What exactly is a brand? And how do you, as a solo WordPress business owner and service professional, create a brand that works for you?
Seth Godin’s definition helps with the first question:
And for the second? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a guide to branding for a small WordPress development or design business using a shoestring budget and a simplified, bootstrap approach.
No expensive market research, no (or not much) branding lingo, just straightforward minimalist steps you can take to create a brand that resonates with your ideal clients and works hard for you.
Establish Your Brand Values
Who are you? What are you about? What’s important to you, both personally and as a WordPress professional?
Everything you do in pursuit of branding should be consistent with your brand values, which can help you easily differentiate yourself.
When you establish who/what you are and represent, the people in your natural fit group or circle can then self-identify with those values. It’s easier for them to figure out “yes, that’s who I want to create my WordPress site” and connect with you.
Pinpointing your brand values also makes communicating those values much easier and clearer to your prospects.
That’s why the branding work starts here, with those values. They inform everything that comes after.
Create Your Ideal-Client Personas
Once you’ve identified your own brand values, it’s time to create compelling profiles for each of your ideal client personas.
Take the time to create a separate profile for each ideal client persona (you’ll have more than one, most likely). Then make certain that these personas align well with your brand values.
For instance, if one of your primary values is “fun,” it probably wouldn’t make much sense to have a persona that focuses only on serious intellectual pursuits. It’s just not the best possible fit.
Specify as much information about this kind of client as you can, including both demographics (age, geographic location, educational level, etc.) and psychographics (fears, desires, pain points, motivations behind purchasing decisions, etc.).
Give each persona an actual name and find a stock image to represent that persona. Then, when you begin creating content and implementing marketing campaigns, address yourself to that person. It’ll help you resonate more with your targeted market.
Craft A Memorable Tagline
Now that your values have been identified, it’s time to create a tagline that encapsulates those values.
Combine your brand values with your UVP (unique value proposition) for your clients. What’s special about working with you? What does your brand bring to the table that no one else can?
Whatever you do in the future – copy, marketing, new services – must be consistent with this tagline, brand values, and UVP.
So in a practical sense, your tagline sums up your brand. That’s why it makes sense to take some time and get it right.
Decide on Your Branding Budget
What can you afford to spend on the entire process? Whatever that figure may be, decide on it upfront and commit to staying inside that budget.
Ostensibly you won’t need to spend tons of money on your website, apart from a well-coded framework or premium theme; you can do most of that yourself as a skilled WordPress professional.
But you might not be the best writer in the world, and even if you are, you may not possess copywriting skills — that’s a whole different ballgame since it’s not just stringing words together in grammatically correct fashion but doing so in a persuasive way.
So it might be in your best interest to outsource your content — the actual text on your pages — to a professional copywriter.
You’ll have to decide as you go where your budget will be most effectively spent, but you have to start with a number you can reasonably afford.
Get a Logo Designed
One aspect of branding you’ll probably want to outsource to a professional and give some budgetary priority to is your logo. The reason why is simple: You’re going to be stuck with it for awhile.
Your logo is the most visible “element” of any branding plan and so it’s the one thing that most prospects will link to a brand’s identity. It goes on everything from your website to social media headers to print materials (business cards, etc.).
However, it’s certainly possible to avoid spending big bucks on a logo. One way is to skip the logo altogether and brand based on your name using eye-catching fonts, which works well when you’re creating a business on a service-based model.
Pick a Color Scheme
Picking a color scheme is every bit as important as your logo.
As the other component of your visual branding plan, the color scheme will be a huge part of the visual connection you’re trying to build in the minds of your prospects between your brand name and the services you plan to provide.
As branding expert Pamela Wilson at Big Brand System has stated, successful color schemes are restricted to two main colors because:
“We expect our audience to associate specific images (like our logo and colors) with our business. The less information we give them to ‘learn’ about us, the better the chance they’ll absorb it.”
One great resource for choosing schemes and playing around with colors: the Adobe Color tools. You can browse others’ schemes, and adjust shades using slider controls or hex or RGB values to create your own.
Design Your Customer Service Systems
In one sense, everything you do that connects with a customer or client is part of branding, especially if we define branding as “what your clients and prospects think of you.” That’s why it’s important to consider your customer service systems and plans ahead of time.
One way to proceed is to simply think about reasonably foreseeable exchanges with clients. Your clients will be thrilled, we hope, but what if they’re not? What can you do to turn an unhappy client into a raving fan?
Brainstorm ideas now about how your WordPress clients might reach out with complaints, and what you can do to respond in ways that advance and communicate your brand values.
Recognize that each complaint from a client is another opportunity to create a brand ambassador. If you have an unhappy client, the way you respond and fix their site problems can earn you a fan for life.
Don’t forget to regularly reach out to happy clients for testimonials, and ask permission to publish them on your website. This kind of social proof is the gold standard for service-based brand niches, such as WordPress professional services.
Once you’ve created the basics of your branding plan, your next job is to develop that brand both online and offline.
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Quora are low-budget ways to interact with your targeted market and prove your expertise online. Blogging is also a budget-friendly way to support your brand and reach your ideal clients.
But don’t neglect offline “real world” activities. The most successful designers and developers don’t restrict themselves to the digital space. Instead, they periodically reach out and form relationships with other small business owners and organizations in their communities that help them connect with their ideal clients.
The key, whether online or offline, is to create actual human connections and relationships with those who share your brand’s values.
What’s the most effective branding tactic you’ve implemented? Let us know in the comments below.