”
10. Keep in mind that your brand can take on a life of its own … be prepared
Nyla Smith in the article “Is There A Difference Between My Personal Brand And Business Brand?”:
“Babies eventually grow up and become independentâ¦ just look at any self-reliant teenager coming of age. The same can be said for many brands started by entrepreneurs.
Thatâs why solopreneurs need to be able to answer a few key questions, for both now and the future, when trying to understand the nuances between personal and business brands. The most important question, that all others are based on, is this: Is your company bigger than yourself?
You want to think about what happens if you remove yourself from the picture. Will your company remain intact? If so, your brand is bigger than you. Also, as times change â the market changes, the culture changes, and technology changes â your companyâs brand perception will likely need to adapt and change somewhat as well â whereas your own personality likely wonât.
The smaller you are, the easier it is to manage your brandâs meaning (even if you typically have less of a budget to do so). The larger you are, the more difficult it is to manage meaning. Thatâs why megabrands spend millions on marketing. Partly because they can, but also because they have to. So as a solopreneur, you have the advantage of control. But just keep in mind that your brand can take on a life of its own, depending on the space you occupy and your plans for growth. Be prepared!”
11. Poor branding is like communicating with people who aren’t 100% listening
Marianna Suchodolski in the article “Why Personal Branding is the Secret Sauce to Every Solopreneur Success”:
“How you communicate is just as important as what you communicate. Have you ever been in a conversation where you werenât listening 100% to what was being said yet you felt like you were fully engaged? Thatâs likely what will happen with poor branding. Humans canât help it — we get distracted by small things. Itâs up to you what kind of environment and brand communication you want to use in your community.
You might want to bring laughter into class and choose to post memes on your social media. Or you might be a Sargent-like workout instructor that pushes your clients to their limit. While either case might turn off some participants, itâll definitely keep the right ones around. Find a brand communication style that feels right for what youâre trying to accomplish with your service.
Your website and social media have a look and feel. To be honest, you have a look and feel. You and your online presence can be quirky, sexy, sophisticated, calming … the possibilities are endless. The colors, themes, fonts, images, and even what you wear will all tell a story. Make them consistent with your brand.
If you need help with your website, social media, personal styling, or anything else, you can always hire an expert to get you started. While this made cost you a few bucks, itâll set you on the right path. Another option is to just take note of what other solopreneurs you are inspired by are doing and replicate that in your own way.”
12. Your brand can’t please all customers, or outdo all competitors … be you
Jennifer Sanders in the article “10 Common Branding Mistakes That Solopreneurs Make”:
“Thereâs not a single company out there that can successfully target each and every consumer. No matter how versatile your portfolio may be, you can never satisfy the needs of all consumers.
A much better tactic is to focus on a smaller niche and target one or two customer groups exclusively. It will help you to adjust the brand and make it look more attractive and trustworthy in the eyes of your target audience.
Your niche probably has a handful of well-established brands that already dominate the market. This is totally fine because thatâs how business works these days, but you should not try to emulate any of these companies. Why not?
Because you have to stay unique and build a special brand that stands out in the crowd. You will, of course, follow the best practices in your niche, but your branding strategy should come with a simple tweak in order to make your business memorable.”
13. Balancing your workload and setting limits is crucial part of staying motivated
Briana Morgaine in the article “How to Build Your Brand as a Consultant or Freelancer”:
“The reality is that no matter how big or small your business, you need a brand. Your brand is how your clients and customers see you, and it determines what opinion they form of your businessâand they will form an opinion, whether you have a cohesive brand identity or not.
So, whether you run a small consulting business, offer freelance web development services, or run another similar type of solo small business outfit, the reality is the same: you need a brand.
That being said, building a brand for a small solo business can be a more difficult, nuanced endeavor than building a brand for a larger business, or a business that you intend to scale quickly. Should you keep your business strictly professional, or integrate yourself into your brand? How do you let your personality inform your branding efforts?
When it comes to branding, tying your personality to your brand is key. Figuring out how to fuse his personality with his professional work has been a process of trial and error. Itâs crucial to determine what feels authentic to you personally, and not to shy away from the impulse to make it personal. “
14. Share your unique brand story … even if you had a bumpy road to success
Donna Amos in the article “10 Step Strategy To Personal Branding For Solopreneurs”:
“Regardless of your chosen industry, itâs important to be aware of your professional purpose. This is the factor that motivates you to get out of bed each day to continue pursuing inevitable success.
Your true purpose should mean more than a paycheck, and itâs important that you continue to aim higher no matter how much success you achieve.
Let others know exactly what youâre all about in a simple mission statement. Rather than summarize your actual job description, this statement is there to build value in the attributes that make you successful. Look at your branding statement as the one thing that differentiates you from similar professionals.
Every professional has a unique story to tell, even if they had a bumpy road to success. Appreciate all parts of your own adventure and give others a chance to enjoy your professional narrative.”
15. Boost the areas where overlap of your personal and business brands are beneficial
Hillary Grigonis in the article “Building a Personal Brand as a Solopreneur”:
“What defines you? What defines your business? If you offer a service, your business and personal brand may have more overlap; if you sell a product, there may be fewer similarities between the two.
Sit down with two sheets of paper and draw a line through the middle of each of them. Use one sheet for yourself and one sheet for your business. In one column, identify the traits that are currently associated with your brands. In the other column, jot down the traits you would like people to connect to your brands.
Once you’ve identified a few of your existing traits and some traits you set as goals for the future, define the areas where overlap would be beneficial and the ones where clear boundaries are a must. If your potential clients value organization, by all means show what a multi-tasker you are by connecting your name with the variety of responsibilities you manage as a solopreneur.
If your clients need strict technical accuracy, you may want to keep your bubbly personality as a personal brand and not a business one.”
16. On social media, align your brand with your messages and audiences precisely
Shane Barker in the article “How to Grow Your Brand on Social Media as a Solopreneur”:
“The first thing that you should think about is what exactly you want to achieve with your brand social media strategy. Only when you are clear about your goals can you work towards achieving them. As your goals change, so will your action steps. Donât lose track of your end goals. Otherwise, your actions may not be aligned with what you want to achieve.
If your goal is to launch a new online course, you may want to focus on increasing your visibility on Facebook and Instagram first. You may want to host challenges or offer discounts on your new course. On the other hand, if you want to increase your blog traffic, you may want to focus on SEO.
Any business revolves around the lives and interests of their customers. Unless you are targeting your brand message to a particular persona, your voice is likely to get drowned out in the crowd of other businesses vying for the attention of consumers. So, as a solopreneur, you should take time to understand your target audience.
Think about the age groups, genders, income groups, and other such details of your target audience. Based on this, create a customer avatar. One of the most important things that you should focus on is your ideal customerâs social media usage. Which social media platform are they most active on? What kind of content do they consume on these platforms? These are some of the questions you should ask yourself to get a better idea of your customer persona.”
17. People are more likely to buy from a brand that appears polished and legit
Mark Hemmeter in the article “Branding for Small Businesses and Solopreneurs”:
“According to a Nielsen Survey, 59% of consumers prefer to buy new products from brands familiar to them. What is a small business or, harder yet, a solopreneur to do? How do you compete with established brands?
First, take a deep breath. Chances are your business or service is not competing with Disney or Apple. That is not to say, however, that you do not have a lot of competition in your space. Most likely you do â a lot of it â which makes branding even more important to a small business or solopreneur.
A professional appearance builds credibility and trust. People are more likely to purchase from a business that appears polished and legitimate. But what to do and where to start?
There is a huge body of information on branding. Everybody has their take on what works and what doesnât. Branding is an industry unto itself. But for all the knowledge and expertise out there it all boils down to the basics.”
18. At any cost, don’t try experiments with your brand and send out mixed messages
Kayla Brown in the article “How to succeed as a solopreneur”:
“Words and pictures might seem like small potatoes when you’re a solopreneur with a to-do list a mile long, but when it comes to your brand, it’s very important to be mindful of the message you’re sending to your customers.
As a savvy entrepreneur, you likely have a website and social media accounts where you represent your band online. It can be tempting, especially when you’re first starting out, to try out a few different angles and hooks in an attempt to “throw some things against a wall and see what sticks.”
I;m here to tell you to fight that urge with every ounce of strength you’ve got, because it’ll do nothing but negatively affect the brand you’re trying to build, as this is the very definition of sending “mixed messages,” to your target audience. Not only will it confuse your prospective clients, but it often reads to more experienced professionals as the mark of an amateur. So take it from us â put some time and effort into what you want to say, and then be consistent across all channels â both online and offline!
Building a strong brand requires a commitment, because you’re not going to see results overnight. It’s important to lay the foundation right from the start by being strategic about differentiating yourself from your rivals in a way that creates a connection with your target audience. But with equal parts tenacity and authenticity (and a little luck!) your branding efforts are sure to succeed and create a loyal customer base who will be with you for years to come! “
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
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