A Branding Guide for Solopreneurs

branding

Branding is how you tell the story of your business. It helps you stand apart and break through the noise in a busy world. Of course, creating this kind of story for a company may feel different. For many solopreneurs, this may feel more complicated. You’re not a “business”, you’re a person. This feeling is common but is actually exactly what makes building your brand so important.

With thoughtful and careful choices, you can both authentically work yourself into the face of your business while strategically separating and creating healthy boundaries as well.

How do you do that?

Separating Your Business from Your Personal Life

You need the public face of your business to be authentic and genuine. With so much competition out there today, audiences can tell the difference. They want to feel like they know you and your business. This means sharing part of yourself.

It doesn’t mean you have to share all of yourself. You do not need to put all of your personal life online. In fact, that can make your brand too busy and seem inconsistent. As human beings, we are complicated. There is no need to confuse audiences with every thought that comes into your mind.

When you know the story of your business, you can share what’s relevant and still be authentic.

Defining the Story of Your Business

What product or service do you sell? What separates your business from the competition? What are some adjectives you would use to describe it?

For example, a children’s book author may be fun, silly, bright, and focused on nature.

A dentist’s office in downtown Washington DC may mainly have patients that work in politics. Their office is professional, serious, and puts a priority on punctuality and fast appointments. A dentist in this situation may play up their education, their years of experience, and their expertise in procedures that give you a winning smile.

Know what you’re selling and to who you are selling it, and you’ll get a better feel for what the story of your business is.

If you’re struggling with this, first ask yourself:

  • What am I selling?
  • Why do people buy this from me over others? Examples: higher quality, environmentally friendly, price point, etc.
  • What do people associate my business with?

If you’re still struggling, try a mind map. You can do this freestyle or use any of the mind map templates available free online.

Get a Professional Headshot

You are the face of your business, so people need to see you. While everyone has a camera of a high enough quality to take a professional-looking photo these days, hiring a photographer will make a big difference.

You don’t need to hire the most expensive photographer on the market, either. You can have this done in a mall and get a great result.

If you can, think about adding elements to the photo that speak well of your business. If you’re a realtor, wear a blazer. If you’re a children’s book author, wear something fun.

Don’t Be Afraid Of Being Original

Often, it’s tempting to see what your competition is doing and then use that as a guideline.

When you’re starting your own business it’s important to accept that you’re going to have to take a lot of steps where no one has gone before. It’s scary being out there on your own, but boldness can really pay off. You didn’t get in this to play it safe, did you?

Coco Chanel once said, “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different.” If your business is just like your competition, why wouldn’t your customers hire them instead?

Know what makes you stand out and lean into that. Sometimes, these may turn out to be missteps. Treat everything as an experiment, look at your data, and keep trying new things.

Get Your Social Media Handles

It’s a great idea to only focus your social media time on one or two key platforms while you’re still growing. Get excellent on those platforms before expanding where your business is present.

That being said, you should plan for growth. That means you should grab your social media handles on every platform available as soon as you get started. This way, you can get the same name on every platform for better consistency for your business.

Design Templates for Your Marketing Materials and Create Standards

The heart of your branding is the story. It’s in the services you provide and the customer experience. A lot of focus gets put on aesthetics, which is important, but don’t forget the other parts.

That being said, let’s talk about the aesthetics. The way your business looks is part of the customer experience. It creates consistency, which builds trust. It teaches customers to recognize your business on the spot. Consistent aesthetics also signal to your customers that you have created a seamless experience for them.

To do this in a way that’s manageable, experts create templates. This will give you that consistent look. Once you choose your colors and fonts, you can employ these in templates you use to create Instagram posts, templates for your newsletter, and even templates for your paper marketing materials.

You don’t need to be a font expert to choose your fonts. Use a free font pairing tool like FontJoy.com to find what looks best.

Having trouble choosing your colors? Use a free color palette generator like ColorMind.io. Make a note of the specific numbers for the colors you choose.

To create templates and easy social media posts, use a service like Canva. They have a free option you can get started with, but to keep templates you’ll need to sign up for their monthly subscription.

Understand That Your Business Will Evolve

You will grow and change as a person over time. As a solopreneur, this means your business will change with you. So will your customers and so will the industry. Don’t fight that. It’s actually a good thing.

How do you evolve over time while keeping your branding consistent?

You make sure that you make changes gradually. When you do make changes, you are free to share the behind-the-scenes choices you’re making and the work you’re doing with your audience. If you can share with them why you’re doing what you’re doing, you’ll add a dose of authenticity to your message that your audience will appreciate.

Develop a strong brand, build authentic communication with your audience, and watch your business grow and evolve over time.

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