What’s all the buzz about branding? I just want to start a business. Find clients to work with. You know, the normal things people want when they jump out of the security of corporate life, or in my case, higher education, and into the world of freelancing. I had no idea I would experience so much overwhelm. I spent weeks deciding whether I wanted to be an LLC or incorporate. Now you’re telling me I need to brand myself. Oh by the way, you have to pick the right colors, the right fonts, and the right keywords for your social media posts. Again, I just want to start a business. *sigh* Here are the top elements to consider when creating a brand. Hopefully by the time I finish writing this post, I will have convinced myself.
What Words Describe You?
This is starting to feel like one of those quizzes in a woman’s magazine, but I’m willing to play even though I get annoyed with silly quizzes. First, branding isn’t so much about colors and logos, although those elements are important pieces. Branding begins with the promise you make to your customer. For me, I promise my clients that my focus is on giving them a high-end and high-quality product. That means if you work with me, you’ll get something refined and elegant, folks. My promise also includes passion for my work, which spills over to that product. Dependability – I wear it like a crown. If you want transparency, I live by the what-you-see-is-what-you-get motto. That doesn’t mean I’ll show up in the Zoom room wearing pajamas, but it I may not always wear my diamonds and pearls. Can you feel my personality yet? High-end. High quality. Dependable. Transparent. Genuine. Passionate. Dedicated. Strong. These words all describe me and are incorporated into the mission statement for both my business and my life.
What’s Your Name?
I’m not asking about your surname or your nickname. I’m talking about your business name. This is the step where people often get stuck. The struggle is real. Sometimes I wonder if we all spend as much time choosing the names for our children as we do agonizing over a business name. If you haven’t chosen your name yet, you may find it to be a maddening process! Maybe like me, you have a unique name in mind. I spent the entire spring season hung up on using Red Bicycle in my name. Red Bicycle Professional Writing Services. Has a nice ring to it, no? That’s what the owner(s) of Red Bicycle Coffee and Red Bicycle Media thought too. I obsessed about this name for months. I even thought about naming the business Red Bicycle Writer, LLC.
I polled the family. I posted on Facebook. When I put an offer in on my house, I noticed a garden decoration that was a little red bicycle. I was convinced it was a sign. Imagine my dismay when I found on closing day that the previous owner took my red bicycle! In the end, Red Bicycle did not belong to me. And you know what? If your heart has been broken because the name you want has been taken, you will be just fine. Do what I did and just use your name, or a part of your name. You might even save yourself some future grief. Is Pink Sneakers or Silly Spuds really the direction you want to be going in five years? I decided on Red Willow Publications for reasons I’ll share on another day.
What’s Your Favorite Color?
I never realized how much I love red until I became infatuated with a little red bicycle. I was ready to order peony red business cards with gold foil lettering. I was all about red! I liked that red was associated with power and strength. Then I read it was also tied to feelings of danger. Whoa! Now I love adventures, but I don’t want my clients to feel like they’re in danger when they work with me. So, I spent another large block of time perusing color websites and got lost on Pinterest looking at branding boards sorted by color. I narrowed it down to three, yes three, color schemes. The naggy little voice in my head said, “Just pick one for Pete’s sake!” So I did. Red is not included. What I chose is supposed to work well for a business with a formal, elegant presence. Hence, my search for the pearl necklace I buried in the bottom of my jewelry box. You’ll have to wait until the formal unveiling of my brand to see what I chose. As sarcastic as I may sound, I do value the importance of color. It’s an emotional and psychological experience. There are websites I won’t continue looking at if the color scheme is too much for my eyes.
Fonts. Fonts. Fonts.
I just spent the last several years working in an environment where Times New Roman or Arial 12 pt. are the only acceptable fonts to use. Even in my graduate program, which is in a creative field, I was limited to Calibri or Garamond. I was so excited to be encouraged to choose fonts for my business. Big, artsy fonts! Well, at least one artistic font used alongside one or two simple fonts. I can’t say I’m an artist but I do enjoy the beauty of art, so looking at the available fonts was fun. To understand more about the art of pairing fonts, read this article from Canva. After you read it, go ahead and set-up your free Canva account. You’re going to need it for the many things you’ll design for your pages on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
I’m Officially Branded!
Okay, so my brand isn’t really complete – yet – but I am gaining a better sense of where I want it to go. What’s important is the fun I had exploring what branding means. And I’m convinced that it’s important to take the time to create your brand. It means something, not just to the business owner, but to the clients who will be the recipients of the promises that are part of the brand of the business. Stay tuned for the unveiling!