Written by Carol Tice
Strong branding is critical in our ad-cluttered world. After all, you want to ensure that you're the first provider in your niche that comes to customers' minds.
But what if your brand is, well, just you? How can you be memorable and stand out?
Never fear -- solopreneurs can have snappy branding, too. Here's a quick guide and some examples of one-person businesses that have great, memorable brands:
- Make it visual. Simple branding is best, especially if you can make an association in people's minds that helps them remember you. Two of my local realtors are Ed Aro and Penny McLaughlin. You guessed it -- Ed's logo is an arrow, and Penny's is a one-cent piece with her face on it in profile instead of Lincoln. Penny has had so much success with her brand that she grew into a real-estate empire with eight brokers, a.k.a. "Penny's Team." Their trucks are often seen around town, with that familiar penny logo on the side.
- Be sure it's tweetable. Social media is increasingly important in coming up with your brand concept. Look what happened to Netflix when they didn't check if their chosen spinoff brand name, Qwikster, was available on Twitter. It turned out to be already taken by someone who wanted to post about their drug use. When you're choosing a brand name, consider how and whether it would work in social media.
- Have fun. Some of my favorite solopreneur brands have humorous or whimsical elements. For instance, a proofreader and writing-consultant friend of mine, Stefanie Flaxman, is the Revision Fairy -- check out her cool cartoon. And franchise expert Joel Libava is the Franchise King, down to posing with a red-velvet-and-gold crown (once again, great visual). What better way to instantly communicate that he's the top expert in his field?
- Make sure it fits. If the entrepreneurs I've cited above were uncomfortable with the brands they've created, their brands would flounder. You may be living with this brand for a long time, so don't go with a brand concept that embarrasses you. Customers will sense that, and you won't promote your brand as enthusiastically.
- Be consistent. Once you've come up with your branding, you want to use it everywhere. Get new business cards, magnet signs for your car, stationery and a new sign for your store. Don't leave any of your old, less-awesome branding lurking around to confuse people.