How to Build up a Strong & Convincing Brand Identity as a Freelancer

Andreas Lutz Updated on 22.10.2020
7 Min.
brand identity brand positioning
Last updated on 22.10.2020

Everyone has an identity. Most people just don't take them consciously. As an entrepreneur or freelancer you are often concerned with where and how you win customers and convince them. Let's start off with the basics of a success: Your Brand identity and positioning.

Become who you are

The brand identity, these are the essential characteristics of your company. It is your self-image that you want to convey to different points of contact with customers and important people. These can also be other freelancers, cooperation partners and media. Your goal, which you should achieve for successful marketing, is a consistent image in all directions. A harmonious brand that will appeal to your customers.

To do this, we look at our identity and positioning and derive everything else from this. So it not only affects how your brand and website should look like. Here you also define how you want to communicate, what your products look like or how you want to send material products, for example. 

pyramid model

Shape your identity

Your own identity is not something fixed that is set in stone at birth. Rather, the search for identity is to be understood as a process which is strongly influenced by your social environment and which you can only influence to a limited extent. When it comes to finding the identity of your brand, on the other hand, you sit at the wheel. So you can already establish your identityBut also in the further course and in interaction with your environment, you can adapt the identity of your brand. Identity is a self-reflective process in companies, which you can consciously control.

The brand world

You can view your brand identity from three angles:

  1. Hard facts
    Verifiable brand characteristics and assessable brand benefit (see left site of the brand steering wheel)
  2. Emotional site
    Sensuality site of the appearance with the brand tonality and the brand image (see right site of the brand steering wheel)
  3. The brand essence
    With origin, history and soul of your company.

You then extend this self-image from the customer's point of view. In this way, you develop your existence as a freelancer into a brand experience that will retain and inspire your customers in the long term.

brand steering wheel

The brand core: Providing starting points

Who am I? You can answer this question for yourself in four sub-questions.

  1. Where do I come from?
  2. Where am I going?
  3. What qualities and skills do I have?
  4. What values or culture do I have?

As an example you can stand here:

  • I was a web designer and project manager at a medium-sized marketing agency for 11 years.
  • I want to help small and medium-sized enterprises in my region to acquire professional customers on the Internet.
  • I know the needs of various companies - from hairdressing salons to wholesalers for office supplies or online shops.
  • I am not "just" a web designer. My experience allows me to advise clients holistically on all marketing issues and embed the website into a larger whole.

Hard facts

What's here for me? From the customer's point of view, answer these questions after Brand Benefits (What am I offering?) and the Brand Features (What do I have?). Properties can refer to products or the entire company. 

With a shop operator for example Speed and a short communication path and broad experience a benefit argument that is handy for customers.

→ A functional benefit would then be a fast implementation of requests.
→ An emotional benefit Security.

It is important that these things verifiable or provable are. A rapid execution is possible because, for example, as a freelancer readily accessible are and Cushion for urgent requests ...installed. Through the field experience you know the typical pitfalls, take them into account and have possible solutions ready. That gives your customers the Security.

The emotional site side of your brand identity

How does the brand feel? The right site side of the brand wheel stands for the emotions and experiences of your customers. A good help to determine the Brand Tonality (How am I?) and the associated personality traits is the Big Five model of the human personality. There is a modified version of Jennifer Aaker for brand personalities.

big five brand personality

For example, a web designer can Personal characteristics have: Unconventional, creative and reliable. These characteristics act in the direction of the Customer benefits. Of course every person and every company has more than a few of these characteristics. However, marketing is all about extracting those features that are relevant to the customer and drawing attention to those features that are useful to customers. 

Does the web designer also consider himself honest and independent Although this is nice, it does not bring any particular benefit to its customers, which should be emphasized. If the person were an IT or financial consultant, communicating these two values would be essential.

The other site of the brand tonality, on the other hand, works in the direction of Brand image. These are the Relationship characteristics to the customer. Here should be the characteristics which can be directly experienced in communication. Here it is not primarily about the benefit, but about the interpersonal "chemistry". For example the customer in contact with the web designer always have the feeling He is helpful, competent and tackles directly.

The brand image: How do I appear to customers?

But how do these features become visible and tangible? There are countless examples of the levels on which one can "experience" a brand. A coke bottle is palpable. The song "Sail away" transports for Becks acoustically Freedom and manhood. Miele washing machines are heavier than others.

Now service providers are mostly focused on the dimensions hearing and seeing limited. So there are designers who push for a special external appearance. Such characteristics are rather detached from the content and abstract. With our web designer this can be implemented even more practically. In pictures he wears the ever popular hooded sweater and sits at his PC. You don't expect a web designer to see him standing in front of a chic glass front in a tie and suit.

If one wants to appear competent as a blogger and service provider, links, sources and professional graphics good. But if you want to appear more creative, communicate a lot through pictures. Get your picture taken while scribbling in the café. With you as a creative person, a desk picture with many drafts may look a little messy at times. Something that does not inspire much confidence in a developer.

And it goes without saying that this area of the brand image also includes corporate design. So which colours convey which properties? Which font on the website shows which emotion? Do we work with pictures, with people or with factual graphics? This field is very large. If you don't have a specialist for this, then make it a routine to always ask the following question: 

Do form, colour, presentation, content, message, structure and co. fit to what I want to transport?

The big picture - more than the sum of its parts

The last question in particular is extremely important to be seen in the overall context. A brand identity is a puzzle in which the Add individual partsto end up with a perfect picture. More than that. By and large, the puzzle gives an even stronger picture than the sum of its parts.

Tips on identity:

  • Identity comes from within. Don't look at the competitor, that's how you make yourself comparable.
  • Focus on your strengths instead of weaknesses.
  • Get external feedback and check: Does my self-image match the image my customers have of me?
  • Keep developing your brand identity. It is alive and never locked.

Positioning - Why should customers choose me?

A good positioning means a unique and relevant place in the world of in the mind of the customer to conquer. A well positioned brand focused on customers few relevant characteristics. This not only makes it better perceived than competitors, but also ultimately wins the battle for the orders.

But this important focus on a few things is difficult for many service providers, bloggers and creative people. Everyone wants to be a Da Vinci - painter, anatomist, ornithologist, engineer and much more. Due to his lack of focus, even this genius would have remained almost an unknown. So the key to success is a clear focus. You and any partners or employees should be able to tell each customer in a short sentence why they should choose you or your company.

Your special features - the USP

The "Unique Selling Point" (USP) is a functional benefit or a property, that sets you apart from your potential competitors. If you have developed a unique or innovative product, the USP is quickly found. For example, this could be an analysis tool developed for a specific industry or target group. If there is no such thing, you can switch to something else.

An externally recognizable USP is the above-mentioned Hoodie. This (often constructed) unique selling proposition is therefore often referred to as UCP (Unique Communication Proposition). That this works in the end customer area can be seen in products like Toblerone. The shape of the chocolate is a UCP. However, for service providers in the B2B sector, external appearance is a very weak unique selling proposition and is too strongly related to the person. He has have little to do with a benefit for the customer and thus communicates little added value.

Other exemplary USPs are:

  • Branches/market niches
  • Offers like mastermind-groups
  • Special training designs
  • Unique services around the actual service

 There are countless options. It is only a matter of identifying the most suitable one for your target group.

Attractive and future-oriented

The special nature of the positioned brand must be attractive to customers. This sounds profane, but has a simple background: product features are not sexy. Your customers are rarely interested in your blog layout or individual contents of your services. What they really interested, the benefit they bring. For example, a major cosmetics brand said "We make cosmetics, but in the shops we sell hope". 

So you don't sell a website, design or other services, but the benefits they bring to your customers.

When searching for such points, shop operators and service providers often come to the point where they "Market Analysis" operate. In the worst case, competitors are analysed and bad copies created. In the best case, they ask customers about their ideas. This is not ideal either, because positioning should always be aimed at the future. If you ask your customers, they'll usually only give you common clichés or even mentioned the characteristics of the competition.

But it is precisely the courage to try something new, combined with relevance for the customer, that leads to a strong position with customers. Properly implemented, you will find yourself in the position of the "market leader".

If you have any feedback or further questions on the topic of brand identity and positioning, please feel free to leave me a comment.

Picture: Randy Fath | Unsplash

Andreas Lutz is managing director and marketing expert for service providers. After 15 years of online marketing and ten years of marketing especially for the consulting and service industry, he finds ways and solutions.

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