When you are self-employed, you become your business and vice versa. It is very easy to get tangled in your work, and become one with the brand. At the same time, it is easy to absorb your brand, and under develop it, as it happens when there is lack of discipline and personal issues absorb valuable work time – your efforts may get lost. Balance is key; however, it is important to develop your brand, and keep evolving with it.
Developing and building your brand starts as soon as you get in business for yourself, and it continues throughout ( I think it never stops); however, branding your business whether it is a shop or your writing career, will help you stand apart, and create visual impact with your customers – or be remembered/associated with something. Large companies do it all the time, so why not develop your own brand?
If you want to do it right, you must spend time and effort (lots of it) as well as be willing to tweak and change things around as needed, or evolve keeping the integrity of your brand – the essence of it. For some people, depending on the line of work and resources (time – physical and emotional – and money), it will take less time than for others, especially if you are doing everything yourself. Of course, you can always hire someone to do it for you, if you have the financial resources.
Over the past couple of years, I left my job, starting a soul-searching journey, with the support of my angel husband (thank the heavens for him), and came across the realization of the things I truly love – Real Estate (which sucks right now), writing, and creating with my hands, whether art or handcrafted pieces. Slowly (more due to the morass in my heart and slow self rescue and discovery) a brand started to emerge, which I called THE OWL, BOOK & CANDLE.
I am by nature a do-it-yourselfer, so I started thinking about it and creating a business and slowly working the details. Still, there is much work to be done, as well as evolution. The purpose of this post is not to promote my brand, but to make you think about your own branding and how you can work towards its development/growth, even when resources are low, even when you can only take small steps.
What I don’t know, I try to learn; that has always been my motto. The first thing I did, once I was sure of where I was headed, was to make my business a legal entity by registering it and taking all the necessary steps. To me, that step made the commitment more real. To give you an idea of the things that I did to grow my brand, here are a few pictures. The entire process continues to be an affirmation to my commitment, as well as self-focus.
I learned to design my logo and business cards. In addition, I learned to create my business flyers and promotional materials. I could have hired someone or use an online service, which is not expensive at all; however, from beginning to end, I needed to do it all, as it was about finding my true call, and about self-rescue. If in the midst of it all, something did not sound quite right, I would change it or redirect my efforts.
I took my logo/brand to my everyday life by placing it on my car – wherever I go, so does my brand. It is about advertising, however at this stage, it is more about brand recognition and self-commitment. This was not an expensive process neither. An online presence was very important, as this would become my modus operandi. I decided to create and umbrella corporation that would house the writing and e-commerce parts of my endeavor, instead of building separate entities. Part of the reason, you guessed it – the need for reaffirmation and self-focus at this stage (scattering efforts was counterproductive).
This is the most important part of any business as without it, a business cannot exist, and this is where I try to focus my best effort – offering top customer service, communication, and excellent work performance. Branding without top customer service is useless. Branding translates to the e-commerce area on developing a packaging that is cohesive so when the customer receives the product, it associates your brand with it. From wrapping, labeling, packaging, flyers, stationery (electronic or hardcopy), and free tokens of appreciation, your efforts should mirror your brand.
There are many other steps and things to do to build your brand, but in keeping with my usual way of not making posts too long, I will leave you to ponder this – how can you make your brand a bit stronger and how does it play into your true passion? Do you need to redirect your efforts?