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July 1st, 2010

Top Ten Rules of Successful Branding

Posted by liveBooks

Not even sure what a ‘brand’ is in the context of your solo career? Put simply, it’s the way you present yourself to your clients.

1. Know yourself.

The foundation of a strong personal brand is, well, a strong sense of self. What are your strengths? What makes you stand out from the crowd? What kind of work do you enjoy/prefer/aspire to? What’s your vision for the future of your business? They’re not easy questions, but having clear answers to them will help you define your personal brand and position it for success.

2. Know your target audience.

Branding is a form of communication, so as in any conversation, it’s crucial to understand who it is you’re talking to. What sorts of clients, products and industries would you like to work for, and what do they need to succeed? How can you deliver it? Tailor your messages and visuals to speak to the people you most want to reach, and you’ll be much more likely to hear from them.

3. Be authentic.

The most successful brands are authentic brands. It’s important to position yourself in line with your interests and future goals, but ‘faking it ‘til you make it’ will only take you so far. If you oversell your capabilities, you risk falling short of the expectations you’ve set. Plus, people are perceptive. If your brand doesn’t ring true, chances are your phone’s not going to, either.

4. Take advantage of your toolbox.

Logo, color, layout, words, and of course, your work: these are the tools in your toolbox. Take advantage of all of them to build your brand, and use your personal vision as the metric for deciding how to use them. Now that you’ve got a liveBooks site, consider hiring a good designer to help you figure out the rest. See our blog post on Getting Great Design for advice on a smooth design process.

5. Be strategic.

Once you’ve got your brand in place, make sure people can find it! Consider all the ways you might reach your target audience. Use your networks, both real (professional associations, events, competitions, publications) and virtual (Facebook, LinkedIn,Twitter, blogs). Reach out to dream clients. And perhaps most importantly, follow a few simple steps to drive traffic back to your liveBooks site.

6. Be consistent.

Your clients interact with your brand all over the place: your website, blog, email, in-person meetings, product delivery, billing…the list goes on and on. Wherever possible, make sure your brand looks and feels the same every time your clients touch it. That means business cards, newsletters, email signatures, thank-you notes, invoices and everything else you use should work together to reinforce your brand. See our Partners page for resources.

7. Be consistent.

Build it, (consistency that is) and they will come.

8. Be consistent.

No really. It’s secretly rule #1.

9. Maintain a dialogue.

Every time you finish a new project, participate in a conference or competition, or achieve a personal milestone, you have an excuse to start a new conversation. Take advantage of these opportunities to bring people back to your brand.

10. Refresh as necessary.

As I’ve tried to say already, consistency is key. But every brand can use a little refresh from time to time. (We’re talking every couple years here.) It ensures that your brand feels contemporary and gives both you and your clients an opportunity to re-engage.

Coming soon – your guide to your online/offline brand strategy.

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