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

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

Everyone has an identity. Most people are just not consciously aware of it. As an entrepreneur or freelancer, you are often concerned with where and how you can win customers and convince them of your merits. But the basis of your success starts even earlier: with your brand identity and positioning.

Become who you are

Brand identity is the defining characteristics of your company. It is your self-image, which you want to convey to various points of contact with customers and important people. This 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 coherent brand that resonates with your customers.

For this, we deal with our identity and positioning and derive everything else from that. So it doesn't only have an influence on what your brand and your website should look like, for example. Here you also determine how you want to communicate, how your products look like or how you send material products, for example. 

pyramid model

Shape your identity

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

The brand world

You can look at your brand identity from three angles:

  1. Hard facts
    Verifiable brand attributes and assessable brand benefits (see left site of the brand wheel)
  2. Emotional site
    Sensual site of the appearance with the brand tonality and the brand image (see right site of the brand control wheel)
  3. The brand core
    With the origin, history and soul of your company.

You then expand this self-image by the customer perspective. This is how you develop your existence as a freelancer into a brand experience that keeps your customers and inspires them.

brand steering wheel

The brand core: Providing starting points

Who am I? You can answer this question for yourself in four parts.

  1. Where am I 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 can stand here:

  • I was a web designer and project manager at a mid-sized marketing agency for 11 years.
  • I want to help small and medium sized businesses in my area to attract professional customers on the internet.
  • I know the needs of a wide variety of businesses - from hair salons to wholesalers for office supplies or online shops.
  • I am not "just" a web designer. I can advise clients holistically through my experience in all marketing issues and embed the website in a larger whole.

Hard facts

What is there for me here? From the customer's point of view, answer these questions about brand benefit (What do I offer?) and the brand attributes (What do I have?). Properties can refer to products or the entire company.

For a shop operator, for example Speed and a short communication path and many years of experience a handy benefit argument for customers.

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

It is important that these things are verifiable or provable Are. A fast implementation is possible, for example, because as a freelancer you are easily accessible and cushion for urgent requests for urgent requests. Through the practical experience you know typical pitfalls, include them in your calculations and already have possible solutions ready. This gives your customers the security.

The emotional site of your brand identity

How does the brand feel? The right site of the brand wheel represents the emotions and experiences conveyed by your customers. A good help to define the brand tonality (What am I like?) and the associated personality traits is the Big Five Model of human personality. There is a modified version for brand personalities by Jennifer Aaker.

big five brand personality

Accordingly, a web designer, for example, can have the following personality traits have: Unconventional, Creative and Reliable. These characteristics work in the direction of Customer Benefit. Of course, every person and every company has more than a few of these characteristics. However, marketing is about extracting the ones that are relevant to the customer and drawing attention to the characteristics that are useful to customers.

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

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

The brand image: How do I appear to customers?

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

Now service providers are mostly limited to the dimensions Hearing and seeing limited. Thus, there are designers who put forward a special external appearance. Such features are rather disconnected from the content and abstract. With our web designer, this can be implemented even more practical. In pictures he wears the ever-popular hoodie and sits at the PC. You don't expect a web designer to stand in front of a fancy glass front with tie and suit.

If you want to appear competent as a blogger and service provider, links, sources and professional graphics make sense in digital communication. professional graphics are good. But if you want to appear more creative, then communicate a lot through pictures. Have your picture taken while scribbling in a coffee shop. If you're a creative, a desk picture with lots of drafts is allowed to look a little messy. Something that doesn't inspire much confidence in a developer.

And it goes without saying that this area of the brand image also includes the corporate design. So which colours convey which characteristics? 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 about everything:

Do form, colour, presentation, content, statement, structure and so on fit with what I want to convey?

The big picture - more than the sum of the parts

Especially the last question is enormously important to see in the overall context. A brand identity is a jigsaw puzzle in which the individual individual pieces complementto show a perfect picture at the end. Even more. The puzzle as a whole results in an even stronger picture than the sum of the individual pieces.

Identity Tips:

  • Identity comes from within. Don't look at the competitor, that's how you make yourself comparable.
  • Put the 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 finished.

Positioning - Why should customers choose me?

A good positioning means to have a unique and relevant place in the mind of the customer in the mind of the customer. A well positioned brand focuses for customers a few relevant features. Thus, it is not only better perceived than competitors, but also wins the battle for orders in the end.

But that all-important focus on a few is difficult for many service providers, bloggers, and creatives. Everyone wants to be a Da Vinci - painter, anatomist, ornithologist, engineer, and more. His lack of focus almost left even this genius an unknown. So the key to success is a clear focus. You and any partners or employees should be able to tell any client in one short sentence why they should choose you or your business.

Your special features - the USP

The "Unique Selling Point" (USP) is a functional benefit or feature that sets you apart from your potential competitors. If you have developed a unique or innovative product, the USP is quickly found. This could be, for example, 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 sector can be seen in products such as Toblerone. The shape of the chocolate is a UCP. However, outward appearance is a very weak unique selling proposition for service providers in the B2B sector and is too strongly related to the person. It has little to do with a benefit for the customer and thus communicates little added value.

Other exemplary USPs include:

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

 There are countless options. It's just a matter of identifying the most suitable one for your target group.

Attractive and forward-looking

The special feature of the positioned brand must be attractive for customers. This sounds mundane, but it has a simple background: product features are not sexy. Your customers rarely care about your blog layout or individual content of your services. What they really interested in is the benefit they bring.. As one major cosmetics brand said, "We make cosmetics, but in the stores we sell hope".

So you're not selling a website, design or other services, you're selling the value they bring to your customers.

In the search for such points, shop operators and service providers often reach the point of "market analysis" operate. In the worst case, competitors are analyzed and bad copies created. In the best case, they ask customers about their ideas. This isn't ideal either, because positioning should always be focused on the future. If you ask your customers, they will usually only give you common clichés or even 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. a strong position with customers. Properly implemented, you will find yourself in the position of "market leader".

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

Contributed image: Randy Fath | Unsplash

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

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