Freelance Marketing: Branding

This is the first article in a five-part series that details exactly what you need to market your freelance business and make it a success.

Freelancers know that marketing can be tough. With few budgetary resources in comparison to competing corporations, every marketing effort must be meticulously calculated for success. Just because your freelance marketing budget is tight doesn't mean you should skip the basic tenets of laying a sound marketing foundation. Quite the opposite, in fact, it means that you have to be nearly perfect to build your business to the next level. And no matter whether you're a freelance designer, writer, developer, attorney, virtual assistant or other contractor, success begins with branding.

Importance of a branded image

Customers make purchases based on emotion, and they justify with logic. Your brand image sets the tone for that emotion. If your branded image tells customers that you're the best person to provide a particular service, if it makes them feel comfortable doing business with you and confident that you'll produce the results they're looking for, you have crafted an excellent brand that's primed for success.

How to identify your branded image

It's important to identify what, exactly, your brand represents from the onset - before you do anything else. You can develop a branded image for your freelance by first listing the benefits of hiring you. This could be a guarantee, proven past results, service-specific superiority, low pricing and many other qualities.

Next, compare your list to your competitors to discover advantages. What can you do better than your competitors? Shortlist these qualities, and compare them to the qualities your target audience is seeking. If you can find a quality that: a) you exhibit exceedingly well; b) your competitors can't compete against; and c) that your target audience wants enough to leave your competitors; you have your brand image.

Branding through design

Graphic design takes your freelance businesses' branded concept and morphs it into a visual motivator through the use of colors, fonts, logo and layout. These traits are universally applied throughout your identity package, which consists of business cards, brochures, flyers, pocket folders, posters, your freelance work and other materials. All of your advertisements, including banners and rack cards, will carry your brand image. With dazzling brand design, your customers will come to instantly recognize what you stand for at a glance.

Choose a skilled graphic designer to develop your brand identity, and you'll be on the fast track to success. Never skip this critical phase - your brand is what sets you apart and uniquely identifies you from the competition. It builds customer loyalty and ultimately increases sales. When you do it right, your return far outweighs your investment.