You often hear the expression in French, “Le cordonnier est toujours le plus mal chaussé.” The English translation, while not often used, is “The cobbler’s children have no shoes.” Meaning that those who do something for a living often neglect their own needs.
I decided not to be an example of this when starting my own business. Creating and building a brand was top priority. How else would I be able to sell myself as a copywriter who believes that identity – and thus brand – is the driving force behind all communication?
It’s still early days and my brand development is a work-in-progress but I’ve managed to lay the foundations of a solid professional identity.
Here is my approach to building a brand, summarized in 5 key questions:
1. What’s in a name?
I hate to differ with Shakespeare, but while “a rose by any other name may smell as sweet,” a name is crucial to building a brand. It’s rare in the business of communication that you get to choose a name; more often, it is a given that you must work with. I took advantage of starting a new business to chose my name carefully. Cognito Communication Consulting reflects not just what I do but what I believe (as stated on my home page).
2. What’s my USP?
As a consultant, you are the product. Selling yourself can be challenging but if you take a step back and approach yourself as a product, the exercise becomes much more effective. Defining your USP or unique selling proposition – that one thing or combination of things that differentiates you from your competitors – is a key step in building the basis for your brand.
3. How do I define my brand essence?
Imagine cooking a sauce, and making a reduction. What it all boils down to – that’s one way of defining your brand essence. In my case, it’s a combination of my experience and skills: strategic thinking, creative conception and copwriting (which further explains the link in my name to ‘cognos’ or thinking).
4. Who am I talking to?
Your market dictates to some extent the look and feel of your brand, and what the core messages should be. This requires a good understanding of your clients and what is important to them. The approach must be broad enough to take the full scope of your potential business while focusing on a specific market – you can’t be all things to all people.
5. Where do I need help?
I am a word person but, like many copywriters, have a strong visual sense. That said, I am no graphic designer. I needed professional help to design my logo, avatar, business card and templates.
I reached out to a small design agency in Geneva, Créaphisme, that had done fantastic work for us in the past. The relationship between a writer and a designer drives the quality of the output, and I knew that these professionals would understand my brief and allow me to input into the design. This was a critical step in the creation of my brand.
So there you have it: how to build a brand that reflects your personal or professional identity. This is simplified considerably compared to what companies do when branding products, but it’s worth noting that the same approach can be used in a job search, a career strategy or any form of personal branding.
What do you think? Have I been successful in creating my brand? Feel free to comment and share!