When I think of Johnson & Johnson, one of the first images that comes to mind is a newborn baby being cradled while lying in a kitchen sink partially full of lukewarm, sudsy water. As a lightly colored wash cloth is wiped across the baby’s smooth-as-silk skin, the parent bather is smiling, safe in the knowledge that the products will not irritate the little one’s eyes or body.
Under Armour, on the other hand, creates an entirely different image in my mind. I picture a woman riding a bicycle up a steep hill, questioning whether she’ll make it to the top, yet pushing herself as hard as she can to prove to herself (and maybe others) that she is stronger than she gives herself credit for. Or a pro football player giving his all on the field with the hopes of earning his team a spot in this year’s Super Bowl, all while wearing comfortable sports apparel.
That’s the thing about brands. They’re more than just names for the individuals or companies we’ve come to know and love. Instead, as Lucid Press states, they are “the sum total of impressions a customer has, based on every interaction they have had with you, your company, and your products.”
So, how do you build a brand that evokes a positive image in your customer’s mind when you aren’t in the product space, but rather offering your services as a solopreneur? Here are three tips to consider.
Just Be You
When I first set up my website, I reached out to my clients and asked them if they were willing to provide testimonials. In one statement, my client talked about my “attitude and approach” and “willingness to consider new ideas.” Another shared how my being “well-rounded,” “consistent,” and “on-time” are all things he enjoys.
Not only are these descriptors of my work, but they’re also my personality. I’m known for always trying to stay positive and open to other people’s suggestions, and I like to stay current on a bunch of different topics. I’ve also been told how I’m a “grinder” (someone who is willing to put in the work every day) and I’ve never missed a deadline.
As a solopreneur, you are your business. Therefore, your personality will bleed into your company and play a huge part in the development of your brand. Though I initially worried about just being myself because I was concerned I wouldn’t come off as professional enough, I’ve actually learned that showing who you are is good because the more you let your personality shine through, the higher the likelihood you’ll attract clients who fit well with the way you interact with the world.
Besides, being you sets you apart from everyone else offering similar services. This can be a huge draw for prospective clients who are tired of dealing with “cookie cutter” people in your profession.
Questions to ask yourself: What strengths do you have personally that can help you create a stronger brand professionally? If others were to say what they like about you most, what types of values and traits would they point out that you could transfer to your business clients as well?
Give Your Clients an “-er”
Read most any article about how to create a successful business and somewhere within it you’ll find the recommendation to know your ideal client inside and out. This includes learning his or her likes, dislikes, concerns, beliefs, and anything else that will give you a glimpse about how this person thinks and feels. The reason this is helpful is because it it’s easier to create an appealing brand if you know what will actually appeal to your target audience.
For instance, since I provide content in the natural health realm, I have worked for and with a number of chiropractic and massage providers. And one thing I’ve learned is that both of these categories of professionals tend to be extremely busy seeing patients and clients all day, leaving them with little time to work on their business during the typical 9 to 5.
That’s why I do my best to make myself available at times more convenient for them if we’re working on a project that requires some one-on-one. Sometimes this means getting up at 4 AM Pacific so I can chat with a client on the East Coast before they start their day. Other times I’m answering emails on Saturday night or Sunday morning—when I typically like to take time off to spend with my husband—because that’s the only time they can speak.
My goal is to make it easier for my clients to get the content they need for their individual projects. I also work as hard as I can so I am often faster than my competition. Easier and faster are just two “-ers” that I strive to make part of my brand.
Questions to ask yourself: What are some the biggest problems your clients face? How can you help solve them in a way that makes your clients’ lives better, happier, easier, or whatever “-er” applies?
Create a Consistent Image
Knowing who you are and who your clients are is only two-thirds of the equation when it comes to brand creation as a solopreneur. It’s also important to create consistency across all your platforms.
This means having a website, social media pages, business cards, and any other marketing material look like it was all created by the same person…even if that person was you. It also involves using colors and images that are true to you, while also being appealing to the people you serve.
For instance, an overwhelming number of my clients are in the health and wellness profession. After doing some research, I learned that the color green is synonymous with good health. So, I took this information and created a website with green as the primary color. This works well for me because I also happen to like different shades of green (they go with my hazel eyes).
Plus, if you go to any of my social media pages, you’ll see that they all have the same picture of me. That way, it doesn’t matter what platform you find me on, you’ll know you found the right profile or page because the image is the same across the board.
Questions to ask yourself: When looking at your website, business cards, social media profiles, and all of your other marketing content, does it look like one cohesive brand? Is it easy to identify you and your services just by quickly looking at it?
Building your brand as a solopreneur involves highlighting your strengths, giving your clients a reason to choose you over others in your field, and creating a brand that is cohesive and quickly identifiable.
Do these three things and you’ll be well on your way to giving your clients a glimpse of who you are and what you have to offer in a way they connect with, while also building a brand that can survive for years and years to come.