According to our trusty Merriam-Webster, the word “brand”, among other things, means “a mark made by burning with a hot iron to attest manufacture or quality or to designate ownership” or “a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer”. But how does a solo business owner develop their brand? Why is it necessary? What if you don’t have access to hot irons? Or a physical product to be burned? What does this all mean to your business?

Relax! It’s not that bad. Perhaps to say it more simply would be to say that your brand is your promise to your customer that they can trust their expectations for your products and services. By developing your brand, you are differentiating your business offerings from your competitors’. It is who you are, who you want to be and who customers perceive you to be. 

A professionally designed logo will be your brand communicator. Choose pleasing colors and an unconfusing font and apply it to everything from your website to your business cards and promotional materials to your product packaging. (This is where your hot iron will come in handy if your printer runs out of ink.) Be consistent with your logo. Place it in the same place on your packaging each and every time, don’t change the colors every two weeks, etc. The goal is to mold it into people’s brains and constantly changing the look will do the opposite.

Once you have the logo down, it’s time to work on your Personal Value Proposition: This is your “why should you hire me and not someone else” bit. It should be detailed enough that you don’t leave anything out but concise enough to fit into a few sentences. How do your strengths resonate with your target market?

Speaking of your target market, how do you reach it? In this day and age the answer is almost always: Online. Social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are some of the best ways to get your brand out into the world. Start a blog, Tweet regularly, share interesting ideas on Facebook. But be consistent! (Didn’t we say that somewhere else already?) Everything from images to descriptions need to be consistent across the board and must align with your value proposition. Nothing will ruin your brand quicker than inconsistency.

While online is definitely necessary, do not forget about the importance of offline marketing as well. Attend local networking events where you can have face-to-face introductions with others in your community. Get involved with other businesses in your neighborhood. Host a thought leadership group in one of our awesome spaces: Show your face to your community, hand out your business cards and introduce people to what you have to offer. 

This is by no means a comprehensive list on how to develop your brand but hopefully this will give you the courage to get started. Also, don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. If you’re not sure how to set up a website, it’s better to spend a little money now and hire a professional than to lose potential clients because your site doesn’t look professional. The same goes for hiring someone to help you design your logo or help get you started on social media or anything else you may not feel 100% confident about.

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