The power of creating your own brand is that you get to decide what goes in it. The magic is that you already know everything that will be going in there, all you have to do is get it out and in front of the right people. And the trick? That's figuring out how to connect what you do and what you know with the people you want to work with.
That is a very important thing to keep in mind. The people you want to work with.
Don't focus on who wants your services, what is trending, or how to change it. Focus on finding the right people and connecting your services and products with them. It will take time to figure this out and it will involve a lot of trial and error. I'd love to give you a perfect framework for how everything works, but the truth is... everybody is different, every business is different, every person behind it is different, and everybody has a different idea of who their ideal clients are.
So, here are the 7 steps to help you DIY your brand as a service provider. Before you get into those though, I do have two very important notes for you to keep in mind.
Firstly, your brand comes after you've established your business.
Secondly, this is based on the idea of building an audience-based brand, not a personal or corporate one. If you want to know more details about this, check out my previous article on the different types of brands.
Now, let's get to it!
Get your business up and running and clients coming in.
Learn everything you can about the people you want to work with.
Figure out where your brand is heading and how it will get there.
Make your brand approachable and easy to connect with.
Attract the right people by creating your brand's visuals.
Use, grow, and change your brand over time as you use it.
Be prepared to fail and turn your mistakes into stepping stones.
Get your business up and running and clients coming in
As I mentioned earlier as an important step, your brand comes after you've established your business. You want to know what services you will be offering, how to price them, how to package them, and how to do them. Get some experience in doing what you love to do and start putting together testimonials, success stories, portfolios, and other forms of sharing what you do. Referrals are extremely important in getting clients, more so than social media, advertising, or marketing.
More importantly, doing this will get you in the right mind-frame that your brand is a part of your business and supports it, not the whole shebang. Doing this will also help you start building a base for your brand based on your own personal preferences and figuring out what you want your business to achieve and do for you in the future.
Learn everything you can about the people you want to work with
Create a brand persona or a client avatar and figure out both who you want to work with and who you don't want to work with. It is important to start recognizing red flags as soon as possible and get your own business boundaries down. The people you want to work with will be fine with you taking a mental day off or going off on vacation and will not be contacting you in the middle of the night (only some examples of things to look for in your ideal clients).
On top of that, break it down into multiple categories, or segments, and think about a general audience you want to reach that can help you grow your brand's awareness. These are the people that you will probably not work with, but they will get you noticed. Also create a niche audience segment of the people who you can target with your services and the ones who want them, even if you don't want to work with them. And don't forget to find as many details as possible about your ideal client as this is the person that you will be talking to.
Figure out where your brand is heading and how it will get there
Create both external and internal mission statements, vision goals, and your brand values. These come from you, how your business has been going so far, and what you know about your ideal clients. By this stage of your brand building, you already know what these are and now only have to put them into words that can turn into your marketing messages and as part of all of your client communications. In addition, you can use these to create a flexible roadmap of how to get to your final goals.
A trick to think about here is to NOT focus on your other audience segments as that will blur your final message. You want to be talking to that ONE ideal client. Find the person you want to work with that checks all the marks off and talk to them in all of your marketing materials. BUT, don't forget to learn more about them on a deeper level to see how your brand's growth and evolution will work for that specific person over time. And, more importantly, how your values connect you.
Make your brand approachable and easy to connect with
Take the parts of yourself you want to include in your brand (it won't be everything) and put them into your brand. Create a separate personality and be general so that your ideal clients can connect with it. Think horoscopes. You have a specific message in mind but everybody can relate to it. You want to focus on your ideal clients and their pain points without ostracizing those that don't check off every mark on your list. Trust me, you will be working with clients outside of your niche and ideal client avatars and you will love it.
On top of that, start standardizing your language, phrasing, and workflows. And don't forget to create a consistent voice and tone throughout all your communication. This will make it easier for your audience to turn into clients without the shock of going from marketing to 1:1 conversations.
Attract the right people by creating your brand's visuals
Not exactly last, but definitely not the first thing to do, is to create your brand's visual identity. This includes your logo, colours, fonts, pictures, website, social media, print assets, and all of the other visuals that your audience will see. People are visual creatures and they will be attracted by your visuals. Create these based on the research of all of the above steps!
Very important here!! Don't choose based on your personal preferences! You can include them, obviously, but think about your ideal clients and what they will want to see and think about your niche audience and what they expect to see. Throw in a sprinkle of your own personal aesthetic, but don't base it on that, otherwise, your brand is attracting you and not paying clients.
Use, grow, and change your brand over time as you use it
Your brand will not be a static part of your business. The more you're working, the more you'll get to learn about your clients and services and your own values. These will change over time, it is perfectly normal. Let your brand evolve with you and slowly grow over time.
Having said that, don't rebrand every month or nobody will remember who you are. I'm not going to go into this step in too much detail because I have an entire article written all about the different ways for your brand to change under the name rebranding vs facelift vs brand update that you can read. This talks about at what stage and what type of changes you may wish to do to your brand.
Hint hint, this is also why I stressed in the previous step to not based your visuals on your personal preferences and aesthetics. Those will change over time and those changes may not always be reflected in your brand's strategy and the base you've built up until now.
Be prepared to fail and turn your mistakes into stepping stones
I am a firm believer that the best way to learn is to do. While I love preparing and doing the research involved as much as possible before starting anything, I also know that until you start, you will never know for sure. Because, theoretically, you know what you're doing and what to expect. But practically? Things change.
Do it, even if you're not 100% ready (though I do try and push people to be as close to 100% as they can get before they start) and learn. You will fail, it is normal. There will be a missed clause in a contract, a spelling mistake, an unpaid invoice, an empty launch... it happens to everyone. Your goal is to learn from these failures and turn them into stepping stones so you know how to do it better next time.
Remember, your brand grows and changes the same way you do and the same way your business will. Be flexible, accepting, and, most importantly, be nice to yourself.